Finding a job in Berlin can hold a different meaning for each of us. For some, it’s simply about paying bills. For others, it’s about self-realization.
Whatever your purpose, skills or level of experience, this guide puts you on your way towards a job that helps you lead a better, happier life. Feel to ask questions in the comments too.
Is it difficult to find a job in Berlin in 2022?
The Berlin-renaissance since the late 00s has provided the city with an economic boom, driven by its flourishing start-up scene, music/entertainment industry, tourism & an uninterrupted flow of qualified skilled workers. Its economy has grown faster than the rest of country’s.
As of March 2020, Berlin had an unemployment rate of 7,9%, compared to the national average of 5,4% (That figure represents the normal pre-COVID era, in September 2021, it was 9,4%.). It has consistently decreased over the past few years.
Macro-indicators are one way to paint reality, but what does it look at street level?
With a bit of patience, preparation & perseverance, it is not that difficult to find a job in Berlin for most people.
There are plenty of new opportunities created every day, across all industries. The city itself is very open to talents coming from abroad. Language barriers are most of time seen as a natural part of life. You should be confident in your chances to find a job in Berlin.
There are however 2 big challenges
Challenge 1: finding a meaningful job
The real challenge will be to find a job that satisfies all those criteria:
- has good salary
- has decent working conditions
- fits your skillset/education
- offers some career prospects
This is where a lot of newcomers fail at moving to Berlin. They do manage to get a flat. They do manage to get a job. Unfortunately, this job does not pay enough for what they are really worth or it does not offer good prospects or it has bad working conditions.
While it gets better for some after a while, a lot of newcomers cannot find a good, meaningful job. This is one of the reasons often quoted to leaving the city again. They love their life here, but they cannot build something solid enough for the long-term on the professional side.
Challenge 2: it’s harder if you need a work visa
There is no shortage of qualified talents in Berlin. A lot of them don’t need any permit to get started. This can often impact on the motivation of an employer to go through the process of sponsoring your visa & dealing with the administration. It simply takes more time/effort/money.
A prerequisite for visa applications is also university degrees and/or vocational training. Another one could be good enough German skills. For all those reasons, prospective work visa applicants have it harder.
Thankfully, there is guidance for that too.
Is German necessary?
A short answer
German is probably not necessary for most newcomers in the beginning. There are enough jobs where German is not a requirement, or basic German will do. However, it improves your prospects dramatically for the long term if you do speak German. Chances of success are simply higher.
A long answer
While you may not need German in the beginning, it will improve your chances by a lot for the following reasons:
- It reduces the talent pool you are competing with: there are many overqualified foreigners like you applying for the same jobs. And even if you get the position, you won’t be able to progress so far within the company. I am sure that there are plenty of people out there that got their jobs in Berlin without peeping a word of German! But on the long-run, those people are likely to hit a glass ceiling and his/her colleague who spoke German got the long deserved promotion.
- It brings you closer to key decision-makers: Bosses, investors, clients & other key players are often German. They make the decisions, hire or fire and set-up strategies. If you are not able to play on the same level with them, it won’t be possible to eventually convince them that you are a great fit for that new role. Being able to bond at the coffee machine, intervene in informal meetings or over-hear key information in German makes a difference.
- Not speaking German might actually negatively impact your income: people tend to lower their expectations when they don’t speak the local language, as pointed out by this OECD study.
- It reduces the type of jobs you can apply for; thus making potentially miss jobs that’s a good fit for you. It’s hard to do sales or overview marketing campaigns if you can’t speak the language. STEM-related professions (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are also off-limits for the most part.
- German does not matter at all for some privileged profiles, even for long-term: most famously, software developers do not have to worry to this at all. There will always be jobs for them & they can go all the way to CTO level, without ever speaking German. Tech & Engineering roles in general in international environnements do have this quality.
If you wish to get started on your language learning journey right now, you can read how to learn German in Berlin here, check a selection of clever apps or sign-up for a online language school like Lingoda. They are all great options depending on your needs. The main point is to get started!
Now, if you are planning to stay only a little while, it might not be necessary to learn German to find a job in Berlin. You might not find the best fitting one or the best pay, but it will be enough to pay your rent and your lifestyle.
Where to find a job in Berlin based on industry & skills
Linkedin is often overlooked, but it is a powerful tool.
If you have not done so, start by updating and maintaining your Linkedin account. Employers & headhunters tend to search there for a number of open positions. Adding the right keywords to your profile may mean more visibility to potential recruiters.
A more complete profile will also let Linkedin surface better/more relevant suggestions of jobs and companies in your feed. You need to reach the maximum level (All-Star level) to get more visible on Linkedin.
The “Jobs” tab on Linkedin is also great to let you explore local companies and even apply directly from there.
Startup jobs in Berlin
You are young and hungry for experience, it might be why you came to Berlin: for its vivid start-up scene. Berlin has impressively raised up its profile and it is now known as true hub in Europe. Start-ups provide a lot of opportunities and are usually a lot more flexible concerning German skills. Showing motivation and spirit is often key. Money is sometimes not great but that can change quickly if you do well. Online Marketing, business intelligence, product management, sales & customer support know-hows are often what they are looking for.
- Deutsche Startups (in German)
- Berlin Startup Jobs
- Gründerszene (in German)
- StartupSucht (in German)
You can also check the major venture’s websites that constantly looking for fresh blood for new ventures. Turnover can be quite high in those ventures but you will get plenty of responsibilities & experience and learn a lot in a very short time.
The following placement companies can also help you if you work in e-commerce or online marketing. They work for companies which search specific profiles for a position. You send them a CV and go through an interview, and they call you when they have a match. They get paid by the company with successful placements.
UX, UI & graphic design
If you have UX, UI, graphic design skills, those website are a good starting points. Berlin is a great place for graphic designers. Each start-up more or less needs one. In that case, to know a bit about HTML & CSS is often a big plus :
IT, Software developments jobs in Berlin
If you are an IT rock star, you won’t have much trouble finding a job in Berlin. Thanks to the many web based start-ups, you can hope for a good situation here, even if you don’t speak German at all. In addition to all the generic websites, you have those:
Jobs for creative, artists
If you are more of a creative type and want to find something in the arts, dance, music, film or theater industry, you might want to have a look at those websites. Competition is tough but the scene is very vivid and full of opportunities.
NGO, non-profit & public sector jobs
If you want to commit to a career in NGO, non-profit or socially-engaged organisations, you might want to give this a shot:
If your German skills are already up there, public sector jobs are also an option:
B-Corp, purpose & sustainability economy jobs in Berlin
People interested in the hospitality industry or jobs in cafés, restaurants can turn to:
Medical, science & engineering
You can also turn to science and engineering jobs on this job board:
If you have a medical background, you are in luck. Germany experiences a shortage of doctors & nurses.
Construction, architecture & interior design
If your job is about designing, building & engineering , you can find opportunities there:
Over the years, portals have sprung-up to cater to English-speaking jobs in Berlin. On those platforms, you won’t find any jobs that require German, although it is often mentioned as a nice-to-have.
Temp jobs & student jobs in Berlin
You can signup for platforms who offers small jobs on a temp basis. You can signup and receive new offers daily for small jobs lasting a few hours. It’s a nice flexible option.
Finding internships, apprenticeships in Berlin
Whether you are enrolled in a German university, an exchange student or simply wanting to try your first experience in Berlin, some specialized platforms can help you get a cool spot. Consider:
- English jobs in Berlin
- Jobs in Berlin
- Berlin StartUp Jobs
- English speaking jobs in Berlin
- Startup Jobs Germany
Big generic job boards:
I’d actually stay away from those for the most part. They may be good at doing an initial scan of the local job market but they aren’t so good at surfacing the right companies & jobs. It’s just overwhelming!
- Linkedin Jobboard
Living in Berlin, working remotely
Remote jobs have gain in popularity, starting in the tech industry, slowly spreading to other sectors as well. The global COVID-19 crisis also helped accelerate the movement.
Berlin offers a great living standard and it’s definitely possible to settle here on a remote job. If that speaks to you, you may be interested in those platforms to find a remote job in Berlin.
Securing a job from abroad, if you don’t have a visa yet
As mentioned before, chances to secure a job from abroad is harder than for German/EU citizens. Your chances are the best if you work in a so called “shortage occupation“. That’s a type of job currently experiencing a lack of workers in Berlin. Those would be for example:
- Software developers, architects, programmers
- Electrical engineers
- Civil engineers
- IT consultants, IT analysts
- Customer advisors, account managers
- Sales representatives/assistants
- Sales managers
- Product managers
- STEM professions (science and technology)
Applying for a work visa:
If you are not an EU-citizen, you probably already know that you ought to apply to a work visa in order to establish yourself in Berlin.
It will massively help if you belong to a skilled worker category, in an industry that is actively looking for profiles like yours. If that is the case, not speaking the language will often much less of a problem.
You can see an overview of all relevant visa types you could apply to here, or look at this detailed guide on the German work visa.
To secure a great application, you can also turn to support organisations like Imagine, which help you every step of the way and maximize your chances of success.
Adapting your CV & cover letter to German standards
In all likelihood, you already have spent some time finalizing your CV for your next German employer. Although changes are not radical, it’s best to be aware of best practices in Germany. You can read how to craft a German CV in this guide. There is also a dedicated guide to cover letters this way.
How to make sure you are getting fair salary
Don’t sell yourself short by doing your research on how much you should ask when negotiating your salary. I have made a dedicated post on how much you should get paid in Berlin this way. This is an important step to getting a job you are excited about. Added to that: don’t forget that rent prices have increased much quicker than salary levels in Berlin; the excuse that some employers used (“You should decrease your expectations because the city is cheaper than where you come from.”) is now definitely obsolete.
How to make sure the company has a good work environment
One of the trends that came with web 2.0 is the ability to leave reviews for pretty much anything on the web. Companies and employers did not escape that trend and platforms have emerged to provide insider information on what it is really like to work there. You can access testimonies by former/current employees or people that applied to some jobs. Although reviews are by nature biased, they can give you a good idea of what’s it like. If you are interested head to:
Alternatively, you can also try to search for former employees on Facebook groups above or via a quick Linkedin search and ask there.
I hope this first overview helps you finding a job in Berlin, whether you are a fresh graduate, a young professional or a senior profile. Good luck and feel free to leave questions in the comment section. 🙂Bastien
Finding a jobs in Berlin – FAQ
Yes, it is possible for most newcomers to successfully find a job in the German capital without any German skills. However, experience & research suggests that it does reduce your long-term chances to find the job you actually want or lead a meaningful career.
Profiles in high demand such a software engineers or AI experts can lead a very successful career without German, even in the long term.
With a bit of patience & perseverance, you will be able to find work without too much trouble. It might not be the best money, or the most relevant job for your skill set, but it’s a start. The real challenge is to build a meaningful career.
However, if you need a work permit to access the job market, it can represent a significant challenge as companies might prefer candidates who are available to work right away and with no additional visa sponsorship process involved.
Most international companies will process your application just fine with documents submitted in English. The interview process takes place in English too.
If you apply for local companies or companies with roles facing German customers/partners, you should probably submit your application in German.
Any profile related to tech & software is pretty much guaranteed to get a job. Other professions also experience shortages as engineers, nurses, doctors, sales representatives, customer representatives & other STEM professions.