Expat Advice for Finding a Job in Berlin

Berlin is busting with ex-pats!
(Main Picture: Berlin vom Kollhoff-Tower © Sascha Kohlmann on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

In my few months in Berlin, I have only met one person native to Berlin. The rest of the people packing the bars and parks are immigrants, or, if you want to sound hip, ex-pats. However, unless you just acquired a large inheritance or have been saving since you were 6, most ex pats need a job. With the wealth of foreigners in Berlin, there are several wonderful resources for the more naïve to learn how to survive in the big city.

Cheryl Howard, a Canadian expat and travel writer, puts her experience from her own job search to good use by writing post to help guide baby ex pats. Her story is quite a common one amongst the ex pat community Howard quit her job and sold everything she owned to start a new in Berlin.. Many people arrive here with no friends, no connections, and no clue how to be hip in the most hipster of cities. If that describes you, or if you just need some advice on how the Berlin job search looks, this post is for you. Lets take a look at Howard’s 12 tips for landing a job in Berlin.

Colorful Night in Berlin © Carmen Eisbär on Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Colorful Night in Berlin © Carmen Eisbär on Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

1)    Be realistic and Patient This is good advice for almost any situation in life. In this case, Howard is talking about the time and energy it takes to find a job in Berlin. She claims “ finding a job in Berlin is almost a job in itself”. Be prepared to put in time and effort to finding your ideal job. It usually does not happen overnight.

2)    Learn German Although it is pretty easy to get by in Berlin without German, learning it will give you more opportunities for work and fun in Berlin. One ride on the metro and you will see ads for several places to start learning German. The Volkshochshule is the cheapest version but there are many other private companies to choose from. Howard recommends Babylonia, Expath, and the Goethe Institute.

3)    Have Savings Unless you are sponsored by some generous benefactor, ex pats need savings to make it through the time they spend job hunting. Howard suggests having enough for 6 months or more.

4)    Work your way up Don’t let pride get in the way of your employment in Berlin. Taking an internship or an entry level position could lead to big employment opportunities further down the line.

5)    Multitask Embrace your inner dilettante and pursue several different work options at once. Again, taking on small jobs could lead to your dream career. I personally work as a babysitter, freelance writer, and tech blog intern and I am still looking for more opportunities!

6)    Apply at Start ups Berlin is the up and coming star of the start up scene. These companies are also more inclined to hire ex pats then more traditional German workplaces. Howard offers VentureVillage and Berlin Start-up Jobs as two resources to find jobs in the hip start up scene.

7)    Search Online Even if you are not in Berlin, search online to find fresh opportunities. Howard recommends the well-known search engines like Monster.de, Linken In, and Indeed.de. The more below the radar place to find online job postings include Berlin Expat Jobs, ExBerliner, Sugar High, and Somewhere.

U5 © Alexander Rentsch on Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
U5 © Alexander Rentsch on Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

8)    Freelance Meeting freelancers in Berlin is almost as easy as finding a currywurst. This is a great way to start if you want to start you own business or have location independent work such as writing, web developers, etc. I have personally found freelancing jobs easier to come by then more traditional 9-5 jobs.

9)    Special Visas Unless you want to go the illegal route, you will need a visa to work in Berlin. Most nationalities can stay in Berlin for 3 months on a tourist visa. If you are a most experienced professional and there in demand for your job not being met in Germany, you can apply for a 6 month visa that allows you to stay to look for a job. People from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong and Canada can also apply for a working holiday visa. Unfortunately, American cannot (which was a big bummer for me). However, if you land a job, lots of times they will go through the visa process with you. Also look into student visa’s if you have the time and money.

10) Go Local Learning the local workplace customs can boost your chances of landing a job. Howard points out that Germans often include a photo and a date of birth on their resumes, something a bit odd for American and Canadians. Learning these nuances can help land you the perfect job.

11) Network Although it is painful for many, networking is a must to find work in Berlin. Howard talks about how she used Twitter to find an ex pat group partaking in a “Hamburger Tour of Berlin”. Through this club, she met someone who eventually hired her on as a project manager. I met a girl at a yoga class who introduced me to a friend who then hired me on as an intern. Don’t be shy and put yourself out there to find opportunities.

1 2) Be There Showing up one of the best ways to increase your odds of getting a job in Berlin. Being able to show a Berlin address boost your odds of getting hired. If you are sure Berlin is the city for you, track down some leads and then get your butt over here (with some savings of course). As you can see, you must do your homework if you want to live and work in Berlin. But as any ex pat can tell you, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze. Use these tips as a starting off point for landing your dream job in Berlin. Check out the original post here for more advice and links to other helpful tips for living in Berlin Good luck and happy hunting!

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