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10 tips on how to find a job in Berlin


Berlin is an excellent city to live, and to work in. But those looking for a job, especially English speaking ex-pats, will need to consider the hurdles and barriers to finding work in order to be successful in their hunt. From being realistic about how to find a job in Berlin to writing the perfect German Lebenslauf (CV), these top ten tips should help you find that first role with ease.

1. Head to the start-ups

As a vibrant, progressive city, ‘start-ups’ are commonplace in Berlin and a great place to find work. By nature, start-ups tend to be more open to employing expats and whilst the wages may be lower at first, if you find yourself at a company that goes on to be successful you'll have a greater chance of climbing the ladder faster.

2. Consider an entry-level job

Or put another way, don’t be too stuffy about any role. Sometimes it’s worth taking a job at a lower entry point than you would consider yourself to be at simply to get into the industry that you want to work in.

3. Face reality

Those moving from rural areas, or at least from other European towns and cities, often consider Western European capitals to have streets paved with gold and jobs galore. The reality is however, that Berlin is full of other residents, many of them expats, who are also looking for work. This means the job market is competitive. However it’s not stagnant, which means you WILL find something, but you need to be realistic about how long it will take. Also consider the fact that wages in Berlin are probably lower than you are expecting. Wages are certainly lower than in say, London.

4. Consider a second job, even for a short time

To help cover costs consider a part-time bar or waitressing role which you can do whilst you search for other roles and even for a period when you start a new job. This will help you settle in, make friends, improve your German AND give you some extra money in those first few months.

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5. Learn some German

Even if you're searching for English speaking jobs, showing that you can speak some basic German will vastly improve your chances. If your German is shabby, enrol yourself in a German language evening school or short course as soon as you arrive in Berlin. There are some really good German speaking schools in Berlin such as Goethe Institute or the slightly cheaper Expath or Volkshochschule. If you have a low budget and time on your side then consider using an app such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, which you can start using before you even arrive. Make sure you make your level of German is clear on your CV before you start applying for a job in Berlin.

6. Job search with savings

Moving to a new area and looking for a job can be a costly business. Don't start the process until you have enough savings in the bank to cover you for a couple of months. Not only will you need to pay rent and deposit up front but you will also need to cover your bills, transport and food until your first pay date, which can be up to a month from your job start date. In an ideal world you will have around 1000-2000 Euros saved up.

7. Non-EU? You’ll need a Resident’s Permit

If you've arrived from a non-EU country then you should sort out your residency permit before you job hunt. You need to be in your accommodation in order to do this, which is why it’s important to head to the city with savings so that you can get a tenancy sorted out first, followed by a Resident’s Permit and then apply for work. Ideally you will do the first two elements of this list in just a few days.

8. Look for jobs online and go to agents

Use a triple-pronged approach when it comes to job hunting. Sign up to at least two recruitment agencies, ideally ones that specialise in your industry. Also use the internet every day to find jobs; excellent sites for jobs in Berlin include Stepstone and Monster. Thirdly head to the Neukölln Job Shop daily, where you will find plenty of job vacancies as well as helpful facilities such as computers and phones.

9. Create an excellent German Lebenslauf

Even if you're applying for English speaking jobs and you have an English language CV or resume, it’s really important that you format it as a Lebenslauf. This means it needs to be less wordy and more factual than an English CV and must include your date of birth and photo.

10. Don’t take a day off

When it comes to tips for how to look for a job in Berlin, perhaps the most important is to apply for at least one job EVERY SINGLE day, and carry out online and agency searches every single day too. Good jobs get snapped up first and not all companies apply the usual application deadline and interview process. Some roles get filled super quick, so be diligent!

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