Landing Jobs in Berlin for English Speakers: What This Expat Learned
Finding jobs in Berlin for English speakers – one of the most pressing questions upon deciding to call Berlin home. I know it was one of my top concerns 4 years ago when I said “yes” to Germany’s capital.
Since then, I have had 3 English speaking jobs, applied to well over 200 (thank you, LinkedIn Easy Apply), and probably been to 50 interviews. In this article, I’ll share a mix of my experiences and handy tips and resources I’ve picked up along the way. Hopefully, this will help you along in your own Berlin job search.
My Personal Experience Job Hunting in Berlin
First, some background info. I arrived in Berlin with 4 years of experience in marketing and communications. Conveniently, I did not need a work visa, as I am a French citizen.
Since then, I have held 2 startup jobs and one corporate role. None of these required German, although in the corporate position, I had to write a sample in German during the interview process.
I found the first job in a technology startup after a couple of weeks of applying. However, I was let go after my trial period of 6 months due to budget cuts (the company folded shortly after that). It then took me 3.5 months – and lots of stress and self-doubt – to find my next position. Fortunately, I was freelancing a little bit on the side.
I next lucked out and found a role with more responsibility in a major company and stayed there for over a year. I got my third job in Berlin through a friend. This role was (is) at a more established startup.
How Easy Is It to Find Jobs in Berlin for English Speakers?
It is moderately easy to find jobs in Berlin for English speakers, at least in my field – Marketing. I’ve heard it is also quite easy to find a job in customer service or sales. Especially with many companies looking to break into other European or international markets. In these cases, a second language other than German is also an asset.
In the three companies I’ve worked at, I’ve had colleagues in design, engineering, accounting and business intelligence who did not speak a word of German. So I really don’t see language skills as a barrier for professional roles, as long as the company language is English.
I also have friends who very quickly found jobs in hospitality with levels of German ranging from A2 to B2: at restaurants, in cafes and at a smoothie bar. For any public-facing job, you definitely don’t need perfect German but the basics will help immensely.
In fact, it might be easier to find an office job with zero German than in a customer-facing hospitality role. This being said, there are some Irish pubs and expat hangouts where you might get lucky.
How to Start Hunting for Jobs in Berlin for English Speakers
When I first got to Berlin, I used LinkedIn’s Easy Apply feature to send my CV to literally EVERY marketing role with an English job description. (Today, I wouldn’t do this. I’m much more selective.)
That approach actually worked – twice. I got the first startup job this way. I also got the corporate job by clicking on “Easy Apply”. This is a convenient way of skipping the tedious cover letter process, saving time for both companies and potential employees.
Many of this world’s giants, like Microsoft and Facebook, don’t believe in cover letters. Everything both parties need to know about each other comes out in the many rounds of interviews that follow. Although, if I plan on applying to my dream job, I will bring out those copywriting skills for a cover letter!
Jobs in Berlin for English Speakers: Typical Interview Process
The interview process for English-speaking roles in Berlin can, of course, vary, but more often than not it follows this pattern:
- First phone interview: usually with a recruiter or HR. Make sure to mention buzz words in your field. This is when you usually get asked your salary expectations.
- An in-person interview (or Skype call) with your future manager.
- A task related to your field of expertise (steps 2 and 3 are actually interchangeable).
- Another in-person or Skype interview either with upper management or future colleagues. Sometimes, you may need to present your completed task in the final round.
- Call with an offer.
In most cases, the interview process from A to Z takes around a month.
Tips for a Successful Berlin Job Search
Make sure your CV stands out.
There are usually at least 50 other applicants, and sometimes close to 200 or more for one position. Needless to say, English-speaking roles are quite competitive. How do you get past the initial screening? I ditched the traditional European CV a long time ago and designed an eye-catching resume on Canva.
Include skill keywords in your CV and on LinkedIn.
This applies especially when it comes to larger companies. Many of these use software to sift through incoming applications. To avoid getting discarded by a non-human, include keywords related to the job’s main responsibilities and desired experience or skills on your resume.
Similarly, recruiters actively looking to fill openings often take to LinkedIn and search for people with a certain set of skills. Make sure your profile is optimised to showcase your expertise by adding your top skills and associated keywords.
Check job rating websites before you apply.
Spoiler alert: there are some really, really bad companies out there. Jobs in Berlin for English speakers can end up being horrible. And that just means you’ll quit after a few months and be on the hunt again.
One of the best ways to save yourself the trouble of applying somewhere with a toxic culture is to look at how past and current employees speak of their employer on kununu. Of course, one dissatisfied reviewer won’t dissuade you from applying, but how about 20 or 30? When there’s smoke, there usually is fire.
Don’t get discouraged by rejections!
This is a tough one, I know. The longest I was ever jobless was in Berlin, and it played with my head. I also know of very competent friends who are experts in their fields and went through similar dry spells. Senior people who were looking for the better part of 6 months before landing rewarding roles at top agencies and Fortune 500 companies. Hone your skills, bide your time. It will be okay. There are jobs in Berlin for English speakers, and one will soon be yours.
Helpful Job Boards for English Speakers in Berlin
These are the best places to find English-speaking jobs in Berlin:
- LinkedIn – many professional roles across fields, with handy features like Easy Apply.
- Indeed.de – job board with a mix of English and German offerings.
- Berlin Startup Jobs – many English roles, as well as some German or bilingual ones.
- Exberliner Jobs – 100% expat jobs.
- Berlin Food Stories – restaurant job posted both in English and German, with some roles only requiring English.
- The Local – expat jobs. Make sure you select Berlin as a city.
- Jobs in Berlin – more expat jobs.
- Facebook Group: English Speaking Jobs in Berlin – a mix of odd jobs, customer service roles and professional roles.
- Nomaden – created a list of 300 Berlin businesses who regularly hire Internationals.
- TBD – posts socially responsible Berlin jobs.
- Google – type your desired job search into Google directly! For example, if you search for “marketing manager jobs in berlin”, Google will take you to its own job portal, which aggregates relevant job ads from all kinds of sources.
Watch Out For Low Paying Jobs
Yes, there are some things to watch out for while looking for jobs in Berlin for English speakers. The first is to make sure you get paid a decent wage for your level of experience.
Upon arriving in Berlin, I heard that salaries were low, especially in comparison to the rest of Germany. So when I got my first job offer, I didn’t think too much about it. Only as I moved along on my Berlin career journey did I realise just how badly paid my first role was.
A few years ago, living costs in Berlin were much more reasonable. Today, many businesses, especially smaller startups, have not caught up. But any reasonable employer will pay you a fair wage. You just need to know how much to ask for.
To make sure you don’t settle for less than you deserve, check out Glassdoor’s salary averages before your first interview (when they usually ask what your salary expectations are).
Other Helpful Berlin Resources
If you’re an expat in Berlin, make sure you also take a look at our list of Berlin Covid Resources in English.
In Conclusion: There are Many Jobs in Berlin for English Speakers
Berlin truly is a remarkable city. There aren’t many other places where you can waltz in without a word of the local language and still have a fair shot at getting a decent job. If you know what you are looking for, are skilled at what you do, and are persistent, you’ll soon be able to say you have a job in Berlin!
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