How to Find a Job in Berlin – Our Insider Tips from the Professionals
Have you recently moved to Berlin and are wondering what is the best way to find a job in this busy and exciting metropolitan? You came to the right place! Despite what you may have heard, Berlin has a good job market, with lots of companies searching for international candidates to help their businesses flourish.
Here at Crocodilian, Berlin’s leading furnished apartment rental agency, we receive many job applications every month. In order to help you in your search for a new job, we decided to give you a few tips on how you can improve.
If you are coming from abroad it’s likely that you need to adjust your strategy; and essentially get into the mind of a German employer, so you can give them what they are really after. We will guide you through some essential steps and give you some insider tips to finding a Job in Berlin, with specific tools on how to ‘wow’ German Employers, make a great German CV, and to master your interview and important post interview tips.
The applications we get range from the very good to the very bad. In order to increase your success of getting an interview or landing the position, we have provided some steps you can take in order to send in a top quality application:
Popular Job Databases
The Alternative Method: Contact Companies Directly
Improve Your German
Create A Successful Convincing Cover Letter
Make an Outstanding German Style CV
Focus on Your CV Layout
References or an Arbeitzeugnisse
What German Employers are often Suspicious of
Don’t Hit ‘Send’ yet!
Do Research on the Company
Prepare Engaging Questions for your Interview
Be Your Authentic Self
Dress for the Part
Post Interview Task
Be Open to Working Different Kinds of Jobs
The Best Platforms for Finding a Job
The first step of course, is knowing where to search. If you are new to Berlin, you may be unsure about which platforms to use to find a job. (If you’re already a pro and know where to go, simply skip this first step! )
Below, you will find a list of the best places to search for jobs in your field, offering a wide selection of positions and in many different languages:
Popular Job Databases
The platforms below are most commonly used, and advertise a wide range of positions at varying qualification Levels.
Indeed (German and English)
StepStone (German and English)
Monster (German and English)
LinkedIn (Germand and English)
These platforms and Facebook groups below are smaller, with more specific jobs, or are more catered towards English speaking candidates:
English Speaking Jobs in Berlin (A Facebook group for English speaking job seekers)
English Jobs in Berlin (A Facebook group for English speaking job seekers)
The Local (German and English Jobs)
Exberliner (German and English Job Database)
Creative City Berlin (Creative jobs in German in English)
Berlin Start Up Jobs (International start-up jobs, many in English)
These lists are not exhaustive, however as you have seen there are many opportunities available.
If you’ve already scanned through the job search platforms and have not found what you are looking for, there is an alternative route.
The Alternative Method: Contact Companies Directly
Instead of limiting yourself to job postings, reach out to the companies you would love to work for. Maybe a friend has said good things about XY Company, or perhaps you follow their beautifully curated feed on Instagram. Good companies that are growing are always looking for new talent, and if they like your application, they will keep your information on file for upcoming roles, or better yet, invite you for an interview to get to know you better.
When reaching out to these companies, apply like you would for an actual job, with a cover letter and CV, stating why you think their company is great and how you could contribute. You could also ask them for an information interview, in which you would ask questions about the company and express your interest. Once employers see enthusiasm and can put a face to a CV, they will be more likely to reach out if an opening becomes available, depending on how your meeting went.
Now you may be wondering…what makes German employers different? What are they really looking for in a candidate? Take a look at our next tips to learn how to stand out to employers in Berlin:
How to Stand out to German Employers When Applying for a Job
First and foremost, it’s important to be realistic with yourself. If you are looking for a high paying position in Berlin, you will definitely need to master German. If you are determined to have a great career here all you did to do is stay persistent and improve your German, which you can do by reading our helpful tips to improve your German . It can not be stressed enough, without German you have to have expert experience in your field to be considered for a top-paying job.
Improve Your German
German employers find it much easier to integrate their new employees into their processes if they speak the language – they also appreciate it if you show them you are working hard to improve. If you speak no German at all, and don’t show a willingness to learn, you will likely have to settle for a less qualified position, or accept that there may be minimal opportunities for promotion. If you are new to the city and are just starting out, we recommend reaching out to international startups, as many of their offices operate in English.
Another extremely important factor when employers are comparing candidates is the application itself.
To catch their eye, you must have a German style CV that is free from errors (have someone else proofread it!) and is easy to follow. Your application is essentially the company’s first look at your work so you want it to be a great representation of your skills and professionalism, which leads us to our next tip:
Create a Successful Convincing Cover Letter
Your Cover Letter should never be generic or copy and pasted, from application to application. Customize each and every one to the job you are applying for, and take the time to do so. You don’t need to send your application 10 minutes after the job has been posted. Employers want to know that you’ve familiarized yourself with what the role entails, and that you’ve done at least some research on the company. Next, clearly explain why they should want to meet you. You should tell them why you make a great candidate for the role, which specific experiences or skills you have that will enable you to contribute immensely to the position and to the company. You should essentially take details from the job posting and work them into your cover letter.
Don’t be discouraged from applying if you don’t meet every single requirement – employers are looking for people who are motivated, enthusiastic and willing to learn and put in effort. Try to express that you exude all those things in your letter, by using an example from a previous experience in which you grew and improved your skills over time, or mention why you received a particular promotion.
It’s also in your best interest to address the cover letter to someone at the company, not a generic ‘To Whom it May Concern’. If you can’t find a name in the job posting, you can often find names of people working in HR on the company’s website, or on LinkedIn.If you can not find it here, phone the company number and ask who you should send the job application to. Going that extra mile to do research to obtain this information also shows the employer that you’re serious.
Don’t forget to add your earliest starting date and if asked, your salary expectations. Sometimes an employer will ask for your salary expectations to determine whether you are realistic. If you are just starting out with little experience under your belt, and are applying for junior customer consultant, asking for 35 000 is a little unreasonable. But, if you ask for a more sensible range, like 19000-22000, the employer will take you more seriously. This is something that is integral in the application process, as the employer will have little interest unless you are realistic in your expectations.
Always express your willingness to learn and improve if you want to get your foot in the door. Responsible, respectful employers will always pay a fair living wage to young candidates starting out, and will give raises when they see you making quick progress and achieving the goals you have set.
How to Make An Outstanding German Style CV
German Style CVs do have some differences compared to American or British styles and it is critical that you pay attention to them. If you are a foreigner applying for a job in Germany, it will be noticed if you have adopted your CV to fit the expected standards.
An obvious difference is that German employers like to see a few more personal details:
- Include your date of birth – this is standard. German employers look to compare your age to your experience.
- Nationality– this is also standard as employers will have to determine if you need a working visa or get sponsorship from them. If you write a captivating and immaculate cover letter explaining why the company will truly benefit from hiring you, figuring out any working visas will be of secondary concern to them.
- Include a Photo – You have photos on LinkedIn and Facebook, so why not add one to your CV? German Employers can’t necessarily ask for it, but it’s become the norm and they will be expecting it. Make sure it looks professional, and not a selfie from your smartphone.
It’s important to customize your CV as well as your Cover Letter, so be sure to include only relevant job experiences, or relatable skill sets. (E.g. it may not make sense to include your experience as a dog walker when applying for a job as a customer service agent)
Keep your CV focused; it’s great to have a lot of experience in many different fields, however, this can often come across as unfocused instead of versatile. (E.g serving in a bar, working in a legal office, freelance yoga instructor) Try to maintain relevance and provide only similar roles or job titles if possible. This will also give your skills a bit more credibility and leave the Hiring Manager impressed.
If your German is at about a B2 Level, you should also send your CV and Cover Letter in German. This will express your motivation to improve your German.
Focus on Your CV Layout
Is your CV easy to follow or hard on the eyes and busy? It is crucial to have a solid structure that is concise as employers will move on quickly if they find it messy or difficult to read. This is basically your first chance at moving forward in the application process -if the employer can easily follow it, they will continue reading. The organization of your CV will determine how much effort you put into your work, and your level of professionalism. An organized one page CV is preferred. More pages and the Hiring Manager will start to look elsewhere.
Include References or an Arbeitzeugnisse in your Application
If you’ve already worked in Germany, or have done some volunteer work, always ask for a reference letter. In Germany, you will always receive an ‘Arbeitszeugnisse’, which is a standard letter or certificate from an employer stating you’ve worked there. A good ‘Arbeitszeugnisse’ will also mention why you were a great asset to the Company and team, or what you have achieved in great Detail. If you have references from employment or volunteer work in your home country or elsewhere, be sure to include them in your CV. These are an essential part of the evaluation process in Germany. A great reference could be the big difference in you finding a job in Berlin over someone else.
Keep in Mind: What German Employers Are Often Suspicious Of
German employers are usually suspicious of workers jumping from job to job. It happens sometimes that a position may not work out, or that you’ve been fired, but try not to make a habit of it. It’s also great to mention why you’ve had short stints of work, for example. It could have been a summer internship, or covering for a maternity leave etc. This all ties back to the way you present your CV. If the job is not relevent don’t include it in your application.
What to Include in your Cover Letter:
- Easy to read, 1 page max
- Your earliest starting date
- What interests you about the company/role
- Salary expectations (if asked in the job posting)
- Why you are a great candidate and what you are willing to learn if you don’t meet all the requirements of the role contribute to the role
- Evidence that you’ve done research on the Company
What to Include in your CV:
- Date of Birth, Contact Info, Nationality
- Professional Portrait Photo (no selfies or beach shots!)
- 1 page is sufficient
- Stick to the facts
- Organized Layout
- Relevant experience and skills, specific achievements
- Send both a German and English CV if possible
- Always, always send your CV and Cover Letter together in the same PDF document
So perhaps you’ve already mastered creating a perfect German CV and Cover letter… good job! You’re already half way through our tips…
So now, you have your perfect application ready to go! But what next? Before you send it off, take a peek at this essential guideline that will put you high on the list of potential candidates!
Don’t hit “Send” yet!
Before you launch your perfectly crafted application into cyber space –hold on a minute! There is a little something you can do that will pick you out of the crowd and impress employers even more.
Give the company a call and introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have, (besides payment or anything that is already stated in the job posting.) Lead an efficient yet pleasant conversation and express your personality as best you can. In this phone call, you can also offer to work an unpaid trial of around three days – no employer should really accept this (as it is illegal to do unpaid trials,) but they will read you as motivated and eager to work for them. If they agree to a paid trial, this is also a great way for you to decide if it’s the right work environment for you and get a Little bit of experience if you are new to the working world.
After your call, thank the person for their time and let them know you will be sending your application through shortly.
When you send your e-mail, remind the person you spoke with that you chatted with them and relate something you talked about into your e-mail. Perhaps you will be sending your e-mail to a different person, but be sure to include that you had a nice conversation with so-and-so and that you appreciated learning more about the company. Hearing and seeing your name in more places than one, will help make it stand out to the employer, and they will surely appreciate your zeal.
Also – do one last read through of your application, just in case. 😉
Next up, learn how to ‘wow’ the person interviewing you!
Master Your Job Interview
After following all of our steps, you’ve landed yourself an invitation to an interview. Congrats!
The interview is really important, so be sure to get this part right. This is your chance for your personality and professionalism to shine through. So make sure you…
Do your Research on the Company
Know who their competitors are, who their target audience is etc. If you don’t, it will be obvious you did zero research and you will be out of the running. This is one of the major turn-offs for hiring managers, as it seems you couldn’t be bothered to put a little basic research in to the job your are applying for.
Prepare Engaging Questions
It’s important to ask your interviewer well prepared questions about the role and the company. This will show them that you are really interested in the Job:
- What specific qualities would a candidate in this role have?
- How would they measure an employee’s success for this role, 30 days into the job and 6 months down the road?
- What would the typical career path look like for someone in this role?
- What does the employer value about the company culture?
Be your Authentic Self
Be real, and show your confidence. Unless asked, it’s not advised to address your salary in the initial meeting. If they aren’t interested in you yet, they won’t make an offer.
Again, if you don’t have a lot of experience and your German isn’t great, emphasizing your eagerness to learn and improve on your skills is crucial. Tell them what you can already offer, but let them know you’re a quick learner and perhaps show examples of this in your CV.
Dress for the Part
Most companies are quite casual here in Berlin, but it’s always better to overdress a little bit for an interview.
Go for a business casual look and you’ll be fine!
After your interview, make sure to do this next step:
Post Interview Task
This part is important, so take notice.
If you got a great impression of the company culture and are still interested, here’s what you need to do:
After you’ve been interviewed, be sure to send a follow up e-mail within the same day or at the very latest, within the week. You want to stay fresh in their memory! Thank them for meeting you and express that you are even more interested in the position now. This is a very effective way to stand out, and at Crocodilian; we are always impressed when people reach out after an interview. Hardly anyone does this, but it’s so easy and quick to do, and shows us that the candidate is confident and really wants the position!
Our last piece of advice – we know it’s tough out there, but don’t be discouraged. Follow our last guideline and you will be sure to succeed in no time.
Stay Flexible and Persistent
If you’ve been searching for a job in your desired field with no luck, don’t get discouraged. There are still ways of getting your foot in the door.
Be open-minded to working different kinds of Jobs
In the beginning of your job search, it may be discouraging, just sitting around sending off a bunch of e-mails all day long and waiting to hear back. Why not walk around your community and hand out your resume to cafes or restaurants. A lot of bars, restaurants and cafes will hire if you have some basic German and are willing to improve it. Some part time work will allow you to make some money, get you out from behind your Computer, and meeting people, until you find what you’re really after.
You can also search for things like babysitting or pet sitting to make some cash. And who knows? Perhaps the parents of the kids know someone in your field, or work for a company you’re interested in. Making personal connections and networking in Berlin will definitely increase your chances of finding work.
Below are some great apps and websites for part time and flexible work, that can often lead to more:
Pawshake Create a profile on this app and get paid to take care of pets!
Betreut.de Find all kinds of flexible jobs like babysitting, senior care or garden help
University Tutor Offer tutoring services for kids or adults and set your own rates
Networking via casual or part time jobs is the perfect way to meet more people! So get out there, and you may be surprised where this flexibility and persistence will take you!
Berlin may seem like a tough place to get started – but stay determined, you will find a job.
Remember, learning German or improving what you already know will show employers that you care and are determined to get further in your career. If you’re new here, fear not, you can often find English speaking Jobs in start-ups.
If you follow our guidelines for creating a German style CV and create a compelling Cover Letter, go out of your way a little to chat with someone from the company and follow up, we know you will find more opportunities.
Following our tips and learning more about what German employers are looking for will surely help you on your path to landing a job here in Berlin. Remember to stay confident, and don’t get down if you face rejection sometimes. You can always ask an employer what was missing from your application or interview so you can be better prepared and nail it the next time.
We would love to hear back to see how your job hunt is going, and if you’ve found any progress while using our tips. Good luck, you have got this!