Berlin is one of the most attractive European cities for talented individuals looking for a wide range of career possibilities in an international environment. Whether you are a specialised IT expert, a creative professional seeking new challenges, or a recent graduate looking for your first job experience, the German capital’s job market is one of the best in Europe. But moving to Germany to work also comes with some difficulties. What are the barriers you will encounter and how can a potential newcomer to Berlin overcome these?
The city has become well known for its charm. Berlin prides itself on its open-mindedness and liveability, especially for younger people – and its job market reflects this. The German capital is often described as a start-up hub, an optimal environment for tech and creative minds to flourish, and for new ideas to become reality. In the last decade, the city has been transforming from a thriving engine of the German economy into a European capital of innovation, making it a favourite destination for aspiring expats hoping to pursue their career in an international environment. However, there are a few things you need to know before taking the plunge and moving to the German capital.
Almost every expat will tell you that not knowing German can be a big barrier when moving to Berlin. But no need to worry – many people nowadays move to Berlin without speaking any German beforehand. Thanks to its diverse environment, the job market in the city has become more international and expat friendly. Just make sure to find a good German course as soon as possible after you land, so that you are able to begin developing your German skills early on in your stay. Some companies even offer free German courses for their employees, in order to help expats to settle properly in their new country.
If you are not from the EU, a challenge that you might have to face when moving to Berlin is getting the right VISA – you will need a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment. It might be scary to think of facing German bureaucracy as an expat, but no need to worry – Germany has a highly functioning system which helps expats with their visas. On the website of the Business Location Center, you will easily find more help and information on which type of Visa you would need and how to obtain it. Some companies even offer help in the process.
FINDING A PLACE
Once a paradise for easily finding cheap, central, good-sized flats, Berlin’s housing market is now becoming more difficult. The increasing demand for flats and rooms can prove to be a challenge for many expats, who often lack the knowledge or contacts to find a place quickly. However, Berlin’s housing market is still cheaper and more accessible compared to other European capitals like Paris or London, and a little patience will surely be rewarded. For your search, websites like Wunderflats can be of great help – the website is easily accessible for English speakers and will help you find the right place to stay. Other useful addresses are Immobilien Scout 24 or WG-Gesucht (for finding a room) – those are available in German.
GETTING A JOB
Gabriella Cheston, a recruiter at CrossLend , an innovative and international FinTech Start-Up operating since 2014 with its headquarters in Berlin, shares some useful insights about her experience as an expat worker and international recruiter.
What is the current state of the job market for expats in Berlin?
I think it is difficult to say the state of the current job market in Berlin as it differs from industry to industry. I can confidently say though that Berlin is booming in recognition with it’s Tech scene and I would say it is fast becoming the Silicon Valley of Europe. I think overall the state of the job market in Berlin is strong with more and more companies establishing themselves and hiring for all talent, international and local. The job market in Berlin is welcome to all and I believe there are endless opportunities. With more and more start-ups seeking international talent, this allows for more work opportunities for expats.
What was your experience moving to the city? Which barriers did you encounter?
Berlin is very bureaucratic when it comes to administration and I think this puts a lot of newcomers or expats off. I think tackling this first on arrival and getting up to speed with the basics of the German language are the key ingredients for a successful start. Knowing your way around with the language can help you from the beginning as you need to understand very quickly the way of life here in Berlin to keep up and especially the mentality. On the plus side, Berlin is very international so there are immense support and lots of meet-ups to guide you through your first steps in settling in Berlin.
How difficult it is to get a visa to work in Berlin?
I have been working in recruiting for 3 years now in Berlin, and every work permit application for my candidates I have submitted has been successful. At CrossLend we currently have 24 nationalities. Of course, I know of some colleagues who were not so lucky. It is about having the right paperwork and preparing the paperwork in time.The candidate also has to do their part. The requirements for a work permit in Berlin differs from country to country, thus I would encourage anybody interested in relocating to take a look at the Berlin Partner website for more information.
A lot of insights about Berlin are available online, and not only in German. For example, the website of Berlin Partner cited by Gabriella provides extensive information about the corporate environment in Berlin, future trends and services in English. We definitely recommend a visit if you intend to gather further information about the city.