How to look for work in Berlin


With incredibly high unemployment, it can be difficult to find a job in Berlin. There are relatively few multinational companies. Any special skills (especially language), increase your chances of finding employment. People who have the best chances are those with a special skill, some savings, and determination.

Expats in the Job Market

EU workers are free to work without a visa, but for citizens from other countries, getting a work permit (Arbeitserlaubnis) from the Labour Office (Arbeitsamt) is the most difficult step. Most people who are native English speakers start on a English teacher's visa, and than expand that visa the longer they stay.

Because of Berlin's perpetually struggling economy, you should also expect to receive a lower salary, but note that cost of living is also lower than most other cities.

Speaking German is an immediate advantage, but depending on the position you may be pursuing, may not be a necessity. The banking industry is conducted mostly in English, and there is room in academics for English speakers. The hospitality industry and call centers are usually hiring, but wages are usually low.

Before starting out on your job search, determine what you are looking for.

  • What field do you want to be in?
  • What salary do you expect?
  • How long can you live without a salary?
  • What is your ultimate goal in coming to Berlin?

It is common to spend 3 months looking for work. This can be a valuable time of getting settled, enhancing your German, and making connections. Be prepared for this reality. There is also no shame in first becoming employed as a teacher. This is by far the easiest position for a native English speaker and can help get you started.

Resume / CV

Resume versus CV

  • Resume- brief overview of work and educational experience. Prominent in the US when applying for employment. Typically one page.
  • CV (curriculum vitae)- more in depth look at work and educational experience. Prominent in Europe and the Middle East. Typically two or more pages.


Germany usually uses a CV.. International companies stationed in Germany may prefer a resume, but this should be specified in the ad. Prepare both a German and English versions of your resume only if you are fluent in both languages.

    The Resume should contain:
  • Contact Information: Relevant personal contact information at the top of the page including: name, phone number, fax number, address, email address, date and place of birth, gender, marital status and number of children. Resumes may be kept on file for long periods, so any contact details you give should remain accurate long-term. It is common for a professional photo to be included.
  • Professional Experience: Usually this information is listed chronologically. List your work experience with: your title, the name of the company you worked for, the dates of your employment, and a brief description of your achievements in that position. Any gaps in work history should be explained.
  • Education: This section should come before work experience if you are in school or have been out of school for one to three years, depending on your level of work experience and how relevant your education is to your career. Big name universities can catch a recruiters attention.
  • Certificates & Diplomas: Courses, seminars, congresses or conferences that are relevant. Note if you received any special honors.
  • Languages: This is extremely relevant to an international job. The major language is German, but the working language for multinational employers tends to be English. List which languages you speak and your level: advanced, intermediate or beginner. Point out if you can translate, speak, or write in each language and list any associated degrees. If you are submitting your resume in a language other than your native tongue, be sure to have a native speaker read it first.
  • Computer Skills: Programs, applications, word processing, database, Internet experience, etc.
  • Interests: You may include personal interests such as hobbies, sports, activities.


  • Style should be straightforward. Use standard paper and a simple font, such as Times New Roman (12 font) or Arial (10) font
  • Print original copies on high quality paper - don't send photocopies.
  • Be neat. Take care with the presentation, design, spaces, and spelling of your resume. Punctuation and grammar are extremely important. Don't use abbreviations.
  • Make sure your CV is as organized as possible, so the information can be found easily.
  • You do not need to date or sign your resume.
  • Have a base CV that you can adjust to each job you are applying for.

Cover Letter

A cover letter usually accompanies a CV in a job application. In the format of a letter, it establishes your tone and intent. Also known as a cover letter, covering letter, motivation letter, or letter of motivation.

  • Header - Standard business letter style, with the sender's address and other information, the recipient's contact information, and the date sent after either the sender's or the recipient's address. The final part of the header is a salutation (e.g., "Dear Hiring Managers").
  • Introduction - The introduction briefly states the specific position desired, and should be designed to catch the employer's immediate interest.
  • Body - Highlights material in the resume or job application, and explains why the job seeker is interested in the job and would be of value to the employer. Also, matters discussed typically include skills, qualifications, and past experience. If there are any special things to note such as availability date, they may be included as well.
  • Closing - Sums up the letter and indicates the next step the applicant expects to take. It may indicate that the applicant intends to contact the employer, although many favor the more indirect approach of simply saying that the applicant will look forward to hearing from or speaking with the employer. After the closing is a valediction ("Sincerely"), and then a signature line. Optionally, the abbreviation "ENCL" may be used to indicate that there are enclosures.


For some basic templates for CVs and cover letters, try Career Lab, Great CV's, or the Career Resource Center.

Job Search

    A checklist of what you need to start your career:
  • Write a curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Research potential employers
  • Find job opportunities
  • Write cover letters
  • Complete job applications
  • Interview
  • Follow-Up
  • Get hired!

After you have completed your CV, it is time to search for jobs.

Search Engines


As part of the EU, job seekers can access the European job mobility portal EURES. This resource provides information about job vacancies and the labor market. It also provides information on the living and working conditions, and a CV posting service.


Expat and social forums are another resource for job seekers. EasyExpat's job listings are a great place to find positions.


Several papers have a helpful classified's section.

Job Fairs

There are large trade fairs with recruiters and businesses looking to employ. Check at convention centers and with local agencies.

Teaching English

English-speaking expats are in high demand for teaching English. Language schools usually require applicants to have TEFL course certificates and a college degree. You must have adequate visa clearance and registration Most schools will supply you the intent to employ so you can secure a visa.

The easiest way to get started teaching English is to find a school. The best situations are companies that pay adequately and aid in getting visa paperwork completed. These positions may be difficult to come by and there is fierce competition for the largest.

Applicants usually submit their resume and application, and if the school approves, the applicant will be asked for an interview. The interview may consist of a sample lesson or a grammar test. Some schools will throw teachers right in for a 90 minute class where the school observes and either offers the job, or does not.

It is common for new teachers to only receive a few classes at first. If they are able to prove themselves reliable and are able to handle a class, they will gradually be given more classes. Some teachers work at two schools or also give private lessons.

It is also an option to work for yourself by giving private lessons. These are usually more profitable per hour, but require a lot more work finding customers. The best way to get private students is to post advertisements in business newspapers, on bulletin boards, or offer your resume on expat site's like Easy Expat's job listings. Having basic native language skills will help expand your clientele as you can then work with beginners.

Private lessons in technical and business English at private companies is the most lucrative strain of teaching. These jobs are hard to come by without experience. Teachers must provide valid permits for these positions.

TESOL(also known as TEFL) is the acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. A TESOL certificate is the most common qualification required to teach English abroad. There are a wide variety of TESOL courses available, ranging from 4-week intensive, classroom based TESOL courses with TEFL International, to TESOL courses studied online. It is even possible to combine a period of online study with a shorter classroom based course. In addition to standard TESOL certificate courses there are also more specialized courses such as courses for teaching business English, or teaching English to young learners. There is also the more advanced TESOL diploma course.


Interviews are a chance for a company to get to know you before hiring you. Research the company before the interview to discover their missions and direction. It is not uncommon for there to be a series of interviews, with the first lasting 30-60 min, and further meetings possibly taking an entire day.

  • Dress neatly and conservatively.
  • Arrive on time. Punctuality is very important.
  • Bring copies of your CV. Try to be as prepared as possible and able to discuss the position, the company and your assets.
  • Ask questions. Demonstrate your knowledge and interest.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time.


Most jobs rely on an employment contract. The contract must be in writing and can include details of the type of work to be done, duration, salary, and benefits.

It is common to have a probational period at a new job, usually about six months. The length and requirements of this period should be detailed within the contract, including what should happen if either side wishes to terminate the contract. During this period, a notice of 14 days is considered adequate.

Ending Employment

Termination of an employment relationship must be carried out in writing. The statutory periods of notice are laid down in the Buergerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB). Employees have to give four weeks's notice, as of the fifteenth or last day of the month. The longer an employee has been with a business, the longer the periods of notice must be. For employment of over 20 years, the period is extended to seven months.

Fixed-term employment relationships with a written employment contract terminate automatically when the agreed period expires. In those cases the employer is not required to give notice of termination. When your employment ends, you are entitled to a reference.

Temporary Agencies

If you are in need of short term work of any kind, there are agencies that will find you employment with another company. As an added bonus, sometimes short term work can lead to longer contract.

Update 20/08/2013


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Website for jobs in English in Berlin
I believe there is also another great website for jobs in English in Berlin that you should add to the article -

Berlin Top Jobs is a job board for jobs in English in Berlin, looks great and it's very useful.

Hope it helps more people find a job :)

 Alvin Stanescu


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