English-Speaking Jobs in Berlin and the Rest of Germany
Last updated: 15 April 2020 / by Sam Williams
A note about COVID-19: This guide is based on the general rules, but there may be some temporary restrictions in place due to the presence of the COVID-19 virus. We are keeping the situation under close review and will update our guidance as necessary.
If you can speak the language when you move to Germany, you will have a much wider choice of jobs to pick from. However, there are plenty of jobs in Germany for English speakers too, so don’t worry if you haven’t picked up the language just yet.
Some industries have more English speaking jobs than others, and it also depends on your individual skills too. This guide will help point you in the direction of the best jobs for English speakers in Germany and where to find them.
Apply for the Right Position
It is fair to say that in Germany, being able to speak German will put you at a big advantage as there are some jobs for which it is essential.
If you are expecting to be in any kind of customer-facing role, you will probably need to speak German to be hired.
Don’t give up hope, though, as if you’re willing to be flexible. There are a surprising number of jobs in Germany where the language isn’t vital.
The location and industry play a huge part as there are some fields where not being able to speak German is a major handicap. In others, the more senior roles rely on speaking German less because there’s not the daily interaction with blue-collar workers or the public.
Larger firms often are more accepting of workers using English because of their global, multicultural approach. This doesn’t just apply to companies who are foreign, but also German firms who have a large international client base.
Family-run businesses or those who are small or medium-sized are less likely to be able to accommodate requests to work in English. This is because they may operate at a more local level, and more interaction is often required.
This doesn’t mean that entry-level English-speaking jobs don’t exist at all, because you will find a healthy sprinkling in cities such as Berlin.
However, there are generally much fewer jobs, and the competition is fierce. To stand out from the crowd, you need to show relevant experience and/or qualifications, plus a killer CV and interview technique.
Some Ideas to Get You Started
Although you will have your own ideas about where you want to work, here’s a list of some fields you might want to try if you want an English speaking job:
Software development and engineering – the job advert might say you need to speak German, but a shortage of skilled individuals means it’s worth enquiring.
Speaking German isn’t necessary to perform the job and you may find that if you have the right skillset you will be hired, despite the absence of language skills.
- Systems administrator/programmer – it will make no difference if you can’t speak German. Try and sidestep HR and talk to the hiring manager directly and you may be successful, even if the advert states German is required.
Digital marketing – as a general rule, German companies lack knowhow in this field, so if you’re experienced, your skills could be invaluable.
For many German businesses, digital expertise is more important than language skills.
- International customer service – many big companies offer customer service in more than one language. Hiring native Germans to speak English isn’t always an ideal solution so that you may fit their requirements.
- IT and management consulting – for larger and international firms, you should be able to converse in English with all your required contacts. This is especially the case with foreign-owned corporations.
Scientist – this is a very vague description as a scientist is a role which is diverse and often niche. However, as long as you’re able to converse with your co-workers in English, you shouldn’t be at a disadvantage for carrying out the role.
Social media manager – with the capability to reach a global market, the need for English speaking media managers is on the rise.
However, it’s also a field that’s saturated, so be prepared to battle hard to land the job.
Content writing – As the digital world continues to expand, the need for website content is increasing.
The most common international language is English, and those who have a global presence or overseas clients will be aware of the need to reach this market.
You don’t need to be employed to succeed in this capacity; there’s a great freelance market for content writers, which opens up the opportunities for work.
- Financial controller – in contrast to an entry-level analyst, a financial controller wouldn’t usually need to have daily interactions and can use their technical skills instead.
International Companies in Berlin and around
One great place to find English-speaking jobs in Germany is at large, international conglomerates, most of which are based in Berlin. These types of companies have a far more multicultural ambiance and are typically more accepting of employees who don’t speak German.
Submitting your CV or cold-calling these companies about potential vacancies can be an excellent way to find work. If you have a strong set of skills that set you apart from the crowd, you could find this to be one of the quickest ways to get hired by a top company in Germany.
In addition to the large, international companies, there are some companies based in Berlin that are renowned for hiring international workers. These include:
- Delivery Hero
- Get Fresh
- Kayak Explore
- Rocket Internet
These are just a few ideas to start. You’ll find many more large multinationals located in Germany.
Sites to Find an English Speaking Job
Speculative approaches to potential employers can work very well, but don’t neglect traditional job searches too. There are several sites which are particularly useful for English-speaking jobs and it’s worth focusing on these first.
Some of the best boards for English jobs in Germany include:
Start-ups can be a particularly attractive prospect for foreigners arriving in Germany.
Approximately half of all employees at new start-ups are foreign workers, so this could mean you’re competing on more of an equal playing field with German nationals. There are some sites which specialize in new start-ups, these include:
There are many other good sites to find work in Germany, but these are some of the best if you don’t speak any German.
No matter where you go in the world, you should underestimate the power of social media. An increasing number of companies are using these channels to reach new employees. This not only allows them to reach a greater audience but ensures that their new employees are the kind of progressive thinkers that they’re looking for.
Twitter is a good place to follow firms and to engage directly with the business. Some companies choose to advertise in this way as it’s low-cost and ensures that whoever they recruit is at least reasonably tech-savvy.
Facebook groups are another part of social media which can be invaluable in finding work. The audience for these tends to be smaller than job sites so you won’t typically be facing the same competition if this is the only place the position is advertised. Some of the best Facebook group sites to begin with include:
However, out of all the different social media platforms, LinkedIn and its German equivalent, Xing, are the king of them all. An excellent way to network and find new contacts, LinkedIn and Xing are often used solely for recruitment.
Create a strong bio and sign up to jobs listings, and you may even find that prospective employers reach out to you. Connect with people in the field that you already know on LinkedIn, and they might be able to introduce you to a whole host of new contacts which leads to employment.
If you sign up for a trial of the premium channel, you’ll be able to filter your searches more accurately and connect with recruiters yourself.
Maybe the idea of being self-employed has never appealed to you, but if you haven’t found a job in Berlin, you might want to consider it.
Being a freelancer is a popular way of working in Germany, especially for foreign workers and it offers lots of unique benefits.
As a freelancer, an employer might be more willing to use your services as they won’t be tied down if you turn out to be unable to meet their standards.
This could even lead to full-time, permanent work, so if you don’t want to freelance forever, it’s an excellent way to try a job out without committing!
Many enjoy freelancing because of the freedom it offers. You can take or refuse jobs as you see fit, allowing you to create a calendar of work that suits your schedule.
You’re also not limited to only taking Berlin jobs; as a freelancer, if you could do your job remotely, you could work for companies based in many different locations. For workers who don’t live close to a big city hub, this can be vital.
Tips on Finding Jobs
Even when you know where to look, it’s not always easy to find jobs that don’t require German.
The following tips will help you to succeed whether you’re looking with American companies, International firms or multinational German businesses:
- It’s easier to find a job when you’re living in Berlin than when you’re applying from overseas. Don’t let that stop you applying before you move – but don’t panic if you haven’t yet landed a job by the time you’re due to travel.
Show that you’re willing to learn the language. If you don’t speak German, proving that you are ready to adapt and learn will go actively in your favor.
Signing up to a German language course and including that information on your CV will make you stand out from other English-only speaking applicants.
- Make sure your CV matches the German-style; this is important to German recruiters and will show that you’re willing to follow their standards.
- Be prepared to diversify. Even if you have a dream job in mind, taking other work while you continue to search will help fund your lifestyle as well as develop your language skills. If it’s not in the field you want, having experience in the German market will be a huge career advantage.
If you can find a way to avoid HR departments and speak directly to the hiring manager, it could be a big advantage.
HR departments have a strict list of criteria and aren’t in the position of being able to make an informed decision if your skills are slightly different than expected.
While the competition is bigger, many jobs do not require the German language.
It is an excellent idea to enroll yourself on a course to broaden your opportunities. Still, while you are learning there are still many places, you can find yourself an excellent job in Berlin or the rest of Germany.