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Can you find a job in Berlin without speaking German?

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With its trendy neighborhoods, multiculturalism and legendary nightlife, Berlin is an Eldorado for many young Europeans. Street Art, clubbing, start-ups, the German capital deserves its title of “European Capital of Creativity”.So how do you find a job in Berlin?

Don’t let the lack of a job prevent you from tasting the Berlin way of life! But don’t be naive about your career opportunities in a city where unemployment is particularly high and the competition between can be high. All the more reason for you to start learning German!

Learning German: a necessary step to find a job in Berlin (sometimes laborious but not necessarily expensive)

find a job in Berlin without speaking German

The need to speak German

We cannot repeat it enough, if you want to live and work in Germany, you must learn German, otherwise you run the risk of missing out on everything that makes Berlin life so charming and spicy, not to mention of course your chances of succeeding in the job market.

To be able to integrate professionally and make the most of your Berlin experience, you will therefore not only have to integrate German courses but also practice it on all the occasions that will be presented to you.

Take German courses in Berlin

1. At the Volkshochschule

Note that to learn German, you do not have to go through the Goethe Institut or any very expensive private school . For example, ask your local Volkshochschule, which offers German courses for foreigners at unbeatable prices.

2. At University

The universities ( Humboldt Universität , Freie Universität , Technische Universität ) also offer high-quality German courses for low fees, which are admittedly aimed primarily at foreign students , but which you can attend as free auditors subject to of places available.

3. Linguistic tandems

For learning “in context”, universities also offer exchange grants in order to find a linguistic tandem partner , that is to say that you will learn French to your tandem partner in exchange for his knowledge in the language. language of Goethe , all of this in a completely selfless manner. Register for example on the Freie Universität tandem scholarship or meet in person in the Linguistic Department ( Sprachinstitut ) of the aforementioned universities.

4. Colocation

Finally, living in a shared apartment ( Wohngemeinschaft / WG ) is perhaps the easiest way to develop your language skills , and in the process, to make German friends. Also note that in a city like Berlin, sharing is not limited to students and that it is quite possible to find apartments where the average age of residents is around 40 years old.

In addition, your roommates will certainly be happy to help you with your administrative tasks. Because you should know that English, if it is widely understood in the streets of Berlin, is far from constituting an official language with the administrations and that wanting to keep its paperwork up to date by mastering only English or French is a matter of course. of the fighter in Berlin.


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The current employment situation in Berlin

find a job in Berlin without speaking German

1. Industrial division of Germany

Germany is a federation and not a country centralized like most European nations, so it would be wrong to believe that all powers, political, financial and economic, are concentrated in Berlin.

Historically, the industrial heart of Germany (pharmaceutical, chemical and automotive industries) is in North Rhine-Westphalia and the South of the country, while in the neue Bundesländer , i.e. in the former -East Germany , including Berlin, are mainly located in the service industries, that is to say activities much less well paid.

2. Berlin wages and standard of living

Berlin is therefore certainly not Paris, but neither is Berlin Munich. If the rents are still much cheaper there than in the two aforementioned cities – and although this accessibility to housing has been severely undermined in recent years by unscrupulous property developers – it is essential to keep in mind that the Berlin wages are significantly lower than in Paris or even in much of Germany.

3. Hartz IV and Scheinselbstständigkeit

During the 2000s, Berlin went from the capital of Hartz IV Empfänger (beneficiaries of the social minimum in Germany) to the champion capital of business creation. According to the KfW Bankengruppen, Berlin has thus become the first Bundesland in terms of starting a business since 2010.

However, this entrepreneurial dynamism must be put into perspective, because in the majority of cases, it is the self-employed whose activity represents more of a complement than a real source of income. Most of these so-called independent workers ( Scheinselbstständigkeit ) indeed too often hide “creative” workers (editors, readers, illustrators, composers, sound and image professions, webmasters) who work for the fee and struggle to pay their social contributions, which are very high in Germany for the self-employed. The social situation therefore remains extremely precarious in the Berlin capital, whose motto arm aber sexy remains more relevant than ever.

Companies hiring in Berlin

find a job in Berlin without speaking German

Large corporations

Overall, and compared to large cities in southern and western Germany, the labor market situation in Berlin is therefore not very favorable. Unless you already have a solid CV, especially in the highly coveted areas of engineering and commerce, it will be very difficult for you to find an interesting position if you do not speak a word of German yet.

The strategy to adopt to gain a foothold in the Berlin job market

PLAN A: Odd jobs

1. The Minijobs

find a job in Berlin without speaking German

If you do not yet have professional experience and want to find a job in Berlin without speaking German , you can always, as a first step, take out a Minijob (job paid at 450 € per month) which will give you enough time. free to take German lessons . You will find this type of advertisement in the Berlin magazines Zitty or Tip or on the website of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (German employment center).

The Minijobs abound in low-skilled areas such as gastronomy or hotel industry , but also in the field of assistance to the person and especially in kindergartens Franco-German .

In this case, your Minijob can also help you improve your German and extend your Franco-German network . For example, you can go to restaurants and cafes looking for French-speaking staff : make a phone call to La Bigoudène (a very nice crêperie), located in the heart of Prenzlauer Berg, to find out if they are looking for kitchen staff or for food. service .

2. Call centers

find a job in Berlin without speaking German

Note that many call center agents are also installed in Berlin, such as SNT and eKomi Ltd. The basic salaries are however not very high and the remuneration often works at the premium, but here again, this type of job will leave you enough time to improve your knowledge of German, because the working hours in these structures are often adaptable. . Once you have reached a suitable level of German, you will then have the opportunity to find a better job .

3. Work as an “Au pair”

find a job in Berlin without speaking German

Finally, the youngest candidates, eager to immerse themselves in a 100% German cultural bath more than to make a career at first, should consider an au pair stay through employment agencies such as Euroconnections , AuPairWorld or au-pair-berlin , or even via private announcements published on eBay Kleinanzeigen or on the site of the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ) .

PLAN B: The Start-up scene

find a job in Berlin without speaking German

Berlin has become one of the top start-ups destination

What makes the specificity of the Berlin job market, it is especially the trades of the Web Economy. For companies looking to expand internationally, France indeed represents a market of over 60 million consumers.

The German online sales giant Zalando thus regularly seeks new teams for its new projects. These types of companies recruit in Berlin mainly in the areas of translationcustomer support and online marketing.

A chance for a first job

Also, even if you do not yet have any experience in the job market and are looking for a first job in Berlin without mastering the German language , just knowing how to speak and write French correctly can help you. to get a job in a start-upWimdBabbel and Foodora are all examples of Berlin-based start-ups that have gained international recognition.

With Brexit, Berlin seized its chance, and start-ups are booming. 295 start-ups in finance out of the 750 listed (2020) are listed in Berlin, far ahead of Paris and London.

A word of caution trying to find a job in Berlin

The end of an illusion

The idea of so-called “Berlin disenchantment” for foreigners is real. A lot of people who move to Berlin, without a precise professional plan and without knowing how to speak German, have indeed returned extremely disappointed. The labor market in Berlin, where the unemployment rate is twice as high as in Munich or Paris, is particularly chaotic and precarious, so many non-German-speaking people have experienced difficulties trying to integrate.

The end of cheap rents

It’s important to remember the problem of rising rents in Berlin while wages are stagnant. Also, the city of Berlin is not as cheap as it was in the early 2000s, and people who found a cheap apartment in the trendy districts of Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg or Neukölln, 10 or 15 years ago, are not ready to let go. In many cases, these people are even reduced to subletting their homes for a very short period of time to foreign tourists in order to be able to make ends meet at the end of the month.

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