Moving to Berlin for Job. 56k, good enough?

23 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi guys,

Q1)

I've recently had a few interviews with a multination company in Berlin called Zalando.

My approximate salary would be around 56k for a Senior position in IT as i have 5 years of experience in the field and what i'd like to believe, a rare talent for what i do.

Now i'm wondering whether this is a good number for a senior position for my amount of experience. Is it?

Q2)

-Also as a second question, should i be demanding some relocation assistance? As far as i'm seeing/feeling here, there may not be any(not sure), should i push them a bit into giving me some help there? I would of thought that a company with 5k Employees would have such a plan. As i understand, it's quite hard to rent an apartment, and that it requires a lot of money, is this true?

-Should i request some sort of Health Insurance? Is it usual for such a company to give something like this?

-Are Bonuses a given? Or must i specifically ask if i will be getting one every once in a while...

Q3)

-Anyone know anything about Zalando other than the mainstream news? A dark side of Zalando lets say? Bad experiences or rumors?

Any other advice would be helpful. I'm an ugly looking slightly fat person, and seeing how there's a lot of young pretty people in Berlin, i'm wondering if i'll be able to fit it and make friends there, what do you think about this? If given alcohol, i can be friends with anyone though.

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Posted

Q1) Its an OK salary for a senior position. Depends how senior, and exactly what you do. Im guessing Senior Java Developer or similar? Id say somewhere between 50-60K is about right (some places pay more, many pay less)

Q2) In my experience you will not get anything, but there is no harm in asking.

Q3) I know several people who have refused to work there, and that they are associated with Rocket Internet who are also not top of the list of employers many people would choose. I have never worked for them, nor any of the associated companies, but a little searching on the web turns up things like this, make of it what you will: http://thechroniclesofnavi.com/2012/12/11/the-truth-about-working-at-zalando/

Q4) Just be friendly and you will do fine.

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Posted

Leenix! Kalispera! I like your self-effacing description of yourself and I hope you make it here and enjoy!

No idea about the ideal salary etc but the point is: if you get employee status here, you have to have health insurance and the company has to contribute. it could be public or private and whichever is better suited to you depends on a thousand issues. But the company has to contribute -but so do you from your gross salary.

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Posted

Hi,

So the salary seems to be ok then.

You're also saying that usually relocation isn't assisted by the company?

I've already found a few Dark Side articles about Zalando, but i was wondering what is the local opinion about Zalando.

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Posted

I dont know about Zalando, but I know from the places that I have worked relocation assistance is often minimal. Im talking only about the software/internet business in Berlin, might be different in other cities and industries. Money is not the problem you will face in getting an apartment, the problem will be a lack of credit history (the so called SCHUFA), a lack of references and being in your probation period. At the end of the day you are being paid 2-3 times as much as many people in Berlin, money wont be your problem, and most software companies dont feel the need to give you anything more than help with translation, maybe calling your bank etc to help get stuff sorted.

I cant really give an opinion on Zalando as I dont know it personally, but I think what I have said already gives an impression of the "local opinion". Put it this way, I have never heard anyone say they wanted to work there. That said, there are some dreadful startups that dont even pay their employees, so Zalando is way better than many places you might end up.

I believe that bonuses are not paid, but I could be wrong.

As John says Health insurance is a legal requirement here and to put it simply they will tell you to find a public supplier, and you will most likely choose TK (there might be better choices, but it seems to be the default for people in our field).

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Posted

@Leenix: leave the Dark Side to me :)

Also, if you tell girls you work for Zalando, they go crazy: just look at their TV commercials. You get discounts :)

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Posted

I can get some bank statements printed out from my local bank as i have a healthy amount of money there.

Would that not be enough for them to let me rent an apartment? You think that me, being in a probation period will put them off?

Also bonuses are not paid, because... they are a startup? Or are they not paid PERIOD?

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Posted

Also, if you tell girls you work for Zalando, they go crazy: just look at their TV commercials. You get discounts

Haha Luke, i have a horrible sense of fashion, i doubt the girls there will want anything to do with me seeing how drawn into the whole fashion thing they are :P

Chloroform and Alcohol slushies are the way to go for that. (Yep not at all creepy)

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Posted

Hi Leenix! Can you transfer some of your bonus money to my account, please? Off to Crete on Sunday! Bloody early..jeez. 6 am flight...urggh. Might need to bribe the taxi driver to pick me up at 4am rather than 3 am... :ph34r:

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Posted

Leenix, our dear john g. is an insurance broker, as is starshollow. They can give you all the information you'll need for insurance. john g. won't really use your money to go to Crete. I'm pretty sure.

EDIT: Shucks, john g. Have a good time in Crete and don't forget to send Hemingway a post card. wink.gif

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Posted

Kind words, katheliz! Thank you. You are right: I will not use Leenix´s money for my holiday- but my cat´s hotel is expensive. A crisis of conscience. :) Mind you, he´s purring away - and in my way - as I write!

Bloody cats!

Edit: My God, katheliz: you´re a real sweetie!

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Posted

I can get some bank statements printed out from my local bank as i have a healthy amount of money there.

Would that not be enough for them to let me rent an apartment? You think that me, being in a probation period will put them off?

Possibly not, many landlords really want to see a SCHUFA report, and probation is definitely a problem. It doesnt make it impossible, but these things will make it harder to find an apartment. Many Germans have a few thousand in their current account, so whilst showing that you have enough to pay the first few months in cash is a nice to have it may not actually be that impressive (hard to believe I know, but thats the Berlin property market for you). You will normally need several months rent as deposit and probably estate agent (makler) fees upfront in any case.

Also bonuses are not paid, because... they are a startup? Or are they not paid PERIOD?

Others may have different opinions, but I would say software companies in Berlin do not have a bonus culture. I personally do have a bonus scheme which is potentially worth an extra 10% but I think that is the exception rather than the rule here. Startups pretty much never pay bonuses, but I wouldnt expect one anywhere unless it is written clearly in your contract.

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Posted

Also bonuses are not paid, because... they are a startup? Or are they not paid PERIOD?

He's referring to the fact that in the IT industry (and in particular in Berlin due to its socioeconomic structure) you have tons of startup companies whose business model seems to be based solely upon exploiting their employees to the max.

That said, Zalando isn't a startup, even if they may claim otherwise. They're too big for that. They're a bit more professional in how they exploit their employees. Industrialized exploitation, one might call it. Don't worry, that's only for the lower classes though. Probably.

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Posted

I worked with Zalando (as a representative from a partner company) for a while. In my opinion, they are fine to work with. The main reason for why people are suspicious about them is because zalando is a child of Rocket Internet, which is an infamous incubator mostly known for using quick exit strategies. In other words, their usual strategy is to copy an existing concept, blow up the company (i.e. expand very quickly), sell it fast and let the buyer handle all the problems piled up, which usually results in mass layoffs.

However, zalando is their biggest investment so far, and it seems like this time they are not aiming for a quick exit. You should be aware that zalando hasn't broken even yet - they are still making losses after 3+ years.

Oh yeah, they're a bit paranoid about security - their HQ in the Umspannwerk is nicknamed "fortress" by some - don't count on being let in without an appointment.

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Posted

Q1. 56K is a good salary in Berlin.

Q2. Why do you divide your questions in Q1, Q2, etc and then throw multiple questions here? Anyway ...

- Some companies offer some relocation help, many offer nothing. You can ask nicely if they offer something. You will still get some good tax relocation benefits the first year (you can write out something like 5k from taxes and no need any receipts for it but I am not sure what the exact amount is).

- Health insurance is mandatory in Germany and your employer has to contribute with a part of it.

- Some companies give bonuses some don't. If you were offered 56k then probably the holidays bonus is already in there, you could ask how many monthly salaries those 56k are (12, 13, 13.5, etc). And you could ask if they offer any extra performance bonuses.

Q3. No idea.

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Posted

What type of contract did they offer you? Is it a sold contract with a guaranteed time frame. My suggestion is to throw the Freelance word at them and see how they react on it. If your working at a senior level and you go Freelance you can make three times as much and they do not have to worry about all the other costs. The only down side of the Freelance mix is you have to pay for all of your social and tax issues yourself. Why be satisfied with a Toyota when you can have the BMW?

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Posted

My husband works for the orig parent company and I feel youre getting a pretty good deal.

We moved from Australia and didn't get any relocation assistance. They did help us with a temp place to live even though we paid for it.

They SHOULD help with anything related German govt paperwork

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Posted

Oh also, Zalando is like THE biggest online retailer in Germany.

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Posted

I'd be surprised if Amazon weren't bigger both in terms of items shipped and revenue. Zalando only does shoes and clothes.

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Posted

by a huge margin:

http://www.aquarius.biz/en/2012/10/11/the-top-20-online-shops-with-the-highest-sales-in-germany/

Oh, and IT--GUY's advice is a no-go in Germany; you can't stop working full-time for an employer and then continue to do the same job as a freelancer - you would be scheinselbständig, and both you and the company would be liable for hefty fines...

There are in general very strict rules in Germany as to who may and may not be classed as freelance or self-employed when working as a contrator - this has been covered in several other threads, though.

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Posted

Also, that's some rather ridiculous glossing over the other aspects that MORE than make up for the money - like no pay for vacations (hell, no right to vacations anyway), same for health-related absences, or also the lack of employee protection (firing, hours...).

I'm so not gonna comment on those little specialties of the IT consulting world in Germany in this regard. Other than that if you're getting three times as much freelance as an employee for doing the same thing then your customer must be pretty desperate. Or gambling.

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