Finding ANY jobs in Berlin: Tips for non-German speakers

1,061 posts in this topic

 

I don't understand how naysayers in Munich or Darmstadt or wherever feel like their posts carry any weight if they've not lived here.

my point exactly... we live here... ;) Munich or Darmstadt could be a totally different planet in terms of problems or unemployment numbers than Berlin, its a totally different situation boots on the ground ya know in this city.. plus a berlin winter setting in also... Brrrr worst time to be doing anything except finding a cosy pub and having a warm drink while you shiver and watch all the grey... ;) (Berliners you know what i mean..) and to think im at this very moment looking at the first snowfall of the year here... and early too!

 

Cheers

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Another tactic is to have a skill or skills which mean you can (more or less) live wherever you want to. In my case it's travel and tourism (guiding and tour-managing), so if I'm accompanying a group tour anywhere in German-speaking Europe, it doesn't actually matter very much where I live. Speaking good German helps - the better tour-operators are more likely to give work to those who speak the language of the country in which they're guiding.

 

The fact that I'm also a qualified Berlin guide means that I can do more assignments in my home city - a huge bonus. But that also required investing time, money and effort in a training course (in German, of course). In addition, I am a qualified, registered "Blue Badge" local guide for the West Country in the UK, which made being accepted for the training course in Berlin that much more likely.

 

Researching the pluses and minuses, looking at the finances and planning my move from the UK took a year, and I couldn't have done it without lots of previous experience in the profession, nor without plenty of cash in the bank to cushion me as I built up work and contacts. Even so, it still took me more than a year to acclimatise to living here - sometimes a real emotional roller-coaster. I cannot imagine how I would have coped without German - nor, for that matter how I would have coped without the help of my German friends here.

 

I'd definitely caution against thinking: "Oh, great! I can come to Berlin and be a guide! Simple!" because if you do that, you might well finish up slogging your guts out on the street for some shyster who will gladly exploit you from here to Kingdom Come - there are several threads on here already about the poor bastards in red T-shirts who don't get paid for the tours they do. Other devious operators exist, too.

 

As another string to my bow, I'm an EFL teacher with relevant qualifications, and if the excrement were to hit the air-conditioning in the travel trade, I'd have something else to fall back on, even if it were just a few private lessons here and there to keep the wolf from the door.

 

So, the story here isn't: "Don't come to Berlin because there's no work." It's more about being clued-up, with a reasonably clear plan, with enough cash to cushion the blows that you might suffer so that the experience is a good one, not one of desperation. You'll have enough to do already without adding abject povery to the equation.

 

(The local Netto supermarket in Schöneberg does have a couple of job ads in the window, nevertheless - work as a shelf-filler or as a cleaner on a 325 € basis :) )

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long term unemployment is extremely destructive, unemployed Germans know this very well, and the immigrant populations here in berlin who have very little chance of integrating into the middle class work force are robbed of their self worth and status in society. its fine when you are just out of school and in your twenties to kinda hang out see a cool city with art, clubs, and fashion, but most americans I know here have trouble getting their careers out of first gear, and this is no fault of their own but rather due to entrenched chauvinism toward foreigners by German business community and management structures and bosses. At my last company where I worked at we English speakers, we got paid less, were understaffed, and required to work more hours than the german team located across the way. I have never in all my experiences dealt with such an outright, unconcealed, and blatant discrimination. After living in germany for some 13 years, ie since I was 24 years old, things have only gotten more complicated.

 

Here to be someone, one must speak, read and write perfect German, in order to have any kind of a chance, and even then it is questionable. . this perfect German thing, is something not all people can ever achieve in their life, we need to remember that in the united states we by and large forgive different accents and in some cases find them charming, this is in part due to the fact that we are a country of immigrants bound by Constitution and that we are mixed. In Germany we should not forget get that citizenship is based one one having German blood and the question of at what future point will the immigrants all be returned to their native homeland belongs the mainstream German political debate. In Germany and in Europe for the most part professionals must have PERFECT German skills, and society is very unforgiving in this matters. Here languages skills are used as a way refuse a large selection of the population any kind of normal employment and as such a middle class status in society. truthfully I like positive stories, and I wish I just heard them more often. . maybe there is something to do together that we can not do alone to help our situation, as low pay sector, or unemployed americans living here. .

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For some jobs you do need fluent German, but for most German that is simply good or very good will do. Also, there are plenty of people passing along German citizenship who are not ethnic Germans.

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dessa_dangerous wrote

#This whole b.s. about people not being "able" to learn languages really reaches, by the way. Every person I ever met who claimed that they just "could not" learn German was the biggest, whiniest crybaby about it.#

 

es ist nicht das ich kein deutsch kann, im gegenteil, meine punkt ist eher, dass eine muss PERFEKT deutsch lesen, schrieben, und sprechen können., und wie perfekt deutsch definiert wird ist oft willkürich und wird aus anderen motivationgrunde hervorgerufen. . sogar gab es eine neue studium über dem anna will was gesagt hat, .das immigranten mit den selben hintergrunde wird viel öfteren abgelehnt beim bewerben . . sogar wenn sie besser order gleich qualifiziert waren. .ich vergesse die genau zahlen aber die hat mich auf keinen fall überrascht. .weil es ist eigentlich etwas die jeder wiess. .. natürlich sollte jeder deutsch sprechen können wenn er in deutschland leben will. . türkin können auch deutsch aber wie so wie so werden nicht nicht in der normale wirtschaft aufgenommen?

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What Jeff said, and besides, the point is not whether you can speak German passably enough to work in a gas station, although I suppose I can understand the need to prove yourself to a bunch of random strangers on the internet.. er.. no, wait :huh: The point is that sitting around complaining that Corporate Germany discriminates against non-fluent speakers is an act of futility, moot, and counterproductive to boot, and that the claim that in America we love and hug and give super good high-paying jobs to everyone regardless of how fresh off the boat they are is pure fantasy.

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@ zxmzz14

 

obwohl dein Deutsch mündlich nachvollziehbar wäre, ist dein schriftliches Deutsch grammatisch mangelhaft und ich wohne in Deutschland seit 3 Jahren und habe mit Deutsch = Null angefangen. Also was willst du? Englischsprachige Länder sind sogar noch - wegen der Sprache - weniger tolerant. Wenn du so einen Eintrag auf Englisch bei TT schreiben würdest, würdest du noch mehr kritisiziert werden und nicht akzeptiert werden...

 

also Schnauze!! :P

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Matt, I think you make some valid points, however I'm struggling to see their relevance to ole-whatsits-name's complaint that Germans are somehow conspiring to hold back foreigners by only hiring people who can actually read and write their language at a professional level on par with people who were educated in this country. Or his claim that in America such a thing is less likely to happen.

 

In particular I know exactly what you mean about people who spit out the term "multi-kulti" with absolute contempt, and I won't make an argument against the claim that a foreigner in Germany is considered a foreigner until the day he dies, even if that day is 40 years after he moved here, even if he spent the majority of his life working and living here.

 

What I find intolerable are people who move to other countries and allege discrimination and ill-treatment, that they are not being treated as equals, when they have not even made the effort to be equal. This seems to be particularly common among English-speaking folk. Yes English might be the world's second language but it doesn't mean that you should expect to waltz in and be shown the big office because you can speak the language you've been babbling since you could walk on two feet.

 

It must also be said that I came to Germany three years ago, without a visa, not speaking a word of the language. I applied for my visa inside the country, found an employer, and had very little trouble convincing the German government to allow me to stay here for years at a time. I have never had a problem in the Ausländerbehörde. They give you a short list of requirements to meet and if you do, you have a very good chance of being allowed to stay.

 

But flip that situation around--there is not a chance in the world that a foreigner could just land in the States and go, "hmm, I like it here, think I'll stay." We're talking miles and miles of red tape and a couple of years of sitting on a waiting list.

 

Germany is full of foreigners and they are not making really huge efforts to keep them out, like we do in the States. The country itself, I believe, attempts to give foreigners a fair enough shake--if they are willing to work hard and integrate themselves.

 

Which you cannot do while sitting around complaining that the "Mann" is holding you back cos you can't be bothered learning his language.

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To Hal9000,

 

You should read what Horseshoe7 said. My friend wanted to stay in Berlin and in Germany. She found the way to stay there that would work. Everybody is different and they do what they have to do to achieve their dreams. Since my friend's dream was to live in Germany and not in the United States why should she not pursue that? I mean it's a free world. If going into a PHD program was the only way that she could find to get a legal job, make contacts and improve her German why should she not do that? I think Hal9000 that you are envious because somebody did something that you did not approve of. By the way the whole story about my friend is true. I posted what happened to my friend to show that there is always a way to accomplish what you want (no matter what that is). If you are willing to be imaginative and think out of the box anything is possible. Oh, and Hal9000 I have one more thing to tell you. My friend is working on getting a Foundation to sponsor her for 3 years of study. Think of it Hal; she will be getting a generous monthly stipend. How do you like that? I will post more information as to that when it happens. In the meanwhile let me tell everybody here to be persevering, creative, make contacts and not let the many NAYSAYERS in this site get you down. NAYSAYERS ARE NOT WORTH MUCH IN THE FIRST PLACE! SO DREAMERS, DREAM ON AND DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO!

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If you are reading this post and feel inclined to argue it, please only from people who've lived and experienced Berlin. I don't understand how naysayers in Munich or Darmstadt or wherever feel like their posts carry any weight if they've not lived here.

 

Ah, yes, denial. The old "you can't comment on anything you have not experienced" line which is usually used by people to block out what they don't want to hear. So: Commments on the Bundesliga only if you've actually been a professional footballer? A broken limb only if you've experienced one yourself? Or is just the stuff you want to censor because the truth hurts too much?

 

The obvious can still be the bleeding obvious. And equivalent experience still counts. Plenty of us don't live in Berlin because we grew up in economic basket-case places and know what reality of life in such places - we've seen it over the decades in other places. Thinking it must be somehow different because it's Berlin and not, say, Detroit or Middlesbrough, doesn't always help. Seeing young people madly trying to pretend life like that in 1980's Liverpool is somehow great is really, really depressing to a lot of us.

 

Finally, this idea that people who don't live in Berlin don't understand the place is ridiculous. OK, so a lot of "ex-pats" in Berlin live in an isolated bubble and want to know little about the rest of Germany and even less about German business. However, it's actually different for a lot of us who are here, integrated and working. We have friends, family, co-workers, associates, clients / business contacts and the rest in Berlin. We know the place far better than a lot of people actually in Berlin full-time appear to - and we know a heck of a lot about it from German family etc.

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It's not a great time to be looking for work ANYWHERE in the world...that said...there are jobs to be found if you are willing to be a bit more flexible. There have been some great suggestions here: be open to town OTHER than Berlin, bring plenty of money to cover your expenses while you job hunt, and get to work learning German. The more you CAN learn the better off you'll be. Al that said - nothing is ever a guaranty - BUT I just got a job (that I really wanted) near (1.5 hours away) a city I really wanted. So right now you may have to think job trumps location as long as it isn't too ridiculous.

 

Oh...right...and be prepared to pound the pavement like you never have before!

Best of luck!

 

xoxo

Belle

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And I think that Belle's post says it all. You have to be persistent and creative. The point is that making it anywhere place has its difficulties. But if one wants to live in a city like Berlin and one has the smarts, the money and the perseverance one can make it. I know Berlin quite well having been there about 10 times and I know Germany well because I lived in Wiesbaden for a year. Also I have lived in New York for many years and I can assure you that life in Berlin is not any harder than New York-just different. Right now with the economic situation in New York City and the United States finding a job in New York is not easy either. When one counts the official unemployment in New York (10.3) plus the number of people looking for jobs who are discouraged, etc., it's probably pretty close to 18% more or less which is in the same league as in Berlin. And let's face it the unemployed in New York, for the most part, don't get the government to pay for their apts. as is the case in Germany.

As far as commuting 1.5 hours to go to work a lot of people do that in New York too. I had a girlfriend in Staten Island once and it would take her about two hours to get to her job when one considers the time it takes to take a bus, the Staten Island Ferry and the Subway.

If you like life in Germany and that's where you want to be you have to learn German, be creative, have money saved up,learn new skills and have lots of friends who are employed and who can get you in somewhere. You will make it like my friend did and will.

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I think the length of some of these posts says it all. People with too much time on their hands. :rolleyes:

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It is less of a challenge for a non-native speaker of English to find a job in the United States in an office than in Germany. Even if you do a job that requires low language skills such as graphic design.

 

In the UK you don't need to speak perfect English to work at, for instance H&M or a movie theatre, but in Germany you do. It is one reason why immigrants find it challenging to further integrate into society. The advantage of being able to work at a crappy service job is that it is a way to interact directly with people who perhaps have stronger language skills than you do.

 

Edit: But (and I will try to be positive here), this is Germany so one needs to adapt. Find your niche and maybe start your own business. It is more lucrative to run a bar in Berlin to work as a graphic designer earning (if one is lucky) 20K per year.

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