How to find a job in Berlin

This guide helps you find a job in Germany.

To start a business in Germany, read this guide instead.

Can you work in Germany?

You might need a residence permit to work in Germany. Most of the time, you need a work visa or a Blue Card, but there are many other residence permit options.

Who needs a residence permit? ➞

It takes around 2 months to get a residence permit, but it can take longer. You can’t work before you get your residence permit.5 Get your permit before you arrive in Germany. This way, you can start working as soon as you arrive. This saves you a lot of money.

Most employers know that this takes time, and they will wait for you. Some employers hire a relocation consultant to help you.

Do you need to speak German?

No, but it helps a lot. You can find English-speaking jobs, but most companies want German speakers.

If you don’t speak German, you can still find jobs in…

Do you need to speak German in Berlin? ➞

How long does it take to get hired?

A few months. Even if you find a job quickly, the hiring process is very slow.

Salaries in Germany

Know how much you should earn, and how much taxes you should pay. This helps you negotiate a better salary.

Salaries in Germany ➞

Step 1: Look for jobs

  • – Job search engine. You can filter by language and set alerts.
  • LinkedIn – Networking website with a big jobs section. Very popular.
  • Jobsuche der Bundesagentur (in German) – Run by the Agentur für Arbeit
  • Talent Berlin – Run by the state of Berlin. You can’t filter by language.
  • Jobted – You can filter jobs by language.
  • Xing – Similar to LinkedIn. You can’t filter by language.
  • ArbeitNow – Job listing website. Made in Berlin.
  • Glassdoor - Company reviews, salary reports and job listings. You need an account.

English-speaking jobs

These websites only have English-speaking jobs, or let you filter by language:

Tech jobs

Creative jobs: media, communications, design

Startup jobs

Internships, temp work and minijobs

Freelance work

Restaurant jobs

Step 2: Apply for jobs

German resumes

German CVs are longer than American resumes. They include your date of birth, your citizenship and a photo of you.1 You should go to a photo studio and get a professional portrait for your resume. A career coach can help you write a better resume.

Useful links:

Cover letters

Include a short cover letter (Anschreiben) with your application. It’s a personal introduction. It explains who you are, what you do, why you apply for this job, and why they should hire you.

Don’t send the same cover letter to everyone. Do your research, and personalise the letter for each job offer. Keep it short and easy to read. Get feedback from other people before you send it. A career coach can help you write better cover letters.

Step 3: The job interview

In Germany, the interview process is very long. It can take a few weeks, and even a few months. You might have multiple interviews with different people. It depends on the company and the job. You need a lot of time for this.

The phone screen

The interview process starts with a short call. A recruiter or hiring manager will ask you a few questions. They will try to understand who you are, what you want, and how you fit the job offer. It’s a simple check before they invite you for an interview.

How to prepare – Imagine Foundation

The technical interview

Most tech companies have technical interviews or coding challenges. They verify that you know how to do your job.

Technical interviews are different at every company. They might ask you technical questions, ask you to solve a problem during the interview, or complete a technical challenge at home. Some companies don’t have technical interviews.

Meet the team

Most companies have a team interview. You meet your future team to see if you work well together. This interview is more relaxed. You might just talk with the team, or have lunch together.

Step 4: The job offer

After your interview, the company can make a job offer.

Salary negotiation

After you get the job offer, you can negotiate a better salary. You can also ask for things like a relocation bonus or more vacation days.

Salaries in Germany ➞

The job contract

Read your job contract carefully. If your employer promised something to you during the interview, verify that it’s in your contract. Only sign the contract if you agree with everything. Send the signed contract by post.

If you are not sure about your contract, ask for help or talk to a lawyer.

Step 5: Get a residence permit

If you need a residence permit to work in Germany, you must apply for it. You must have a job offer before you apply for the residence permit.

Your employer can hire a relocation consultant to help you. This helps a lot.

Do you need a residence permit? ➞

How to get a work visa or Blue Card ➞

Step 6: Start working

Things your employer needs

During your first month at a new company, your employer needs a few things:

  • A bank account
    Your employer will pay you by bank transfer. For this, you need a bank account that supports SEPA transfers. Any European bank account will work.
  • Your tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
    You get a tax ID when you register your address for the first time. If you can’t register your address, you can still get a tax ID. If you can’t get a tax ID, you can still start working. – More information
  • Your health insurance number (Krankenversicherungsnummer)
    If you live in Germany, you must choose health insurance. 2 to 7 days after you get health insurance, you get a Krankenversicherungsnummer. Your employer needs this number to take health insurance payments from your salary.
  • Your social insurance number (Sozialversicherungsnummer)
    If you have public health insurance, you get this number automatically in the mail. If you have private health insurance, you must apply for it. Your employer can sometimes help you with this. More information here.

The probation period

During your first 6 months at a new company, you are in your probation period (Probezeit).2 During that time, it’s easier to get fired. It’s also harder to find an apartment, because you don’t have a stable job.

How does the probation period work? ➞

Things an employee must know

Most employees in Germany are paid by bank transfer once per month, on the first day of the month.4 Your employer takes salary tax, health insurance, pension insurance and unemployment insurance from your paycheck. Use my income tax calculator to know how much money you keep.

All employees in Germany get paid vacation days, and paid sick days.

How to take vacations ➞

What to do when you are sick ➞

Step 7: Make a tax declaration

Many of your job search costs are tax-deductible:3

  • Relocation costs
    If you move closer to your new job, you can deduct your moving costs.
  • Job search costs
    Coaching, resume writing, professional photos, translations, printing costs, job search services…
  • Travel costs
    Fuel, train tickets, hotels, meals and parking fees to go to job interviews.

If you started working in the middle of the year, you probably paid too much salary tax. Make a tax declaration to lower your income tax, and get some money back.

Need help?

Career coaching

These people can help you get hired. For example, they can review your resume and cover letter. Their fee is tax-deductible.

Other services

Sources and footnotes



  4. §614 BGB 

  5. §4a Abs. 4 AufenthG,