Nobody Said it Was Easy: Job Hunting in Berlin
With teaching hours as scarce as Germans not wearing Jack Wolfskin, I’m currently job hunting. If I’m honest, I’d been getting kind of tired of teaching English anyway. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy it, and I’ve met some lovely people, but the work itself isn’t that challenging any more. It’s a handy “in” to a country where you don’t speak the language, but I never imagined myself doing it forever. The lack of work right now is just the kick up the arse I needed to start looking for something else. And, by God, am I looking.
Every day, I trawl recruitment websites, looking for marketing, advertising, and especially, writing-related jobs. And there are quite a few out there. As Berlin is start-up city, a lot of them don’t even require German, as the working language is English. Of course, as an Irish person, I’m trailing behind most Europeans on the language front. Some ads say things like “Fluent English is a must. German would be an advantage. Knowledge of Spanish, French, Dutch, Japanese and Swahili also a bonus”. Umm. (Hangs head in shame and has a little cry.)
In addition, for every ten jobs, I’d say nine of them are tech-related. Technical writers, app developers, gaming enthusiasts, SEO, SAP, LINUX, SEM… half the time I can hardly understand the ads even though they’re written in English. I’m thinking of changing my name to “Linda O’Gradysaurus”.
I did, however, apply for one of these jobs – not because I thought I had a chance of getting it, but because they offered “outrageous randy benefits” and I wanted to see what those would entail. They rejected me – possibly because I pointed out in my email that “outrageous randy benefits” made them sound all kinds of dodgy.
If I had my time here over again, I would have started looking for something much sooner. The recruitment process takes an insanely long time. Most companies use sites like Jobvite, where you can track the “progress” of your application. Oddly, sitting there looking at it and clicking “refresh” doesn’t make things move any faster. Still, at least companies in Germany are polite enough to actually contact you to let you know you’ve been rejected. This, unsurprisingly, has happened a number of times.
So far, I've managed to swing two interviews. The first was a face-to-face interview but, unfortunately, they emailed me last week to say that they wouldn't be taking my application any further. (Crazy people.) But thankfully, I've had more luck with another company. I've already nailed two Skype interviews and tomorrow, I have to go to the company for a “trial day”. If this doesn't work out, it's back to trawling the recruitment websites again, but for now, I'm just preparing like crazy – and, of course, keeping my Jack Wolfskin-clad fingers crossed...
By Linda O'Grady
Linda works as an English teacher, writer and editor, and has been living in Berlin since September 2014. She also shares some of her more irreverent thoughts on life as an Irishwoman living in Germany in her blog - Expat Eye on Germany.