We all know that looking for work in Germany isn’t the easiest thing to do. We already wrote about it in one of our Berlin Life guides, The Reality Of Finding Work In Berlin In 2023.

How about if you could follow the journey of a real person as they search for a job in Berlin? Well, that’s just what we’re bringing to you with this diary of a Berlin job seeker.

You’ll get updates on a weekly basis and hear about their experiences firsthand, including how many places they applied to, if they get invited to interviews, what the interviews are like, and if they get offers or rejections. See how they feel during the process, find out the mistakes they make, and learn about the mistakes the company makes too. There will even be a table or chart tracking the jobs they apply to and the outcome of each application. Banner


Someone I know is looking for work in Berlin and while they’ll remain anonymous for obvious reasons, we agreed to embark on this project to document the trials and tribulations of a Berlin job seeker.

This is their current situation:

Let’s call this person “Stella” (not their real name), who just found out that her company is not doing well and she might be laid off. The scenario remains uncertain – she may stay safe or could be let go anytime. She no longer feels a sense of safety at work, is completely unmotivated, and her well-being is beginning to decline.

Having been laid off before, she’s not panicking … yet. First off, she might retain her job after all. She also knows that if she loses her job, due to long notice periods and labor protections, she’ll be fairly well-compensated and if worse comes to worst, they can always go on unemployment. She’s thankful to live in Germany for just these reasons.

Not wanting to give control over her fate to someone else, Stella started looking for work. Fortunately, she lives in Berlin where there are plenty of job opportunities and she’s also able to work remotely. She has 10+ years of experience and works in an in-demand profession. She’s not German but has permanent residency and has been living in Germany for just over five years. However, she doesn’t speak German so well just yet, limiting her chances in what’s already a tough market. While she’s looking for one type of role in particular, she has a couple of fallback options even if that wouldn’t benefit her career development.

Stella has followed all of the conventional advice for job hunting in Berlin. She has a job application that meets German standards and she customizes it for each job application. She even had her documents reviewed by a career coach.

Let’s follow Stella’s journey as she looks for work in Germany.

Weekly Updates

This is Stella’s diary as a Berlin job seeker in 2023. Bookmark this page and follow along with her journey as new updates are posted each week.

Week One 

Scouring all the usual job search sites, Stella sees that job openings are not as plentiful as in previous times. Of course, opportunities available in English are even fewer. As a first go, she identified 11 possible jobs for which she could apply.

One of them seems especially perfect and she’s really excited. The company has a solid reputation and she can check off almost every single job requirement. She wants to apply right away but realizes, “I haven’t updated my CV in years. What have I been doing all this time?” 

She knows time is of the essence and a speedy application will improve her chances of getting an interview. But updating a CV and writing cover letters is no easy task and takes time. With everyone else she has going on in her life, it takes her another week before they submit that first job application. 

Firing it off, she breathed a sigh of relief and felt like she accomplished something. At the same time, she dreaded flinging herself back to the whole job search process again. She reminded herself that she needs career options and that having some job prospects in the pipeline will her sleep better at night. She vowed to keep applying for jobs but to do so at a slow pace to avoid getting too stressed.

Job Application Summary:

1) Company 1 – applied

Week Two 

10 days later and Stella has not heard a word back from company 1 outside of the standard “We got your application email.” She feels let down as she thought her job application had been spot on. Knowing that companies take forever to make hiring decisions in Germany, she tries to stay positive.

In the previous week, she’d only applied for that one job. Going into week 2, she amped up the job application efforts and applied for three more jobs. Writing custom cover letters was starting to get easier and chatGPT was a great help in sharpening up the content.

Much to her delight, the third company she applied to invited her for an intro call, which is scheduled for the following week.

Job Application Summary:

1) Company 1 – applied

2) Company 2 – An intro interview is scheduled. 

3) Company 3 – applied 

4) Company 4 – applied

Week Three 

At the beginning of week three, there had been no response back from companies 1, 3, and 4. Stella worked to prepare for an intro interview on Friday, Feb 24, and felt excited to see where that will go.

Stella also set about submitting more job applications, and to her dismay, three companies she had on her list to apply to had already closed the roles. She chastised herself, vowing that from now on, she’d apply for positions as soon as she saw them. 

Furthermore, Stella saw that while company 4 had the role listed on wellfound (a job portal for startup jobs), it wasn’t listed on their website. She’s now unsure if that job is even open and doesn’t understand why companies don’t do a better job keeping their listings up to date. 

On Tuesday, Stella submitted applications to one more company. On Wednesday, she submitted two more applications. 

Meanwhile, she’s seeing how many jobs require German and realizes she really needs to start learning it ASAP. She is now practicing daily with Duolingo.

Stella’s intro interview lasted 45 minutes and perceives it went well. She admired that the recruiter had solid interviewing skills and acted very professionally. It was a good sign! She’s confident that she has a solid chance to make it to the next stage. The company promised an update on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Job Application Summary:

1) Company 1 – applied 

2) Company 2 – intro interview is completed. 

3) Company 3 – applied 

4) Company 4 – applied

5) Company 5 – applied 

6) Company 6 – applied

7) Company 7 – applied

Learn first-hand what it’s like to look for a job in Germany by following our diary of a Berlin job seeker. We’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments too. 


About Our Author

  • Cheryl Howard

    A Canadian in Berlin for 10+ years, I have the unique experience of moving to Berlin - not once, but twice. I’ve had five different visas and worked as both a freelancer and a permanent employee. As a longtime Berliner, career coach, and hiring manager, I write guides about living and working in Berlin, offer coaching sessions, and provide ways to get connected to a wider community. The combination of my personal and professional experience means I know exactly what it takes to move to Berlin and find work.

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