How to land a tech job in Berlin

So Berlin’s tech startup scene is booming and you want to be a part of it. Well there’s good news, and bad news. But there’s definitely a way.

Let’s start with the good.

Good News: Berlin’s Tech Ecosystem is booming

“A startup is founded every 20 minutes in Berlin.”

Wait — what? You read right. According to Gruenden, the German capital hosts 124 startups for every 10.000 inhabitants. Talk about opportunity. It’s no news that Berlin is one of the leading startup hubs of Europe, and after Brexit, it looks the startup scene is ready for a Brexit bonanza. Let’s look at some numbers:

  • Berlin is #7 on Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2017.
  • 67% of all german startups are in Berlin.
  • VCs disclosed funds with a volume of almost EUR 6.2bn in 2016.
  • Startup Genome values the ecosystem at $22Bn. Global average is $4.1Bn.
  • McKinsey estimates Berlin startups will generate 100,000 jobs by 2020.

Not bad huh? Some categories experiencing significant growth rates in Berlin are FinTech, Digital Health, AI, Food Technology and, of course, Cyber Security. If you’re trying to land a job in any city, being up to date with the ecosystem and it’s key players is critical to success. Here’s some people you should now:

The big guys

  • Rocket Internet: In recent years, the company builder has acted as the driver for marketable digital ideas and as a nucleus for the Berlin ecosystem in terms of digital education and business execution. Firms linked to Rocket include Zalando, Delivery Hero, HelloFresh, Westwing or Home 24.
  • Zalando: Berlin’s most famous eCommerce startup, was founded in 2008 by Robert Gentz and David Schneider. In Autumn 2014, Zalando IPO’d to the tune of €5.3 billion.
  • Helpling: Helpling is a dynamic start-up company from the heart of Berlin. It provides certified cleaning staff who will make your home shine for an affordable price. Launched in 2014 by Benedikt Franke and Philip Huffman with a team of 25 employees, it has since raised more than €70M and is active in 200+ cities.

Other big names include Home24, Hellofresh, Xing, Billpay

Co-working Spaces & Community Hubs

  • Google Campus: The new Google Campus Berlin is being built at the Kreuzberg substation. It is the seventh worldwide, so far, the tech giant has settled in London, Warsaw, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Tel Aviv.
  • WeWork: WeWork opened its first office space in Berlin in the Sony Center on Potsdamer Platz. A second location on the Hackescher Markt followed a few months later. The co-working giant is looking to finish off the year with 7 locations throughout Berlin.
  • Factory Berlin: Not your typical Coworking Space but rather a Community Space. Factory is a campus in Berlin that brings new startups together with mature high tech companies. It has housed renowned startup companies including 6Wunderkinder, SoundCloud, Twitter, UBER and Zendesk.

Others include Betahaus, Mindspace, St. Oberholz, Impact Hub or Agora.

Our favourite startups

  • N26: In the past 12 months, the mobile-focused bank N26 got its banking licence, expanded to 17 European countries and tripled its user base to more than 500,000 customers — not bad for a company that only launched its first product in 2015 in an industry dominated by established competitors.
  • Soundcloud: Music streaming service SoundCloud, which allows global superstars as well as amateur DJs to upload audio content to its platform, is one of Berlin’s best-known tech companies. It’s a cool product, loved by millions of devoted users.
  • MoBerries: MoBerries takes a data approach to recruitment. Its hiring platform uses an automated ranking system to match applicants with companies looking to hire talent. It closed a €1.8 million seed round in May 2017, and co-founder Terence Hielscher says the platform now receives 10,000 applications a week.

Atomico reports and Startup Genome have great resources if you want to dive deeper into European tech ecosystems.

And now, let’s look at the not-so-good news.

Bad News: Everybody wants a piece

Ciaran O’leary from Earlybird VC hits the nail in the head:

“The key to Berlin’s success is the ability to attract and retain talented and driven people”

The premise is simple —like most advanced tech ecosystems, Berlin suffers from a shortage of highly skilled workers. The German Labor Office estimates that by 2025 Germany will need some 6 million highly skilled employees and that some 2 million people will have to immigrate to Germany to meet that need. They have put measures in place to facilitate that- and it’s showing:

  • Startup Genome ranks Berlin as the #5 city in the world (and #1 in Europe) for it’s capacity to attract talent.
  • It has the 3rd highest acceptance visa rate in the world at 77%.
  • It attracts the largest percentage of startups from outside the country (11%)
  • It has the 2nd highest percentage (43%) of immigrant founders in the world (behind Silicon Valley)
  • 16.5% of Berlin’s population is foreign — 186 different nationalities residing within the city’s borders. Within the startup scene, 49% of the startup workforce is foreign.

Aside from government support and the thriving tech ecosystem, there’s aditional factors that make Berlin an attractive destination. Rent may be rising, but the cost of living is still relatively low- in fact, 43% lower than London. And average salaries are pretty good. Take a look for yourself:

We highly recommend reading The Berlin Startup Summary Report

And to top it off there’s the social/cultural aspect. Berlin is fun, manageable in size, and the amount of cultural offerings is never-ending. Oh, and the parties :)

Now let’s cut to the chase.

How to get a job

So there’s a little bit of competition. But there’s certain things you can do to stand out from the crowd. First, make yourself employable. Then, create access to opportunities.

Specialize

We can’t stress this enough. Like we mentioned, Berlin has an acute shortage of skilled workers, and startups are constantly searching for new talent. At the moment, the hot jobs are any type of software development (front end, full stack, mobile), followed by UX/UI or other designers. Other specialty roles such as digital marketing, growth hacking or data science are also in demand.

Not sure what you’d like to do? Take an online course. There’s plenty of resources out there. Udemy and Lynda.com have excellent short online programs. Codeacademy is your best bet to start coding. Get a feel for the different disciplines, decide what you would like to specialize in, and then commit to it.

Think you can’t become a specialist in a short period of time? We beg to differ. This is Ironhack’s reason for being. We provide high-impact, condensed educational experiences designed with one objective in mind: getting you from zero to job-ready in 3 months. We’ve taught 1.000+ Ironhackers, and our placement rate is 90%.

Network

Ok so you’ve decided to specialise in a particular discipline. Now it’s time to create opportunities to capitalise on. At our program we prepare you for technical and personal interviews, review your CV, and you come out with a 3 project portfolio to show the employers you will meet during our hiring week. But it’s also critical that, from the moment you land in Berlin, you start to mingle.

Gonzalo Manrique and I during our first Meetup in Berlin

Make plans to attend TOA, the household tech (nology, not techno) festival during the summer. Landing Festival is Europe’s largest tech careers event, full of interesting talks and workshops. It will be happening for the first time this year in Berlin.

Join Meetup groups like Berlin Startups or Ironhack’s (We host free workshops every week!). Slack groups like Startup Berlin give you an immediate access to the community. Facebook has excellent groups like ‘Berlin Startups’ and ‘Berlin Startup Jobs.’ Berlin is full of interesting talks and free workshops. Startup Weekend hosts several events in 2018 and so does Startup Grind, both with extremely interesting formats.

Keep your LinkedIn, XING profiles and personal web page up to date, with a meaningful personal statement and your latest portfolio- and as you meet interesting people, make sure to connect and follow-up.

The best opportunities always come from personal connections. But you’d be a fool not to look for jobs online. Looking to freelance? Coworkies has an incredible network of freelancers working out of co-working spaces. Honeypot is an awesome developer-focused job platform. And here’s an awesome list of resources to find jobs depending on your background.


Changing your career is not easy. But technology is disrupting society as we know it, and most of the jobs available in 10 years haven’t been invented yet. At some point in your lifetime, you will have to reinvent yourself. Adapt, or perish.

During our four years alive we’ve met people from every background. Bullfighters, Economists and Psychologists turned Coders. Architects, Chefs and Marketers turned Web Designers. And they all had one thing in common — Attitude. A shared belief that excuses are for people who don’t want it bad enough.

So keep pushing. We guarantee perseverance and the right mindset will get you anywhere ;)

If you liked this post, please share :) We encourage you to share your story below. Follow our local Meetup page for free upcoming events in Berlin, and visit us at www.ironhack.com.
La familia :)