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Relocating To Germany: Our Tech Candidates Share Their Experience

Optimus Search28 January 2020

Optimus Search

Experience is the teacher of all things, but it must be remembered that it’s often possible to learn from other’s experiences as well as your own.

We recently caught up with three of our successfully placed tech candidates, who each secured jobs and relocated to Germany, to tell us their stories and to get a clearer understanding of the challenges and hurdles you can expect when moving to a new country to further your career.   

They each have a different story to tell, each coming from a different country and a variety of backgrounds. 

We hope that their lessons will help to give you some valuable insight into what’s involved, whilst also informing and reassuring you in your decision to take on the challenge of moving abroad!
 

Backend Developer
From Israel to Berlin
 

What prompted you to look for a job abroad, and what made you chose Europe?

Having been born in Russia and growing up in Israel, I always felt that my dual-nationality had already equipped me with the social skills and cultural know-how to work in another country. So, appreciating that Berlin was one of the biggest up and coming tech hubs in Europe, I decided to further my career in Germany and have been living here for about 2 years. 

I knew from a very, very early age that I wanted to work in another country at some stage in my life – with my preferences always being either Germany or Canada. The reason I ultimately chose Germany was that I had friends of my parents living there at the time, and I thought to have some familiar faces around, would make the transition easier. 

That and they kept on emailing me lists of potential vacancies and telling me how there was a growing need for talented tech professionals!!!

So when one of the friendly consultants at German Specialist Recruiter Optimus Search contacted me about a possible role, I was very open to the idea of relocation.

In all honesty, I wish I’d made the move earlier, as I had already been working in Israel for 5 years at that point, earning half the amount of money!
 

So what German city did you settle in?

In Berlin…in fact, I still work at the very same company where Optimus Search placed me back in 2015. I saw the potential for growth right away and since joining, the company has changed very quickly which is both challenging and exciting. 


In what way has the company evolved since you’ve been there?  

In short, the company has grown 10 fold in the last 3 years and the development team now has a much louder voice and a greater level of impact than before. We’ve just recently had our second round of investment to further develop the technical side of our product, and I’m going to be one the project leads for the next stage of development.
 

 So what was the most difficult thing when adapting to life in a new country and why?

 In truth, given that I already had friends and family living in the region, it was not that difficult at all. They were there to share lots of general advice, and my company also helped me to settle with a very generous relocation package. The consultant at Optimus Search also provided me with lots of useful information to help me obtain a work visa and explained the whole process to make it seem attainable.

I had previously tried to get a Visa for Germany, but I hadn’t been successful as the ‘power that be’ just did not believe that I was ready to come to live in this “cold country.” For the record, I hated the hot weather in Israel, and feel much more comfortable when it’s cold. 

In all seriousness though…if possible, it’s very important to get good advice from expert recruiters and contacts in the region, as this will help inform your decision. 


What were the most difficult things to get used to - Can you name three things that stood out?

I think tellingly, there is not a single German programmer that currently works in our company, and the team is truly international. 

That being said, I do think that the German mentality to work is better suited to me. In my experience the Israeli way of doing things is set in and “eastern” mentality - with timekeeping not being a high priority and lots of people working by and to their own rules and agendas. I’m not keen on this. 

In Germany, everything is a bit more process-driven and regimented but that means that everyone tends to work to a common goal and this makes projects clear and understandable, which means I can be more effective as a programmer. German communication also tends to be very direct and brutally honest, and I find that this approach in a professional environment is invaluable. It helps you strive to be better, challenge yourself and embrace new ways of doing things. 

I remember reading somewhere that Germans are successful because importantly they don’t lie to themselves and are very realistic with regards to their professional capabilities.


So what are three bits of advice you’d have given yourself back when you were considering relocating?

Don’t settle for the first job or the lowest salary

  •  It pays to establish just how much a company wants to hire you! Research average salaries for the types of jobs that you are considering so that you can set a benchmark of your worth. I made this simple mistake and quickly realised that I could have commanded a higher wage because they really wanted/needed me. Thankfully I have had a couple of promotions since - but it’s certainly worth the research before accepting anything.
     

Consider the bureaucratic hurdles. 

  •  This could be simple things like a correct translation of your degree or diploma, finding living accommodation, tax registration, hospitals, childcare and many other things. For example, I was completely unaware that various expenses are tax-deductible if you are a migrant worker, so again do your research!! 
     

The Language Barrier: 

  • Dependant on where you chose to work, it is always useful to have a basic grasp of the local language. Luckily for me, Berlin is a big cosmopolitan city so my English language skills have been invaluable. However, it’s worth noting that in the more remote regions you may have to speak the native language to succeed or even be considered for jobs. Even though my English has got me by to date, I have also been taking German language lessons in the evenings, to further increase my professional worth….and make my life easier!

 

What, if anything, do you miss and did you take anything with you when left to remind you of home?

As terrible as it sounds - Nothing.

I have loved every minute of living and working in Germany and looking back to how things used to be back home….I actually think it’s quite boring, too laid back and WAY TOO HOT!!! 

Great for a holiday but not great to live and work....don't hate me Israel!!

Germany really is a great country, where I can see myself settling down permanently and whilst I often go back to Israel to visit family, I think that Berlin will be my home for the foreseeable future.