October 5, 2023
March 21, 2024

Hiring in Germany

Estelle Bousses

Founders usually have three main themes to solve when entering a new market like Germany:

  • Create a local network and new client relationships by adapting to local specificities
  • Build a common culture and best practices across different countries. Opening a new market might create a culture gap between the HQ and the new office.
  • Hiring the first team in Germany.  The success of a market expansion strongly depends on the first team you are hiring.

We had the chance to partner with Canute - now Canute by Thursday - in June to discuss how to hire in Germany with a panel of Founders and investors. We shared our learnings and best hiring practices based on our experience in the German market.

Acelr8 gained expertise in the market as we supported more than 300 startups and scale-ups with a focus on Germany. Our Embedded hiring model notably helped startups who just entered the Berlin market to set up efficient Talent Acquisition processes and hire their very first tech, commercial, and people teams at speed.

During the session, we answered five main questions:

Startups Hubs in Germany

  • Differences between Berlin and other parts of Germany
  • Insights on Common Benefits & Perks
  • Legal points when hiring locally
  • Talent Acquisition processes
  • Do's and Don'ts of hiring in Germany, the unwritten rules (language, communication style)

Berlin ecosystem: a talent magnet

“Berlin is a melting pot of opportunities for companies willing to build a meaningful and scalable business, that is set in an open-minded and diverse environment and gathers international and mission-driven talent. Also it is fun." - Lubomila Jordanova, Co-Founder of Plan A and Co-fouder of Greentech Alliance
“As Germany’s leading ecosystem, Berlin proudly presents itself as a city of impact startup, a city of talents, a city of enablement, a city of diversity, and a city of cooperation.” - Franziska Giffey, Berlin Senator for Economics, Energy, and Public Enterprises.
  • #1 start-up hub in Germany and is still Europe's number 2 Start-up ecosystem
  • Unparalleled international talent pool

Before supporting across EMEA, Acelr8 started their first Embedded projects in the Berlin market!

Our Talent Partners observed that the market stands out by:

Attractiveness for international talents, especially tech talents

  • Candidates are more inclined to relocate due to the city's diversity and a lower language barrier. The official language of most of the startups is English. Most of the scale ups and startups we are working with already relocated international employees and have an international culture, making it easy for candidates to project themselves into the team. As an expatriate, I found it easy to establish myself in Berlin, as most administrations, gyms, health professionals, and landlords speak English fluently. The city has an international flair!
  • A high concentration of tech talents, focusing on Data Science, Mobile, DevOps/Server/Cloud. The key sectors of Berlin city are AI, Fintech, E-commerce and retail.

A concentration of startups and great infrastructure

  • Great startup infrastructures. 25% of the existing offerings to support startups in Germany are located in Berlin: incubators, accelerators, company-builders, and co-working spaces. In total, there is a network of 22,000 entrepreneurs in Berlin.
  • Never-ending networking events. You can interact or learn from networking events hosted by great scale-ups every week.  Berlin offers world-class startup events, to name a few: Berlin, hub.berlin, StartupNight, WeAreDevelopers World Congress, IFA Next Startup Days.

Berlin vs. Other German Hubs


Munich is a great talent hub for Robotics Engineers and Hardware Engineers! It is the #2 Hub in Germany and it keeps growing as a major tech hub, particularly in the research and development areas. It is home to the unicorns Personio and FlixMobility (FlixBus).

Munich is #34th city globally for startups

  • Munich’s technology ecosystem is valued at €76.5 billion
  • 30 start-up accelerators
  • Similar office costs as Berlin


Several Hamburg-based start-ups turned into successful grown-ups, for example, FreeNow, Jimdo, quantilope, ABOUT YOU, or Localyze. Hamburg is also the home of market leaders in Gaming!

💡 Interestingly, Hamburg is only located 1h30 minutes away from Berlin by train! If you are hiring talents in Berlin and have a hybrid remote set-up, it is a great city to consider. Especially if you need to hire fluent German speakers.

  • Market leaders in Gaming (GoodGames, Bigpoint).
  • Creative Hub, particularly in Marketing.
  • Great pool of native speakers, close to Berlin!


More than anywhere in Europe, the Stuttgart-Tübingen ecosystem has a larger share of its technical talents in robotics, drones and autonomous vehicles!

  • Pool of engineering talents from pioneers like Bosch, Mercedes and SAP
  • Major manufacturing hub
  • Less international than Berlin or Munich

Frankfurt & Cologne (Köln)

Frankfurt and Köln are considered to be B2B startup hubs, with a high concentration of startups in Fintech, Biotech, Cybersecurity and Edtech. A famous story of Köln is the success story of DeepL, who became a German unicorn last year! We are proud to count them among our clients for almost 2 years!

💡 DeepL established its HQ in Köln but has a great remote work policy and offices across Germany, notably Berlin. The flexible policy allows them to attract talent from all over the country while maintaining an engaging culture and team interactions.

Teams from different offices meet once a quarter for team bonding and workshops. To me, they are a great example of a balance between having remote flexibility, talent attractiveness, and team-building incentives!

  • Frankfurt is a paradise for fintech, with 33% of startups operating in the sector!
  • Köln is at the centre of the Rhine. Ruhr region is one of the most dynamic in Germany! It concentrates over 10 million inhabitants!
  • The office costs are cheaper

How to make your choice?

We recommend basing your choice depending on your activity sector and the core locations of your client networks. In general, we think it is an interesting approach to craft a remote policy allowing you to hire from different German hubs to facilitate hiring.

Hiring In Germany

Acelr8 started its journey of hiring in Germany in 2014. Our Embedded service allowed us to work closely with Founders, People and TA teams daily.  As in-house recruiters “on demand”, we are not only involved in identifying and attracting talents but also in shaping sustainable talent strategies together with our clients.

We observed that Germany's talent market, particularly in Berlin, has five main characteristics.

High Competition

The competition for tech talents is fierce. For tech talents, candidates receive on average at least 10 outreaches per week. When you are making an offer to them, keep in mind that they always have 3 to 5 offers from other companies at the same time.  Creating the best candidate experience is crucial!

Many start-ups or scale-ups lost candidates due to slow hiring processes, changing the role requirements too many times, not defining a clear offer process in advance, or not doing a pre-offer call to understand the mindset of the candidate.  The interviewing experience everyone provides also plays a big part in the candidate experience. Make sure your Hiring Managers are all aligned on how to interview, have clear assessment criteria, and an engaging approach with candidates.

Hybrid or remote

Most start-ups and scale-ups we are working with adapted to a hybrid or remote set-up after Covid, and the trend still goes on. Having flexibility in the work location is crucial for talents, and is a way to keep competitive when hiring.

Common practices:

  • Full remote with an offsite at least twice a year and remote benefits like a remote budget
  • Hybrid with one to two office days a week (mandatory or not), or offering co-working location options

To organise your remote set-up, we advise you to speak with providers like remote.com or deel.com. Your compensation strategy will also need to be updated. Figures is a great tool to support you in the process! We are also happy to have a longer chat with you about start-ups and scale-up practices we observed over the past years.


Every founder who hired candidates or acquired clients in Germany highlights it: it is in the German culture to be detail-oriented.  When launching a new role, map out the remote policy for the role, salary range, bonus, perks, equity, and career-growth opportunities

When you deliver the offer, make sure that you have all the details in hand and a proper contract (German & English versions without typos). Don’t just send an offer email. Instead, offer the candidates to run them through the offer details over a call and answer all their questions in detail.  It gives the candidate a space to ask all the last questions they have in mind, to protect themselves in the role, and to create a safe space.  It does make a difference!

Some of our clients prepare a Notion page or a document template where they centralise all the information about the offer and personalise it depending on the role.  Extra trust created!

Long hiring times

The time to hire we observed varies between 30 to 42 days, but count at least 4 to 5 months for niche or highly demanded roles like Sales German speaking roles or executives.

In Germany, the notice period is 3 months, so from the moment you hire a candidate to the moment they start, a long time might happen! Make sure to keep in touch with the candidates before their onboarding. We advise inviting them to team events for example, or to have a bi-weekly call until they start.

Employer Brand

If it is your first time hiring in Germany, you will need to invest time in your employer's brand. As a start, translating your website in English and German as well as some job offers in German (for Sales, Finance, Accounting, and People roles - not necessarily tech roles) can be useful!

When discussing employer branding in Germany,  I recommend contacting Wyngs (https://wyngs.co/en/home-en/), Andrea Vaugan impressed me when we discussed during Acelr8’s mission with Silvr.

Final note

During our workshop with Canute, I put together best practices to implement when you start hiring. It will help you overcome some of the challenges when hiring in Germany through:

  • Preparation
  • Referrals and active sourcing
  • Avoiding common hiring mistakes

Best Practices to implement to hire fast - with quality

For an open chat on hiring best practices, feel free to contact us!

Thank you!

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