Q&A with Liam about his personal journey of relocating to germany

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Please introduce yourself. 

My name is Liam Tennant, I work in Halian’s Berlin HQ supplying IT Freelance candidates to the rapidly growing tech community across Germany. I recruit a wide range of traditional Software Development Jobs such as Front End (JavaScript, CSS, HTML…), Back End (Java, Ruby, Golang, C#.Net, Scala, Kotlin, Python, PHP), UX/UI Product Design, Product Managers and Software Project Managers. My most recent placements were two fantastic Full Stack Developers who have multiple project experience developing on the Shopware 6 platform.



Why did you choose to move to Germany, was it for work?

I started working in recruitment in 2013 in the UK straight after graduating from the University of Leicester with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. By 2016 I was focussing on recruiting candidates for the German market. One of the challenges I was faced with was that I did not speak any German and this meant that I could only work with English-speaking candidates and clients. My employer at the time asked me to relocate to Germany and to set up a new office and local team which I was to lead. I was young, free, and single, so I took the opportunity to relocate and after 4 / 5 years of living in Germany – I have never regretted making that decision once!



Which difficulties did you face when moving to Germany? 

Woah! Where do I begin with this one… there were many admin challenges at the beginning such as registering for medical health insurance without a previous UK ‘policy’. All I had for documentation was my European Health Insurance Card as we do not take out specific health insurance policies with the NHS in the UK. Then I had to go to the Finanzamt for my Tax ID, the Bürgeramt for a Residents’ registration confirmation (Anmeldung), and I had to set up a new local bank account which I couldn’t do without the Anmeldung. The biggest challenge was that I didn’t speak any German and I didn’t have any German friends who could help me, so I spent a lot of time on Google and Google translate! From week one, it was clear to me that I would need to take on the monstrous Der/Die/Das challenge and learn German – fast! I enrolled at The Goethe Institute the following week after my arrival. I attended an evening course 3 days per week and I completed levels A1 to C1.2 in around 2.5 years. Working a 40 hour work week plus losing 3 evenings a week for 2.5 years is a test of one’s endurance, but I was determined to finish the courses and to try to integrate into the country.



What do you like about working in a German team? 

Every day is an 8-hour german lesson and I am learning industry-specific vocabulary which is helping me to utilize the language during my working day. The German language learnt in the schools is very basic, so the real schooling started when I joined Halian! I am even learning the words the German School wouldn’t dare teach us on the course. I sit with a whole team of people who are recruiting in German and it is great to be able to listen in and learn how I should use the language professionally.



Could you describe the benefits of having a diverse team?

Diversity in the workplace ensures a variety of perspectives which is highly beneficial when it comes to planning and executing a business strategy. In addition to having different perspectives from people with different backgrounds, exposure to such a diverse team leads to increased creativity. When you put together people who see the same thing in different ways, you are more likely to get a melting pot of fresh, new ideas and solutions, thus improving the creativity and problem-solving ability of your workforce.



What has this international move taught you?
  1. That it is never too late to start learning a new language and with enough motivation and endurance, you can achieve a good enough level of language to get a job in such a reputable company like Halian!
  2. That no matter how great my german will be, I will never master Der, Die, Das!
  3. That in Germany you have 0.76 seconds to pack your shopping in the supermarket before the Cashier starts to serve the next customer or tells you to hurry up!
  4. It is very entertaining to hear German’s pronounce the word Squirrel!
  5. Living in Berlin has taught me to have a very open mind. I have met some incredible people from all different walks of life whilst living in Berlin.



What’s the best part about living and working in Berlin?

Berlin is a great city in which to be an Expat; it is multicultural, dynamic, and extremely open-minded. As an Expat in Berlin, you’re sure to make yourself at home here, even if it takes a little while. Rent prices are generally lower than the rest of the country and there is a vast variety of things to do outside of working hours. Expats can mix with Germans, people from your own country, and people from all over the globe.  If you do not speak German or you are on your way to mastering the language, there are many international companies based in Berlin where either their business language is English or the vast majority of employees in the company speak fluent English. A great example of this is Halian – the people here really are patient with my German language skills and help me every day to improve.

The work-life balance in Berlin is incredible. During the summer (Pre/Post Pandemic) there is so much to do outside from countless Open Air events to sunbathing and swimming at the many lakes which surround the city. There is something for everyone.