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Ingo Steinke, web developer
Ingo Steinke, web developer

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How to find sustainable jobs and projects as a web developer in Germany

One of the main reasons I wanted to work self-employed again was independence and freedom of choice. Working where and when, but most importantly how and for whom seemed appealing enough to quit my 9-to-5.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links (marked as such) and it is not updated regularly, so the information might be outdated already. Also, most external sites mentioned in this post are only available in German or focused the German job market.

High Standards and Compromise 🍏🍐🧺

Many employers seem to see themselves as modern and "green", eco-friendly companies. Proud about first steps towards sustainability, like the weekly fruit basket from a local organic farm, but maybe also driven by unscrupulous greenwashing marketing, you won't expect a lot of self-criticism.

Greenwashing Company Culture?

In consequence, as a web developer who favors ethical and ecological jobs, I keep getting a lot of work offers that simply do not match my standards. I am willing to make a compromise, but at least some aspects should match.

This is especially true for mainstream business sites like LinkedIn that seem to attract a lot of recruiters who target the masses and don't care about collateral damage.

Job Search Alternatives 🔍🐕

Alternative: use special job sites specialising in sustainability, green tech or information technology.

Updated in May 2024: I have deleted outdated information as some platforms seem to come and go. I will add more up-to-date links and information here.

All of those boards focus mainly on the German / European market, so you only compete with other developers who have to pay the same taxes and high German living costs. Sometimes, you can even check other profiles for daily and hourly rates to see if your own rates are within the normal limits.

I also get occasional useful contacts via my StackOverflow profile, and I have been working via intermediary agencies as well.

Incomparable Rates and Standards

I can't recommend some popular international platforms, like Upwork and Fiverr, at least from my personal perspective, due to their unbelievably low prices/rates. This is probably caused by international competition with lower living costs or exchange rates. Judging by reviews, some of those platforms seem to achieve an impossible paradox by making both providers and customers unhappy at the same time.

Compromise and Pragmatism

Talking about compromise and greenwashing, it might become impossible to find someone that you really want to work for, once you get too picky about what "sustainable" means to you.

Working for a company, especially when several agencies are involved, requires compromise, use their tools, and abide by their standards.

So maybe classic "freelancing" isn't for you?

There are many startups and fellow developers and designers who might need your work. Maybe you haven't met your perfect partners and customers yet.

Why not grow your professional network in real life?

Networking 🎪

Reflecta is an online community for "change makers" where you can connect to ethical startups and other like-minded individuals focused on sustainable development (SDG).

Attending local and virtual meetups like the Sustainable Offsite Meetup is another opportunity to extend your network. Going to co-working spaces, maker spaces, and repair cafés might be another.

Open Source Contribution

If you are looking for an idea for a new software project, why not contribute to an existing open-source project? Building software for a good cause can help you learn and build your development skills, show off your work, and get to know people.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch 🇩🇪

As a native speaker, I tend not to notice the language barrier. But even at jobs and companies where you don't need to speak any German, you might stumble upon code comments, chat messages or legal forms in German.

So, if you're an expat who plans to stay in Germany at least for some years, try to learn the German language! It is hard, as I have been told, but it can also be funny and poetic, and speaking the local language at least a little bit helps to boost your chances both professionally and personally.

Further Reading

Parts of this article have already been published in my personal weblog at

Top comments (3)

barunbapari profile image

Is this only for people live in germany or anyone can find a freelance job there?

ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke, web developer • Edited

All platforms, that I mentioned, seem to focus on Germany, some include or plan to include Austria and Switzerland, but there are a lot of fully remote jobs these days. Freelancermap states that they are global, while Honeypot is a platform for developers in Europe, and only lists projects in Germany. 4scotty will expand from Germany to include Austria and Switzerland soon.

barunbapari profile image