Did you recently get to Germany and are trying to find a job? Or are you thinking about changing your job after having been in the same company for a while and you feel like you have got a bit rusty in this whole job searching thing? Do you think Germans are strange with all their application requirements and you wonder why it is so damn hard to get a job despite the supposed Fachkräftemangel that is preached in every newspaper? This post will shed some light on some of those issues and give you a five step guide to avoid the biggest hurdles and pitfalls applicants commit.
Co-Founder and Managing Director of Accedera GmbH
Having worked in the area of international recruiting for almost four years now, I have seen quite a few things with regards to applications and I want to share these experiences with you so that you can avoid the pitfalls and reach your goal: a job that provides for you and is something you are passionate about (or at least interested in).
STEP ONE: Collect information on where you have the best professional chances in Germany
The Fachkräftemangel (shortage of skilled labor) has been in the media for the last four to five years suggesting that finding a job in Germany should be the easiest thing ever. This is not entirely true.
The shortage of skilled labor depends very much on the sector you are working in and on the region where you are looking for a job.
So if you are not yet in Germany or are thinking about moving to increase your professional chances, I suggest that you check out the statistics published and updated every half year by the German Employment Agency (Arbeitsagentur). Additionally if you google “Fachkräftemonitor” + a specific region, you will mostly find specific regional information provided by the Chambers of Industry and Commerce.
STEP TWO: Accept the German way of submitting applications
Sometimes it might seem that German job application processes are really strange and annoying. And even though you might be right, there is no use in rebelling against the system. You won’t change it, but will only lose a lot of energy and focus while doing so.
Coping with the system means, for instance, getting your CV straightened out.
I have seen more than 700 CVs since starting my business Accedera and less than two per cent has been in a format that a conservative German company would consider to be acceptable. For starters acceptable means that the CV has been written in German. There are by plenty of companies and organizations who offer creating and translating your CV. Prices start at appr. 20 € per CV.
In Germany part of a good CV is also a Bewerbungsphoto, an application picture. Although you are legally not obliged to send a picture, it just has remained common practice. You and I both know that this picture will make the first impression before any recruiter even gets to the first line of your CV or your Cover Letter. And these people deciding on your CV are only human; most of them let themselves subconsciously be influenced by this first visual impression. I know this, because I sometimes have to fight against being negatively influenced by this impression and to concentrate on the skills of the applicants. Absolute no-goes for your application pictures are: selfies, pictures taken by a friend against a white wall, absolutely ANY vacation picture, and pictures taken sitting in front of your laptop camera. I suggest you google “Bewerbungsphotos” in your city or enter the next photographer’s studio. Costs for pictures range between appr. 15 € (decent minimum) to 250 € or more for super-professional fancy pictures including a make-up session and Photoshop makeover. Remember to wear nice and professional clothes for your date with the photographer.
STEP THREE: Have a strategy
In my experience there are two strategies for getting a job: sending out massive amounts of applications or applying carefully and detailed to specific positions that really have caught your interest. I think that both strategies work but not for the same sorts of jobs. If you are just looking for a low-skilled job to get by and pay your rent while you are learning German, then spam the market and every job opportunity with your CV and pro forma cover letter.
If, however, you are at the stage where you are looking for serious work, professional advancement and a great job opportunity, I recommend strategy two. I have two reasons for this:
First of all, recruiters look for good and talented employees whom they are willing to give a job, provide training, let them work with the established team and spend money on his/her training for the first three to six months instead of simply gaining from the employee.
Hence they want to see that the applicant has an actual interest in the company. Meaning: the applicant has researched what the company does and shows in his cover letter that he has taken the time to think about why he/she wants to work specifically in this company and why he/she adds value to the company. Believe me, every recruiter is able to differentiate between an individual cover letter and a mass letter.
My second reason for preferring this strategy is that I am actually a lazy person and hate wasting time on tasks that make no sense. And isn’t this the same for most of us?
If you cannot make yourself to write even five lines on why you would like to work at specifically this company, then just don’t apply.
You don’t want to work there and a recruiter will get the same impression from your application. So save yourself the trouble. This strategy has worked exceptionally well for me in the past. 😉
STEP FOUR: Always send a few introductory lines when applying via email
You wouldn’t believe how many emails I get without any content and just a CV attached (or similarly negative: entire sermons). There is one strong reason why you should never do this!
By sending a blank email you lose the first (and maybe only) possibility you have to make an impression.
A blank email will in the best case be saved to the “Do-later” folder and will maybe be looked at whenever there is no other task to do. You don’t want that! And you can avoid it by just stating a few lines, maybe even copy the first paragraph of your cover letter. But don’t write too much. Business people don’t like long emails because it means lots of time to spend on reading them. So just mention the essentials and mention your detailed application attached.
STEP FIVE: Be persistent
Be persistent in two ways:
First of all, be prepared that looking for a job might turn out to be a long process of half a year to a year. If you find one faster, great! Celebrate and enjoy that you have just saved yourself many hours writing applications which you can now spend doing something that inspires you more.
But be prepared to go the long distance both in amount of applications as well as in time invested.
Secondly, make it a habit for yourself to call each and every company to which you applied! Give them about two to three weeks time to process your application, but if they then don’t get back to you: call! Not only because you deserve to get an answer to your application, but also because if something has happened to your application this can be fixed and, additionally, they might start considering your profile once they have had the chance to get to know you via phone.
Accedera recruits amiable and qualified European personal for German nursery schools and remedial care centers. Accedera follows an integral approach in order to work towards a good start for both employer and employee. Through its talent pool Accedera accompanies all international applicants from the first steps of thinking about migration to finding and keeping a job in Germany.
Find out more about Accedera and their current job offers for foreign specialists on their website.