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Advices to find a job in Germany with the recruiter Viola Hoffmann

xing-profile-photoViola Hoffmann is the co-founder and CEO of Accedera, a company that accompanies foreign skilled workers on their successful migration process to Germany since 2013. After finishing her education at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands as well as her Masters in International Business and Politics at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, Viola moved back to Germany, where she now lives in Berlin and enjoys life in the international capital. In the current interview, she will give us valuable tips to find a job in Germany. Thank you very much for participating and give us your impression about the German labour market!

  •  Is Germany still a good destination for those who are looking for a job? If yes, where? Which positions?

    Yes, I think Germany is a very good destination if you are looking for a job. However, Germany is comparatively big and quite diverse and some labor regulations can be very tricky. That’s why I don’t want to make a general statement. It is super important to get informed early on about the possibilities you have with your degree. Nonetheless I want to encourage everybody to also think “outside the box” and take into consideration smaller, less known, or rural places. Sometimes these are the places where the demand for employees is highest (and living cost the lowest).

  •  Which are the key requirements to be considered if we are looking for a job in Germany?

That depends on the job. Nonetheless in 90% of the cases I would say: speaking German is a key requirement for a qualified position. After the language skills the qualification itself is very important. There are many jobs which require an Anerkennung, an official recognition of your foreign diploma, to be able to work.

  •  Is the German language a barrier to find a job? Which level of German do you recommend us to have to start looking for a job?

Definitely! I think it is the biggest hurdle. However, I don’t want to recommend a level of German to start looking for a job. You can get all sorts of jobs (gastronomy, logistics, temporary employment companies,…) with low or no German. And being exposed to a German working environment from an early stage onwards might give you the self-assurance you need to compete for a job in your field later on. The question is if you want to take those jobs while learning German. Nonetheless, to put a number on it, I think B1 is a good level to start looking for a skilled position.

  •   In which areas do people need more support?

In my opinion, one of the biggest missing pieces for foreigners is the lack of a German network. An informal network is essential, even in Germany, to know about opportunities be it a job offer or a new course or to get a valuable introduction. So that’s what we at Accedera do: If people reach out to us, we always try to point them into the right direction or to connect them with somebody even though the position might not be in our recruiting field.

  •   Any tips for our applications?

Definitely check out German standards for application writing. I know, this sounds obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many CVs I receive that are not suited for a German application process. Also, I think it is worth the investment to get a decent job application picture. I know that by law you are not required to have a picture at all, but unfortunately it is still what everybody does. You don’t have to spend 150 € on the picture (which is easily possible), but maybe see if there is a local photo studio which does pictures for 20 €.

Apart from that I always recommend to emphasize the points that are relevant to the position and maybe keep it short on the ones that aren’t. An example: recently I received an application for a position as a head of sales with a company that does a lot of telemarketing. Judging by the CV it seemed that the applicant had never worked in telemarketing before which was a major weakness to us. Turns out the applicant had one year of telemarketing experience from a job he did during his studies. But he had just not put it on the CV because he thought it was too long ago.

  •   Do you recommend us to look for a job when we are already in Germany or at our country of origin?

Difficult to say… I have seen both work and both go wrong. What I definitely recommend is to get your expectations clear and then find out if the labor market can fulfill those expectations. To give another example: One of our applicants has spent years of learning German and preparing the whole family mentally for migrating to Germany. Then we found a job for her in a great position with a very good salary for her field and it turns out that the salary didn’t fulfill her expectations. To be honest, I don’t think she will find a higher paying offer in any other place in Germany. So she could have saved herself and her family all the trouble had she informed herself before. There are a lot of statistics out there on average salaries in certain professions as well as collective union rates (Tarifverträge). So what I am trying to say is: Before you take the huge decision to migrate and to find a job in  Germany (or any other country) get your expectations (of course salary wise, but also life-style, working hours, weather,…) clear.

  •   Which attitude should we have if we decide to move to another country?

Haha, so many difficult questions! I don’t think there is just ONE attitude you need to start living in another country successfully. However, persistence is definitely important, because it won’t always be easy. Also patience, both with yourself and with your surroundings. And lastly, I think it is very important to ask for help when you need it. There are other people who have done the same thing before you, so why don’t learn from their experience?

  •   What services are you offering at Accedera?

We are offering both free and paid services. On the one hand, you can find a job through us directly especially if you are a kindergarten teacher or partially recognized as such, a social worker or qualified to work with people with disabilities. If you are looking for work in the field of IT, engineering or other jobs in natural sciences, we would love to recommend you to our growing network of recruiting agencies. Apart from that you can book individual mentoring sessions with us to discuss your application documents, strategy or opportunities. As I said before, so often either information or a network is missing and we love to provide both. Apart from that we are writing a blog all around the topic of living and working in Germany with lots of useful information – you can check it out here.

  •   Which advice would you give to someone that look for a job in Germany?

Get clear on what you want and make a plan on how to get there.

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