Arbeitszeugnis

Arbeitszeugnis, what does your boss say about you?

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Pick up the phone and start calling your old bosses. Don’t even think about coming without letters of recommendation saying how wonderful and great of a worker you are….and the commitment, results, motivation, excellent communication with your team…blah, blah, blah. In Germany, there is a work culture that is completely different from the one in our country, and it’s a virtually indispensable document that you will need to attach to all of your job applications. Don’t be scared, it’s not the end of the world! There’s still time to solve it (I also panicked when they told me).

You surely have already heard about it; if not, I will tell you. As a rule, and also by law, German employers are required to write a good letter of recommendation for you and be good towards you with the aim of making it easier for you to find a new job. The interesting thing is that HR departments have a sort of “secret language” to communicate “not-so-positive” employee evaluations (a stab in the back, as we call it). If you don’t know, you won’t even notice. Here are a few interesting examples in order to check your Arbeitszeugnis (source: Staufenbiel.de):

Evaluating your performance

  • Er/Sie hat die ihm/ihr übertragenen Aufgaben stets zu unserer vollsten Zufriedenheit ausgeführt = Sehr gut! You’ve done a bloody good job! You’re almost Gott! A very good evaluation. He/she has carried out the assigned task to our utmost and complete satisfaction.
  • Er/Sie hat die ihm/ihr übertragenen Aufgaben stets zu unserer vollen Zufriedenheit ausgeführt = Gut! You’re not Gott but you are very good. Good evaluation (gut). He/she has carried out the assigned task to our complete satisfaction. 
  • Er/Sie hat die ihm/ihr übertragenen Aufgaben zu unserer vollen Zufriedenheit erledigt = mittelmäßig. Let’s say it’s rather average. It’s not a bad evaluation, but you are not the office hero! He/she has carried out the assigned task to our satisfaction.
  • Er/Sie hat die ihm/ihr übertragenen Aufgaben zu unserer Zufriedenheit erledigt = befriedigend. Satisfactory. We regret to inform you that, although we like you a lot, you are replaceable! He/she has “more or less” carried out the assigned task.

Evaluating your behaviour

  • Im Umgang mit Vorgesetzten und Mitarbeitern war er/sie stets zuvorkommend, freundlich und korrekt = ein in jeder Hinsicht angenehmer Mitarbeiter. This evaluation means that you fit in perfectly with the team and the boss, you are the König! Come on, they’ll even have a few beers with you! It may seem strange to you, but Germans tend to write about kindness in their letters of recommendation.
  • Im Umgang mit Vorgesetzten und Mitarbeitern war er/sie stets freundlich und korrekt = ein freundlicher und korrekter Mitarbeiter. This evaluation means that you are a friendly, polite, and disciplined worker. Utterly boring.
  • Im Umgang mit Vorgesetzten und Mitarbeitern war er/sie korrekt = korrekt, aber nicht beliebt. Polite but “you did not win the hearts” of neither your co-workers nor your boss.
  • Das Verhalten war ohne Tadel =eine klare Abwertung … Well, I think your boss never took much of a liking to you. A slap in the face!

The end of the Arbeitzeugnis

  • Er/Sie verläßt uns auf eigenen Wunsch, was wir außerordentlich bedauern = ein sehr guter Mitarbeiter. You are an EXCELLENT worker. You are leaving your job voluntarily, and your company feels it is a true loss. Scheiße you were snatched by the competition!
  • Er/Sie verläßt uns auf eigenen Wunsch, was wir sehr bedauern = der Arbeitgeber hätte ihn gerne behalten. You are leaving voluntarily and we are sorry, but why are you leaving? It will take us some time to find someone but hey, you’re replaceable…
  • Er/Sie verläßt uns auf eigenen Wunsch =  dieser Mitarbeiter hinterläßt keine größere Lücke. You are leaving of your own accord, but the company doesn’t care too much…there are a lot of people waiting in line.
  • Er/Sie verläßt uns in gegenseitigem Einvernehmen = der Mitarbeiter wurde gekündigt, oder das Unternehmen ist zumindest dankbar, dass der Mitarbeiter geht. It means that you are leaving the company by mutual agreement. Caution! It seems that there was a fight, and getting rid of you was a troublesome ordeal for them…

Do you need to write a cover letter and don’t know where to begin?

This link will be of great help to you. Automatically create cover letters with just a few clicks. If you need more information about the Arbeitszeugnis in Germany, I recommend that you visit our website.

Our personal piece of advice for you: don’t make it difficult for yourself and don’t attempt to follow these norms, because you will definitely mess up. You see, a single nuance completely changes the evaluation!

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