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HOLIDAYS

Here’s how to make the most of the public holidays in 2018

With summer drawing to a close most of us are back in the office and feeling a bit gloomy. But help is at hand - we tell you everything you need to know to make the most of your vacation time next year.

Here’s how to make the most of the public holidays in 2018
Photo: DPA

Germany gives you a fairly generous dose of public holidays, especially if you live in the Catholic south. But, annoyingly, they aren’t replaced if they fall on the weekend. That means that it pays to book your days off around the public holidays that fall on work days. Here’s how.

January

We all remember the festive season last year when Christmas and New Year fell on the weekend. It really wasn't such a happy time of year at all. Well good tidings are on the way.

Christmas and Boxing Day fall on a Monday and a Tuesday at the end of this year, meaning a bumper four days of holiday without you having to sacrifice a single vacation day.

And the merriment continues into the new year, with January 1st falling on a Monday. So anyone who has a multi-day hangover could choose to use up four vacation days here and keep the party going until January 7th. That would be a nine day break at the cost of only four vacation days.

For the people of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg the year doesn't start quite as perfectly as it could, though. Three Kings Day, which is celebrated in the two southern states every January 6th, falls on a Saturday.

March/April

February is a cold and unforgiving time indeed, there are no public holidays in that (mercifully) short month.

So we have to wait patiently for the end of March, which brings with it Good Friday (March 30th), the first day of Easter. Wise heads among us will certainly consider asking the boss for a couple of days off before or after the Easter weekend (although flights and hotels are often prohibitively expensive.)

May

Public holidays, you are indeed as welcome as the flowers of May.

Labour Day (May 1st) falls on a Tuesday next year, while Ascension Day is on a Thursday (May 10th). Germans like to call the piece of luck when a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday a Brückentag (bridge day) – meaning they can book their vacation on a Monday or Friday and get a four day break.

Indeed many of us will have an unlikely three Brückentage in May. If you work in Baden-Württmberg, Bavaria, Hessen, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Rhineland-Palatinate or Saarland you will also get the day off on Thursday May 31st for Fronleichnam.

SEE ALSO: Why Germany comes alive with religious bombast on Fronleichnam

Not only that, we all get a long weekend in the middle of the month with Pentecost Monday falling on May 21st.

So for those who like mini breaks, it really doesn’t get much better than May 2018.

August-November

The Christian calendar front-loads most public holidays in the early months of the year, so things always look distinctly more gloomy from July onward. But even the few holidays we do get are poorly placed in the second half of 2018.

Catholic parts of Bavaria and Saarland get August 15th off for Mariä Himmelfahrt, but it falls on a Wednesday, meaning no Brückentag possibilities there.

READ ALSO: Why Bavarians are busy hanging out bouquets on Mariä Himmelfahrt

Reunification day (October 1st) will also fall on a Wednesday, as does Reformation Day (October 31st), which is celebrated in the five states of former East Germany. And similar to countries like the US and Canada, Halloween (October 31st) unfortunately isn't a public holiday in Germany.

Catholics have something to cheer about in November with All Saints’ Day (November 1st) falling on a Thursday. In Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, NRW, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate that is a public holiday.

December

The end of the year brings cheer back to the whole country, with the two Christmas holidays landing on a Tuesday and a Wednesday – so a Brückentag on Christmas Eve will give you a five day break.

For members

WORKING IN GERMANY

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

Lots of foreigners in Germany hope to get a job or climb the career ladder. But are there still opportunities for English speakers who don't have fluent German? We spoke to a careers expert to find out.

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

The pandemic turned our lives upside down. As well as having to isolate and be apart from family members, many people found themselves in need of a new job or decided they want a change in career. 

If you’re in Germany or thinking of moving here, job searching is of course easier with German language skills. But many people haven’t had the chance to learn German – or their German isn’t fluent enough to work in a German-only environment.

So how easy is it to find a job in Germany as an English speaker?

We asked Düsseldorf-based career coach Chris Pyak, managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH, who said he’s seen an increase in job offers. 

“The surprising thing about this pandemic is that demand for skilled labour actually got even stronger,” Pyak told The Local.

“Instead of companies being careful, they’ve hired even more than they did before. And the one thing that happened during the pandemic that didn’t happen in the last 10 years I’ve observed the job market was that the number of English offers quadrupled.”

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Pyak said usually about one percent of German companies hire new starts in English. “Now it’s about four percent,” said Pyak. 

“This happened in the second half of 2021. This is a really positive development that companies are more willing than they used to be. That said it’s still only four percent.”

Pyak said he’s seen a spike in demand for data scientists and analysts as well as project managers. 

So there are some jobs available, but can foreigners do anything else?

Pyak advises non-Germans to sell themselves in a different way than they may be used to. 

A woman works on her CV in Germany.

A woman works on her CV in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

“In your home country you have a network, you have a company you used to work for that people know,” said Pyak. “This might be partly the case in Germany if you worked for an international company. But for most employers you are a blank sheet of paper, they know nothing about you. So unfortunately if they don’t know you or your country, they will assume you are worse (at the job) than Germans. It’s completely unjustified but it’s just how people are. 

“Get the employer to see you as the individual person you are, the professional you are. This requires that you have a conversation with somebody inside the company, ideally the decision maker, meaning the hiring manager or someone in this team.”

Pyak said it’s important to go into details. 

“Don’t think of me as a foreigner, think of me as ‘Mark who has been working in IT for 15 years’,” said Pyak. “Don’t read the job advert (to the manager), ask them what his or her biggest worry is and why is that important? And then dig deeper and offer solutions based on your work experience. Share actual examples where you proved that you can solve this problem.”

READ ALSO: 7 factors that can affect how much you’re getting paid

Pyak says foreigners in Germany can convince managers that they are right for the job – even if their German isn’t great. 

“What I advise clients at the beginning of the interview is to ask very politely if you can ask them (managers) a question. And this question should be: how will you know that I’m successful in this job, what is the most important problem I need to solve for you in order to make myself valuable? And then ask why this problem is so important. And the answer to that achieves a million things for you – first of all you’ve established a measurement by which you should be measured. 

“Then when you get into detailed discussion you can always tie your answer back to the question you can solve, which usually makes up 70 or 80 percent of the job. If you can solve this problem then what does it matter if you do the job in German or English?”

So in answer to our original question – it seems that getting an English-speaking job in Germany can’t be described as easy but it is very possible especially if you have the skills in your chosen field. Plus there are ways to increase your chances. Good luck! 

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