How embracing Germany’s naysayers could help you get a job

How embracing Germany's naysayers could help you get a job
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Having a career culture shock in Germany? Our jobs coach Chris Pyak lays out how learning to embrace the differences, frustrating as they might be, can help you snag that dream position.

Life has been the same for a very long time. Nine months went by, one day just like the other. Yet last night at 00:40 CET that changed. I took my wife to the hospital. The contractions were strong, they came in a short interval. Twelve hours later and we…

…are still waiting. No baby yet.

Why am I telling you this? Well, there are a number of lessons here for your job search in Germany.

First: Just because things have “always been this way” doesn't mean that they won't change – and change both drastically and instantly. 

SEE ALSO: Why it's a myth you need to know German to get a job

Think about the last three big opportunities that worked out for you.

How much did they depend on someone having trust in you – without actually knowing you first hand? How much did they depend on a recommendation by a friend? How much did they depend on the reputation of your university or your previous employer?

These are all shortcuts for decision making: Someone trusts in something that they know. This something or someone is connected to you – therefore they trust you.

SEE ALSO: How to be seen as the best candidate for that job in Germany

Once you start searching for a job in a foreign country, this shortcut doesn't work anymore. Chances are, nobody has ever heard of your university in Germany. You have nobody here who could vouch for you. This means you start with zero social capital – but you also get a fresh start.

The lesson here: Embrace change, even if it's scary!

A success story

Realize that you need to change a lot in your life if you want to be successful in this new environment. Even more important: If your refuse change yourself, then how will you convince a German employer to embrace change?

Human resources in Germany, for example, is known for being a notoriously tough department which applicants have to go through before their CVs can even be glanced at by managers in the company. They may be quick to turn down applicants before giving their documents a proper read.

But remember: as the name connotes, they are also just people, and hence could be willing to give you a second chance if provided with additional supporting documentation or if you write a convincing enough argument on why it's worth giving you a shot.

One former job seeker we spoke to was rejected by the HR department of a large German company because he lacked one of the technology skills the firm had listed under their criteria.

In his home country, his university had provided a different type of training. Yet he wrote to the HR representative, pointing out the similar skills he possessed, and how he was currently enrolled in an online course in Germany to bring him up to speed with the company's standards.

The HR representative gave him a second glance, and he snagged the job, where he's now happily been working for the past three years.

Germany is full of people who will find a problem for every solution. “Bedenkenträger” is what we call these people. “Concern carriers”, otherwise known as naysayers.

Professionals who can provide a fresh point of view, who are willing to take a calculated risk are rare and valuable. Make “Change” with a capital C your value proposition..

Because hiring you means to do something differently.You are “not what we are used to”. Your university name means nothing to us. Your references are sounds without meaning. You need us to take a risk and embrace change. You can only do this if you embrace change yourself.

SEE ALSO: Eight things Germany has to do to attract (and keep) international talent

That's the next lesson: change is what make you valuable to us.

I discovered this a long time ago: Whenever my coaching clients find companies that are changing – they have better than usual job opportunities. May it be that it is a brand new startup, a new division in an established company or simply a new boss: Whenever something is changing, the chances of “different” candidates are better than usual.

Moving to Germany can lead you to a new and better career. It also gives you the opportunity to start with a clean sheet – like a new born baby. Embrace the change.


Chris Pyak is the Author of “How To Win Jobs & Influence Germans“. The managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH has worked in four different cultures and lived in five different countries.

Chris returned to Germany in 2011. His mission: Bring the Immigrant Spirit to his home country. Chris introduces international professionals to employers in Germany.

Jobs in Germany

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