For anyone considering a move here for the purpose of finding a job in Germany, or for those already here and struggling with this task, you are going to love this week’s post.
Get ready for some great tips from LiveWorkGermany’s interview with Hans-Christian Bartholatus, Founder and CEO of Hamburg-based start-up Employland. Read how his company is providing a valuable service to foreign jobseekers in Germany, so as they can save time on applications and at the same time gain visibility from a range of employers who are open to hire foreign workers.
To go with this, Live Work Germany has also created a useful checklist which you can download for FREE 🙂
A helping hand with finding a job in Germany
No more wasted time sending speculative CVs and applying to the wrong companies. Enjoy!
Herr Bartholatus, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Could you first of all please give a brief overview of what Employland’s concept is all about and your company’s mission?
Employland is a Hamburg-based startup with the mission of bringing together skilled personnel from all over the world with German companies. We offer two services: Firstly, international professionals and skilled workers finding a job in Germany through our online platform, and secondly, we look after the future employee’s entire bureaucratic procedure (including the procurement of a residence and work permit, the legal recognition of a professional’s qualification, etc.).
Employland was founded in response to Germany’s skilled worker deficit. A few weeks ago, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research reported that German companies already experience difficulties filling half of their job openings. This skills deficit particularly effects Germany’s mathematic, IT, scientific, and technical fields, as well as medical and health care sectors (the acronym STEM in English defines these sectors).
The cause of this skills deficit is Germany’s changing demographic: our birthrate is dwindling. The German population is both shrinking and ageing, a trend with an especially large impact on the working population. Because adequate labour supply is an essential condition for a healthy economy, one of Germany’s central challenges in maintaining its strong economy is ensuring it has enough skilled workers and professionals.
How can we accomplish this? We need immigration…and on a large-scale.
Germany’s Institute for Employment Research (IAB) compiled a report that concluded: an average net migration of 400,000 immigrants is necessary every year in order to maintain the labour force potential by 2060. We also need to keep in mind that an average of 800,000 people emigrated from Germany every year between 2011 to 2014, meaning Germany will need 1.2 million immigrants annually to maintain its labour supply. Last Tuesday the IAB stated that in the first quarter of the current year there are more than one million vacant positions – a huge number, and higher than it has ever been.
So it’s becoming easier for non-EU citizens to immigrate to Germany?
The Federal Government recognised this growing issue long ago. In the past five years, legislation has continually been adjusted to allow for easier immigration from non-EU countries. Examples of this include: the Blue Card for academics, the revision of the Employment Ordinance in 2013, through which immigration from third countries was also made possible for non-academic shortage occupations, and the Act for Improving the Assessment and Recognition of Vocational Qualifications acquired abroad (the Recognition Act).
However, the bureaucratic procedure for hiring international employees is still complicated and difficult to understand: Companies, especially small and medium-sized organisations, lack the necessary legal know-how. As a result, many companies don’t attempt to hire foreign professionals and skilled workers. Even abroad it isn’t widely known that Germany has significantly opened the way to its job market for foreign skilled workers and professionals. There is a myth that the German bureaucratic procedure as insurmountable without support. Nevertheless, Germany is still considered an attractive immigration destination, with the OECD-Report naming it the second most popular immigration country after the USA!
That is why we founded Employland. Our mission is to make it as easy as possible for German countries and international workers to find one another.
And how exactly does Employland work?
Skilled workers create a detailed profile on the Employland platform. There we ask for all of the information that could be relevant for an employer when choosing an applicant. Employers in Germany search through our profiles for a suitable candidate, and once found, contact that potential employee. In this way, potential employees are spared the gruelling international job hunt.
There are no job advertisements on our platform. With Employland, skilled workers and professionals don’t have to search for jobs und repeat the application process again and again – not to mention in a country with different application norms than in the country of origin that the worker might not know. Instead, employers search through our profiles for future employees and contact them.
The process is completely free for the applicants on our platform. Only the employer pays a recruitment fee. And we don’t just leave workers on their own once they have found a job. By request, we support them in the entire bureaucratic procedure, including the procurement of a residence and work permit for non-EU citizens, and the recognition of qualifications, when applicable. In general, the employer will commission our lawyers to help with this process, and pay for the resulting costs. Our attorneys work at set prices, which are published on our website.
The Employland website appears to be mainly aimed towards non-EU / EEA nationals. Do you also match professionals from EU / EEA countries with potential employers?
Absolutely! Employland is also designed for workers from other EU-countries. The platform is as applicable to EU-/EEA-citizens as non-EU-citizens (third country nationals).
We have more legal information concerning third-country nationals on our website solely because finding a job in Germany for them entails a more complex immigration set-up and procurement of permits, navigating complex laws. EU-citizens can move freely within the European Union, and relocate and work in every EU-country. For workers and professionals outside of the EU, who require German residence and work permits, there is a far more extensive bureaucratic process. That means our legal services are more relevant for them than for EU-/EEA-citizens.
However: The recognition of qualifications can be as necessary for EU-/EEA-citizens as third-country nationals, especially when they want to pursue work in a regulated profession, such as doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, etc. In these cases, the services of our contracted lawyers can also be relevant.
In 2016, 685,485 people from other EU-countries came here, many of them successfully finding a job in Germany. But this is partly due to the consequences of the economic crisis in Europe. Therefore, the number of immigrants from other EU-countries will shrink when foreign job markets have strengthened again. That means that immigration from third-countries is a necessary longer-term strategy for Germany.
Please share with us some of the most common mistakes and pitfalls you see from candidates.
Being a startup, we must collect more experience in order to objectively answer that question. Generally, there are of course many difficulties for foreign workers and professionals when it comes to finding a job in Germany. First and foremost, there is the issue of German language proficiency. Whoever can’t speak German is at a major disadvantage. In this aspect, the German job market is rather inflexible. English language jobs are not numerous here.
This difficulty is apparent when looking, for example, at the struggle to integrate many refugees into the German job market. The German language is one of the greatest hurdles in this case.
International students in Germany who are on an English language study path also experience the same problem. A large number of these graduates return to their native country, although they would like to stay in Germany, because they are unable to find jobs. A primary reason for their lack of success is insufficient German proficiency.
Yet another challenge is the German job application process. Job application conventions vary from country to country. For example, in Germany a resumé (CV) is accompanied by a cover letter, and that resumé and cover letter are different than resumés and cover letters in other countries. Whoever wants to apply for a job successfully must be familiar with these conventions. And here German proficiency comes into play again. Spelling and grammatical errors are an absolute no-go in German applications. They will land your resumé in the trash.
Our platform spares job applicants these issues. In order to do this, our online form should be filled out with as much detail as possible, otherwise it won’t attract the employer’s attention. Whoever puts less effort into their profile will definitely have a slimmer chance of catching the interest of an employer. Our platform is in two languages: in addition to German, users can fill out their profiles in English. Every now and then it happens that applicants enter their data in English even though they have German skills. This is a bad strategy because they garner less attention by employers.
Of course, German companies would be wise to incorporate some flexibility in their employee searches, by not ignoring English-language profiles.
That would be great but I guess we can’t have the world on a lollipop stick! People have to be realistic. If you’re an immigrant in someone else’s country, learning the language is a must. The problem many face is that newcomers are not immediately fluent in German. Which industries and open positions tend to be the more popular clients of Employland’s services?
We don’t offer jobs on our website, but employers looking for future employees search through our profiles themselves, looking for suitable candidates. Employers can enter search terms and see worker profiles that match their search inquiry.
Those with the best chances of being found, contacted, and offered a job through our platform, are those with a career in fields where there are the fewest German candidates. Employers in these fields are most likely to hire foreign workers. Every six months the Federal Employment Agency publishes a so-called labour shortage analysis, containing a list of professions experiencing a lack of workers. As mentioned above, these professions are often in the STEM field: from mechanical and automotive engineers to electricians, plumbers and railway transport workers to infrastructure experts.
Many other fields of expertise are also highly sought after: careers in the medical and health care sector, from nurses and elderly caregivers to physical therapists, pharmacists and doctors. Furthermore, there is a great need for occupations such as driving instructors, hairdressers, and workers in gastronomy and the hotel industry.
OK, so a lot of demand for more “technical” jobs but most definitely openings in certain sectors of the economy for less-qualified candidates too. Are there any main jobs and sectors for which the German government is most willing to grant skilled migrant visas (blue cards) for non-EU / EEA applicants?
Professionals from any job sector can obtain the Blue Card if they fulfil certain prerequisites: They need to hold a university degree and they need a German employment contract or at least a job offer, in which they earn a minimum of EUR 50,800 (for 2017) annually in Germany. There is, however, a lower minimum salary for skill-shortage professions of EUR 39,624.
Whoever does not earn at or above this salary minimum can still apply for a work permit. In these cases, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, or BA for short) undertakes a priority check in which it examines whether preferred applicants (e.g. German or EU citizens) are available for a particular job. Furthermore, the BA examines a worker’s possible working conditions. A foreign skilled worker must not be employed in less favourable conditions than a comparable German skilled worker, e.g., they cannot be exploited as a source of cheaper labour.
There is also a work permit for immigration from third countries into non-academic shortage occupations. Skilled workers who have recognised vocational training in skill-shortage occupations in Germany can obtain a German work permit according to the new employment regulations of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (2013). On the basis of a bi-annual skills shortage analysis, the Federal Agency for Employment compiles an overview of the training professions in Germany that count as skill-shortage occupations and publishes them as a shortlist.
For professions on the shortlist, the above-mentioned priority check concerning preferred applicants is omitted. An examination of the working conditions nevertheless takes place. There is a precondition for attaining this work permit: the worker’s training qualifications must be recognised as equivalent to German training qualifications.
Recognition of foreign qualifications (or lack of) is often considered a hurdle to immigrate to Germany. Could you explain a bit more about how the recognition process works?
In 2012, the Federal Government reformed the rules for the recognition of foreign vocational qualifications with the Act for Improving the Assessment and Recognition of Vocational Qualifications Acquired Abroad (the Recognition Act), and created a generally valid legal right to a recognition procedure, which enables the equivalence of a foreign qualification to be verified as compared to the German profession. The application for a recognition procedure can be submitted both domestically and abroad.
Recognising a foreign qualification is the responsibility of Federal or State recognition bodies. The best result of a recognition process is full equivalence with a German qualification. If the result is initially a partial recognition, the recognition body shall outline the individual qualifications in the notice, describe the deficits and specify the necessary adjustment qualifications for obtaining full recognition.
Examples of possible deficits include lack of theoretical knowledge, practical skills, language deficits or lack of experience in professional practice. Full recognition is achieved once all the listed educational measures, knowledge or suitability tests have been successfully completed. Under certain circumstances, the activity may be performed in Germany during the adjustment measures.
In order to implement appropriate adjustment qualifications, foreign skilled workers have the opportunity to enter Germany for up to 18 months: Upon receipt of full recognition, the stay can be extended by one year in order to find a job corresponding to the qualification.
Finally, German students seem to be obsessed with getting Auslandserfahrung (experience of living abroad). If this is perceived as a prerequisite to get a good job, you would think companies would be keen to employ skilled candidates from abroad. They’ve got plenty of Auslandserfahrung! Is it a case of HR departments just being scared of taking risks?
Experiences abroad are positive in more ways than one for employees. Those who studied abroad demonstrate that they are self-sufficient and motivated. They show that they generally handle new or foreign situations well, and tend to bring with them a cultural knowledge, and foreign language skills.
That means an employee hired from abroad, who lives in his/her home country did not necessarily experience differences between two cultures and does therefore not necessarily prove intercultural competencies. However, he or she would know the local market, mentality, and work culture of their home country, which can be a huge benefit for international companies as well as the employee’s bi- or multilingualism.
There are two reasons German companies are still hesitant when it comes to hiring international employees: The need for German language proficiency, and the bureaucratic burden (fortunately, the latter is easily solved with the use of our legal service!).
Thank you for answering our questions so comprehensively. I’m sure this interview is immensely valuable for potential jobseekers and has also definitely helped me to better understand how the immigration legislation works!
Just a final reminder, don’t forget to download our FREE checklist!