typically german; – Anja Spohr, Belinda Villbrandt und Gastautoren

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Artikel der Kategorie ‘Working in Germany’

Cultural Awareness Workshop – Ahold Europe/Albert Heijn to go Germany

December 03, 2013 Von: Anja Spohr Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

Cultural Awareness WorkshopCultural differences and similarities are sometimes ignored, sometimes underestimated and sometimes not noticed at all. To prepare a successful market entry into Germany, the Dutch Retail Company Ahold Europe asked typicall-german to create a workshop. The goal was to minimize cultural related misunderstandings between the Dutch and the German teams.

The one-day workshop consisted of practical exercises and activities. The focus was on the reciprocal perception of both cultural groups and the reflexion on own behaviors. Prejudices were named as well as things which were appreciated with the particular other group. In cooperation with a Dutch Consultancy company a presentation was held: „ Live, work & learn in the DeUTCHLANDS“.

Cultural Awareness WorkshopA questionnaire determined the „Most Typical German“  (the winner was a Dutch group member) and as a common achievement a „Cultural Awareness Card“ was created by all team members, which will further on remind all participants on this success- and joyful day. This will be the basis for a constructive cross-border cooperation.

Celebrate success

July 26, 2013 Von: Anja Spohr Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

One of my project partners from the Netherland shortly asked me if we should celebrate our first milestones, which we successfully reached already. Why that, I replied, we are not ready yet and we still have lots of things to do. My project partner looked a bit flabbergasted. The German saying  “First get things done before you can have fun” is obviously very up to date . Almost slavishly the Germans stick to their action lists which they created themselves (or got it from others). After everything has been done, ok, then we could maybe think about having some fun and celebrate that we finished our tasks. But of course in a reasonable way and not too early, you never know if you are really done with everything…. And also, if we were really successful.

Calculated optimism or fishing for compliments?

So, what is it all about, do we like to get more recognition than we deserve or do we hide our light under a bushel? Or are we just fun killers? Proactively promoting ourselves is maybe not our biggest strength. False modesty? Or don’t we have the heart  to be proud of what we accomplished? Let’s face it, the first time, that we really showed ourselves being proud and happy was during and after the Football World Championship 2006, when the world recognized this event as the “German Sommermärchen”. We proudly showed the German flag and announced: yes, this is our success and we celebrate it! And now we surely can be happy on the success to have reached the final at the  Women’s Football European Championchip.

Make it in Germany!

September 07, 2012 Von: Belinda Villbrandt Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

The Government’s Campaign

Although Germany seems to have a relatively stable standing in the current global economic crisis, unfortunately things do not look so good when it comes to the future of the German workforce. Experts predict that the lack of skilled labor could have a greater negative effect on the German economy than the global crisis. The German government and the federal employment department are preparing a campaign to inform people of how increasing the amount of skilled labor and managers from foreign countries would be advantageous for Germany.

New welcoming concept

More information to the campaign can be found at www.fachkraefte-offensive.de and www.make-it-in-Germany.com. Here you can find offers for advice and counseling for companies and skilled workers. “Coming to Germany pays off”, says Finance Minister Philip Rösler and is campaigning for a new “welcoming concept”. According to his calculations, securing a skilled labor force and immigration will be long term challenges.

500.000 positions open

By 2025, there will be a shortage of approximately three million skilled workers; these are the figures from the federal employment agency.  There are currently 500,000 available positions reported, which could not be filled. The actual number is probably much higher. Most needed are mathematicians, engineers, scientists, but also mechanics, welders and healthcare workers. In Germany, the long term perspectives look great for good, hard working people. And to top it off, it’s a wonderful country full of culture – a bright, exciting Germany is inviting you to live and work here!


Recognition of Foreign Degrees Gets a Green Light

July 01, 2012 Von: Belinda Villbrandt Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

New Rules Now Apply for the Recognition of Foreign Certifications and Degrees

On April 1, the so-called work qualification acceptance law (BQFG – Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgestz) will be put into action. Those who have completed a degree or acquired certification in a foreign country, now have the right to have such certifications reviewed for recognition. Previously, nationality and resident status were part of the reviewing criteria. Today the review is based solely on content. This is a big step by the German government toward responding to the scarcity of qualified workers in Germany.

Improving opportunities in the German job market

Approximately 300,000 people in Germany will profit from the new law. Those with certifications acquired in their homeland may now be able to have their degrees officially acknowledged in Germany. This is an important step for many individuals, further improving their situation in the current job market, not only in the actual search but also in the compensation of their performance.

Applicants possess certification and a desire to work in Germany

The review for equivalency will be based of officially formulated criteria, such as content and length of the training. The application for recognition may be placed by anyone in possession of a foreign certification or degree and has the purpose of gainful employment in Germany. This option is not available to those without certification or a degree from another country.

Reference to German occupations for comparison

The central factor in the reviewing procedure will be to use German occupations as a reference in the comparison process. It will be officially reviewed as to whether or not there are essential differences between the foreign degrees and the German occupational qualifications. Work experience, both foreign and domestic, may be an additional factor in the reviewing process.

Important for all applicants: All statements and information must be documented. For further information please go to




The Blue Card for Germany

June 12, 2012 Von: Belinda Villbrandt Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

Easier immigration for the highly qualified – the Blue Card is intended to make Germany a desirable option for professionals

Well educated non-EU professionals will be given easier access to Germany. The German parliament has just passed a law to introduce the so-called Blue Card, a kind of simplified work permit. Accordingly, the highly qualified rules of the European Union will apply.

Lowering the salary threshold

The Blue Card is intended for skilled workers from non-EU countries, when certain requirements have been met. These include a college degree and a work contract with an annual salary of at least 44,800 Euros. This is more than 20,000 Euros less than before. In the past, employees from non-EU countries had to have contracts with an annual salary of at least 66,000 Euros in order to receive a residency permit. For those with qualifications in high demand, i.e. engineers, mathematicians, doctors and IT- workers, the threshold is even lower at only 35,000 Euros.

Permanent residency after three years

Holders of a Blue Card and their families are to be given permanent residency after three years, if they still have a work contract with the required salary. However, if the card holder can prove good knowledge of the German language, the status may be attained after only 2 years.




Vocational education in Germany

May 07, 2012 Von: Anja Spohr Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

Push for international apprenticeships

The “Emsland” is a small county in Northern Germany, down-to-earth and economically affected by a solid mid size company environment. Even more we should be surprised to see, that the Emsland startet a pilot project to train young Spanish adults as of summer 2012 in the trade and repair business. Language courses and an orientational training included. The chance for young and motivate people to get a solid and professinal vocational education is rising.


“Dual education

The most popular way in Germany to get a proper training to find a solid job is the so called “dual education”. On the one it is  a reliable system with certified quality. On the other hand this system offers a lage scale of different opportunities in almost all industries. No matter if you chose to become a barber, electrician or a banker, the dual eduacation system makes a point on guaranteeing a balanced combination between theory and practice.

Reliable commitment and steadiness assumed

The particular company procures practical oriented knowledge. The apprentices go to the so called “Berufsschule” (trade schools), either on a weekly basis or on block-release courses. To get the approval to participate in the final examinations, an apprentice in Gemany needs to proof what he/she learned over the years. Normally this is approved by the trainer of  the particular company. To graduate successfully it is important to be steady and reliable as an examinee. The apprenticeship offers a  very good preparation for the professional careers. The mixture between theory and practice supports apprentices becoming valuable employees. It is quite obvious that we will need lots of those valuable employees in the future.

The commendable andprovident example from the Emsland should become a role model.


Tuesday is Office Day – rituals in German offices

March 17, 2012 Von: Anja Spohr Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

Every day work life in Germany offers a wide range of rituals. Some have a history, others have risen to unwritten laws already. I while ago I heard from a Belgium colleague, who worked in Germany for several years, that he found it impossible to go for a store visit with a district manager on a Tuesday. And here is why: Tuesday, said the district manager, is Office Day. They have always done it like this. That also means, no one could change it. There needs to be an opportunity to handle all the emails and paper work. Even if it’s getting freaking hot outside, there was no way to change this.


In working environments like production plants you normally start greeting your colleagues with „Mahlzeit! as of approx. 11 h in the morning. It means that lunch time is not far away anymore and it is common to use this salutation until late in the afternoon. It is also possible that employees, who start their working day a little later than normal, will be friendly greeted this way.

„Nine fo five“

It is hard to say, if this rule is history already or not. If you believe in European statistics, Germany a world champions when it comes to working overtime: in 2011 there were supposed to be about 2,5 billion hours overtime in Germany. This of course does not work if you strictly work from nine to five. In some industries for sure it changed from „nine to five“ to „seven to three“. Especially on Fridays.

Feierabend (Closing Time)

What a nice word…. Some of us happily anticipate Closing Time shortly after noon. The “Feierabend” is very important and strictly private time for many Germans. As a result, we tend to wish a “Schönen Feierabend” (Happy Closing Time) to others and ourselves.

Business dinners in Germany

March 12, 2012 Von: Belinda Villbrandt Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

Intensifying contact

Going to dinner with colleagues, clients and business partners is a great way to continue work conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. It is important to note that in Germany, as opposed to some other countries, it is common and acceptable to discuss business over dinner. Meeting for lunch is most common, usually between 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. If there is a special situation, like when a particular achievement is being recognized, then sometimes the engagement takes place in the evening. Evening dinners are usually a little more extravagant, whereas lunches are usually more simple composing two courses, i.e. an appetizer and a main course or main course and a dessert. Usually business lunches are rounded off with a cup of coffee.


Mr. Knigge tells us how to do it

Even the youngest members of German families learn to cultivate their table manners in the home. These days there are many companies which offer training seminars to companies specializing on German table manners. You can find an overview of such seminars here at www.knigge.de. Adolph Freiherr Knigge, an 18th century German writer, dedicated his work „On Human Relations” to proper interaction in society. Today, his name represents all such matters of etiquette.

Here is a summary of the most important conventions, when it comes to table manners especially in the context of a business dinner.

  • In better restaurants, it is customary to reserve a table. In Germany, it is not customary to be designated a seat, you chose where you would like to sit.


  • No one begins drinking until everyone has received their drink and the first “sip” follows the casual toast of “cheers”, while looking each other in the eye.


  •  Likewise, no one begins eating until everyone has been served. We then wish each “bon appétit”. Both hands should be on the table throughout the entire dinner. Avoid extreme gesturing and if you enjoy your meal, eat everything. As soon as you have finished your meal, place your eating utensils parallel to each other at 4 o’clock position.


  • If you are the one who has invited everyone to dinner, pay the bill discretely off to the side to the waiter or the bar and have them give you a host receipt, “Bewirtungsbeleg”. The Germans have a unique way of tipping. If you feel you have received good service, 10% is an appropriate tip, and you say this by naming the new total. Like this, the waiter says, “That will be €45.20.” You respond, “Make it €50.” Direct and straight forward, which requires quick calculation abilities and some practice. A quick “Thank you” following the transaction greatly increases the value of your tip.


  • If you have come together to the lunch appointment, you leave together as well. It is customary to stay seated at the table a few minutes after dinner and chat.


  • If you have met for lunch, people don’t usually order alcoholic beverages, then after all, a busy workday is usually still lying ahead. Nonetheless, there is no rule against it. It is completely acceptable for each person to decide about this for themselves.


  • And last, but not least, women are expected to conduct themselves just men in the role of host, or shall we say hostess. Old fashioned ideas like, women shouldn’t pay or hold the door open, do not apply in Germany’s modern-day business world.


Immigration country Germany .

February 16, 2012 Von: Anja Spohr Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

We are looking for qualified professionals!

There are many voices in Germany so far who ask for more qualified professionals coming to Germany. One of these voices is Frank-Jürgen Weise, boss of the Federal Employment Office in Germany.  He talks about a significant lack of skilled personnel and requests about two Million highly qualified to come to Germany in the next coming years. There are some industries, where already today we have a lack of professionals. Until 2025 there might be even a number of vacanicies of about six to seven Million professionals and managers missing. “We might be able to fill this gap by 50% by putting in professionals from inside Germany.” (Source: Interview – Die Welt, May 14th 2011).

German economy raises an alarm: especially Engineers, Medical professionals and IT-Specialists are missing. We need clear and pragmatic guidelines to make it much easier to hire those Specialists.

Chances for starters and more senior Germans as well

But there are other voices as well. Some political parties more or less explicitly suggest to primarily offering young German professionals good and future oriented career paths and to foster compatibility of working life with private life and family. Additionally it should be ensured to have jobs available for the more experienced and older people. At this point in time it is challenging to talk about an “either-or” instead of an “as well as”. Being worried about the development of the national employment market ad how to attract voters for the next election seems to slow down working on pragmatic concepts to open up Germany for international professionals and managers.

Image problem for Germany  – but not for German companies

By having endless discussions on this topic, Germany becomes a suspect on not really wanting professionals and managers. Fortunately company internal reality looks a little different. Inside most companies you barely find these kinds of discussions. It is much more important to have dynamic and motivated employees to reach the company goals. In an international oriented environment every helping hand is more than welcome. More and more companies offer international employees attractive incentives and relocation support for them and their families. But it is still not visible enough, that Germany really is very attractive and really welcomes international professionals and managers. It still needs some official statements and programs. Affected German companies also should work on their employer brands to be more present on international platforms.

Naysayer and worrier

January 29, 2012 Von: Anja Spohr Kategorie: Working in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

„Angst“ is a German word which has a certain internationality. That is maybe due to the reason, that Germans are quite good in looking into the future in a pessimistic way. Even if we don’t have a reason at all. Even if we don’t have to face a crisis, we sometimes tend to wait for it. And then it comes, if we wait or not.

Yes, but…

We are inclied to think things through again and again until the very end. After we have done this, we normally determine that there is of course a solution for the problem we thought about. Normally there are still some concerns left…. As a consequence, Germans are not famous for beign spontaneous decisin makers or implementer. There are always some things that might go wrong. So it sometimes is just better not to start a new project, or at least not too fast. The “80-20-rule” which is well known in some other countries, only slowly starts to be established in Germany.

….on the other hand

Having said that, this way of thinking and working sometimes helped us a lot to  avoid critical mistakes. There is a good example: during the financial crisis in 2009, Germany, unlike other countries, advisedly deployed some close to market instruments, such as short-time-work. So it maybe took us some more time to react on the particular situation, but in retrospect we can state, that we not only “survived” the crisis but emerged from it even stronger. “Slow and steady wins the race” is also a Geman saying. We don’t want to appear stolid, but hectic pace is not the attribute that describes best our way of working. And that is a good thing, too.