Category Archives: Work&study – general advices

Why confident talented Russians get fired in Europe

When working on this article, I thought I would write a list of reasons, why talented Russians (and guys from CIS-countries with the similar mentality) get fired in Europe already during the probation period.

Let’s take Germany, a usual job not involving IT or scientific research, where people will forgive you whatsoever if you do the job. The main reason why Russians get fired is that we are UNSOCIAL. Unsocial according to the European standards.

If you are Russian, you know for sure, how our satirist Zadornov made everybody laugh by telling, how people smile 24/7 in the US. If you work in Europe at a position where you see people at least twice a day – congrats, smiling is the easiest thing you are going to need. Here is my personal list, why you may be considered unsocial (and therefore get a label “you are not good for the team spirit” and get fired) while working, for instance, in Germany:

  1. You don’t spend the dinner with your colleagues. You just wanted to go shopping during the lunch break to have some minutes off from talking? Forget it. In Germany, people expect you to eat with them every damn time they want to eat together. Because you all are a team! The worst is, even if they eat somewhere very expensive and not tasty, you are still invited in an obligatory manner.
  2. You don’t drink coffee with your colleagues. We all know days, when you count minutes to get a project done and all your deadlines are burning. In fact, I have such days at least 3 times a week. Buuut….when your colleagues invite you for a cup of coffee, you go and drink a cup of coffee, even if it’s your 7th for today. Because you are a damn good team member.
  3. You don’t tell, what you did on the weekend. The question, which is usually asked on Monday, makes me sweat every week. Hmmm…what did I do on the weekend? Had sex with my BF, slept till lunch, watched TV?…Nope, I need a good story and everybody should see, what an interesting person I am. Because I am a damn team member. And I just love telling everybody about my personal life.. Read more

10 reasons why your education and work experience have no value abroad – and what to do with it, Part 2

Hi, please check out the Part I of this article to catch up on most important reasons why your CV may not work abroad! Here are the next 5 factors:

6. You have no experience in the country where you are applying

If you worked many years in Asia before, employers cannot be sure, whether you will be able to do the same kind of job in Europe. It is not easy to admit, but with every half of year spent working in Europe, you will see that your experience from other countries will be more and more valued. I suppose, in my case it has lasted 1,5 years until my Russian, Chinese and American experience was fully accepted in Germany.

What to do: Find yourself a job 1-2 levels lower than you are used to or look for a position in a company with offices in your country. In a couple of years you will be back on top as you will prove that your skills and qualifications are not worse than those of your European colleagues.

7. You are not studying in one of the top universities

Many foreigner students are glad to accept scholarship from less popular universities. This gives you more flexibility and security during the study, but might cause problems after the graduation.

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10 reasons why your education and work experience have no value abroad – and what to do with it, Part 1

If you study in a foreign country, your ultimate goal is to get a job after the graduation. This is, however, quite difficult, as you will soon understand that you are not getting even a half of interviews the locals get. Nationalism? Discrimination? Or, probably, just not enough understanding of the local labour market? The “We are sorry to inform…” emails become especially painful when you are applying for a junior position while already having a lot of experience from your home country. What are you doing wrong? Let’s analyse it 😉

1. You had no job while studying

While Russians usually find a job to survive through the university years in a local restaurant or supermarket, Europeans have lots of vacancies at universities (helping out professors) and in companies (like Werkstudent in Germany, which is a work for 20 hours a week in time slots when you have no classes), which allow them to collect the RELEVANT work experience. Let’s imagine, a German works as a Werkstudent during the years 2-4 of his Bachelor program. When he graduates, he will have 1.5 (3 years, ½ of the usual working hours per week) years of experience AND the same diploma as you do. You had an “Assistant” job in your home country, he had a “Werkstudent Project Management” in the country you both are applying in. Who will get the job?

What to do: If you work in a country with student jobs available, get one as soon as you feel confident about your study. You will get no “foreigner discount” for havong no student job and just studying, but your CV will look weaker without it.

Special advice: If you have a scholarship, get the information if you are allowed to work at all. If not…probably, some job-related volunteer work would do.

2. You had no extracurricular activities

We all know that you need to study hard, and many majors just leave no time for any parties or even social clubs. This, however, puts your career in danger if you look for a job in UK, USA or some European countries. The more social your job is, the more important social clubs, summer schools and team challenges will be for your CV. The more technical your field is, the stronger importance things like conferences, scientific clubs etc. might receive.

What to do: This sounds really bad, but nobody is going to control, how many time you spend in your Students for International Politics club. The only thing, which is important, will be your position – are you a leader, a change maker or just a member? Use your time wisely.

3. You have no letters of reference

This is a very common problem for many countries. Beware that your experience is not valid for many employers if they see no paper behind it.

What to do: Write a letter of recommendation in English by yourself and ask your manager to print it out on the corporate paper and to sign it.

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10 things to do when you FEEL that they will fire you – editor cut

This is a special article for a friend of mine, who told me that I need to invest more time in this blog by giving her some advice in her difficult situation. So, here I am, telling you all obvious parts of the bitter truth and preparing you for the most unpleasant (not)surprise: cancellation of your contract. I also was fired when the Renewable Energy industry collapsed in Germany some years ago, therefore I will be glad to share my experience on this matter. Here is what you do when you know that you are spending the last days in your company:

1. Get copies of all important papers

Get copies not of the whole secret stuff, but of the emails, which might have got you fired. Of the “OK” notes from your boss for the projects which could lead to the cancellation of your contract. Of the meeting‘s summaries which will demonstrate that you have told the ugly truth but your boss did not want to hear – and, if he would, the disaster would not have happened. In other words, prepare all the documents you might need to defend your case in a court, especially if you work in a country like Germany, where you get a reference letter with a specific grade from each employer. You should be able to defend your interest in the end, especially if you expect your boss to let you go in order to defent his reputation.

2. Collect your contacts

Very often, you will lose the access to all the contacts in your corporate phone book and your email the same moment you will get the cancellation letter. You might have clients you would like to take with you or clients, which could offer you a job right away – do save the contacts in advance to use all opportunities.

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Winning the fight for new ideas: how to make your CEO hear you

I always envy people who find time to post pictures, posts and ideas in their blogs every day. I am anyway not that kind of person, as I am still in my early 30ies on the high wave of my career. So, yes, I have some office dramas from time to time when I sit in the office till midnight to get things done and limit my online communication to “OK” and “please buy toilet paper”.

I did not write anything for quite a while. That’s because I have been fighting for a very important project with all management levels and most of our departments to get an approval for it. And I won. Therefore, for lunch you will get some ideas about pushing new ideas and projects to CEOs, who are always busy:

  1. Get in touch with the Business Development at first. They do know, how the strategy looks like, what kind of clients what is currently looking for, which factors will determine, whether a project will be accepted or not. Business Development may supply arguments, which will help you to get the project accepted by the CEO.
  2. Prepare the financial information and discuss the conditions with the Sales Department. Even if the formal content of the project will not convince the CEO, the financial gain might.
  3. Get in touch with the Legal Department and discuss the contract details, if any. Have a look at the contract templates and think about possible deviations. If the decision process in your company is as long as in ours, you will have no time for starting writing a new contract from the scratch after the approval.
  4. Do not underestimate the power of influencers. If you know somebody who smokes with the CEO during the lunch time or watches football with him on Saturdays, use your chance to tell him and ask if he could try to persuade the CEO to consider your idea.
  5. Always keep good relationships with the assistant of the CEO. She or he is the only person who might find those valuable 5 minutes in the schedule to inform the CEO that there is an idea or a project worth his time. He or she is the one looking for a small gap in the CEO’s schedule for you. Small people may be of a big help.

Especially if you are a woman in a male industry, the way of fighting though all management levels for your project may become a nightmare. Practice your elevator pitch, prepare short and clear summaries, use visual information and never forget about asking others for support.

Good luck in your projects!

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

Doing grammar mistakes while working in a foreign language: how to win the game

Nobody is perfect – neither are your foreign language skills. However, many of us working for a foreign company or even in a foreign country had problems with grammar mistakes in our emails, official documents, presentations etc. How to deal with them with grace – and how to avoid grammar mistakes while working in a foreign language? I am not going to give you advices like “use the grammar tool X” or “read twice before you send it”. Let us to be honest – many tools will correct obvious mistakes, but none will look into your head and rewrite your sentence in a way you wanted it to be. So, how will we proceed?

  1. 4-eyes rule

This is a simple rule meaning that at least one colleague should check every important document you are sending out. This rule is obligatory for audit companies and very popular among consulting companies – but it can be applied everywhere. Just find a colleague who needs a grammar check himself from time to time and ask if he could proofread your email. In small teams, the team leader is often the one doing this job. Please note that reading important documents, which have an impact on the company’s image is not the same as reading somebody’s homework at school – if you made a mistake, it is much easier to correct it while proofreading than to correct the consequences of a badly written email. Don’t be shy to ask somebody to proofread your work – this is a part of the work like any other.

  1. Better in than out

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Woman with the baby carriage in the working world

Today in Forbes Woman Russia, I read an article about the self-presentation of women in social networks. It was mostly about the fact that internet is tired of the Instagram and Facebook presenting ideal life of a businesswoman, who wake up with perfect hair and makeup and never look exhausted.

This is a very interesting idea, especially because I just coloured my hair blond so my colleagues and my BF would not see swelling around my eyes 😉

A good career, even and especially with a “work-life balance” requires a lot of personal investment. You will get much more tired, if you care to get more from your life. If after your day at work you will go to a sport studio or to a language course or even for a coffee with a friend, you will be more satisfied, but also more tired. Did you ever wonder about those pictures of coffee cups by the window, and why people do them in fancy cafes?)) Because, when you have that damn cup of coffee, you look like hell, be it before or after work.

This is essential that one cannot come to a presentation looking exhausted, but this does not mean that you should present myself as a person who never gets tired. Personally, after such fairs like IFAT, I am just tired from the social interaction, so the next 3 days there will be no meetings with clients, and I may come to the office wearing less to no makeup.

Another point I would like to mention are mothers, who want to demonstrate that a career with a child is possible. They come with their husbands moving a baby carriage with a 4-months child to give a presentation about their mother-friendly employer. Are you kidding me??? A mother-friendly employer will give a woman her peace for the first year, which is of an ultimate importance to her child. You may start your career and change it over and over again, but you will never be able to take back the first year with your child.

Today one can enjoy the benefits of home office and flexible working hours. Especially for pregnant ladies and women with children this is an opportunity to keep the career and still invest a lot of time into their families. In Germany, one can also choose to work 70% or 80% of the usual 40 working hours per week, which gives even more time for children. In many well-developed countries interested in increasing of the women in management rates, men can also get a part of the total time off to raise their child to support the mother. This looks like a world getting used to working women to me.

The appropriate integration of women into the working world does not mean that every woman should act like a man. This does not mean that she should step back from her life as a woman in order to demonstrate everybody the commitment to her career. This only means that she, with all her female problems and female looks, should be accepted and understood not less than men are.

Always yours,

Russianladyabroad

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