I had an interesting call with one of the organizations responsible for funding jobs for refugees yesterday.
Actually, one of our clients had an interest in helping out several qualified people by filling positions in his innovative projects. Therefore, I took the phone without knowing anything about neother HR processes nor visa regulations for refugees in Germany.
Somehow, I expected an excited voice on the other side of the phone – because we were going to do a big thing. We were going to help people out. We were ready to talk about integration opportunities and language courses.
Instead, I got about 10 minutes of a structured professional phone consultation. There ARE language courses, and most refugees who wanted to integrate ALREADY HAVE a B1/B2 level of the German language and are preparing for the next exam. At the same time, they are registered by the unemployment agency like all unemployed Germans are. The only difference is, there are some kind of “state headhunters”, who help companies to find the right profile within the database. No drama, no “saving the day” – just work. For everybody.
I am known for criticizing Germans for overregulating everything – but nobody creates structures like they do. I am glad to see people who suffered getting their window in the local bureaucracy. I hope that Europe will find it’s way through the integration crisis very soon. I don’t want to see talented people in a ghetto.
I think, we all started with Disney cartoons. The question remains: what do we watch next in order to get our English more fit for the next challenge, be it a semester abroad or a career start in a new country? I collected some ideas, which series and long films one can enjoy WITHOUT subtitles during the Christmas break depending on your English level:
Beginners: Disney films, Vampire Diaries, Friends, Desperate Housewives, Smallville
Pre-Intermediate: How I met your Mother, Charmed, Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Lost, Merlin
Intermediate: Project Runway, all old series (like Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Gossip Girl, try Lord of the Rings, Outlander, The Last Kingdom, Secret Diary of a Call Girl (yeah, its here because I find her accent a bit difficult)
Advanced: House of Cards, Game of the Thrones
And make sure you skip subtitles to go deeper into the language jungle 😉
I know, I know that many Europeans and especially Americans consider Russian people quite morose. We do believe that you may smile when you want to and not when it is comfortable to others. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time in Europe and got used to the “professional smiling”. But that one shocked me for real.
That was a Russian guy who moved to Europe about 10 years ago. He had a nice job, a nice face and nice clothes. The problem was..he was smiling. All the time. I saw his brand white teeth through the whole conversation. He was smiling while I was asking a question. He was smiling while answering my question and after he would answer my question.
Did he do an operation? Does he have any problems with the muscles of his mouth? Is something wrong with my makeup?
-Ivan, did you study in the US?
-Yeah, I did!
-Now I get it..
Dear all, the gestures and the facial expressions are sometimes even more important than knowing the language of the person. Try to pay attention to how people look like when they are interacting and to do it the same way – this will help your international career a lot.
There are two reasons why people get disappointed with their own dreams not coming true: those dreams are too large and ambitious or too far away to reach. Some people say, one should reduce his expectations to become happier. I strongly disagree with that opinion. In order to achieve a big dream, one should see it not as a light at the end of the road but as a puzzle spread across the road from many smaller dreams. Each time you do a step, you make a small dream come true, which motivates you to go further and inspires to seek new big dreams. You want to start a new life abroad? There are the dreams about passing the English test, getting your papers done on time, getting an invitation, getting a visa…so many small things to celebrate and be happy about each day!
Let the most important dreams in your life be a road, not a destination!
It is hard to focus on work during one of the most beautiful seasons of the year – the time before Christmas holidays. Ok, probably, not the most beautiful here in Northern Germany, as we have rain all the time, but colder countries have luck for sure 😉
Some people are bored and can’t wait for holidays to come; some, like me, are sad because their families are too far away; some are scared to show up in a new family. Under the line would be: your team is unmotivated and not concentrated. Here is a very good Christmas exercise, which push your team’s motivation up to the top, will not take more than 30 minutes and will create a beautiful example of the teamwork.
Get some really nice Christmas cookies. Prepare 30 shits of origami paper and promise your team members that everybody who will do some of the Christmas star pieces will get cookies accordingly. Voila, you get several grownups happily folding pieces of paper – and at the end you get a beautiful Christmas star!
OK, we talked about the Blue Card and the integration in an international company before. We even mentioned strange internationalization issues in some corporate giants. But how do you actually get a job? In order to be found by head-hunters or noticed by employers, you should bring a perfect CV forward. But how to do that if you have no idea, which country exactly are you looking for? Here are some ideas to get started:
- Pay attention to the photo. In UK and US, many applicants do not include a picture in theirs CV to avoid discrimination. In Germany or in China, however, a picture pays a huge role in the employment process. In order to get an optimal picture, google something like “CV photo” in the local language. Does the person smile? Was he or she photographed till shoulders? Does he or she wear business or smart casual? Make sure the first visual impression about you is perfect.
- Choose the right language for your application. It’s nice that you know the local language, but keep in mind: the HR officer might not know it. Therefore, always write your application in the language of the job advert if you were not told otherwise.
- Understand the right order. Do you start with the education or with the college? Do you list from 2003..2018 or in the opposite direction? Recruiters read your CV in less than 2 minutes, so be nice and inform yourself about the right chronological order used in the country.
- Give a clear explanation. Be clear and do the right translation of all degrees and positions. If you have a special degree, which is not usual to another country, or you had a technical position in an innovative field, explain what it means in brackets.
- Forget about sending stuff in your language. Get European Diploma Supplements translating your degree into the European one with all the grading and ECTS; ask for letters of recommendation at least in English; translate your certificates into the local language. The more clear and international you will present your skills, the higher will be your employment chances.
Since the moment I saw a lady in the German Embassy in Russia getting her working visa so easily, I also wanted to get one. At least, to feel the same respect she was treated with. Of course, she has been invited by one of the largest international companies, which are looking for smart people for specific projects all over the world. Just one year later, I became a Blue Card holder with the Germany as my first destination. But what does this Blue Card actually mean?
- Working where you wish. There are countries with a high unemployment rate and with the low ones. Countries with a high employment rates like Germany are focused on attracting the best experts in technical, medical and innovative fields, which leads to a more open visa regime. In other countries like Italy, the unemployment rates are higher. If you are a foreigner from a non-EU country, the Blue Card if your pass to work in Europe and to change employers and countries in a very flexible way, as long as you meet the BC conditions.
- Taking your family with you. The Blue Card holders are often highly skilled professionals who are be found by large companies and offered a contract in the EU. Even though it is usually a limited contract, one receives an opportunity to move to the new place with the family and to get (often, depending on the country) free integrational and language courses.
- Helping yourself out. Here comes a small hint: the visa legislation related to Blue Cards differs a bit in European countries, but you should read yours even before you get to touch your very own Blue Card. Why? Because, for instance, in Germany, if your contract expired or was cancelled after 1 full year, you are eligible to an unemployment insurance AND a visa for the job search (3 months with the Blue Card + 3 months usually offered extra) for the whole period of your insurance (which is 6 months if you worked at least 1 year).
- Getting the permanent residence permit faster. Yes, this is also possible for Blue Card holders with some knowledge of the local language. With time, you will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit (incl. your closest family – wife and children) and stay in the country as long as you wish. Just keep in mind that there is usually am difference between the citizenship and permanent residence permit in a form that you should stay primarily within the country – whenever you want to move within Europe again, have a look at the current legislation 😉