And here I am.. fashionably late with the new
style of the website, but I hope that you will enjoy it on your mobile devices
as well 😉
I guess, you know that I never reappear
without a fresh container with motivation. I would never disappoint you, so,
here I am, packing my things to get a Lobbyist training with the European Parliament.
What a Russian soul has to do with the
European Parliament, you would ask. Everything and nothing: during an exchange
semester in Germany in 2010, I got a student excursion to the European
Commission in Brussel. I was very excited when we were offered to seat in the
seats of the Commission officials, you know 😉 Many important decisions are
made there, decisions, which affect the world politics. So, I was happy and I
wished very deep in my soul to be able to work in the European politics one
day. Just for a bit. Just for life experience. A strange wish to a non-European
person, isn’t it?
9 years later, whole 9 years later I was
invited to get an intensive Lobbyist training – but not in Brussel, in
Strasbourg. All costs covered. I still have my Russian passport, I have just
applied for the German permanent residence permit, and I was wondering at
first, what gave me this opportunity. Talent? Motivation? Strength? Nope.
Curiosity. Because I applied for a place in the program one day before the
deadline, the same day I found it. Just for fun, just because I was curious if
I have any chance.
There is one popular joke in Russia. A man
dies and asks the God: “My whole life I wanted one thing: to win a lottery.
God, why didn’t you give me just that?”. And the God answered: “Actually, I was
going to. But you did not buy a single lottery ticket”.
Buy your lottery ticket very much in advance,
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.
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!
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 😉
India is a very patriarchal country. On the other hand, when we visited the Amer Fort in Jaipur, one showed us a small window in the main wall, which opened a view directly to the square where the political meetings of the men took place many centuries ago:
(The small window is above the central entrance on the “balcony”)
One was able to clearly hear and see everything from that window – and there was also a kitchen on the left just next to it. As you have already guessed, the window was for the main wife, who was supposed to watch and listen to the meetings. If at some point she would decide that her husband was under too much pressure or was going to take a wrong decision, she could ring a bell, and her husband would take a small breake come to have a council with her. At least, this is what I was told 😉
I have a very special respect to Indian women who went to politics. Even in restaurants of western hotel chains my BF was asked, what I would like to eat – not me. In general, people did not addressed – and it was strange, even though I come from a patriarchal country as well. In the culture where the man is the ruler, it is hard for women to fight their way up. However, when I see modern Indian enterprises, there are women climbing the career stairs, creating start-ups and becoming active in social entrepreneurship. When I compare the business landscapes, I remember Turkey, the country of amazing beaches and luxurious spa hotels. Indeed, when the father was about to die and the land was distributed between the children, women would receive the “least attractive lands” – next to the sea, with no woods and no fields. Who is ruling the touristic field now? India, as well, has a lot of potential, but still need to find the niche for the female leadership.
Beware of Indians who do not see a long-term value in you. Like in every Asian country with a very high population, cheating is a part of the business. Whatever you need, try to ask your friends or business partners – the services and the wares not only will be cheaper, but also will have a better quality.
We all read the stories, how one gives 500 Rupees to a shopkeeper in India, and the shopkeeper tells you that you gave just 400 Rupees. You recount – indeed, he had only 400 Rupees in his hands. On the other hand, Indians are not only about scam. I often noticed that people who had respect to me did not recount the money I gave them, be it a guide, a hotel driver or anybody else. This is, I suppose, a way to demonstrate the trust – therefore, please pay attention that you are giving the right amount of money to each and everyone and feel free to leave a tip if you are satisfied with the services 😉
I am a Russian woman with experience in Asian countries, so I know how to bargain. Indians, however, took my skills to a very different level 😉 Everybody, be it in business or just during the shopping, will test your skills of knowing the real price. In shops, for instance, I never paid the initial price. Nor I paid the 80% of the price. 40% of the initial price was the very maximum, and I was in a hurry. I do not consider smart bargaining to be cheating, but even I felt overwhelmed when a shopkeeper tried to sell me amethysts for a European price for emeralds. You may decide for yourself, whether you want to convince your business partners or shopkeepers that you are smart enough to bargain „on the Indian level” or you just leave and search for somebody who starts with less astronomical offers. I did both and enjoyed the process.
P.s.: Ever wondered, why people in India often ask you, how much did you pay for an item? They want to know, how much Europeans are ready to spend on things. Or, if your price is low enough, how much should they pay when they go to that place so they would not overpay.