When international professionals describe Chris Pyak, they usually say: “He is not a typical German.” Chris takes this as a compliment. The managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH opens doors for expats into the German job market. Chris just published his first book “How To Win Jobs & Influence Germans. The Expats’ Guide To A Career in Germany.”
We talked with Chris Pyak about jobs in Germany, emancipation and potatoes.
Immigrant Spirit: Chris, you choose a rather unusual title for your book…
Chris Pyak: Yes, (laugh). A few years back I presented a candidate to a company in Munsterland, Germany. The head of HR rejected her with the argument: “I can’t evaluate that foreign university.” The candidate had a degree from Cambridge.
German HR manager are often stuck in the past. There is a beautiful quote from Douglas Adams: “It’s a mistake to believe that you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.” That’s what employers in Germany are trying to do: They want to hire international professionals who are exactly as Germans. German language, German degree, Lederhosen. (We don’t wear them actually)
Immigrant Spirit: And the other side?
Chris Pyak: Expats often struggle to adapt to their change in status. We are all defined by our environment. In your home country you are a respected professional. You have lots of experience with famous companies. You have a huge network of friends, former colleagues and employers who can vouch for the quality of your work. So, naturally you get a lot of job offers.
Then you come to Germany and none of this is true anymore. No one has ever heard of the companies that you used to work for. No one knows the people that you give as a reference, and therefore no one takes their recommendation into account. You are a question mark for German employers. I believe that is unfair. In my book I give advice on how to solve this problem.
Immigrant Spirit: But the German economy is booming. And there is lots of talk about labour shortage. Clearly there should be a huge market for skilled professionals?
There is. We at Immigrant Spirit GmbH analyse the complete German job market. We scan more than 40.000 job portals, career services, company websites – and we filter all the English job offers that we find and put them on one side: http://www.immigrantspirit.com.
There are over 700.000 open positions in Germany as of today. Do you know how many of them are in English? 20.000. That’s three percent.
Immigrant Spirit: How does this affect expatriates?
Chris Pyak: Well, do you speak German? That’s the first question that employers will ask you. If the answer is “no” – then 97 percent of all job opportunities disappear.
Immigrant Spirit: Some expats might think: “20.000 jobs is okay. I just need one.”
Chris Pyak: Immigration has changed over the last few decades. Nowadays it’s mostly well educated, experienced people who move to Germany. The majority are fellow European citizens, then there are the actual immigrants – who also own a university degree in the majority of cases – and then there are people like myself: Germans who had been living abroad and repatriate at some point in their life. In total that’s 1.2 million people moving to Germany every single year.
1.2 million professionals apply for 20.000 jobs. Do the math. One of my clients is Trivago in Düsseldorf. They work in English – and they get 40.000 job applications every single month.
Immigrant Spirit: So, what is the way forward for international talent in Germany?
Chris Pyak: You need to enter the “German speaking” job market as fast as possible. There you go from “one in a million” to “She’s the one.” Because German employers have much more need and way fewer candidates.
Immigrant Spirit: What is the challenge here?
Chris Pyak: Consider what you ask from a German speaking employer: Hiring you in English means that he has to adjust the workflow in his company. He needs to pay a lot of attention to you during your first months – and not the least: He needs to convince all his other employees to “get on board” and talk English to you until your German will be fluent. You need an answer to the question: “Why are you worth the trouble?”
Immigrant Spirit: And what is the good news?
Chris Pyak: You can convince an employer to hire you in English and let you learn German “on the job”. If you prove that you are a truly remarkable talent. How to do this? That’s what I explain step by step in “How To Get Jobs & Influence German.”
Immigrant Spirit: Thank you Chris.