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Executive Search, Talent Recruitment

Recruiting in Germany: The 4 Most Common Candidate Types

In practice, companies lack capabilities within their human resources departments to engage in the time-consuming recruiting of qualified staff in a Germany. This is where experienced recruitment and executive search firms like Universal Hires step in.

Our experience has show that foreign companies are likely to look for similar candidate profiles along with static requirements in place when recruiting staff in Germany. Packaged in an overview of four stereotype candidates, the following article will detail those profiles and further analyze if the requirements put in place are realistic.

The Task of a Recruiting Agency in Germany

Prior going into detail of the candidate profiles, the article will briefly explain our day-to-day practice when recruiting staff in Germany on behalf of foreign companies.

Presumably, you have been in the following situation before: You want to occupy a position in the technical, commercial or sales area. The posted job advertisement only brought in a few applications while none of the applicants had the expertise that was initially required.

A more successful approach in such a situation is to engage a recruitment agency to support with the search. Executive search specialists like Universal Hires have a wide-range network and the know-how to find talents for the various areas.

Prior to starting the search, the recruiting team in Germany together with the client determine the detailed requirements of the candidate. It is important to understand that the client’s expectations are subject to a reality test by the recruitment team as well as evaluated against the current market situation. 

Once the recruiting process is started, the consultants are to convince matching candidates for a possible job change as well as to inspire for the new position within the client’s company. 

Candidate Type 1: The highly-experienced and socially competent developer

The client’s requirement:

When looking to place candidates for technical key positions or technical specialist functions, the usual candidate profile is likely to be filled with many requirements. In addition to sufficient work experience in the required field of work paired with a high technical understanding, social skills and low salary expectations are the standard cases. Multilingualism is an advantage, and a high degree of mobility is required. The more remote the place of employment, the client expects the willingness to relocate. However, a high level of social competence is critical to success as the company relies on teamwork, collaboration, exchange, networking, and mutual support.

The reality:

Of course, the reality is far from different than described above. It is to say that young people show a considerable decline in mobility and adaptability to new cities and work environments. Also, many of these candidates are not necessarily social experts and tend to avoid social networks while engaging in technical rather than in interpersonal challenges, and are not often interested in switching.

In addition, it is not very common for German universities to engage their IT and engineering students in completing semesters abroad. Therefore, English skills are rather limited with low cultural understanding towards international corporations. 

Our advice in finding this candidate:

With a solid recruitment strategy in place, we are convinced that good arguments are key to draw potential candidate’s attention to your company. In any case, companies need to bring patience when recruiting in Germany as well as make sure that the candidate’s personality suits the team and the field of work. 

Offer the candidate a suitable environment to grow as a personality while taking requirements seriously. This is how your company can differentiate from most of the companies that also reach out to highly skilled candidates.

Candidate Type 2: The creative marketing genius 

The client’s requirement:

This candidate feels comfortable when handling multiple projects. He’s digitally skilled, and brings along a courageous personality. Similar to the technician, he is multilingual and likes to travel on behalf of the company. The tighter the budget, the better the ideas and concepts the candidate brings up.

The reality:

When looking for a marketing professional in Germany, not all candidates qualify with organizational discipline and self-organization. Nevertheless, many are highly educated and appropriately professional people in these areas.

However, marketing tasks are rarely as creative and require constant inspiration that “perfect” candidates may rather get bored than engaged.

Our advice in finding this candidate:

When starting the recruitment, adapt your language and messages to your market and your targeted candidate profiles. It is important to keep in mind that, for example, marketing in the technical service environment is much different than marketing within a food manufacturer. 

Therefore, react accordingly and clearly outline the opportunities, perspectives and fields of activity that are involved in the role to be filled. Transparency will help you gain credibility when interviewing candidates and further helps to find the perfect match.

Candidate Type 3: The talkative and successful salesman

The client’s requirement:

This candidate is extremely ambitious, hungry for success, strong and rhetorical speaking in a class of his own. In addition, he has a well-developed skill set in sales that he leverages through is incredibly large industry-wide network. He comes through every door, achieves his goals without major physical effort and is not defined solely by his bonus letter from the employer.

Instead of being a lone star player, this candidate is the ultimate team player, sharing all the knowledge that helps other colleagues without thinking of themselves. In particular, this candidate is always present for the customers while the team’s success remains the highest priority. Documenting work in a sales database is a common thing and further shows the candidate’s commitment to the employer.

The reality:

In fact, such candidates are unfortunately rare to be found when recruiting in Germany. You are looking for the high-performance team player, but are only able to find the self-overestimating candidate who runs behind his sales forecasts? This challenge is often accompanied by high demands among the candidates (in terms of salary and responsibility) and a decreasing commitment to a top-notch recruitment agency such as Universal Hires.

Our advice in finding this candidate:

If you have to cut down on requirements, we strongly advise you to hire a candidate with a lower technical skillset, simply because those skills can still be learned by the candidates. The personality, however, will not change and has to be a perfect fit immediatly. Think carefully about whether the candidate fits into the team, both in a short as well as in the long-term.

In addition, when recruiting for salespeople, make sure to be quick in your actions. Note that fast people want to be quickly convinced that this may be the job they have been waiting for. Unfortunately, we have experienced that the decision-making process throughout the recruitment has slowed down enormously. Therefore, interesting and promising candidates are lost along the way.

Type 4: The comprehensive financial genius

The client’s requirement:

Does your company encounter financial difficulties in Germany? You are looking for someone immediately cuts down costs and makes increases profits? The candidate should never make a mistake, while his standard equipment is a calculator and Excel? Then, you’re not alone.

While fully understanding the company’s development in Germany, the candidate reports the financial implications with great detail and foresight to the board of directors. These are the exact characteristics when profiling Chief Financial Officers, Commercial Leads, and Heads of Controlling and Accounting.

The reality:

The financial genius described above is unfortunately very rare to find. Currently, there are a tremendous number of people who are about to make their next career step and are eager to put the letters “CFO” on their resume. 

Unfortunately, the ability to think digitally as well as far forward is lacking for many candidates, especially since the candidate’s range of age is considered to be very wide. In addition, creativity is often missing solely, which can also be explained by the fact that in the last stations this might not even be in demand.

Our advice in finding this candidate:

The search should be focused on the candidate’s full understanding of your business model, and your business strategy. If you have a very good individual impression of the candidate, feel free to mention this during the interviews while further addressing the “untypical” aspects of the candidate’s tasks. Hence, follow up questions on the candidate’s opinion of current market trends and developments as well as the ongoing strategy of the company are most likely to be appreciated.

Recruiting in Germany – Mission Impossible?

As a consultant to our customers, we understand the wishlists of our customers and recognize that you want to start with an “all-in-one” profile. But the higher the bar, the lower the case and the harder the serve.

Therefore, we advise our customers first to talk about the person and the function separately and create a profile after the first briefing conversation and complete it with quite critical comments. “Mission Impossible” may be an entertaining movie, but in our profession, such a mandate is not satisfying for anyone involved. A bit of luck is always part of it, but relying on it alone is very negligent. “Grounding” and “expectation management” are the two qualities that recruitment consultants must have in dialogue with their client, because only in this way can stereotypes and realities be successfully interwoven.

Think of the candidate

Ultimately, the different types of candidates also apply different procedures or treatment techniques in the recruiting process. Candidates must remember your application process as an unforgettable experience. “Thinking of the customer or candidate” – that is the motto. The term “Candidate Experience” is now in many mouths and not without a good reason. Imagine that in a candidate-driven market, you do not succeed in getting the candidate enthusiastic about your business. The consequence is foreseeable: Presumably, he will decide on another offer.

The Council is just as valuable: Build personal proximity to the people you want to talk to about working with. This is the best way to get people excited about what they do and what they do. After all, candidates also choose the environment and not just the task alone.

Outlook: Placing a Cultural Fit

An important approach that companies are increasingly pursuing today is “Hire for attitude and train for skills”. The gaze is therefore increasingly directed towards the potential and personality of a candidate. On the other hand, professionalism takes a back seat.

What this specifically means for the recruitment and why this approach and the cultural fit of a candidate are important success factors, you will read more about this blog in the future.

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Lisa Meier

Lisa Meier has more than ten years’ experience in providing strategic advice and legal guidance on international trade, administrative and legal matters to foreign companies, associations, and governments doing business in Germany. She advises companies in a broad range of industries on successfully navigating the German economic environment.

Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge to Universal Hires’ marketing and client success team. In her free time, Lisa spends time exploring the unique city-life of Berlin and all the diversity that the East of Germany have to offer.

About Universal Hires

Universal Hires is Germany’s leading staffing provider. With expertise in recruitment and employer of record services, the company levarges its market entry support.

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