Archive | October, 2015

kid playing

Photo: yes; kids: NO!- Higher success rates for your CV

kid playingIn contrast to other countries, Germans tell fairly much about themselves in their CVs. And I am not talking about classical CV building blocks like “Work experience” or “Education”, in which you can and should depict what you´re able to do. No, I am referring to personal data. A picture of the applicant in business look, date of birth, all children with their respective ages, marital status, all of these things are normal parts of a German CV. But why? How much personal data should you give when applying, what is a must?

First of all… it´s completely legal to apply “anonymously” and leave away all information about gender, name and date of birth- contact details can prove helpful, though. Such an application is not recommended except if you apply for one of the rare pilot projects on anonymous applications and the job description explicitly demands this from you.

I myself didn´t send out an anonymous application yet, but ones without photo- even a lot of them. As foreigner I found it silly to include one. It´s all about my profile and not my looks, right? In the Netherlands, the success rate for my applications without photo was fairly high, in Germany by contrast exactly zero. I didn´t even receive a phone call! I only changed my strategy when a friend remarked: “But Karin, you obviously don´t want a position, as you would otherwise apply with a picture.” I sent out my speculative applications once more, same companies, same letter, same CV but this time with a photo.…

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The Dutch girl

The Dutch girl that does not belong to any nation

It is a warm summer evening 1999. A grey-haired man is sitting opposite of me at an authentic ceramic table. We are in his garden. He hasn’t been living there for long yet. “I always wanted a garden with large trees, now I have it.” We drink wine, he talks. He tells me a story about one of his seamen having an accident on the open ocean. He fell, he broke a leg and there was blood, lots of blood. They are hours away from the closest port, and he needs medical treatment. The adrenalin is pumping through his body. He is afraid of losing a man, a colleague, a father, a human being. He is the captain of the ship; he tries to stay calm and changes direction. Singapore is the new destination. They make it. They make it in time. His colleague is weak but still mostly conscious. He needs a blood transfusion. But Singapore, at that time, did not give blood to foreigners for free. Blood needs to be paid with blood. No pay, no cure. Four needles enter four seamen’s arms. When they collect enough the treatment starts. He recovers. After several days of hospitalisation the ship can continue its way to the next harbour.

He hands me over a pack of Marpexels-photolboro cigarettes. The package isn’t decorated with black lungs and scary massages yet. The text on the pack is Russian. “I got them today while piloting a Russian ship in the port. There are more in the wardrobe.”…

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Science nomads

Science nomads- starting a new life

When Jolanda, my partner, finished her PhD in the Netherlands it was finally time for us to join the band of science nomads, or early career scientists, moving from lab to lab to graze their fertile grounds. As our relationship and her love for science both seemed serious it was clear that I would follow her in her career. I was looking forward to this phase of our life.

To me this seemed a perfectly logical thing to do. What I did not foresee is how hard it was to explain my decision to people outside of science. My ex-colleagues at the high school I was teaching were incredibly supportive but many asked me why we’d do it. Why quit a job you love? Why leave a life you love? My new neighbours here in Nottingham assumed I could not find a job in the Netherlands because of the economic crisis and thus was some kind of economic refugee. Why else would you leave your home country? They presumed we were working as cleaners at the university, and had nothing to do with science.  Some of our own family thought we’d move to the UK only to come back within two years to find a “proper” job back home in the Netherlands. Then when Jolanda’s pregnancy became public, even more people assumed we’d move back along with lots of sexist assumptions about work distribution. I sometimes wonder how people would react if it was me who finished his PhD first and Jolanda following me.…

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time constrains

First show your skills, then present the wish list

I spend the first nice October day at the IHK in Munich. That´s where the first event of the “Familienpakt Bayern” takes place. Partnership is the topic of the day. “So that family work is no longer only for women. Instruments are being presented for a better compatibility of family and work- for women, but particularly also for men.”

The lecture theatre is filled wittime constrainsh HR professionals from small and large Bavarian companies. I see Audi, I see MAN trucks, travel enterprises and many more. Some chairs are taken by freelancers, coaches and young start-ups, who want to help companies to implement family-friendly working models. The room is almost completely filled, it´s hard to find a free chair. It seems like there is something happening in the German society. It seems that also German companies now start to appreciate that the classical life plan, in which men work 40+ hours and women take the sole responsibility for the family, is being replaced by a more even distribution of paid and unpaid work. A societal change which I warmly welcome.

The presentations are interesting, I am particularly impressed by Volker Baisch of Väter gGmbH. He starts by telling about what led him to found his company. He was working in a leadership position and wanted to take parental leave for a year after the birth of his daughter, so that his wife could go back to her job. His own boss replied to his plan with a plain answer, “Splendid idea, but I guess you won´t be coming back, right?”…

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