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Posted on 31 October 2019

European Engineers: so close at hand

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By Dr. Walter Demmelhuber, SindoPower International

Power Electronics Engineers are still hard to find in Germany. Why not look in the nearby countries of the EU and make it easier for the engineers to migrate?

Only recently SindoPower – part of SEMIKRON-group – was in the prime-time national evening news Tagesschau where the news program reported about SindoPower’s successful efforts to integrate European engineers into its company.

The challenge is known to all human resources managers entrusted with the task to find power electronics engineers. Either the company goes the national way, publishing its career opportunities and receiving an application every now and then, or a strategic integration program is set up to reach the places where job seekers and offers match each other regularly.

In order to do this successfully and to avoid misunderstandings, pitfalls and failure at the work place, this article focuses on integration of foreign employees on a regular basis. One time employment obviously is much easier to handle.

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Foreigner or not?

It must be clarified internally if this is the way to go. Although it is possible to find fluent German speakers even abroad, it is rather the exception than the rule. For companies not used to having Englishspeaking only employees around, it might prove a great challenge to integrate them both at the work place and socially. Make it also clear internally, what the consequences are. Meetings, emails, … all in English! If only 60% is done in English (even when these recruits are not concerned) it would mean a continuous exclusion and negatively impact work performance.

Stick to one country of origin! It is much easier both for the company as well as for the employees if they have the same social background. Not only is integration much easier, but also in later months or years when you continue to employ new foreigners, your employees can act as job ambassadors and explain and communicate with the potential new recruits about how their first experiences were.

Europe has three countries where English is at least one of the main mother tongues: UK, Ireland and Malta. At the same time these are not necessarily the main countries carrying industrial production. Be therefore prepared that the engineers also do not speak English as their mother language when you choose different countries.

Also define your target group of recruits in terms of experience. The more experience you require, the more likely it is that the potential recruit has a family with him. A (company) kindergarten or school nearby with experience in integrating migrants’ or expats’ children will prove worthwhile to mention in the job offer.

Advertising!

Each country has its own most popular (usually online) medium to publish jobs (e.g. in Spain infojobs.net). Be sure that you use the #1 medium nationally plus power electronics specialists with job sections like powerguru.org or Bodos Power. Publish in English and state clearly your expectations regarding language capabilities in English and German.

Some job pages (like infojobs.net) offer the feature that CVs can only be handed in when the interested person answers positively yes/no questions online. Questions like

  • Do you have a C2 level of English?
  • What is your level from A1-C2 in German?
  • Are you prepared to move to xxx? 

avoid wishful thinking and the applicant is already confronted with clear-cut questions which usually only come up later during the selection process.

Be prepared to receive hundreds of applications even from people whose CVs are not in line with the job offer or the language levels at all. In countries with high unemployment rates, job seekers react to all kinds of job offers even when their CVs do not match.

Selection process!

Decide how you want to do the selection process. The following process has been useful up to now.

1) a human resource administrator reviews all applications and withdraws the CVs which do not meet the obvious minimum criteria (expect around 80% of CVs to be withdrawn)

2) draw an internal expert round to review the remaining CVs and select the 5-10 most promising ones

3) at your choice, either locally or via video conference (Skype), interview the candidates to check on their CV and language capabilities

4) invite the 2-3 most interesting ones to your place of work to make final interviews (expenses paid)

Especially at step 4 it is best to also have a person present who speaks the mother language of the recruits to remove any doubts they might have – especially about their legal situation, social security, etc. in the new country.

Integration!

Never forget that for these people it will be a major step in their lives and removing insecurity as much as possible will make their entrance into the company much easier.

A short leaflet regarding registration with the local office, social security and the tax office and how to open a bank account will ease the process. If the recruits come from the EU, you will be surprised how easy it is, but it gives the individual a peace of mind.

Once everything is settled, perhaps the only issue left where they will need support is housing. Especially in cities where the rental market is dense, if the recruit only speaks English and his contract is still in probation, landlords might be unwilling to rent easily. Company apartments for a limited period of time (as in the case of Semikron) or company back-up in the renting process will help.

Once employment has started, offer support with language courses and job specific training, appoint a mentor and make sure that both the work as well as social integration go smoothly; then your company will grow with a strong and loyal workforce as its foundation.

From SindoPower’s perspective, the concept proved highly successful. We only "lost" one engineer so far … because he received an impressive scholarship for doing a Master’s at an elite university. We wish him all the best!

www.sindopower.com

www.powerguru.org

Dr. Walter Demmelhuber is the Head of SindoPower International, the power electronics eCommerce portal and Co-Founder of PowerGuru, the power electronics information portal. In addition, he is University lecturer for B2B eCommerce & Social Media at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.

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