Updated: Sep 27, 2019
In the search for a new adventure, career or opportunity, we often turn to the internet for answers, ideas, tips and tricks. What is hip and cool, and what's out there for me? What can take me to the next level? What can give my career a well-deserved boost?
If you hope to land a job this year in a start-up in Berlin, whilst also having an awesome experience in Germany’s vibrant capital, keep in mind these insider-tips.
1. Stakeholder management
A trendy keyword for your resume and a job interview is stakeholder management. It seems to be a crucial skill in any profession nowadays. A stakeholder is any individual, group or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by an activity.
Therefore, stakeholder management is about managing expectations, ensuring that there are transparent lines of communication, providing timely feedback and keeping stakeholders in the loop, whilst also motivating people to action and ensuring high satisfaction levels.
According to the Association for Project Management, key principles of stakeholder engagement include the abilities to:
Consult early, and often
Remember, they’re only human
Relationships are key
Simple, but not easy
Just part of managing risk
Understand what success is
More and more companies base their organizational culture on feedback. An open feedback culture is being highlighted in the job ads of Outfittery, Blacklane, and JustWatch to name but a few. In your future job interviews, be prepared to answer questions around giving and receiving feedback and providing examples of how feedback helped you improve your work. If you seek a leadership role, be ready to explain how you used feedback to help your team members raise their performance levels.
3. Whether or not to take a sabbatical?
When talking to job seekers, I often notice that they worry more about the breaks in their resume than their actual achievements in various roles. Periods of unemployment in your resume are not necessarily a bad thing. They should not need to be labelled as sabbaticals, i.e. planned periods of time off from work and school. Unfortunately, 2016 has shown a rise in “sabbaticals” being mentioned in resumes, when they were actually just periods of unemployment.
Describing a period between jobs as a sabbatical is not very helpful and can actually hurt the job application and its trustworthiness. Nonetheless, if you have indeed left a job and deliberately stepped out of the career game in order to pursue further education, travel or just to do a bit of soul-searching, it would be a good idea to write it down as it is.
Back to actual sabbaticals – they are a good alternative for mid-level to senior professionals. If you hope to broaden your understanding of the world, values and cultures, go for it! A sabbatical can play a very important role in your career.
Some may call it “Achievements”. Some may argue that achievements must be measured or counted. Whereas impact, a more abstract term, encompasses anything from your direct work-related results (KPIs measured, etc.) to how your attitude, behaviour, and actions have influenced your workplace and the larger organization.
Now, measuring employee impact is nothing new. Going back to 1977, a study by the University of Michigan presented how employee absenteeism, tardiness or job performance impacted company finances. Nowadays, you will find that the start-up scene, as vibrant as it is, will want you to demonstrate how you can positively impact the business — companies are looking for candidates who can bring their ‘A Game’ to work every day and who have the ability to lift the spirit of a team when times are tough.
When being assessed for a new role, you should aim to show how you have had a positive impact at your previous employers — this can be done by presenting achievements directly related to your work (maybe you were always over-achieving your targets) and also side projects or initiatives that were implemented within your team, department or company, and that qualitatively and quantitatively improved everyone’s lives (work-life).
5. Continue to learn
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn” - Alvin Toffler
All organizations embrace people’s ability to learn. While kids learn dozens of new things per day, for us, questions such as “what did you learn today?” or “what are you learning now?” seem unnatural. Many times job seekers do not see any value in a question regarding recently read books and perceive them as irrelevant to the profession the candidate is applying for. But be ready to answer such questions — the answers can be indicators of your professional interest and commitment to continuous learning.
And what’s more, do strive to learn new things. New certificates will open doors at many companies. By improving your competencies, you demonstrate that your own development is important to you and that you are hard-working. And it’s exactly these qualities that are sought after by the best employers.
6. Keep up with technology
Organizations face the challenge of finding the right people for open positions as efficiently and effectively as possible. A lot of new technologies enable this. Face-to-face interviews are frequently replaced by phone calls, Skype calls, Google Hangouts, etc. Large employers also use software like Viasto, Spark Hire or Jobvite, enabling asynchronous video interviews in which a candidate will be guided through a number of (text-based) questions which they need to answer in front of their webcam. It is mandatory for job seekers to be at ease with the new tools used in the recruitment processes.
Take your time to get to know the new technologies and get familiar with them. Experiment with talking in front of the camera. This becomes handy when you get invited to a live or asynchronous video interview.
Keep in mind that, when looking for a new job in Berlin, you are in a race with the best. Owing to its ever-evolving job market, Berlin attracts very diverse and high-quality talent. So, apart from having a strong job application, account for these trends when approaching any new employer.
Remember to show them how you can make an impact. Show them a person who absorbs feedback and is happy to share it with co-workers in order to further improve working relationships, processes and work results. Show them a person who knows how to effectively use feedback to improve stakeholder relationships. Show them a person who can learn from mistakes, both their own and others. Show them what makes you a curious, ever-evolving candidate that would click effortlessly with the team and the current job market.
Dr Magdalena Masluk-Meller
As an international career consultant at 8careers.eu, I help forward-thinking candidates to make career moves fulfilling their desire for impact, personal growth and community. For 10 years, I have been working in Talent Acquisition functions, currently at Zalando SE, the leading online fashion platform. In my free time, I explore cultural history and practice digital storytelling featuring trips to 35 countries.