I met Laura Villafuerte through my business network and find her very inspiring. And I think that her services are very helpful for my international clients that are planning to move to Frankfurt or have been living in Germany for a while already. When families and especially the non-working parent have settled in into their new life abroad, they often would like to start their own career here. Laura is an expert in this topic and a real "people person": very passionate about helping her clients with their professional development. In the following interview, I asked her about what services she offers to her clients, insights on the German job market for parents and how to find a good job to develop a career as a foreign parent in Germany.
Dear Laura, please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I originally come from Ecuador but have been living the last eleven years in Germany. As my mother is German and I also went to a German school, my parents motivated me (or as I sometimes joke about: they didn’t leave me another choice) to come for my studies to Germany. I decided to start my career within Human Resources (HR) and worked in a big corporate in Germany for 3+ years in this field. After that, I decided to work independently as HR consultant for companies to help them develop their personnel strategies and performed “development centers” also focusing on empowering female leaders. This year I founded my new company “CareerBee” which I’m really passionate about.
What is CareerBee, please tell us more about it. For whom are you offering your services?
With CareerBee we help people find jobs and develop their careers further. We offer 1-on-1 coaching sessions where our clients learn all there is on how to create an application strategy and strong application documents to increase their chances of landing the right job. On top of that we have a digital community with content that supports in the development of their career and allows each of our clients to ask HR experts any question they might have in regard to their careers.
Let’s focus on foreigners who would like to start a career in Germany. Often, I am in touch with spouses of Expatriates. Mostly mothers, that are interested in working (part time) after they have settled in into their new life in Frankfurt. Do you have tips how to get started? How can they find out what company is a good fit for a non-German working mom?
Yes, this is a very important topic. We always say that firstly you need to create an application strategy. This means defining what type of jobs you want to have based on your skills and experiences. It is also essential to define what requirements you have on the company you want to work for (e.g., values they stand for, career opportunities etc.) and what benefits and general conditions that workplace needs to offer. This will narrow the pool of jobs and companies, but it will also make it more specific and fitting to your needs.
We then recommend using job portals that allow to search specifically for part time jobs and English-speaking jobs. We recommend the job portal indeed.com/de (there you have a filter for English Jobs) or the job portal englishjobs.de. Once you found the right position remember to personalize your application documents based on skills and responsibilities that are mentioned in the job ad.
On top of that, networking will play a very important role. Nowadays LinkedIn makes it easy to reach out to people working at interesting companies and makes networking also very flexible. On top of that, attending in person meetups can also support in the creation of a strong network. Other ideas are joining groups in Facebook or other social media channels of expats where contacts can help in the job search process.
Would you say that it is most important to speak German?
We see that slowly but steadily companies are opening up more to the idea of hiring people who are not fluent in German yet. You can of course also actively search for jobs that don’t require German language skills in the platforms mentioned above. However, still many companies are asking for that skill. We therefore recommend to also start learning German as soon as possible. Even if you are not fluent at the point of your application, you will already be able to show that you have the motivation and interest in learning the language and this can give you an advantage in landing that job.
What about working part time only?
We can see a trend of part time employment increasing in Germany which is great news. Many job portals allow to filter for that option which helps finding the right jobs faster. We also recommend having a strong network as this can also increase your chances of creating positions that fit your current needs.
What are important facts about what a company offers by law to employees that have children?
Great question! German labor law is strong in that regard and offers many benefits for employees with children. To give a concrete example: All companies provide a maternity protection which aims to protect the mother and child, by not allowing the mother to work six weeks before the expected date of birth and 8 weeks after the birth (with premature or multiple births the period is extended to 12 weeks). During this time, all mothers have the right to a maternity allowance. Pregnant women are also protected from dismissal, also 4 months after birth. During the first year of their child, there is the right to take up to three years of parental leave that can be split amongst partners. During this time, parents can also apply for “Elterngeld” to compensate for reduced income.
What can applicants expect from companies regarding additional benefits for parents?
It really does depend on the employer. Of course, the legal requirements form a standard baseline, but some companies go beyond that. For example, companies may offer to cover some part of childcare expenses or even have their own kindergarten. Some who don’t have their own kindergarten hold spots in external kindergartens for their employees. Flexible working time or remote work possibilities also are useful benefits that some companies are offering (especially since the COVID-19 pandemic). It is really important to do research on the companies and their benefits so that you can make the best decision for yourself. Many companies list their benefits on their website within the career section or you can ask the recruiter during the interview.
Last but not least, what are the three most important tips you can provide on how to find the right job in Germany?
Define what type of job you want based on your skills and experience, what type of companies you want to work for and what general conditions they need to meet (application strategy)
Network, network, network – we can’t focus enough the importance of it, and it can be virtually or in person.
Search for the right jobs in job portals that allow you to filter for what you are looking for and make sure to personalize your application documents for every position you apply to.
Thank you, Laura for your helpful insights.