The Refugee Job Search Project
This past year, Career Star Group’s German partner, von Rundstedt, decided that they wanted to contribute meaningfully to the refugee crisis. The goal was to improve the chances of refugees in Germany and help them to quickly find a new home. Here is the process and results of their project:
We wanted to help, but what exactly could we do? What initiative made sense for our small team in Nuremberg that took concrete and immediate action for those seeking help? We decided to start with our core competencies. We would do what we at von Rundstedt have done best for 30 years: help people find a new job.
Our Project: Job Workshops
The objective was clear: we would support recognized refugees on their way into the labor market and show the people who came to us how to find jobs in Germany. Every consultant we asked to help with the project agreed readily.
We decided we would host two workshop days where we would teach the basics of the application process in Germany, lead individual discussions, and eventually develop application documents for individuals. To achieve this and to have enough time for each person, we worked with a group of no more than ten participants.
The project took place over two days in February. On the first day, we dealt with the theory of job search together with role playing. On the second day, the workshop revolved around the creation of application documents and application photos (as it is custom to use photos on applications and CVs in Germany).
The range of participants could have hardly been greater. It spanned from the award-winning academics with several patents, who came to the awards ceremony in Germany and were not allowed to return home, to a young carpenter who has already created true works of art in his father's business, to a 16-year-old student looking for an apprenticeship. All participants came from Syria, Iraq or Iran. They had different levels of German knowledge.
By chance, one week prior to the workshop, I met a new client of ours at von Rundstedt. During our conversation, I learned that he was born in Syria and in addition to his native language Arabic, he is fluent in English and speaks German excellently. He has worked for nine years as a successful app programmer in Germany. He immediately offered to help with our project. He was with us on-site as an interpreter for both workshop days and was a huge help. His own story was especially valuable, in which he told the refugees his personal journey into the labor market and his experience in Germany.
We also had a local professional photographer and picture editor on-site to assist us with the application photos. Parallel to the ongoing discussions, he shot quality professional pictures to be used by the individuals. The photographer explained that to help “refugees, I find important. With good application images, they have better chances of finding a job.”
The Result: Application Documents and an Idea for a Future Career
Everyone who participated on the project was extremely excited about it. I admit I was very nervous about whether we would provide everything we set out to in the brief period of time we had with the individuals.
At the end, each person received a printed portfolio and a USB stick with all documents and application picture. Furthermore, we believe they each took away an idea of their professional future in Germany. Hopefully, we opened the door a crack for a valuable first look at this completely different culture and working environment.
We are all happy that we were able to help with our work and that almost all of the refugees who participated in the workshops are now recognized and have a work permit. Yesterday, I learned that two of our participants were already successful with their applications. Although they are mini jobs, they are still a beginning!
Claudia Gruber, Career Coach, von Rundstedt and Career Star Group