With its central location in the European Union and shared borders with nine countries, Germany is an attractive destination for a diverse workforce. Specifically, many Eastern European natives make their way to Germany for a variety of job opportunities. Once there, however, adjusting to a different culture and new language can be a struggle for some. Enter Unique, which not only aids new arrivals in their job search, but also helps them adjust comfortably to life in a new country.
Unique is a full-service staffing agency that lives up to its name. It’s like no other, and views itself as the link between people and companies. In 2014, Unique, which has 40 years of experience in the German market, started an initiative to extend that link beyond international borders. Specifically, the agency developed a program to seek candidates from Eastern Europe, where good jobs are scarce and talent is plentiful, and match them with employment opportunities in Germany. Today, Unique is focusing its recruiting efforts on Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia with plans to expand to Ukraine.
“A few years ago, we had difficulties finding competent employees in a lot of areas in Germany,” said Sonja Greve, Unique’s head of international recruiting in Germany. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we solve this problem?’ That’s when we arrived at the solution to look beyond Germany’s borders.”
Sonja, who built Unique’s international recruiting division from scratch to a team of eight people today, explained that while competitors were already recruiting employees from other countries, Unique saw an opportunity to differentiate itself. The company did that by going beyond just matching candidates’ qualifications to descriptions for open jobs. Unique also developed an approach aimed at making employees feel comfortable and confident moving to a new country and culture.
“For instance,” Sonja said, “we found a Polish recruiter to recruit candidates from Poland. She went through the experience of moving to Germany herself five years ago. She’s the perfect person to offer support to candidates.”
That recruiter, Ania Skrzyńska, said she enjoys the role she plays in connecting people to good jobs and opportunities to better their lives. She said candidates from Poland tend to be more open with her because they can communicate in their native language.
“One of the biggest fears for applicants is the language barrier,” Skrzyńska said. “They think they can’t overcome it, but I tell them I’m here to help them if they can’t do it on their own at the beginning.”
Skrzyńska explained that she helps recruits with paperwork, such as registering for tax identification in Germany, and often provides translation services by phone while they’re doing everyday things, such as visiting the doctor or depositing money at the bank. She said that she assures them that, like her, they will eventually learn to speak German themselves and thrive in their new home country.
Buczyńska Ewelina, another native of Poland, directly benefitted from Skrzyńska’s and Unique’s support. Unique found her a job with far fewer hours than what she was working through another agency and set her up with a furnished flat close to work. Every step of the way, Skrzyńska was there to help.
“She is always reachable, always available and you can deal with all the formalities with her by phone,” Ewelina said of Skrzyńska.
On the other side of the equation, one employer that’s benefitted from Unique’s international recruiting efforts is Home24, a leading online furniture store with a distribution center in Walsrode, Germany. Hubertus Mikliss, Home24’s head of warehousing and distribution, said Unique has helped him considerably in finding qualified candidates to fill roles. Mikliss said Unique works together with Home24 to allay employee concerns through open and transparent communication.
“We’ve managed to eliminate intercultural differences and challenges we had due to the variety of cultures at this site by talking to the new staff beforehand as well as integrating them in our day-to-day business accordingly,” Mikliss said. “I think this is a very comprehensive concept which we implemented with the cooperation of Unique.”
Mikliss said having a cooperative working relationship with Unique removes “all concerns and misgivings” about bringing in employees from other countries. It’s also provided Home24 with a pipeline of potential permanent employees.
“Thanks to the international recruiting that Unique provides,” he said, “we were able to employ new staff during the high season, and now we’re employing them on a permanent basis. We’re very happy about this.”
Thanks to Unique’s efforts, up to 300 international recruits have jobs in Germany today in a variety of roles. For more information about the services and opportunities Unique provides, including job opportunities, visit the agency’s website.