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Is a 12 month probation period reasonable?

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Hi all,

 

I recently had an interview where the employer suggested that I have a probation period of 12 months (with lower salary) based on the facts that I only speak basic German, and that I would have to learn the system they are using (engineering stuff). I have 5 years of proffessional experience in the field, but with another yet somewhat similar system. Their argument is that I wouldn't be of too much value to them before I have learned both. My opinion is that I can learn the system in one to three months, and reach a decent level of German in half a year.

 

I read online that the probation period is normally 6 months in Germany, but at the same time I don't want to seem picky and make too many demands.

 

What are your experiences, should I negotiate, and what are reasonable demands?

 

Thanks!

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Your employer is on to some bull. Have him pay for a year of German lessons then

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If the crux of their argument for low pay and a 12 month probezeit is that you are not "of too much value to them" for the duration, why do they want to hire you at all?

 

walk away.  really.  

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Engineers are in great demand in Germany. This is BS.

In fact, I immediately would know companies for mechanical engineering as well as IT that would happily hire somebody with English and basic German. :)

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1 minute ago, Metall said:

Engineers are in great demand in Germany. This is BS.

 

In Germany, yes. Qliver seems to talk about Berlin, that might be part of the problem. ;)

 

@Qliver: Berlin is the economic black hole of Germany, you'd be better off somewhere else in Germany, e.g. in Bavaria or Baden-Wuerttemberg.

 

As a side note: From basic german to a decent (professional) level in only 6 months (while working) seems to be overly optimistic to me. 

 

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1 minute ago, someonesdaughter said:

 

In Germany, yes. Qliver seems to talk about Berlin, that might be part of the problem. ;)

 

@Qliver: Berlin is the economic black hole of Germany, you'd be better off somewhere else in Germany, e.g. in Bavaria or Baden-Wuerttemberg.

 

As a side note: From basic german to a decent (professional) level in only 6 months (while working) seems to be overly optimistic to me. 

 

 

Agreed!

The companies I am thinking of are exactly in Bavaria or Baden-Wuerttemberg. :)

And yes, better count on at least 2 years of regular German study. It is not an easy language.

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I'm not convinced that's true for engineering in Berlin.  Really. 

 

The thing is, you have to be discerning.  No matter where you are.  There are just as many fly-by-night-out-to-screw-and-mob-you employers in munich as there are anywhere (by my guess) so I don't think the location is the problem here.

 

it's just a shitty employer.  Like a shitty date.  Move on.

 

ETA I totally agree about underestimating time required to be truly functional in German.  It's brutal.

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1 hour ago, someonesdaughter said:

 

In Germany, yes. Qliver seems to talk about Berlin, that might be part of the problem. ;)

 

@Qliver: Berlin is the economic black hole of Germany, you'd be better off somewhere else in Germany, e.g. in Bavaria or Baden-Wuerttemberg.

 

As a side note: From basic german to a decent (professional) level in only 6 months (while working) seems to be overly optimistic to me. 

 

I have heard some awful stuff about the economy in Berlin. Sadly the whole of Austria is one big Berlin. Its awful out here. I just got rejected for a teaching job. They went with someone with a masters degree and they are paying 12 an hour. Is this what we are doing now, get a Masters degree just to make 12 bucks an hour? 

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Come to Munich. It's close to Austria, with a booming job market.

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3 hours ago, lisa13 said:

ETA I totally agree about underestimating time required to be truly functional in German.  It's brutal.

 

It all depends on how proficient someone is at picking up languages, I find it easiest when "thrown in at the deep end", i.e. confronted by the language on a daily basis most of the time, which unfortunately is not happening here, so I'm picking up Greek rather slowly.

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10 hours ago, Metall said:

Come to Munich. It's close to Austria, with a booming job market.

 

and no where to live :)

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14 hours ago, lisa13 said:

If the crux of their argument for low pay and a 12 month probezeit is that you are not "of too much value to them" for the duration, why do they want to hire you at all?  

Because he is good, but at the moment, he can only be "Supporting Engineer" for another (German speaking) engineer, and they hope that his German reaches a stable standard in one year?

 

The OP wasn't very specific about the job, but if it's an engineering position where one has to read "Pflichtenhefte" and "Lastenhefte" ("requirements specifications" and "functional specifications") before acting, not speaking the language is a real problem. Every move needs to be monitored (As a missinterpretation of the "Pflichtenheft" could result in the (neck breaking) failure of the project). I've seen smaller engineering companies going bust due to that, the penalty for breach of contract broke their spine...

 

 

Quote

They went with someone with a masters degree and they are paying 12 an hour.

 

This information is useless without stating what kind of a master it is: egyptian archaeology, medieval music, roman linguistic, rocket science or what?

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30 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

 

and no where to live :)

 

The companies I am thinking of are outside of the city itself. One even has contacts to local housing, exactly because of that problem. :)

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these motherfucking companies...

 

guess what you have to do?

...look for something better!!!

 

and if they dont give you much value, than they should not expect much from you too

 

..Funny is that they did not hire a German

( that would solve their problem with German language requirements ...but i guess its hard to find Germans in Germany)

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It seem like they are just trying to take advantage of the fact that you do not speak German to lower your salary and overall package.

I could understand taking a punch (in term of compensation) for not knowing German, but what does it have to do with learning the system? if a company hires any new employee (even German) he will have to "learn the system".

12 months probation period even though you are an experienced engineer ? I would shake this manager's hand, thank him for his time and walk away.


Sounds sketchy to me, move on.. 
 

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On 5/3/2017, 8:24:21, lisa13 said:

If the crux of their argument for low pay and a 12 month probezeit is that you are not "of too much value to them" for the duration, why do they want to hire you at all?

 

walk away.  really.  

 

I wish it were that simple, but I've been to quite a few interviews already and it seems to be a must to speak German in Berlin. Many companies have been reluctant to hire me because of the fact that I don't speak German. I think I need to start somewhere and then in worst case I could always move on once I speak the language.

 

On 5/3/2017, 11:55:05, Uncle Nick said:

 

It all depends on how proficient someone is at picking up languages, I find it easiest when "thrown in at the deep end", i.e. confronted by the language on a daily basis most of the time, which unfortunately is not happening here, so I'm picking up Greek rather slowly.

 

I agree with this, I think going to Germany will force me to learn, and it should be the fastest way.

 

On 5/3/2017, 9:49:28, lisa13 said:

I'm not convinced that's true for engineering in Berlin.  Really. 

 

The thing is, you have to be discerning.  No matter where you are.  There are just as many fly-by-night-out-to-screw-and-mob-you employers in munich as there are anywhere (by my guess) so I don't think the location is the problem here.

 

it's just a shitty employer.  Like a shitty date.  Move on.

 

ETA I totally agree about underestimating time required to be truly functional in German.  It's brutal.

 

Well I already speak Swedish which has a lot in common with German, and then English of course. I pick up languages pretty fast too. Maybe it is a bit optimistic, but it should be enough to at least communicate with my colleagues. I already had one job interview with a guy that only spoke German (but understood English), and that went pretty OK.

 

On 5/4/2017, 10:03:54, franklan said:

Because he is good, but at the moment, he can only be "Supporting Engineer" for another (German speaking) engineer, and they hope that his German reaches a stable standard in one year?

 

The OP wasn't very specific about the job, but if it's an engineering position where one has to read "Pflichtenhefte" and "Lastenhefte" ("requirements specifications" and "functional specifications") before acting, not speaking the language is a real problem. Every move needs to be monitored (As a missinterpretation of the "Pflichtenheft" could result in the (neck breaking) failure of the project). I've seen smaller engineering companies going bust due to that, the penalty for breach of contract broke their spine...

 

 

 

This information is useless without stating what kind of a master it is: egyptian archaeology, medieval music, roman linguistic, rocket science or what?

 

Without diving into details, it's mostly programming according to specifications, but often with close cooperation together with the customer. But programming is done in English, so I would just need help with the specifications. The programming environment and hardware that is programmed is different than what I've worked with.

 

Thank you all for the replies. So what would be a good deal to negotiate? 6 months with lower pay? How much lower should I expect? I guess I could also try to get them to pay for the course. I see a lot of you think I should just move on, but I would rather try to turn this opportunity into something that would work for both me and the employer.

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The problem is, a company who pitches their offer saying "you are not worth much" is telling you something.  They are *usually* telling you that they will treat you with little respect, and they will likely continue to point out how "little value" you offer.

 

this is so so so bad for your head.  It just is.  That is the biggest reason I would say you need to walk away.  At the very least, check their reviews on kununu.de to get an idea of how they treat employees and what it's like to work there.

 

ETA:  I don't know what kind of programming you do, but I had more than 10 interviews (11 or 12, can't remember) in Berlin and in only one case was my poor German (at the time) a factor at all.  I do have more experience than you do, but you are not entry level so...not thinking this is insurmountable.  Check stack overflow job listings for places that are totally ok with english speakers.

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There is lots of English speaking work for Programmers in Berlin.    As far as I know, the startup scene basically runs on English.  

 

Try to get connected via Facebook, e.g. "Startup jobs in Berlin" or something like that, xing.com or if you are a freelancer, gulp.de. 

 

Depending on your options, you should not give up any salary or suffer an extended probationary period. 

 

Good luck. 

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54 minutes ago, Qliver said:

Without diving into details, it's mostly programming according to specifications, but often with close cooperation together with the customer. But programming is done in English, so I would just need help with the specifications. The programming environment and hardware that is programmed is different than what I've worked with.

 

 

PSA (public service announcement): Send me a PM, I know an IT company outside of Munich (rentals easier to find) happy to hire English speaking programmers. Lots of specifications and an interesting field.

 

(No, I don't get paid for this. But Berlin is the worst.)

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