Huge discrepancy between the Arbeitszeugnis and my boss' speech

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Around a year ago, I was fired in the trial period. Before getting fired, I received an extremely oral feedback from my boss' and his boss (like the boss my boss :D)

However, the certificate of employment (Arbeitszeugnis) is really positive. I know that the formulations in the Arbeitszeugnis can be tricky. For example, they write it in a way that signalizes it was not really positive. However, I showed the Arbeitszeugnis to some other people. They said it was quite positive too. In the interviews, the interviewers also recognized that the Arbeitszeugnis was fairly positive.

 

Now, I had suspected that they were just trying to fire excused to fire me because they found someone else. But I was unsure about my assessment. I thought, in German work culture, things were more honest. But now I am confused. If I only consider the Arbeitszeugnis as the true feedback, it will prevent me from growing out of my mistakes. If they gave me a positive Arbeitszeugnis, why did I get a negative oral feedback? I heard it was illegal to give someone an Arbeitszeugnis with negative formulations. But if they really believed that I was not a good employee, they should't have given me a positive Arbeitszeugnis. What could be the reason behind this discrepancy?

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Maybe they wanted to be nice and give you a decent chance of finding a new job? Giving oral feedback - any feedback, really - isn't always done when firing someone either. It takes time and can make the employer vulnerable to lawsuits.

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10 minutes ago, International Student said:

If they gave me a positive Arbeitszeugnis, why did I get a negative oral feedback?

 

Because of that:

 

10 minutes ago, International Student said:

 

I heard it was illegal to give someone an Arbeitszeugnis with negative formulations. But if they really believed that I was not a good employee, they should't have given me a positive Arbeitszeugnis.

 

They have no choice. By law they have to give you a good Arbeitszeugnis, if they'd give you a bad one you could sue them to get a good one.

 

10 minutes ago, International Student said:

 

What could be the reason behind this discrepancy?

 

See above. They want to avoid a lawsuit. 

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2 minutes ago, someonesdaughter said:

 

Because of that:

 

 

They have no choice. By law they have to give you a good Arbeitszeugnis, if they'd give you a bad one you could sue them to get a good one.

 

 

See above. They want to avoid a lawsuit. 


Yes, I see that. But they gave me a really really positive Arbeitszeugnis. They could formulate the sentence in such a way that it does not sound so positive and this would match the feedback I was given. I think @sneaker is right: they were being nice and wanted me to find a job.

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13 minutes ago, International Student said:


Yes, I see that. But they gave me a really really positive Arbeitszeugnis. They could formulate the sentence in such a way that it does not sound so positive 

 

And as soon as you find out you can sue them to change the text to "really positive" . Not worth the hassle. But if you prefer to believe that they were simply being nice, that's also fine. :) 

 

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Although I detest the 'course' that the Arbeits Agentur sent me on there were a couple of highlights. One of which was a half day seminar by an Anwalt for Arbeitsrecht (employment contract lawyer) during which he explained the secret language of references.

Yes they have to be positive, or at least appear positive but the way they're written can actually say much about the employee - in a negative way too.

 

A couple of basic things to look for:

If your Zeugnis uses the phrase "Stets Vollste" in the description of how you did your job then this is extremely positive. Think of it as scoring a "1" or A++ in a school review.

If it uses "Stets Voll" or just "Vollste" then this is also very positive, think of a "2" score.

If it uses just the word "Voll" then it's equivalent to a "3" score.

Anything else isn't so positive and more can be detected from the rest of the text.

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On ‎2018‎.‎07‎.‎03‎ ‎02‎:‎18‎:‎18, International Student said:

Around a year ago, I was fired in the trial period. Before getting fired, I received an extremely oral feedback from my boss' and his boss (like the boss my boss :D)

However, the certificate of employment (Arbeitszeugnis) is really positive. I know that the formulations in the Arbeitszeugnis can be tricky. For example, they write it in a way that signalizes it was not really positive. However, I showed the Arbeitszeugnis to some other people. They said it was quite positive too. In the interviews, the interviewers also recognized that the Arbeitszeugnis was fairly positive.

 

Now, I had suspected that they were just trying to fire excused to fire me because they found someone else. But I was unsure about my assessment. I thought, in German work culture, things were more honest. But now I am confused. If I only consider the Arbeitszeugnis as the true feedback, it will prevent me from growing out of my mistakes. If they gave me a positive Arbeitszeugnis, why did I get a negative oral feedback? I heard it was illegal to give someone an Arbeitszeugnis with negative formulations. But if they really believed that I was not a good employee, they should't have given me a positive Arbeitszeugnis. What could be the reason behind this discrepancy?

 

Just ignore the formalities and try and understand what you can really do better. Don't dwell on the past. Look for a job ASAP and get help from the Arbeitsamt (Job centre) if needed. Probably you need it.

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Per the forum guideline, and since the topic is related, I am posting my  Arbeitszeugnis here (which is in English)

 

I feel this is positive except couple of places (marked in Bold), where I think there is coded message.  Am I right or simply wrong?

 

  The responsibilities of Mr.XX particularly included:

          * few bullet points of responsiblities.

 

Mr. XX possesses well-founded specialist knowledge, which he was able to apply to our benefit in practical circumstances. He attended events to increase his specialist knowledge.

 

His perception allowed him to often grasp even quite complex situations correctly. Mr. XX was a motivated employee, who was willing to work hard and committed even with work involving mental stress. He was able to cope with normal workloads.

 

He worked precisely, conscientiously and efficiently. He performed important tasks reliably and was honest.

 

He mostly found satisfactory solutions to all problems. Mr. XX has fulfilled our high expectations well.

He was appreciated as someone to talk to in our company due to his likeable manner. His personal behaviour was faultless.

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2 hours ago, Prankart said:

I feel this is positive except couple of places (marked in Bold), where I think there is coded message.  Am I right or simply wrong?

 

IMHO you have caught just 2 of several visible instances of negative nuancing.

 

I'm sorry to say it does not look to have the appearance of either a 'gut' or 'sehr gut' Arbeitszeugnis but simply a 'befriedigend' one, which is in effect as negative as they dare go within the limits of the GeWo law.

 

I do appreciate your having followed the board guidelines by adding your post here, but unfortunately you've missed seeing the info posted in response to another member who had started a duplicate topic last week.

 

I suggest you compare it with the 3 translated examples I posted in the lower part of this thread--> Arbeitszeugnis - Looking for feedback? 

 

If you are a member of a trade union or have legal costs insurance covering Arbeitsrecht you should be able to get a lawyer to instruct the employer to get it rewritten. If you are not in either of those categories it could, depending on your gross monthly income, cost you a few hundred €. 

 

If you want to know how to get virtually free legal advice or representation (or just know more about the possible fees or process costs then see the new sticky at the top of the Legal forum. How to get legal advice or representation in court if you have limited means or a low income.

 

Be lucky!

 

2B

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Welcome to the weird, nuanced world of the Arbeitszeugnis. Allegedly there is coded language for HR/Recruiters to speak with each other while the Zeugnis remains positive looking. I tend to simply believe most companies give you something positive because (a), as mentioned above, it can only create problems for the company if they are too negative and (b) there are no hard feelings and they hope you do well so they give you a bit of help.

 

Here is the bottom line. Regardless of how wonderful and glowing your Zeugnis is, or how much you spend to force them to write you a better one, you were let go in the trial period. There is virtually no worse signal for your next employer than this. Because if your Zeugnis is so wonderful, why did they let you go!? Therefore it is more important to come up with a way to explain why this happened and it had better be good because being let go in the probationary period is like a scarlet letter.  

 

Good luck. : /

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On 7/16/2018, 5:44:21, 2B_orNot2B said:

 

IMHO you have caught just 2 of several visible instances of negative nuancing.

 

I'm sorry to say it does not look to have the appearance of either a 'gut' or 'sehr gut' Arbeitszeugnis but simply a 'befriedigend' one, which is in effect as negative as they dare go within the limits of the GeWo law.

 

I do appreciate your having followed the board guidelines by adding your post here, but unfortunately you've missed seeing the info posted in response to another member who had started a duplicate topic last week.

 

I suggest you compare it with the 3 translated examples I posted in the lower part of this thread--> Arbeitszeugnis - Looking for feedback? 

 

If you are a member of a trade union or have legal costs insurance covering Arbeitsrecht you should be able to get a lawyer to instruct the employer to get it rewritten. If you are not in either of those categories it could, depending on your gross monthly income, cost you a few hundred €. 

 

If you want to know how to get virtually free legal advice or representation (or just know more about the possible fees or process costs then see the new sticky at the top of the Legal forum. How to get legal advice or representation in court if you have limited means or a low income.

 

Be lucky!

 

2B

I am planning to go back to the company and ask them to revise it first as that seems to be the first logical step. 

 

You have mentioned several visible instances of negative nuancing. Do you actually mean I am missing couple of negative statements or in general, the lack of Good or Very good statements? If so, can you specify please?

 

Thanks for the additional link and the insight. 

 

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22 minutes ago, Prankart said:

I am planning to go back to the company and ask them to revise it first as that seems to be the first logical step. 

 

You have mentioned several visible instances of negative nuancing. Do you actually mean I am missing couple of negative statements or in general, the lack of Good or Very good statements? If so, can you specify please?

 

Thanks for the additional link and the insight. 

 

 

I see you’re planning on seeing this through to the bitter end. It’s your choice but consider how much better use your time, money and energy could be put to just finding a job where the hiring manager is more focused on what you can bring to the company and less on some form letter.

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22 hours ago, Lindsayj said:

 

 

Here is the bottom line. Regardless of how wonderful and glowing your Zeugnis is, or how much you spend to force them to write you a better one, you were let go in the trial period. There is virtually no worse signal for your next employer than this. Because if your Zeugnis is so wonderful, why did they let you go!? Therefore it is more important to come up with a way to explain why this happened and it had better be good because being let go in the probationary period is like a scarlet letter.  

 

Good luck. : /

 

This. Be honest and upfront with your new boss as far as possible, but maybe focus on the positive rather than some mistake / misunderstanding from the past? Also try the Arbeitsamt rather than us internet randos.

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Yes, speaking as someone who's managed people on and off for three decades, I understand your concern but I don't think there's much there to worry about and definitely not to create antagonism over or waste energy on.  You were there for less than six months and you walked away with an almost totally positive review with a lot of encouraging signs.   No recruiter sensibly expects a potential employee to be perfect and especially not someone who is (presumably) still in early career.

 

I mean, I've had a good enough career but I'd be surprised if any referee ever effusively described me as "appreciated as someone to talk to" and "likeable" and such :wub:.   That's a good impression in a short time.    If I was interviewing you and you started saying "Look about my reference..." it would not reassure me, rather make me wonder.

 

As the other post says, a narrative about why you were let go would be what to focus on.  Particularly if you make a good impression, an all round solid reference won't make any difference.

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@sos-the-rope @swimmer @Lindsayj

 

Just to clarify I have spent 3 years with my previous company in Germany.  I don't have a job yet, as I am upgrading my language skills. I still need a good  Arbeitszeugnis, which will help me when I hunt for a  new job in few months. Thanks a lot for your inputs, helped to calm me nerves :)

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1 hour ago, Prankart said:

I am planning to go back to the company and ask them to revise it first as that seems to be the first logical step. 

 

You have mentioned several visible instances of negative nuancing. Do you actually mean I am missing couple of negative statements or in general, the lack of Good or Very good statements? If so, can you specify please?

 

Thanks for the additional link and the insight. 

 

 

Asking the company to revise it is indeed the best logical first step.

 

If they realize you are aware of the bias in the formulation and that you may even be prepared to take further steps to assert your rights they may just take the easier option and revise it up to a  format which would be recognizable as 'gut' or even 'sehr gut'

 

I meant that almost the entire text is formatted in the minimum bog standard vanilla version.

 

Its not specifically negative as that would be a contravention of the GewO Section which actually prevents them by statute from writing anything which may have a negative effect on your future career prospects.

 

However it is entirely free of any of the key words or phrases which are almost universally used in Germany to inflate the valuation of an employees reference. The fact that all of these are missing is the 'curse of death' as far as most German HR screeners are concerned.

 

Needless to say I disagree with most of the assumptions posted by my 3 fellow Anglo-Saxon TTers, two of whom I note have confused the OPs situation with yours, insofar as you have made no mention of having left within the first 6 months (probezeit).

 

To be fair to them I have, AFAIK, been in country for much longer than any of them (34+ yrs.) and have been following the developing story of the professional German Arbeitszeugnis for at least the last 25 years.

 

HR screeners in Germany are expected to demonstrate daily their keen observtion and reading comprehension skills so they would not make such speedy assumptions either.

 

I'm sorry but I did make an error in my previous post in referring to the 3 examples I'd posted elsewhere as being translated versions.

 

They are not translated. I had meant to suggest that you run each of their texts through www.deepL.com and compare the differences in the results. Then you should understand the difference in nuancing better and hopefully be able to better argue your case.

 

Good luck!

 

2B

 

ETA: crossposted! I see I was indeed correct not to have assumed you'd left during your probezeit. ;)

 

ETA2: After 3 years of service they should have given you a more positively nuanced reference as a matter of course which in turn should make it all the more unacceptable from your point of view.

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17 hours ago, swimmer said:

Yes, speaking as someone who's managed people on and off for three decades, I understand your concern but I don't think there's much there to worry about and definitely not to create antagonism over or waste energy on.  You were there for less than six months and you walked away with an almost totally positive review with a lot of encouraging signs.   No recruiter sensibly expects a potential employee to be perfect and especially not someone who is (presumably) still in early career.

 

I mean, I've had a good enough career but I'd be surprised if any referee ever effusively described me as "appreciated as someone to talk to" and "likeable" and such :wub:.   That's a good impression in a short time.    If I was interviewing you and you started saying "Look about my reference..." it would not reassure me, rather make me wonder.

 

As the other post says, a narrative about why you were let go would be what to focus on.  Particularly if you make a good impression, an all round solid reference won't make any difference.

 

Exactly. As if there weren’t hr and reference bs in Anglo Saxon working cultures too. If a potential employer is going to play games like this, let them, find a job where they care about... erm... the job...?

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