Posted on

In the past years, in the public media (at least in Germany), it was prominently communicated, that the economy suffers from a skill shortage. While I think this is true for low-income labor like hairdressers, shopmen, commercial drivers etc., I doubt the existence in the tech sector.

I have been open to new job opportunities for several years now. While I don't feel any pressure to leave my current job, I think it is worth to monitor the market and be vigilant for worthwhile opportunities. However, from my personal experience the issue is not a skill shortage, but the incompetence of companies when it comes to recruitment marketing, recruitment and providing attractive offers. Instead of introspection, they cry to politics about allowing low-income workers from other countries to enter the market because they fail to properly hire the local workforce.

In the following, I will address recruiters and companies and hopefully provide them insight what is going wrong outside the skill shortage myth.

Not mentioning salary ranges

While it is usual in the USA to mention the salary ranges, I have almost never seen it in Germany. Be transparent. Let us know if we're in the same ballpark before both of us get the ball rolling.

Having contradicting statements in the vacancy

If the job was flagged as "fully remote" (potentially to be found via this search filter), but in the description suddenly this changes to "hybrid work can be done on an individual basis", I feel scammed. Be honest and clear in what you're looking for.

Being too unspecific in the vacancy

If the vacancy is just full of buzzwords, and describes the job on a meta level like "join us in an attractive team to make the world a better place" then you don't seem to know what you are looking for (or fail to communicate so). If the tech stack is not mentioned alongside specific responsibilities, don't expect top employees to apply.

Seeking for a jack of all trades

If you're looking for a "Software Engineer", but mention responsibilities that fall into the roles of an architect, a product owner and a manager, then you obviously are looking for different people. Nobody wants to be a jack of all trades.

Rejecting without any feedback

If I apply for a position that objectively fits to my profile, I expect at least a call. I got a generic rejection mail instead several times (one time from a no-reply address). I always follow-up with a request for feedback, but never get a response.

Rejecting because optional tasks were not fulfilled

One company assigned a time-boxed take-home task. It consisted of mandatory and optional goals. I handed in a solution that achieved all but one optional goal. I was eventually rejected with the reason I didn't fulfill the optional goal. You get the irony, right?

Mandating a cover letter

With the other points in this post, I don't feel companies spent an adequate amount on each application. Be fair, and don't expect the applicants to do otherwise. We're living in a fast-paced economy, applicants send dozens of applications and companies reject hundreds of applicants each week. Don't expect applicants to spend severely more time on the application that you do yourself. Also, in times of ChatGPT, everyone can generate a perfect cover letter.

Mandating an account creation for the application

It's not like I will regularly apply for different positions at your company. Either I get that job, or I don't and will search elsewhere. Don't require me to create an account for every application I send.

Not sticking to your own hiring process

If you have your hiring process outlined publicly, stick to it. I made the experience that in my case, the hiring process went differently than described.

Ignore the applicants availability

Scheduling an interview without waiting for the applicant to communicate their availability doesn't make the applicant feel valued. Also, if there is a face-to-face interview planned, I immediately lose interest if you schedule it for 9 am while I have a 4-5 h journey beforehand to travel to your office.

Having a comically high time requirement for interviews

Some companies require to have up to eight interviews. Two requested interview slots which lasted six hours or more. Please understand that applicants have other commitments as well (e.g. a normal day job).

Interviewing for a different role

Even if you urgently need to fill another role, if the applicant applied to a specific vacancy, interview them for that. One company started mid-interview to steer the topic to another role and started interviewing me for that instead of the one I applied for. Eventually I was rejected because I didn't meet the expectations for the role I didn't even apply to.

Ghosting me after the automated reception email

I think this is obviously wrong.

Ghosting me after the first call

The first call always goes well, you promise to follow up in the next days. Everything is awesome. Then never heard back several times.

Ghosting me after a verbal offer

Yep, one time I went through the whole interview odyssey and in the end received a verbal offer. After that, I was ghosted and never received a written offer. This is not just bold but also illegal.


All the points above are my personal experience. I intentionally didn't mention any company names, since my goal is not to blame but outline a bigger issue. If you treat candidates like that, the good ones will search somewhere else without hesitating. They will join another company or even work for a company outside the country (Brain Drain). With scaring off the highly talented workers, and pressuring politics to pave the way for low-income workers from other countries, who will underbid each other on the job market, I can't identify what could be the unique selling point for German products and German jobs in the future.

We have smart, highly-skilled and thorough workers in the country. Make use of them. Let them contribute to the success of your companies and the economy instead of scaring them away.

Copyright © 2024 Sebastian Müller. All rights reserved.