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Business

Self-Help for Fallen Business Executives

With more than five million Germans out of work, a Web site has found a niche audience among those seeking jobs: Highly qualified business executives.

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Future customers of the Web site?

Germany’s job market simply refuses to emerge from the doldrums, with the record number of jobless people continuing to exceed the five million mark.

Among the job seekers are more and more highly qualified business executives, but the unemployed managers might now be able to save themselves the trouble of going to the job center: Five entrepreneurs have set up a self-help portal where such people can register online -- free of charge and without bureaucracy.

The initiative "Wir suchen Arbeit" or "We’re looking for work" has been privately organized by and for highly qualified and exceptionally motivated business leaders in the top income bracket.

US model

The aim of the initiative is to establish a direct link to potential employers so that the job seekers can return to working life as quickly as possible. Cyriacus Schultze is the founder and project leader and brought the idea to Germany. It was modelled on the US portal "Wewantwork," which Schultze got to know while he was holidaying in New York.

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"I happened to notice a staff member of the 'Wewantwork' initiative: He was a well-dressed, middle-aged gentleman, a manager wearing a dark blue suit and a waistcoat," Schultze said. "He had hung a sign round his neck saying 'I want work.' It was an image reminiscent of the 1920s. When I asked this gentleman what he was doing, he told me he was part of an initiative of out-of-work managers trying to draw attention to their plight and to get a new job."

High success rate

Less than a year later, the German version of the project went online. The initiative soon chalked up its first successes: Although only about 50 applicants expressed interest, jobs were found for as many as 70 percent of them. The data bases have meanwhile been automated and registration takes place faster and more easily.

"The unemployed can register online and put their application on the Internet in a few minutes," Schultze said. "Of course, that gives us an enormous push forward: In the next few weeks, I expect a ten to twenty-fold rise. On the other hand, the potential employers who are looking for staff can take a look at and contact the people."

Stringent criteria

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The acceptance criteria are high, for otherwise the data base would be overloaded and in addition the potential employers would be put off. An academic qualification with a good or very good grade is a must; also obligatory are 10 to 15 years professional experience, experience acquired abroad and the ability to negotiate confidently both orally and in writing.

Then there are qualities like the ability to lead, pragmatism and flexibility. Because of these requirements, the portal stands out clearly from the classical job bourses. Schultze said that the unusual Internet portal operates without commission, for the initiative does not see itself as a headhunting or an employment agency out to make money.

He added that the initiative is not a substitute for conventional job applications, rather an effective way of complementing classical job hunting.

Although the portal is so far restricted to Germany, the initiative is meanwhile so successful that there are already inquiries from Switzerland and Austria.

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