Adventures at the job centre

Have you ever been unemployed and had to go to the German job centre? And have you ever thought the staff there is not willing or able to work? I can tell you: compared with the job centre in the UK the German one provides you with efficient and reliable work done by friendly and comforting people.

Due to my unemployment and the possibility to transfer the German benefits to the UK for the first three to six months I had to register in the job centre within the first week living in London. As the well-structured (and anxious) person I am known for I went there the first day after my arrival. Different to Germany there aren’t some selected job centres in London but a lot of small ones which are resonsible for one or two areas. It seems as if these centres are placed in former residential houses (but have moved in in the 1980s and never been refurbished since this date). 

At the entrance you are awaited by a security staff member whose job is to sit and wait and to be helplessly stumped for any answer. If you win the first battle with another skilled employee (“Oh, you want to transfer benefits from Germany. Ugh, I don’t know what to do. Perhaps you better call the general service number?“) you are allowed to step in a big room with a lot of tight standing desks. But than you have to help yourself since the staff is very very busy with having a cup of tea, talking to each other or just sitting on their chairs. As typically German you are propably a bit direct (“Sir? Excuse me please but I am rather lost.“) which could be helpful in this case since now they know: ‘Customer! Needs help! I have to do something!’. So they wake up, ask other colleagues who also don’t know what to do and and give you an appointment for tomorrow (“Not a good time now: Lunchtime.“). 

When you pop in the next day you are very surprised since the person you shall talk with is really on his desk. And is comparatively eager to register you in. You are so overwhelmed with such a service orientation that you connive that he forgot your ID in the copy machine or types with two fingers at maximum. Then you are told to come back in one week to a so called jobseeker’s interview which shall take place every 14 days. There you have to tell what you are doing for finding a job (make’s sense).

Then you go to this interview – well prepared, having your CV updated and keen to tell what you’ve done so far. But your new job advisor (seemingly a huge carnival fan wearing trousers and pumps with tiger print and a glittering nylon shirt) is more interested in discussing with other colleagues or moving in slow motion. So you are not asked one single question but receive another appointment – in 14 days. At the end of the 10 minutes the advisor seems to be in a better mood: she has managed it to arrange the next appointment with another colleague and got you out of her responsibility.

I am rather excited what (or if) I will be asked the next time. I wait for the moment they want me to give German lessons (since I speak German) or clean offices (since I am a women) or conduct a psychtherapy (since I studied psychology). But wasn’t going abroad not also for beeing open for new opportunities?

One thought on “Adventures at the job centre

  1. My dear Hanni. Before you are going to conduct psyhotherapy, please contact me. You may need some advice, since your days in dealing with patients were way back, i remember. ;-p
    Cleaning jobs seem more suitable for Alex but he already has a job. 😉
    That leaves “german lessons” to you.
    Hanna as a teacher – interesting and slightly confusing idea :-D.
    Love, Jess


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