Sarah Greiner-Miethe is Senior HR Manager at plista, one-stop solution for native advertising. There she is among others responsible for the recruitment of new professionals from the IT area. Those are in high demand on the market and often are from foreign countries.


Here, she speaks about typical barriers which occur in the hiring process of new team members and gives tips for a successful recruitment of international employees.

“As a global acting company, our teams have diverse cultural and personal backgrounds. Colleagues from about 30 countries work here at plista. This diversity is an essential part of our corporate culture, which makes us unique. Nevertheless, there are some challenges which we have to  master. We have summed up the most important insights as “The Seven-Key-Learnings” for you:

#1 Diversity is the key for recruitment and business success

The term “diversity” is used inflationary in the HR-area but for us it is not just a nice an “add on”. It is crucial for our business success. To come straight to the point: Berlin or even Germany does not offer the variety of IT-professionals which we wish or need. Therefore, we are also seeking on the global market to staff the corresponding positions the best. That is why we try to reach the “techies” on forums such as Stackoverflow. Due to the fact that it is not just a classic job board (where just a few developer hang around anyway) and is internationally known. In the end we see ourself as a global company – what should not only be reflected in business but also in our workforce.

#2 Digital or not: A personal meeting is a must

Especially IT specialist can often not be found inside the country’s frontiers. High travel costs and an increased organization effort mislead companies to do application processes virtually via skype and so on. This seems attractive at first sight. But we have noticed that a personal meeting is unavoidable. Specific things such as cultural differences – if the candidate also is a match to the team or if even the known chemistry is right or not – can only be evaluated face to face. For developers the technical exchange with (future) colleagues, a code challenge or even the direct workplace is important for the decision making during the recruiting process. Thereby, questions like “How much expertise does my new team have? From whom can I learn? Do I have quietness at my workplace while I am in the “tunnel”? How is the technical equipment in the offices?“ are not to be neglected.

#3 Bureaucratic jungle Germany: This is where companies have to give assistance

Once the choice is made, companies have to support especially with moving and any other administrative matters. Although English is almost the official business language, this does not automatically apply for German public authorities. We all already had our struggles with tons of paper work and know what kind of challenge this can be – and imagine: we are native speakers. Recently a new employee fresh from abroad said: “It is easier to get into NASA than getting a German tax ID!“

Thus, we gladly support not only with classic processes like tax ID, health insurance, and visa issues, but also with topics such as accommodation, childcare, and public transportation. Because we believe this is an important part of our work. Hence new team members have a soft start and can fully concentrate on their on-boarding-process. Especially employees with computer science studies do luckily have eased requirements for the visa allocation (keyword blue card). Nonetheless our help is urgently needed. Often the new employee moves with his whole family – here we also support at best.

 #4 Language is the key to success

I have already mentioned above that the company language in the IT-departments is mostly English. Even if the temptation to stick to this language is high, we recommend our employees to take part at language course and learn the national language. Here we help with words and deeds and for instance organize German intensive courses with partner language schools. Over the time we found out that this is a crucial criteria if someone feels well with us, or even in Berlin, in our country as well as in our office over a long time.

 #5 Never underestimate intercultural differences

Even if cultural differences are hardly recognizable at first glance this factor should never be underestimated. People from about 30 countries work in our office and therefore we are often confronted with different challenges. That begins with basic communication behavior and ends with special manners in the everyday working life. That is why we offer special intercultural trainings that enable a harmonic collaboration when simple talking no longer helps. Generally, we live tolerance and acceptance towards other cultures at plista since it is an important element of our company culture. There is a story of the IT department which has particularly touched us: A new employee, who lent because of Ramadan, got support by his team members by also doing a lent.

 #6 Hiring foreign specialists means a huge piece of responsibility

Quite often our new IT specialists are not only doing a step for their career but the rather start a whole new chapter in their life. They move – sometimes with their family – and leave a complete social and cultural environment behind. As a company you have to be aware of this responsibility and display sensitivity during the whole recruiting process. Thus it makes sense to include the family members during this phase directly or indirectly. This way we help them to subtract fears or respond to their wishes. Our experience shows that if you do not consider those things you will fail with hiring a potential employee or even lose a new employee, for instance just because the spouse is not happy with the change.

 #7 Developers are different

It may sound rough but software developers often tick differently than other employees. Therefore, essential decision making factors during the job search are not just the contractual conditions, but especially the technologies (which often are lived like a religion), the learning potentials, the inspiring colleagues, and also the agile development processes – adapted from Scrum and Kanban that let beat developer hearts faster. Furthermore, developers wish to have flexible working hours (who knows a developer who likes to get up early?!) and also home office – both is possible at plista. That plista pays the food – if it gets later in the evening because of tight deadlines etc. – is another plus for our IT. Not least the well visited sports room, where back therapy course, Pilates, Yoga, and CrossFit take place, is a popular goodie for our developers – who is coding the whole day needs a good compensation.

Are you interested in an IT career at plista? Contact us now!

Meet plista at the Berlin Talent Summit on Friday, 21 April 2017 in Berlin and get to know more about our job offers in the IT area. We are happy to meet you there!

Author: Lucie Feldt