The complaints are everywhere: "The shortage of skilled labour!" Or: "We can't find any employees!" And: "When people apply, they are too poorly qualified. They simply can't do anything." This is often accompanied by a reference to the past: "We used to learn something at school, in training, at university, not just superficial knowledge, as is the case everywhere today."

Okay, admittedly: That was a polemic. Of course I don't hear that from all companies. And of course there are many companies that have nothing to complain about. Either because they are active in an area where there are enough skilled workers: Agencies, for example. Or publishers. Or because their brands are so well known that many applicants want to work there without asking themselves whether the company is a good fit for them. In Germany, this includes Siemens, Porsche or - also - the police (source: Trendence study on the most popular employers for students, 2018/2019). The other side of the coin is that they are faced with the challenge of selecting the right people from the plethora of applications that flutter into their (virtual) inbox.

Particularly sought-after: technicians

If we take a look at the figures, the following picture emerges: The Federal Employment Agency's Fact check regularly publishes the necessary figures. These figures show, for example, that there are between two and four applicants for every advertised vacancy for mechanical engineers throughout Germany.

If we look at regional differences, we see that the market in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria looks different once again: Here, there are only 1.4 (Bavaria) and 2.3 (Baden-Württemberg) potential applicants per vacancy. Electrical engineers are in high demand throughout Germany, with vacancies and jobseekers generally being equal in purely mathematical terms. The same applies to technicians. There is a huge demand for these throughout Germany.

So far, so frustrating.

On the other hand, there are of course people out there who are looking for a new job. And these are only those who are officially registered as jobseekers: There is also the market of concealed job seekers and those who don't even know they are looking.

Full speed ahead towards applicants?

Job interviewAnd this is where my question marks come into play: Why aren't companies doing everything they can to find, woo and retain the skilled workers who are out there openly or covertly looking?

Need an example? I have brought you three possibilities for optimisation:

  • Optimisation of the website: At this point, what applicants want and what companies do are far apart. Applicants don't want to fill out a new application form for every employer. They want to send their documents either by e-mail or by One-click application how the Candidate Journey Study 2017 from and metaHR. Incidentally, applicants also want to find contact options on the careers website and a contact person - and perhaps gain a deeper insight into the company than just the description "We are a great, ambitious team".
  • Design of job adverts: When companies change their perspective and look at their own job adverts, they should honestly ask themselves the question: "Would I like to apply for this job?" On job portals, their own adverts compete with hundreds of companies with similar job profiles. It doesn't have to be a glittering pink unicorn, but simply using "Project manager (m/f) realising warehouse and conveyor technology" instead of "Project manager (m/f)" can attract more suitable applicants. And in addition to the online presence: A critical look at your own advert in competition with dozens of others on a university notice board quickly provides clarity. Hand on heart - who likes to stick with the cheerful grey?
  • Presence on employer rating platforms: The realisation is slowly sinking in: Employer rating portals like and are no longer going anywhere. And applicants inform themselves via these platforms. The fact that an employee is sometimes dissatisfied cannot be prevented. But it is up to each company to ensure that there is only one profile and that bad reviews are answered individually and personally. And what should not be forgotten, of course: Critical assessments also show potential for improvement that companies should utilise.

Skilled labour exists. You just have to find them!

I recently experienced at first hand with a customer from Munich that things can be done quite differently. When the conversation turned to his web developers, he just laughed and said: "Web developers here in Munich? Forget it! I could never pay them and I wouldn't stand a chance against Google and the other big employers anyway." Instead, he went to places where there were skilled workers but hardly any work - and found his new employees. Sure, they don't work in his office every day, but that shouldn't be a problem nowadays.

Just as it should no longer be a problem when people have children or want to look after their parents. Far too many employers still refuse to allow women to return to their jobs properly after starting a family. Instead, they are sidelined.

As long as companies can afford to do this, the shortage of skilled labour has not really arrived in people's minds. So my appeal to you: be smarter than your competitors and make employee recruitment and retention a top priority!

We would be happy to put our many years of experience to work for you. We advise you on your recruiting strategy and recruiting processes and support you in the search for your employees. 

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