Fit for the job: dealing with the employment office {book}

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Published at our publishing partner Eichborn in German, by Simone Janson

In the series “Fit for the job” of the Eichborn publishing house appeared in 2003 and then until 2004 in the third edition my successful title “dealing with the employment office”.

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On 90 pages, the guide compactly explains the new developments surrounding the Employment Agency and clearly introduces the new and old labor market instruments.

Various press reviews

The following press reviews have been published about my book “Handling the Employment Office”, published by Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2005:

  • Interview Employment Office, Hartz IV and Labor Market -
  • Brigitte young miss 09/2004 -
  • Berliner Morgenpost 06.06.2004 -
  • -
  • Südwestpresse May 08.05.2004th, XNUMX -
  • Ulmer Wochenblatt May 12.05.2004, XNUMX -
  • ekz information service 05/2004 -


“If the employment agency prepared your information as Simone Janson does, your work would be superfluous…”


weltbild made an interview with me about my very first book “Dealing with the employment office”. You can find the full text of the interview here:

You are a specialist for professional and educational subjects and worked as an editor for various publications of the Federal Institute for Labor. What special help can unemployed people expect from your counselor?

Anyone who is unemployed or becomes unemployed is looking for quick, clear and easily understandable information - especially on the new regulations such as Hartz IV. "Dealing with the employment office" is certainly more helpful than some irritating brochures from the employment agency, whose authors often simply adopt the legal language instead of translating them. The book provides information, for example, on questions such as: “When and how do I register as unemployed?”, “How much can I earn in addition to unemployment benefits I or II?”, “How do I convince the employment consultant to give me one Further training to pay?" or "What grants can I expect if I start a business?".

Of course, a book of this size and price can not take into account all the details and special rules. I can deal with specific questions in my lectures and seminars on the topic better (dates on my website Most importantly, people need to be aware that they can not expect comprehensive advice from the Employment Agency. The employees there, even if they are consultants, clearly represent the interests of the employment agency and manage their funds. They can rarely provide personal assistance, even for reasons of time. Therefore, everyone should, before he goes to the Employment Agency, comprehensively inform about his options - because only who knows his rights, this can enforce.

In your opinion, what makes the handling of the employment office particularly difficult?

As already indicated, the actual structure of the employment agency does not meet the expectations of unemployed and job seekers. These expectations are illusory, because: The Federal Institute for the Administration of Unemployment Insurance was originally created. With mass unemployment, this structure is simply overwhelmed. The transformation to a service-oriented agency should remedy this. However, it went (and still is!) Very slowly and, as is well known, not without various scandals. The employees of the employment agency are now struggling on the one hand with the changes in the agency and the fear for their own job. On the other hand, they are struggling with the many new regulations that they are supposed to convey to the unemployed, but do not always understand them themselves and may not be able to understand them in individual cases. The only way out, in my opinion, is that as a “customer” you take as much into your own hands and do not rely on the employment agency, for example when it comes to job placement (I give some suggestions in the book). Certainly not convenient, but the conditions are just like that at the moment.

The new year has only just begun, and experts are already finding that we have the highest unemployment rate in Germany since reunification. In your opinion, what are the reasons why the often invoked “recovery on the job market” simply does not want to happen?

The structures of the Employment Agency, which is the subject of my guide, and the labor market are two pairs of shoes and should not be lumped together - especially since I am not a labor market or economic expert. Personally, I think it is too early to say that a recovery in the labor market is not going to happen. In the opinion of other experts, the economy is just picking up again, which I can only confirm from my own experiences, which in the end I trust more than statistics. Time and again, however, there is much talk about the labor market and economic situation, and also exaggerated panic. The media certainly also has a certain responsibility here.

The situation is not rosy and nothing should be glossed over, but it would make sense to critically question some experts' opinions. Many “experts” also pursue certain interests. An example: Extension of working hours is often propagated as a means of increasing productivity and this has an effect. In 2004 we had the lowest sick leave in Germany in decades. In contrast, the study "Managing for mediocrity" by the American management consultancy Proudfoot Consulting shows that just 2004, 74 working days per employee in Germany were wasted due to management errors. In terms of money, a loss of almost $ 190 billion. Accordingly, an extension of working hours does not necessarily mean more productivity. Such voices are currently rather unpopular and barely present in the media. The issue of individual responsibility can be discussed in a similarly controversial way. From the perspective of a self-employed person, I see that many cling to the existing structures and complain about the inevitable changes instead of actively helping to shape them. To bring about an upswing, however, more optimism and initiative are urgently needed. However, it is also necessary that citizens, especially those who work, have a certain security and do not have to live in constant fear of change (job loss, relocation, etc.). This would require the state and politics to create stable structures for the future. However, the corresponding foresight is a little lacking, for example, savings are being made in education, even though one would have to react to the many changes in society with an improved training structure.

The managing director of the German Cultural Council recently criticized the 1 Euro jobs, as they would reduce the chances of attitudes in the primary labor market, since one could have (almost) free labor. What do you think of this option?

First of all, I find the expression 1-Euro-Job inaccurate (a good example of the above mentioned scare tactics in the media). Incidentally, the law (SGB II, § 16, paragraph 3) refers to job opportunities. However, these must be in the public interest and must not be an employment relationship in the sense of labor law, ie they must not displace regular jobs. Incidentally, similar measures already exist. Think of job creation measures or the fact that municipalities use social assistance recipients for unskilled work. What is new is that everyone is now obliged to accept such a job (keyword: decent employment) if they want to continue receiving unemployment benefit II from the employment office.

Also new is that this scheme affects better qualified people. Of course you can read more about it in the book or learn from my lectures. Of course, there are always employers who try to take advantage of the structures, even if you could actually pay a regular employee. There is a certain risk that there will be fewer jobs in the first job market. But you also have to see the other side, eg public institutions with little money. Is not it better for them to do the work for the little money they can afford to pay than not to be able to do it? On the other hand, regular employees can convince with good training, motivation and quality that it is more sensible and productive to hire them. For the unemployed themselves, the scheme can also bring benefits. It's better to do something productive than nothing. For others who do not want to work at all, I find this duty just. And finally, some will not settle for compulsory, reasonable jobs and look for a new job on their own - also a positive aspect. So I would not paint the devil on the wall, but wait and see first: I think that here ultimately experience has to show what comes out, and that you can not afford an opinion on it now. Finally, if it turns out that there is cutthroat competition in favor of state-subsidized wage dumping, this rule will be abolished anyway.

What measures - whether already agreed or just in discussion - do you expect real progress in the labor market?

I only expect real progress from an economic upturn, which will also lead to an improvement in the labor market situation in the long term. In my opinion, the labor market measures only fight the symptoms, not the causes, and can therefore hardly have a lasting effect. In addition, the legislation is sometimes quite contradictory. Here is an example that also appears in the book - Ich-AG: A nice idea, but what good is it to send thousands of unemployed into self-employment if, at the same time, the legal situation for small business owners is not improved? There is only "messing around" with the problem instead of changing the structures accordingly.

The questions asked Sandy Brunzel, literature review. This interview was published on

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