Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Joy of Paper

Odds are, you have less paperwork than the Germans. This Spiegel article explains:

While much of the world tries to avoid major harm to the world's forests when looking for work, Germany casts its environmental-mindedness aside. Here, applications for jobs from high-level CEO right down to entry-level data-entry positions look more like Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks" than Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha," and often stretch desktop publishing software to the limit. Why the extra heft? Applications in Germany need certificates documenting almost every year of an applicant's life from the moment he or she entered elementary school until the moment the application is signed -- including the language, computer and motivational courses completed in between.

And it's not just job applications. University students, taxpayers, home owners, visa applicants -- virtually everyone who has any contact with officialdom -- has to possess advanced organizational skills to keep the avalanche of paper scraps under control. Germans are simply obsessed with paperwork to prove prior experience. Certificates are holy. And if you don't have a signed, stamped document proving that you have received training in -- say -- slopping paint on the side of a house, or entering numbers in Excel, then you simply don't know how to do it.

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