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I'm a software engineer in Germany working at a start up. So one day I was having a conversation with our HR manager and she mentioned that tech companies in Germany have something like a HR lobby where they store and mediate information about candidates between each other. So if they want to make a hiring decision, they consult this lobby.

Is anyone aware of such a thing and what is its name in German? I'm interested because I want to look up what they have written about me.

Edit:

I'm gonna add more information. So basically I had a big fight with my manager a while ago and I told him that I'm leaving the company. I also was stupid enough to share this info with HR. My manager told me to take enough time to think before resigning. The environment was so toxic I just wanted to get out.

So I started interviewing with so many companies. I'm a really good software engineer (senior) and in ALL of my interviews I reached the last stage. However they ALL failed in exactly the SAME PATTERN. After the last call, they take 3-5 days and I get the answer that they decided not to move forward. It seemed to be exactly the step when HR starts checking my background to either make an offer or not. All of this made me extremely suspicious about what that HR manager mentioned to me. Actually it was mentioned to me exactly after my fight with my manager. Since then I'm not able to leave the company because i'm not able to find an alternative which I believe is due to something they wrote about me in that lobby.

The HR manager mentioned to me that the information shared are coded so they can remain legal. So for example if they say about me "good" and not "great" it might mean the person is terrible. Something like that. If anyone knows someone who works as a HR manager in a Berlin tech company I would really appreciate it if you can check with them, because I'm really not able to find any job due to this! Of course I can't go any legal way because I can't prove anything.

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    This sounds utterly bizarre. If someone tells you something that ridiculous, I would be inclined to politely ghost them from now on.
    – Fattie
    Jun 8, 2021 at 16:07
  • No idea what Lobby there might be in any form... but if future companies know where you are working right now and are able to operate a telephone, they simply could ask them about you. No Lobby needed. This surely is illegal too, but I bet sometimes it happens anyway.
    – puck
    Jun 8, 2021 at 17:06
  • I almost wonder if the edits should be separated out into a new question, since they invalidate the existing answers. Jun 8, 2021 at 18:17
  • I really dont know anything about Germany but I am seeking to answer my first question so here I go.
    – fifo
    Jun 8, 2021 at 18:23
  • Do you mean a Cartel - A lobby doesn't quiet make sense in English Jun 10, 2021 at 20:56

5 Answers 5

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This most definitely does not exist as it would be a huge data protection issue. Companies are definitely not allowed to share the personal information they got from an employee. They even have to ask you explicitly if they are allowed to keep your CV after a rejection for a possible future offer, so keeping (and on top sharing) of this information would be illegal.

[And, of course this, is a more theoretical answer, as it's impossible to prove that something does not exist]

--- Regarding the edit: Your job reference (that you will get from the employer when you leave) definitely contains coded language that sounds much better than it's meant. (but you can look up how to translate into grades). But this is only relevant for your reference letter.

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  • "- We do at least 2 reference calls at the end of the process for every candidate (but we will never approach anyone from your current company unless you explicitly tell us to)." - how is this legal (exchanging info about me without my consent from people i don't know)? this is from a german company handbook.wonder.me/… Jun 14, 2021 at 9:03
  • And probably this is what seems to be happening to me. Potential employers are calling God knows who to ask about me and they are getting biased information!! Jun 14, 2021 at 9:08
  • @MelanieOlk That company appears to be a startup. Which means they likely lack experience with the reality of running a company and dealing with employees. It is very possible that they try to contact two of your former employers, but it is unlikely that they are going to receive an answer from any well-run HR department. Answering questions about past employees is a hassle at best and illegal at worst, and they get nothing in return for spending their time on such requests. So most HR departments will ignore them.
    – Philipp
    Jul 16, 2021 at 11:02
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No, this is illegal under GDPR. Data cannot be shared with third parties without your consent. Also, it would violate candidates' right to be forgotten. Given the extreme penalties that can be levied for GDPR violations, I can't imagine that most companies would be willing to take that kind of a risk.

I work on the applicant tracking system for my company and we're extremely cautious about how data that enters our system is used as well as who's allowed to access it and under what circumstances. We take precautions to make sure that the system stays within the system so that we can delete it if we need to for compliance purposes. (We had to ban, for example, emailing resumes for that reason - it was too hard for us to track whether data that should be deleted actually was).

Also, from an economic perspective, it would make little sense to share data about candidates with other companies. Job ads are expensive, so we'd basically be paying other people's advertising costs if we did that (not to mention allowing them to potentially poach good candidates).

Also, in Germany, many companies have unions and/or Workers' Councils for most (or all) employees. If companies were really doing that, this would be a basis for employees to complain to their Workers' Council about mistreatment.

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  • please see my edit :) Jun 8, 2021 at 17:02
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Well, you learned one thing about your HR manager. They are an idiot.

If such a thing would exist, it would be highly illegal, even way before the GDPR.

If such a thing would exist in secret, HR would surely not tell anybody not in HR.

So your HR manager is a blabbering fool. Sadly... that is not uncommon in that profession. Keep your distance, keep professional. Don't believe a word they say about anything, until you see a signed piece of paper, preferably signed by someone not in HR.

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Sharing personal information about candidates with third parties, without prior consent of a candidate, is illegal in most jurisdictions.

Employers exchanging salary information about candidates violate antitrust/cartel laws in most jurisdictions.

Some companies have been convicted for exchanging salary information of candidates in a region, to artificially lower the salaries in a region.

To my experience and knowledge, there is no HR cartel in Germany. But there are HR lobbies in the sense of clubs/associations of the profession.

Edit:

In any case, collect all evidences (emails) and note down incidents (place, date, time, people, conversation) with eye witnesses and put them in safe place (eg. at home), so you don't loose access to them.

The situations you mention can have a multitude of reasons. Having a bad track record in the industry can be one of them. However also likely could be, that you are seeing things related, that are not. Which can affect your health. Try concentrating on facts, rather let yourself being pulled down by the unjust discrimination from others.

If your employer is blackmailing you, collect the evidence and resign effective immediately, by providing a copy of said evidence. Mention that you are considering a court proceeding to settle damages and reparation of your personal integrity. Talk to a (good) lawyer immediately.

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  • please see my edit :) Jun 8, 2021 at 17:02
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Even if only good things were said in such a forum, it would most definitely be illegal. If I'm not mistaken, in Europe you should be covered by GDPR, so all your data should be protected and fully anonymized to the point it should be useless for an HR manager elsewhere to assess you based on processed data within permissions you should have granted your company.

That being said, unless you have proof of what's going on, there is no legal course of action you can take.

It may be more likely that your boss launched a smearing campaign against you. Which would be petty and unfortunate.

From what I've understood you have not quit your current job yet, so maybe, you are suffering from success and nobody is willing to offer you a job at lower or equal pay unless you give good reasons for leaving your company. And while a big fight with your boss is not that uncommon, it is quite hard for an HR manager to recommend a person that shows big red flags so easily.

So if you are brave enough and haven't been fired yet, reach your boss, make amends, apologize but:

1- Make it clear that you want to switch jobs, and in the long run this is best for everyone.

2- Make sure to offer yourself to cover short-term needs that the companies have on your workforce, such that you are not disrupting the company's output and that you are willing to train your replacement.

3- Ask for a good recommendation letter from him that you can present to a potential future employee, and make it clear that it is also in his best interest to write immediately a good letter that disregards this previous fight and does not contain any cyphered badmouthing. Ask him to promise not to badmouth you at least until you leave the company.

4- Promise yourself that you will also not be smearing his reputation, nor claiming to leave due to poor management or whatever coded version of "I had a fall down with my former boss" could be. No tricky double-entendres no cynical speech or plausible deniability agreement and it goes both ways.

5- Tell him that all of this is not being dishonest, but rather simply being professional, for both himself and you.

6- Remind him of item 1: This is best for both of you. He wants to replace you, you want to switch jobs, and you both can get this done smoothly and as soon as possible if you cooperate.

By the way... A "secret" forum where your profile is open for evaluation without your prior consent? Possibly by people who may hold a grudge against you? Reminds me of the app Lulu which got banned or heavily reworked pretty much anywhere it operated.

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