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I'm currently job hunting. I'm almost 5 years at my current position, by far longer than any other position I had. So I'd improve my chances by having an interim report. Asking my boss for one would be equivalent to letting him know I'm job hunting. I'm not sure if the gain is worth the risk, because I don't know for sure what could go wrong. What could?

My boss may already suspect I look for a new job: I've approached him about a job change within the company a while back without success. Also, the company is in a very bad shape. We recently had a short talk about this, my boss admitted freely that he doesnt know how the future of the company will look like - his words: "We'll probably still exist in a year."

I've read this question and the answers. According to this discussion, the Company may fire me outright to hire and train my replacement earlier.

For about the next half year I'd be pretty hard to fire legally, but it's certainly not impossible. My team is overworked as is and recently one teammember was fired. I don't think my job would be in immediate danger (but could be wrong).

What are other problems I might have when I approach my boss about an interim report?


For the benefit of our international readers: in the German-speaking areas (mainly Germany, also Switzerland and Austria), you are legally entitled to an Arbeitszeugnis if you leave a job. An Arbeitszeugnis, literally "work report card" or "job report card", is a two-page letter that gives the dates of your employment, your duties and an indication of how well you performed. You will enclose previous Arbeitszeugnisse with subsequent applications. An Arbeitszeugnis essentially plays the role of references in the US.

If you are still employed at your current job and have been so for multiple years, your last Arbeitszeugnis - from your previous employer - is multiple years old and does not reflect your more recent experience. In such a case, you can request a Zwischenzeugnis (literally "interim report card") from your current employer, which you would then use in applications along with previous Arbeitszeugnisse.

Arbeitszeugnisse and Zwischenzeugnisse are a fundamental part of the workplace in Germany, with many, many lawsuits especially about how honest an employer can be in assessing your performance. By now, a certain "codespeak" has developed. For instance, your Arbeitszeugnis might say that you "always strove enthusiastically to fulfill your duties" - which you should translate into "strove enthusiastically, but did not manage to". Fun stuff.

  • interim report seems to be the translation of zwischenzeugnis, is this term actually used the way I think it is? – mart Feb 4 '15 at 21:58
  • Interim report? I'm not familiar with that - something specific to your locale? – Telastyn Feb 4 '15 at 22:00
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    In germany, you have the right to a report about your performance after leaving a job. These reports are interesting for your next hirer. It lists what you were doing and how well. An interim report is one that you get while still at a company - usually only upon request. Is there a term that's more easily understood by most on SE, you think? – mart Feb 4 '15 at 22:25
  • I have no idea, this is the first I've heard of it. – Telastyn Feb 4 '15 at 22:39
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    @mart very specific to Germany I feel - you probably should ask your appropriate union what happens when a company goes bust in Germany toytowngermany.com/lofi/index.php/t283104.html seems to give some info – Pepone Feb 4 '15 at 23:21
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You already note the main point: asking for a Zwischenzeugnis will notify your manager that you are looking for a new job. You can try to sugarcoat it by explaining that your last Arbeitszeugnis is five years old, and you like to have your documents reasonably up to date, but this won't deflect attention, especially if you haven't asked for a Zwischenzeugnis in a long time (see below).

If your manager suspects that you are actively job hunting, then you may of course climb a few rungs on his "not indispensable" list, which may hurt your internal prospects:

  • Less chance of interesting projects
  • Less chance of training
  • Less chance for promotions
  • Less chance of other perks, like a new chair or computer etc.

On the other hand, if you are an important employee, putting your manager on notice that you are thinking of leaving might even get him to think about how he could retain you. So in this case, requesting a Zwischenzeugnis might even be beneficial. (Maybe not in your specific situation.)


In the long term, it may be useful to train your manager to break his mental association between "requesting a Zwischenzeugnis" and "is job hunting". Request a Zwischenzeugnis every year. Explain to your manager that you simply want your documents up to date. If this happens three years in a row and you don't quit, then your manager won't associate your next request with your actively looking for a new job.

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I'm not familiar with German culture or work culture, but it seems to me if your boss is already aware the company is ailing, telling you so is practically like saying, "If you're worried about consistently having a job, you'd better start looking now." Also, surely your boss would not say such a thing if he were not aware about the huge morale hit that it makes, that people are surely going to start looking if they hear rumors like that. It's the kind of thing I would think a boss would only say if he's trying to look out for you. Therefore, my guess would be that asking for the report won't affect you much at least on his end. Though possibly it may affect you if people higher up the ladder hear about it.

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