From trainee to Executive Manager in just two years

Woman walking up te stairs

Brunel’s trainee program turned out to be a springboard for Julia Karcher’s career. Based in Stuttgart, she rose through the ranks from trainee to Executive Manager Recruiting in just two and a half years.

Julia, how long have you been with Brunel? And what did you do before?

I started here as a trainee in October 2019. Before that, I studied business administration at Pforzheim University, majoring in human resource management, before completing a master’s degree in management strategies and marketing at the University of Jena. This is my first job after finishing my studies, and I chose it very deliberately. For me, this is an exciting place to be, because the major automotive OEMs and their suppliers are based in Stuttgart. There is also a relatively large number of medical technology and energy technology companies here.

How has your career at Brunel gone so far?

I originally applied for a position as recruiter. But they then showed me the trainee program and offered me a place. I liked it, because it gave me practical experience of the aspects that interest me most about recruiting and sales. Unlike at the other sites, here in Stuttgart we draw a fairly clear line between the two areas. Once I had completed the trainee program, I made a conscious decision for recruiting. After starting as a trainee, I have now moved up through the Junior and Expert levels to become Executive Manager.

Why did you choose Brunel rather than a traditional HR department?

On the one hand I was excited by the trainee program – the opportunity to take a look at the various areas without committing myself from day one. Another thing was that I worked at an HR department during my studies and found that, if you are not at a really big company, recruiting tends to be a rather peripheral activity that just more or less happens in the background. But I wanted to learn it properly, talk to a lot of people, put myself to the test and see whether this was really my thing. So an engineering service provider was the logical choice for me, if only given the number of candidates we get through. I am also fascinated by the search for software specialists and engineers. These specialists are much in demand, so I am learning to pick out the really good candidates and capture their enthusiasm.

Julia Karcher

Executive Manager Recruiting

After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration (majoring in HR management) and a master’s degree in management strategies and marketing, Julia consciously chose Stuttgart and the Brunel trainee program. 

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I spend a large proportion of my time trawling through various active sourcing channels in search of promising candidates. To do so, I use platforms like Xing and LinkedIn, but also the StepStone CV database and get-in-engineering.de. I also review the applications that come in via the Brunel jobs portal: There are sometimes as many as 200 a month. The interviews themselves take up a lot of my time as well. And in my position, networking likewise has a major part to play. Knowing who is looking for what candidates is an important part of the job.

Would you describe yourself more as a “lone wolf” or as a team player?

For me, being a team player is quite simply part of this job. Good colleagues and a good network are absolutely essential. Especially here in Stuttgart, that all works really well. Being able to trust each other is tremendously important, and for that you need a good team. If I say I have found a good candidate, the others have to be able to rely on my assessment. That is all the more important when you see the split we have between recruiting and account management: One person has the candidates, the other the clients. It would never work if we didn’t cooperate closely and well. An added bonus is that everyone here in Stuttgart has huge trust in our two Sales Managers, which gives us a solid and successful basis to work on.

What makes your job special for you?

A lot of people think recruiting managers do nothing but clerical work. But that is not true. The way you see your job makes all the difference: For me, our candidates are not just applicants for a job. They are customers. An interview is very much like a conversation with a customer. And ultimately, I also see my colleagues as customers who are looking to fill certain vacancies. From this perspective, recruiting is a sales job too – unlike in traditional HR departments, where there are far fewer positions to organize and you don’t normally have performance indicators for recruiting officers.

How did the coronavirus pandemic change your job and your work at Brunel?

It had a significant impact. When I started at the end of 2019, I was still able to conduct the first few interviews in person. Then came working from home, and in-person interviews were no longer possible. In one way, that made it easier to arrange meetings. But you do lose an element of personal interaction as a result. On the whole, though, I would say that the benefits of digital interviews outweigh the drawbacks, so I am sure that things will stay this way.

What do you do in your own time after work? What are your hobbies?

It is a very demanding job, so we all need some form of recreation as well. I like exercise, I go to a fitness studio to work off any surplus energy. In the early days, I found it hard to switch off. I had to learn to strike a healthy balance between the things that required my immediate attention and those that could maybe wait until the next day.

In the context of your job as Recruiting Manager, what do you regard as success?

I always want to surpass what you might call normal expectations. If it is standard practice to become a Senior Manager in three years, for example, I want to get there faster. For me, success is also about having financial freedom. Doing my job well lets me finance the things that are important to me. And success also means satisfying the people around me. I want them to know that we have exciting prospects for them – and that I will do everything to make sure they too enjoy each and every project.

What would you say was your biggest professional success at Brunel to date?


Becoming an Executive Manager so quickly. Five years is the norm, and I reached this position in two and a half years. I would never have thought that when I started out. I am now the person to contact on recruiting issues in our area and beyond. I am glad that my superiors have given me so much backing, because I could never have done all this without having such structures in place. They support and encourage and push me, which is another reason why everything worked out the way it has done.