The trending German word that’s helping people find their place at work

Having a successful career is a huge accomplishment—but having two?

That’s twice as nice.

And while most people face some sort of questioning or backlash from friends and family when they close one career chapter to embark on another, a new trending German word is making the case for those who decide to push forward and start over while doing something they’re truly passionate about—stigma or not.


Think of the trending “Quereinsteiger” as a general description for anyone who does a 180 in terms of the trajectory of their career; someone who changes into a job or industry that is entirely unrelated to their previous career.

The term, which is essentially derived from the German word ‘quer,’ translated into going against the grain; making a bold but unconventional move.

“In Germany, a country which is conservative and stubborn, the word has a prejudiced connotation,” Alexander Zeitelhack, associate dean at the Berlin School of Business and Innovation, explained in a recent BBC report.

“A Quereinsteiger is unconventional and not the person you’d expect for the job. There could be a sense of having failed before, and that’s why they are changing careers.”

Making a lateral career move—especially if it involves going back to school or completely changing industries—is not always well well received.

Colleagues, friends, and family often assume that the reasoning behind the move is due to a certain level of failure or mediocracy when in reality it can still be very much a step in the right direction in terms of fulfillment and success.

Lateral career changes are usually considered risky but given the current work trends, we’re all changing jobs more frequently than before, and career changes have become fairly common and as the tides turn in terms of assumptions and stereotypes, “Quereinsteiger” will help folks become more confident in going toward what lights them up—even if they’ve already established a successful career in a certain sector.

“I strongly believe that the new workplace is more accepting of practices which were frowned upon in the past, such as job hopping, long job breaks, lateral career moves and more,” explains Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals.

“The way we work is changing radically every day and the rules of the past simply don’t apply any more.”

“Why is it a good thing? Because you had the blistering courage to follow your heart and do what matters to you. That’s not only powerful for yourself, but for your children and others around to you!” adds Carlota Zimmerman, a New York-based Career Coach.

“To see a person do what they believe in and succeed in it? Are you kidding? That’s priceless. You’ve spun straw into gold and don’t let anyone more feel less.”

Any stigma attached to the bold concept of “Quereinsteiger” is, in reality, going to come from people who themselves feel trapped in their career or stagnant phase of life.

Once you’ve made this leap, you’ll look at these people with pity because you can smell how trapped they are. “The people you admire, the people you want to admire you…they’ll get it,” adds Zimmerman.