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End of a Year – Oscar Mager

Oscar is Founder of Evertalent, Lead Talent Acquisition at Wehkamp, Speaker and Independent Photographer and lives in The Netherlands

What movie title best describes 2017 for you?

Tomorrow never Dies – Tomorrow is always there and some point it will become today. Be open for change and continue to innovate (apologies for being a big James Bond fan).

Your person of the year?

My family means the world to me. Other than that, Hung has already been mentioned by Kasia, but what the h*ll. After all he’s the Puppet Master and has again been very inspiring this year 🙂

Your favorite album from 2017?

No albums for me. Having helped building the Sonos team in Europe I’ve been a fan of the product from day one, giving me the freedom to play any song I like.

What are you most proud of this year?

Two things really. As an independent recruiter I have had the amazing opportunity to share my passion for recruitment on quite a few international stages in Europe this year. I love the vibe and at the same time it allows me discover how recruitment is being dealt with in other countries and to stay up to date with the latest development. It’s also fantastic to see how many others are equally passionate about continuously innovating and improving our profession.

I have also been able to successfully set up a new business, very much related to my (other) passion for photography.

What HR tool or trend disappointment you the most in 2017?

Disappointed probably is a bit too big I would say. There’s some technologies that I would have loved to see become already a bit more mature and widespread, such as facial analysis, analysing a person’s micro-expressions to predict personality. Maybe the same for chatbots. Still a lot of chatbot fails, but it’s early and I’m just too impatient. On another level a lot of the technology that surrounds us already is so much more powerful than we can possibly imagine, but privacy regulations are simply preventing it to happen.

And what tool or trend really did live up to the hype?

Machine Learning in general. Impressed by the rate of this development and very much looking forward to what 2018 will bring. Closely watching this area.

Your favorite HR blog in 2017?

Going to disappoint you here, as don’t really have one favourite. I love curated newsletters like, from (again) the brilliant Hung Lee. Other than that Facebook Groups are my favorite place to go to catch up on the latest stories.

And the best HR event this year?

I have been to many. The Sourcing Summits are great for the amount of tips and tricks being shared and Social Recruiting Days in Berlin is incredibly well organised with fantastic speakers. Both have a fantastic vibe. Then again, I still like the more intimate spirit of recruiting unconferences like TRU and HRU, where a lot of knowledge is being shared and interaction is the key element.

Which GIF best describes your vision of HR 20 years from now?

It’s the Google Dancing Dots and specifically this one. It represents a lot of things in one GIF: listening (to candidates and customers), being always on, engagement and innovation.

What should HR professionals do differently next year?

Spend more time outside their own organisation, think outside the box, learning from others, experimenting and innovating. It’s definitely changing, but we’re not there yet.

What will be the “next big thing” in Recruiting?

According to Amara’s Law ‘We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run’. We’re still in process of innovating the current thing and I’m counting on Voice, conversational AI and computer vision to have an even stronger impact on the technology side of both recruiting and the Future of Work. In the meantime, my biggest dream still is to create the ultimate candidate journey.

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End of a Year – Jannis Tsalikis

Jannis is HR Director at VICE Media in Berlin, blogger and organizer of the HR BarCamp in Berlin and Vienna

What movie title best describes 2017 for you?

Alexis Sorbas, because is about the courage to fail and never losing faith and believe.

Your person of the year?

Yvonne Kalthöfer. She started as a Junior HR colleague in 2016 and did a great job since then. She got promoted and is professionally and personally an HR Rockstar!

Your favorite album from 2017?

LCD Soundsystem // American Dream

What are you most proud of this year?

Our internal communication tool called the “internal hub”, which was developed by the HR team and finally won the Personalmanagement Award 2017.

What HR tool or trend disappointed you the most in 2017?

Many companies still think that they can ignore employer branding. That’s a shame. It’s 2017, guys! Wake up!

And what tool or trend really did live up to the hype?

HR as a business field for startups.

Your favorite HR blog in 2017?

Hrisnotacrime! Best newcomer in the HR blog scene.

And the best HR event this year?

Well, sorry but it was the HR BarCamp in Berlin (and Vienna).

Which GIF best describes your vision of HR 20 years from now?


What should HR professionals do differently next year?

HR is people business so please be aware, that dialog is a must. Start talking to employees and start taking care of their needs. 2018 HR Managers have to act like brand ambassadors and authentic networkers internally as well as externally.

What will be the “next big thing” in Recruiting?

Would be HR colleagues who understand, that you just can’t follow a trend to do the right thing. You’ll always have to understand the needs of each company (which are unfortunately different) and then try to do your best to bring the company with its employees to the next level.

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End of a Year – Kasia Borowicz

Kasia Borowicz manages Poland Sourcing Community (the largest community for recruiters in Poland), is a Freelance Social Recruiting and Sourcing Trainer and also writes a blog about recruiting and sourcing

What movie title best describes 2017 for you?

I think I’ll go with “Chaos Theory” – although I haven’t really seen the movie 😉

Your person of the year?

Very difficult to choose… I’m going to go with Hung Lee, he keeps inspiring me (and it seems every recruiter on the planet) this year with the newsletter he created!

Your favorite album from 2017?

I was a little late to discover this one but “This is acting” by Sia.

What are you most proud of this year?

Poland Sourcing Community that I manage, it has grown into a really big group that goes beyond anything I expected.

What HR tool or trend disappointed you the most in 2017?

I don’t really tend to have very high expectations, so I rarely get disappointed… which usually comes from how we use tools and not the tools themselves I think.

And what tool or trend really did live up to the hype?

I had a chance to try Hiretual’s AI sourcing tool and I was very sceptical at first, but I see great potential there. For recruiters who look for candidates with some online footprint, it’s a really interesting tool to check out.

Your favorite HR blog in 2017?

I like seeing new independent blog appear, just like yours! So I’ll have to say 🙂

And the best HR event this year?

I’m torn between SRD and SOSU. They both had a very different focus but both organised really well and I learned a lot!

Which GIF best describes your vision of HR 20 years from now?

It’s crazy how bad I am with gifs. I really tried to find one but after a half an hour I had to admit to failure…

What should HR professionals do differently next year?

I think they need to learn to share more. Share ideas with each others, share their experiences and learn from each other more. Right now they’re often afraid someone will “steal” their brilliant ideas 😉

What will be the “next big thing” in Recruiting?

Probably letting go of the idea of the “next big thing”… at least I hope so!

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“Decisions on systematic empirical evidence” – An interview about the importance of HR Analytics

HR Analytics is one of the main HR and Recruiting trends in 2017. However, it is also a very complex topic and I got the impression that most people do not really know what it is about and why it got so important. It’s high time to speak to an expert in this field.

Bastian Lücke has a PhD in Experimental Psychology and he is one of the main promoters of HR Analytics in Germany. He currently works as Data Science Project Lead at Loopline Systems and will be joining the People Analytics team at Haufe umantis next year.

Hi Bastian, please tell us who you are and what brought you the the HR Analytics topic

I have been interested in questions that are at the heart of HR Analytics for my entire academic and professional career without being aware of their relevance to HR Analytics (other terms often used interchangeably: People Analytics, Workforce Analytics) as the term didn’t exist yet.

During my studies, I spent a lot of time studying corporate finance and law. But I was also interested in alternative perspectives on finance and investment that went beyond more traditional financial models and built on research in psychology and behavioral economics.

After my studies, I was even more interested in the broad question what determines human behavior, in particular in a social context. So I decided to do a PhD in experimental social psychology and worked in research groups on group processes and various psychology departments for the next 7 years.

However, I didn’t have the feeling I was creating an actual impact with all these empirical insights/research and decided to work in international HR consulting for a few years building a team developing and validating psychometric questionnaires and HR online tools but also conducting more and more HR Analytics projects.

In my current position I’m helping to develop an HR Analytics product that enables companies to integrate their HR data (and beyond) so they can access it whenever they want in real time while providing best practice HR Analytics analyses and reporting.

So in hindsight, my seemingly erratic collection of skills, experiences and interests fit the eclectic requirements of HR Analytics (conducting empirical analyses/research based in psychological research, aligning various stakeholder perspectives (e.g. investors, HR practitioners and employees) surprisingly well. I hope that the path to HR Analytics will be clearer from the start to current/future generations that are passionate about HR Analytics now that it is receiving more and more recognition and is developing into a “normal” role at more companies.

“The two most important stakeholder groups during this process are C-level/management and employees”

In retrospect my motivation to focus on HR Analytics has been twofold: First, to understand human behavior in organizations/companies and to enable decision making on impact measures based on empirical research. Secondly to contribute to company’s’ understanding of their own organization and to enable them to improve their employees’ work experience. The two most important stakeholder groups during this process are C-level/management and employees. Companies do have the goal to create value, and I very much believe that HR Analytics can contribute to this goal. But employees also spend a tremendous amount of their lifetime and energy on their work and I believe this is a tremendous responsibility – and also huge potential as surveys (e.g. by Gallup) show over and over again that most employees are disengaged at work.

The interests of shareholders/management and employees are often presented as competing goals. I disagree. I believe that it is very much possible to increase shareholder value and improve employees’ work experience and HR Analytics is the means to do so.

Companies investing in HR Analytics have gained important experiences over the past years as to what skills, competencies and experiences are required for an impactful People Analytics team. My hope is that this will make it easier for people interested in HR Analytics to get started on this career track and define learning and development goals for themselves along the way.

“HR Analytics” is one of the big buzzwords of 2017. Still a lot of people do not really know, what it is actually about. How would you describe the concept to someone who has never heard about it yet?

My quick and rather technical answer would be that HR Analytics is the combination of diverse skillsets such as data science, psychological research, (HR/strategy) consulting and statistics to enable strategic decision making in HR based on empirical evidence.

There are many forms this process can take on: It can be pretty basic to introduce operational and strategic reporting and metrics in HR. It can be focused on specific use cases such as an empirical assessment of the best sourcing channels and selection data points for certain role profiles/job families. It could be an in-depth analysis what drives voluntary fluctuation in your company, or what makes your best sales people so great, so you can hire and train for exactly these characteristics. It could also be the goal to find a way to match your employees and their motivations and talents with internal career opportunities, to assess the impact of organizational programs such as a re-org or merger or assessing the impact certain leadership styles have on your employee’s’ health and engagement. These are just a few examples of what HR Analytics includes.

At an even more aggregated level I would say that HR Analytics is first and foremost a way to truly understand organizations as complex systems. Organizations have often been perceived as simply black boxes or atomic mobiles – as complex organigrams consisting of individual contributors. Needless to say that both perspectives are oversimplifying. I think that HR Analytics is also an attempt to gain a more holistic understanding of organizations and their parts, e.g. what makes certain teams great, if/how you can change culture and how teams and departments are not simply the sum of their members. This holistic perspective is also important along the employee (and HR-) journey; how you source and select employees has an influence on your efforts to retain talent.

And why are HR Analytics so important?

I think there are 3 major reasons why HR Analytics are so important: It enables strategic decision making in HR based on empirical evidence. It helps to establish HR as an essential department for achieving company strategy and it enables HR to create impact and improve the entire organization based on insights, not only once but as a continuously ongoing effort.

Let’s stay with the medical metaphor. Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor for organization theory and human resource management at the University of Stanford, likens the current status of the leadership industry in his book “Leadership BS” to the state of modern medicine in the early 20th century: There was certainly a need for the value medicine could provide to patients in principle – it’s potential value was clear. But the quality/effectiveness of the products and services as well as their price varied widely. Many products were completely inefficient contrary to their promises and at best based in pseudo-science, but their branding and mass marketing so successful that they still sold very well. Many remedies contained opiates, so they had a pleasant short term effect (even though not the promised impact) and were great for customer retention; but the negative long-term effects more than outweighed these pleasant side effects, such as opiate addiction and the still existing medical condition it had been supposed to cure.

I think this metaphor that Jeffrey Pfeffer applies to the leadership industry can be expanded to pretty much all of HR. The impact of many HR interventions is often not clear: Trainings are only assessed with “feel-good” sheets, the success of organizational change programs remains often unclear. New hires are still often selected based on gut feeling. How does a leadership development program exactly add value to the company? What aspects really impact employees’ engagement and wellbeing and in return have an impact on retention, absenteeism and productivity? How do you control for non-conscious biases in HR decision making? In medicine it was seminal work based on rigid empirical research conducted e.g. by the British Medical Association that helped to define what was best practices saving lives and what is – often harmful – quackery. I think HR is facing a similar challenge and HR Analytics can be a crucial contributor for achieving this goal.

Don’t get me wrong, there are of course many smart people in HR doing great impactful work. But to base strategic HR decisions on systematic empirical evidence is still more of a nice to have than a must have.

“HR is for many reasons too often confined to administrative and operational work”

It’s this newly gained credibility that will enable HR to be perceived as an integral department in every company as evidenced by the increasing number of CHRO positions. HR is for many reasons too often confined to administrative and operational work. I think adopting an HR Analytics mindset means taking a more holistic view of the organization, basing decisions in empirical evidence and being able to communicate to C-level how HR work has contributed to overall company goals.

Taking a longer term perspective, I believe that HR Analytics will also be an integral factor for every company with the goal of becoming a learning organization and staying competitive in a disruptive business environment.

Take the automobile industry as an example: It’s core product has remained unchanged for more than a hundred years, leading to company cultures that focus on efficiency and deep production expertise and incremental innovation, that often has been outsourced to suppliers. These companies are now facing a radical shift in market demand, towards new products that require much less deep production expertise as building an electric car requires a fraction of the parts of a combustion engine based car. Even more the business models these companies’ past successes are based on are shifting away from simply selling cars towards providing mobility (without ownership) and data-based services.

Finding and keeping talents that enable the development of new innovative products and services is of particular importance in this business environment. So is changing organizations and their culture and norms from a focus on incremental improvement to a focus on more radical innovation in both products and business models.

A great employer brand will be crucial for attracting and retaining the sought after talent that enables your company to stay ahead of the competition, in particular in the current demand driven competitive labor market for highly qualified talent. Building a great employer brand in return is the result of a profound understanding of what makes your employees happy, engaged, developing and productive, that is not only based on great recruiting, a great company culture, a great incentive system or a good retention model alone, but a holistic understanding of your company that requires mature HR Analytics.

But why did it suddenly get so important in 2017?

HR Analytics has been around for more than 10 years and many companies have substantially improved their HR Analytics capabilities over the past years. But you’re right that this hasn’t been a linear trend, but that interest has exponentially increased over the past 2-3 years. Several factors have likely contributed:

Data availability in HR has significantly increased over the past years. This is closely related to increased investments and a product development boom in both existing HR products and new HR startups.

From a Senior (HR) management position HR Analytics are increasingly no longer perceived as a vanity project for the most successful companies in the world such as Google, Microsoft or Shell. But rather as an important factor in the modernization of HR as a business function that is here to stay and an integral component for rethinking the way HR has been working.

At the same time, the cost of entry for using HR Analytics has dropped. There has been a wealth of grey and white literature publications, success stories and conference presentations on HR Analytics and more and more scalable HR Analytics are coming to market, allowing companies to improve their HR Analytics capability even without hiring a costly team of highly trained specialists, a customized approach to HR Analytics and unknown ROI.

The DACH region has been particularly slow in its adoption of HR Analytics adoption. One likely reason is the legal situation in this region, e.g. rather restrictive data security laws as well as importance of co-determination and workers councils that is rather unique in international comparison. A second reason is possibly a difference in company culture. German SMEs are often simply less likely to embrace radical innovation than let’s say a company in Silicon Valley that has disruptive innovation as a core value.

What are the main issues and challenges when companies implementing HR Analytics?

In my experience issues are likely to occur when expectations and resources are not matched. Yes, it is absolutely possible to have an employee conduct an HR Analytics project as a one-off project in part-time. But it will just be a proof of concept, you won’t get a full HR Analytics function out of it. Building strategic HR Analytics capabilities will require some investment in building a team with internal and external talent, buying the capability from a consulting firm or investing into software that provides the required HR functionality. Unrealistic and inflated expectations combined with an underinvestment will most likely result in frustration of all stakeholders involved.

A second potential challenge is an approach that sees HR Analytics as a mere technical Analytics-add-on to HR. I think it is crucial to connect this new HR Analytics ability to senior management (e.g. connecting HR Analytics research questions and strategic organizational goals) but also including other relevant stakeholders, most importantly the employees, in the process of generating research questions. On the other hand it’s essential that these insights generate a tangible impact on a more operational (e.g. new selection data points for the recruiting process) or strategic level (improving your employer brand, introducing a tool that matches employees with new opportunities depending on their interests and competencies).

This is also why I don’t think the name HR Analytics is appropriate, as it sounds like “HR as before, but now with 20% more Analytics”. It’s time to rethink HR, and using analytics, data points and a perspective that goes beyond HR is an important part in achieving this goal.

Some people are afraid to get reduced to numbers and table entries. What would you tell them to allay these fears?

I would first of all describe to them the alternative, the current status quo in many companies. This status quo means that organizations are still a black box for management and HR. If there are initiatives to improve the organization, then it is often not clear if they result in the desired impact (or how). Most likely this lack of understanding will have negative implications for the employees, or at least work at these companies won’t be as great as it could be.

A second concern in a company without HR Analytics are biases. Biases are a general tendency of human decision making; most of the time we are not aware of our own biases. Biases also tend to be robust, meaning that even if you know about these biases, you will still fall for them non-consciously. A typical bias is e.g. discrimination against gender, age, etc. in recruiting and career promotion, but there are many more biases. HR Analytics is the best way I am aware of to discover and address these biases at an organizational level.

My take is that HR Analytics are just a tool. How it can be used needs to be accompanied by a normative framework how it should be used, and for what goals. Part of this normative framework are explicit and encoded moral and ethical standards of conduct and laws (e.g. data protection laws). A second pillar of this normative framework is based on governance and organizational culture and more implicit. If there is for example a norm of development and support instead of individual blaming and guilt, HR Analytics could e.g. only be used to improve the understanding of the entire organization, but not to single out single employees (and sanction/punish them) and/or to provide impact that is also in the interest of the employees (e.g. match employees with internal career opportunities, support employees in their development process, understand better what is frustrating employees and causing non-voluntary fluctuation). In this more positive scenario employees would miss out on a great number of benefits without HR Analytics.

I strongly believe that companies that are pushing for business results while ignoring the goals and interests of their employees will always underperform compared to companies who align business goals with people goals.

From an HR perspective I don’t HR Analytics will replace “classical” HR work, but rather help to transform it and make it more impactful; HR Analytics will help make conscious decisions what does and what does not work, it will help communicate the status quo and implementation of company strategy in an organizational realm and particular from an employee perspective. And last but not least it will help to make organizations better places to work at for their employees.

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End of a Year – Jan Hawliczek

Jan Hawliczek is Deputy Head of Recruiting, Talent Sourcing and HR Marketing at BFFT GmbH, Consultant and Trainer at wp social.recruiting and one of the authors of the Recruiting and Talent Sourcing blog die grüne 3

What movie title best describes 2017 for you?
Snatch – Schweine und Diamanten

Your person of the year?

My Dad!

Your favorite album from 2017? says “Dicht & Ergreifend” 😉 – i agree with that! 😉

What are you most proud of this year?

Puh… Hard to say, there are many things!
In my private life: Wedding of my older brother
In business: New website for wp social.recruiting with new active sourcing training courses

What HR tool or trend disappointed you the most in 2017?

Multi-channel-search engines and some big business platforms 😛

And what tool or trend really did live up to the hype?

Our own brain ;-)! Mindset and Empathy is everything in recruiting!

Your favorite HR blog in 2017?

HR in Mind by Robindro Ullah

And the best HR event this year?

Social Recruiting Days in Berlin
AND the HR BarCamp in Würzburg!

Which GIF best describes your vision of HR 20 years from now?

giphy (14).gif

What should HR professionals do differently next year?

Think about your target group and digitalization! How do they affect your recruiting?

What will be the “next big thing” in Recruiting?

Hopefully Digitalization 😉

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End of a Year – Robindro Ullah

Robindro Ullah is independent recruiting consultant, book author and HR blogger (HR in Mind!)

What movie title best describes 2017 for you?

I would go for: “Field of Dreams.”

Your person of the year?

My son.

Your favorite album from 2017?

Kendrick Lamar, Damn

What are you most proud of this year?

… that I managed to launch Germany’s first HR trend magazine called hr|tomorrow. Which only deals with future hr topics referring real-world trends from different industries.

What HR tool or trend disappointed you the most in 2017?

I think it was virtual reality. Actually, it’s the fact that very often HR departments discover new fancy technology and implement the old stuff to the new environment without thinking. Hence, the new potential often has not been utilized. It’s like driving a race car only in areas with maximum speed limit.

And what tool or trend really did live up to the hype?

From my point of view, it was Sourcing. It started as a hype and ended up to become a regular additional recruiting channel within lots of companies.

Your favorite HR blog in 2017?

And the best HR event this year?

Social Recruiting Days, of course;)

Which GIF best describes your vision of HR 20 years from now?

giphy (13)

What should HR professionals do differently next year?

Thinking 😉

What will be the “next big thing” in Recruiting?

Augmented Recruiting: concepts of strong human/ algorithm combinations where human and robot are accelerating each other. It’s a world where recruiters get a small mobile device, a bigger mobile device and an artificial recruiting companion who knows best to support his senior manager on their first day at work.

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End of a Year – Hung Lee

Hung Lee is Co-founder & CEO at and curates the newsletter Recruiting Brainfood

What movie title best describes 2017 for you?

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.

Your person of the year?

It has to be Donald Trump. I see ‘person of the year’ not as an accolade but as a measure of one person’s profoundly shocking impact, so it has to be the tiny handed President of the United States of America. Whatever happens from now, the tragedy of the Trump interregnum changes forever our opinion of democracy, will of the people, freedom of speech, the internet, the ‘facts’, the truth, everything.

Your favorite album from 2017?

I don’t listen to albums man. I tend to watch a lot of music videos on Youtube though. And I’ve discovered this guy called Mike Masse, who does the most amazing covers that you’ve ever heard. Most amazingly, he was still playing a Pizza joint in Utah whilst doing some of his best stuff – world class performances – in between people audibly ordering a pizza margherita. It’s completely nuts. But believe me – amazing!

What are you most proud of this year?

It’s got to be the newsletter – Recruiting Brainfood. I started it as a side project, mainly to highlight the sort of content I previously would have just bookmarked. It’s since grown to something which thousands of recruiters seem to read every week. I have had strangers come up to me on the street and they start talking about the brainfood! It’s crazy but an amazing to give something back which really seems to resonate with the community. It’s been a massively rewarding thing to do.

What HR tool or trend disappointed you the most in 2017?

Automated sourcing. I think the promise of a bot that can go out and take away the candidate identification part of recruiting has not yet been delivered upon. It will happen at some point but I think we overestimated our ability to match against bad or incomplete data – something that humans can still do better than machines. It will come – 2018, 2019 – and sourcing as we know it will go away.

And what tool or trend really did live up to the hype?

Chatbots. Different application of AI. And this was always going to work. I think the skeptics misunderstood the primary value of using automated chatbots – they are not there to replicate a human being in having a fluid conversations; they are there to be interrogated by candidates for factual information. How much is the job paying? Do you offer remote working? Do you sponsor a visa? All question types where the answers are factual and therefore easily programmable. They replace the static FAQ and are a significant upgrade for candidates in terms of value and experience.

Your favorite HR blog in 2017?

This is such a tough decision. There are the classics that are always great – Tim Sackett, Matt Charney. But the ones I’ve been most recently impressed by have come from Europe – Kasia Borowciz at ‘A Sourcers Perspective’, Balazs Paroczay with Balazs & The Magic Sourcing World, Jan Tegze with Where Sourcing Meets Recruitment and one by some guy called Sergej Zimpel, with Dinosaurs Will Die.

And the best HR event this year?

For me, this was truBerlin in March. Held at Zalando’s offices, it contained some amazing track leaders, great product demo’s and packed house full of recruiters who hungry to learn. It’s wonderful to see the in-house recruiting community develop so quickly in Berlin. We reviewed it here the blog

Which GIF best describes your vision of HR 20 years from now?

It has be to about the robots

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What should HR professionals do differently next year?

For all the technology that is available for recruiters to use, the most important innovation our profession can take place in the mind. We need to abandon the mental models that we’ve used for over 100 hundred years in recruiting – the ‘candidate funnel’ and associated ideas. These are predicated on a fixed, uni-directional and hierarchical relationship which no longer exists between employer and potential employee. We need to come up with new models replace it which are based equity, dialogue and fair exchange. It’s already starting to happen when we see companies like Buffer offer try-before-you-buy contracts and the like.

What will be the “next big thing” in Recruiting?

‘Talent Communities’! Remember this old idea? It died about 5 years ago – but trust me – it’s about to make a comeback. We’ll call it something different, but we’re going to re-do more or less the same idea – cultivating and nurturing groups of people who share an interest in something our business also cares about… Next generation talent community software – now called ‘talent management systems or TMS’ are much more intuitive and easy to use. More importantly though, we have matured and now have a much better anthropological understanding of what it takes to manage groups of people online. Community cultivators, talent engagement professionals, audience builders – all going to be real jobs recruiters will do.

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How I accidentally became a networking enthusiast (and why you also should become one)

Monday: organization meeting with my co-founders of the Purple Squirrel Society, Tuesday: Javascript meetup, Wednesday: HR meetup, Thursday and Friday: HR conference. Wait –  am I networking? No, you are networking!

Networking sucks, right?

Before I started working in HR, I always thought that networking is boring and just for shallow, superficial people. People who wear a tie to classes at university.  People with hobbies like fox hunting, shopping or something similarly dreadful. I thought that networking meant cocktail parties, boring small talk (I still hate small talk) and an interest in management books with titles like “Make 1000 friends a week”, “How to influence absolutely everyone!!!!” and “Never go to lunch alone”. Heck, even today I sometimes love to have my lunch alone, especially after a stressful week packed with interviews and meetings. Jon Westenberg sums up my former attitude in his article “Networking sucks. Because people don’t give a shit.

Entering a networking event, you can feel the eyes of every attendee fix on you for a few brief seconds, like a pack of hungry wolves. They come up and shake your hand with a poisonously false enthusiasm, and as soon as they work through a quick calculation and conclude that you’re not “important” their eyes start flickering around the room, looking for their next meal.

No, it’s kinda great

The funny thing is, today I love networking.

After I graduated from university, I moved to Berlin and started working in HR. After a few weeks at my first job, I realized that it would be great to have some other HR professionals from other companies to discuss HR stuff. I started meeting other HR professionals for lunch and quickly realized that it would be even better to meet them on a regular basis. We began to organize a roundtable and few months later, we founded “Purple Squirrel Society” an HR organization in Germany to make networking easier for HR professionals.

So what happened to convert me to an enthusiastic networker? It’s pretty simple: I realized that good networking has nothing to do with business books and small talk. It has nothing to do with handing your business card to as many people as possible. It has something to do with building sustainable relationships. With having an honest interest in other people. With valuing the quality of your network over the size of your network. And with the understanding that everyone has a passion and something interesting to talk about when you ask the right questions. I know, sounds corny, right? But it is true.

Why networking is so crucial for Recruiters

Alright, networking is great. Still – it takes time. A lot of time. So why should we invest this time when we are busy with our daily business?

What is the job of a Recruiter? To hire candidates. But how do we do this? We approach people we don’t know with job postings and direct search messages and try to convince them that our company is way better than this other company they are talking to. People business. Winning “new customers” is hard – ask your colleagues from the marketing department. That’s why businesses invest so many resources into existing customers – and we should do that too.

Candidate network

When we speak to good candidates but we do not have a position for them, we should keep them in our network. Schedule a regular (and short) phone call to catch up with them or meet them for coffee or lunch every few month or so. You won’t have enough time to do that for all of your positions of course, but at least consider doing that for your most crucial positions or the top 5 percent of your candidates. People will come back to you when they are looking for a new job. And they will do that before they apply to any other job. Why should they do that? Because they know you and they like you. Because they know that you like the same sports team, you like to travel to the same locations, or you like the same kind of beer – and because you work for a great company of course.

Internal network

The first thing I always do when I start working with a new hiring manager is to meet him or her for lunch. Why? It not only helps to discuss the basics for a fast and productive hiring process. It also helps me to understand the person who wants to fill the position. What are they passionate about? What kind of people do they like? I can establish rapport and add another important person to my network. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t do that with a cold-hearted strategy. I just like to meet new people – extending my network is a positive side effect to this.

This meeting not only helps you to establish yourself as the to-go person for your hiring manager and to build your internal network. It’s also a major catalyst for your external network. Before I end the meeting I go back to work I ask a question: “Look, I believe the central thing in Recruiting is networking. Should I meet any of your contacts? I am not only looking to meet people for our current vacant position. Just every interesting person that comes to your mind.” Most people are happy to connect you with their friends and professional contacts and the question often leads to interesting new contacts.

Yes, networking can be stressful. Yes, it’s hard to find time for this. But in a future where algorithms and bots will take care of most of the standard processes, it will be our biggest asset.

Featured Image by uberof202 ff



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Ex-Spectator interview series – Gary

Ex-Spectator interview series

Gary, UX/UI Designer

This blog is about Recruiting. But it’s also about external views on Recruiting. We work as a service unit for our candidates and hiring managers and need the feedback from others to get better in our work.

This interview series will provide this external view and help us to understand how our stakeholders see us.

Who are you and what is your current job?

Hi, my name is Gary Fleischer, and I work as design team lead and UX / UI designer at Contorion, an online shop for craftsmen, in Berlin.

My job is to make our customers feel comfortable and our website easy to use for everyone. And to manage my team of course.

What Gif would you use to describe your daily work?

Depends on the situation. Actually, two come to my mind:
giphy (2)source

And what Gif describes your image of a typical HR department?

giphy (3)

Do you think that robots and/or algorithms will take over your job in the future? If not: Will they be able to help you with certain tasks?

I don’t think that we should be afraid of robots – there will always be jobs for humans in the digital creative industry. The job changes naturally with time with new technical possibilities, but that’s what makes it so exciting. We already use “robots and algorithms” to make daily business easier and to automate certain tasks.

To give you some examples: We use scripts for batch processing in Photoshop and InDesign. Besides that, we use a workflow platform called “Invision”.This platform helps us to translate our designs into code. Both tools help us designers (and the developers as well) to save time and focus on the more interesting tasks instead.

Robots, algorithms, and tools should be seen as a support for us, not as a threat to our jobs.

From your point of view: What makes a good Recruiter?

I think I would compare it to a good applicant. Good preparation for interviews and thorough research about the position you are responsible for is crucial. , Besides that, company recruiters should have a good knowledge about their industry and abroad and well-established network.

What do you think Recruiters could learn from your department or your daily routine?

I think for all positions it’s important that you do your job out of passion and love for the work you do. This is also true for recruiting, I think. You can’t fake this passion. Either you got it or you should stop working in your current job.

Do you have any must-read books to understand your area of work?

The best “book” to understand my work is the Internet. The best source to understand my work is a video::

Which 3 songs help you through a rough day at work?

With Spotify that changes a lot. Here are my current favorite songs 😉

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Rage Against the Template

This article is based on my talk at the Social Recruiting Days 2017 in Berlin.

Talent Sourcing conferences often have their focus on finding and sourcing perfect candidates, their contact details, Facebook profiles and email addresses. Of course, all of these topics are important – but the big question is: What do we do after we have found our perfect candidates?

Wake up

I got the inspiration for my talk (and with that for this article) from a talk of Jan Hawliczek and his colleagues of WP Social Recruiting at the Sourcing Summit Deutschland in May.In their talk, they compared Direct Messaging with flirting. At first, this comparison seemed rather creepy, but on second thought I realized that they were right. Of course we usually (and hopefully) do not contact candidates for romantic reasons, but we try to establish a connection to our candidates and try to convince them of our company and our vacant position.

So just imagine you would walk into a bar and approach someone with this pickup line:

“Hey, are you looking for a new challenge? I realized your ex-boyfriend kinda looks like me and I saw on your facebook profile that you like long walks as I do. Wanna be my girlfriend? Then please send me your CV!”

Do you think that someone would be successful with that? Of course not. Anyone with a glimmer of social skills would reject this approach – so why do we use bad templates like this to contact our candidates? Templates simply don’t work.

Not surprisingly, studies tell us the same. Aline Lerner wrote an article on about a study they conducted in the US. She analyzed 8,000 Direct Search messages in the US and found out that personalized messages are much more likely to get a positive response from candidates (see figure 1).


Figure 1: Response rates in %

However, the vast majority of the analyzed messages were not personalized (see figure 2). Why is that? My guess is, that companies think it doesn’t matter. Even if you have a very bad response rate (say 30%) you are able to contact much more candidates with a simple template than with a highly personalized message for every single candidate. So if we can contact 500 candidates with a template or only 100 candidates with personalized messages, we should have more qualified candidates with the template, right? We won’t.

The problem is: With a “template approach” we are ruining our most important assets: rapport with highly qualified candidates and the reputation of our company in the candidate market.


Figure 2 Response rate and personalization

Know your Enemy Candidate

So, now we know that templates are a bad thing. But – what to do instead? To find an answer to that question, I started a little survey and shared it on LinkedIn, Xing and Facebook. Of course, this method (and the results) is not scientific. My “study” has way too many limitations for that. Just to name a few: The number of participants (77) is far too small and most of them work for companies in the digital or media industry. So if you work for the automotive industry or an insurance company the results might not apply to your candidates. Still, I think that Recruiting always should focus on the customers (aka candidates) and that this questionnaire is a far better approach than writing a concept by myself.

So, what was the questionnaire about? I asked the participants to give me feedback on a couple of multiple choice questions about the style and the content of DIrect Search messages. In addition to that, I also asked them to tell me about their most positive and most negative experiences with Direct Search. Unfortunately, most participants reported far more bad experiences as good experiences.

Let’s start with the basic results: Most of the participants work in Tech (37.7%). Other large groups are Marketing (14.3%), Sales (7.8%) and HR/Recruiting (23.4%). The biggest group is in a Senior (36.4) or Teamlead (26.0) position.

Now the interesting part: How do candidates like to be approached?

The results show, that most of them prefer an informal style of the message (see figure 3). That means, that the message is written in a conversational language and candidates are addressed by their first name.

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Figure 3: Style of the message. Results in %

My guess is, that most templates are written in a very formal style and that an informal style of writing is seen as an evidence that the message was written from scratch.

In terms of the length of the message, most candidates (64.9%) prefer short messages (see figure 4). In their answers to my open questions, participants emphasize that they are turned off by lengthy messages full of buzzwords and truisms as “leading industry” or “disrupting innovation”. These crude branding attempts give the candidate zero information and ironically lead to a bad branding for the company – and of course to a lower response rate.


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Figure 4: Length of the message. Results in %

But what kind of information do candidates want? Most participants named information about the company, the team and the salary range as the most vital parts of a message. In my opinion, most of the templates have at least some information about the company. But most messages lack information about the team: How many colleagues are working in the team? What are their skills or personalities? Is it a newly formed team or is it working together for a long time?


Giving information about the salary is naturally more complicated. Most companies don’t want to talk openly about their salary structure and also fear that they will only attract candidates with a high focus on salary when they include this information in a message. However, from a candidate’s perspective, this bit of information is clearly important. Candidates often invest much time and effort in the process, only to find out (often after a considerable amount of time) that the budget for the position is actually lower than their current salary. This inefficiency leads to a bad candidate experience.


So what can we do with that information from the questionnaire? The answer is simple: We need a new Sourcing approach. We have to focus on quality, not on mere numbers. Johnny Campbell, CEO of Social Talent (a learning platform for Talent Sourcers), did a great talk at Social Recruiting Days where he showed that Recruiters that approach fewer candidates actually perform better and submit more qualified candidates to Hiring Managers (you can find his slides here)!

The old Recruiting Spam approach does not lead to more or better candidates. It leads to a bad branding for the company, low response rates. Often Recruiters even don’t have time for a simple follow-up if the candidate actually replies. Participants of the study reported that sometimes they even fail to schedule phone calls or meetings with the Hiring Manager. They don’t have time for that because they are busy with spamming the next batch of candidates on LinkedIn.

If we focus on quality we can take the time for a good research of the market, a good briefing meeting with the Hiring Manager and messages that are real and that really fit to our candidates. Social media profiles gives us a ton of individual information about candidates – it’s time for us to make use of this information.

Let’s be Recruiters – not Spammers.

Title picture by freezelight