Lights Cameras Interaction – Taking candidate interaction to a new level


Taking candidate interaction to a new level

The way we interact with relationships, strangers and products have evolved more over the last decade than arguably anytime in human history – with the advancement of our lives becoming digitized. Chris Raw, Client Services Lead & Product Strategist at jobpal, will tell you all about it. 

Interaction counts

In my last company, we defined interaction quality as a key driver for improving NPS. It helps candidates know that they are being dealt with on a basic level and delivers on a promise you invested in when you apply for a new role. Candidate experience is like trying on the clothes giving an insight into the type of employer experience you can expect. It’s all one journey right?!

When we communicate with a candidate we want to get them to a place where they can make a decision or commit. A call to action.

Most HR tech software allows a narrow line of communication. Some have better user experiences than others but the line of communication remains (for most employers) the same. Email. And there is nothing wrong with email, but with the rise of spam filters and GDPR, is it still a channel we solely rely on?

Can Conversational Interfaces (CI) fill in the blanks?

I believe they can. Especially after reading a great article on Social Media Today. stating that “messages sent via bots have much higher open and click-through rates than email. Conversational Interfaces (CI) can have click-through rates ranging from 15%-60%, and even the lower end of that spectrum well surpasses the average email marketing CTR (which is only about 4%)(Original source: Chatbot Magazine / Smart Insights).

I’m not here stating that chat platforms are the only way forward, quite the contrary. Conversational Interfaces and Email can work in harmony for the candidate. One catches the ball where the other channel did not. Surely when you put both together you enable that connection even further from employer to candidate.

If we are truly designing experiences around the star of our story (that’s the candidate by the way), we should bear in mind that not everyone is responsive to email or let alone using it as frequently as we can assume. After all, its usually a non-interaction from an ATS. A mere update sent from an autoresponder based on an action. Conversational Interface allows you to add another channel to take the burden of some of the tasks you would normally associate with email. What’s more, you extend the choice of the candidate to interact where they want. Choice in any experience is a key component. This is no truer than catering for candidates with a customer-centric mindset.

The bottom line, it’s not about your process – it’s enabling a journey that fits the diverse needs of the candidate.

Automating Interaction

We are already at the stage where we can automate parts of a hiring journey. Not only to please the candidate with seamless experience, but also take some of the burdens from the recruiter. When you can do this, you really focus on value add tasks like building better relations with the business and consulting / coaching candidates to be at the top of their game. Give your stakeholder what they actually want and need to make more commitment. Better relationships and more air-time.

Microtasks like the little bitty tasks that take average to high touch service. They are part of every recruiting step or touchpoint, the moments between the moments some might say. But often they are labelled as non-value add tasks? I’m not sure why. When I did my last Candidate Experience Journey Mapping Workshop for one of Europe’s largest eCommerce businesses, it was clear that candidates still expect excellence and execution in these steps. Seamless with no unintended gaps. Get these wrong and they quickly become a problem. It will completely kill the buzz of the experience your creating, leaving candidates to wander into other hiring avenues of companies who haven’t left them hanging on Stage HOLD.

Explore your use cases

Spending time figuring out where you might want to create more interaction could be areas like FAQs, opt-in, chat application, interview logistics or even pulse surveys. These use cases along with other microtasks are becoming more frequently explored by employers looking to engage candidates throughout the hiring process.  

Frequency & Recency  = Candidate Value

  • RecencyHow recently did the candidate interact?
  • FrequencyHow often do they interact?

Yes, I’ve borrowed that phrase and manipulated it somewhat from our friends in Direct Marketing, but knowing who is interacting with you, your content and at scale is a useful timesaver for your recruiting team.

With the gains on CTR mentioned above, perhaps conversational interfaces have an advantage on creating this candidate value based on frequency and recency of interaction? What’s more, we are now firmly in a phase where personalised experiences are even more possible than before. We can tailor the experience with chat on a personal level all based on unique interactions based on user query. That’s a real step up from Hi {FIRST NAME} ATS emails. And that’s if you were lucky enough to get one of those.

Efficiency is experience

The potential efficiency gains are real. Not only for your recruiter grey hair count, but also for the candidate experience. Gartner’s recent CHRO quarterly report said we are entering the age of the casual candidate. Automation of these microtasks with a sprinkle of relevant content can still create the commitment you need to fill your pipeline with great talent. Email is still going to be used for a long time yet, and chat might not replace that channel, but like any good partnership – one can help the other be more effective by giving choice to the candidate rather than a one size fits all approach.

Automating parts of your hiring experience will ultimately benefit not only the candidate but the way you have more impact where it matters.

In the end, everyone has a candidate experience – but we do have the power to decide whether it’s good, bad or ugly.


TA Managers in Germany: the vision of Judith Nguyen

As a Talent Acquisition manager you are responsible for the recruitment strategy. The nature of this process depends on the country or region you are located. In this series we will showcase this. Last time we talked about the Netherlands, but what does it look like in Germany? Judith Nguyen (IDAGIO) will tell you.

What do you want as a TA manager?

“My mission in life is to connect and inspire people, because so many great things can happen if the right synergies are created. In my role, it is my biggest passion to place the right people in the right company, creating the highest possible value for the business and the candidates. I love to learn about people, who they are, what they’re good at and what they don’t like.  So when someone tells me about themselves, I immediately think about who would benefit from knowing them and in which way I connect them with someone in order to bring them forward. Having something great come from a connection that I have established is a huge driver in my life.”

What do you miss?

“In life? In Talent Acquisition? I can tell you what I wish I had – a teleporting machine that could take me to all the great TA events all over the world.”

Which technology/tools do you use and what could or would you want to use?

“We’re currently using a great ATS, but all the interview coordination, for example, is still done manually. Often it’s a question of budget as well as being able to take the time to evaluate weather a new tool or a new technology makes sense, or not.”

What is your tip for other TA managers?

“Stay open, stay humble, stay hungry. If you’re tired, take a break. I stay humble by putting myself in the shoes of applicants and empathising with their experience. We’ve all been on the other side, so as long as we stay human, open-minded and friendly things should be ok.”

What does TA look like in your country?

“Working in Talent Acquisition in Berlin is super exciting! The city is buzzing with opportunities and it has been for a while now. There are meet ups about everything TA almost every evening. People care a lot about diversity and inclusion and simply really enjoy their work and want to learn more, even in their free time, after working hours. There is a lot of cooperation and support and great networks that you can become a part of, like the TA labs, organised by the people at Zalando and the amazing Matthias Schmeißer, or the Purple Squirrel Society, a HR association through which I have met so many fantastic people.”

Background of TA Managers in Germany

Based on data of The European Recruitment Dashboard we give an insight in the background of TA managers in Germany. We looked at the ratio men/women, age, work experience and experience abroad.

Christoph Fellinger: “Stay close to your candidates emotions!’

Christoph Fellinger is head of strategic Talent Acquisition and early careers programs at Beiersdorf, probably best known for its NIVEA brand. He shares his role as the lead of the early careers eam with a parttime colleague in what the Dutch would call a duojob. The Early Careers team is covering the talent acquisition for our Headquarters in Hamburg, Germany for apprentices, dual students, interns, working students and the international graduate trainee program “BEYOND BORDERS”. The other 50% of his time he is the head of strategic Talent Acquisition. In Germany he’s known as one of the most tech savvy in house TA managers and he will be speaking at TA-Live in Amsterdam, April 18th.

Doing so many things, tell us, what does your average day look like?

“Having two jobs within the company means I am dealing with a broad range of topics on a daily basis: from discussing digital campaigning to driving applications for the programs to reworking our selection criteria and processes, coaching graduate trainees on an individual basis, advising TA colleagues worldwide on how to make best use of LinkedIn for their own recruitment and Employer Branding and yes – being there for the team of six wonderfully gifted colleagues, for their questions or proposals. Thankfully no day is the same, it feels more like changing wagons on a high-speed train every day.”

Beiersdorf is a big company with a very big brands, like Nivea that pretty much every Dutchmen will know, yet as a corporate brand it’s not that well known. Since you have an employer branding background, how do you use the strengths of your individual brands for the corporate employer brand?

“To be honest: this discrepancy between the high awareness of the brands and the very low awareness of the company is both a dream and my biggest nightmare. A nightmare as the name does ring a bell with only very, very few people. Seeing the logo or the name written in for example a result list of a job search has not the impact we’d like it to have. We are being confused with pharma companies, mistaken for medical supply firms or associated with some dull boring company. Which means that we HAVE to leverage the power of the brands to enter that stage of consideration in the candidate journey. Having said that we make sure to include brands in any visual we are using and brand names as close to the company name as possible. Let me give you an example: for us the job title “Business Controller” at Beiersdorf doesn’t do it – we list the job as “Business Controller NIVEA” even if this will never appear on the person’s business card. Same for InMailing candidates: it’s always “Would you like to work for NIVEA or Eucerin?” and not “…for Beiersdorf”. Thanks to the strength of our brands we have an almost 98% awareness (at least for NIVEA) and people generally are very sympathetic towards the brands. This is the dream I am incorporating in our Employer Branding.”

You don’t come from an HR background, you studied media management and worked at Universal music before moving to Beiersdorf. What lessons from the music industry do you still apply in Talent Acquisition?

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the music industry it’s being close to consumer’s emotions. People don’t join a company for purely rational reasons. At least not the ones that are going to be really engaged, which in the end are the ones we really want. Thus you have to build up an emotional bond even early on in the Talent Acquisition process and follow through. And I’d say that this is easier in Employer Branding and recruitment marketing than it is in the actual recruiting process with all the efficiency it also takes to run a recruiting team in a big company.”

Last but not least, you’ve been at Beiersdorf for over 15 years now. What makes it so unique?

“You get to play with the big ones even though you come from a small player. Our competition is way bigger than us, yet we are on eye level – sometimes even ahead of them. And this goes both for our brands and for our talent acquisition. You can only achieve this by having a highly collaborative attitude in the company and a high identification with its culture and brands. This spirit has carried me over the past years – and the fact that I have always been able to come forth with new, unprecedented ideas in my jobs.”

TA Managers in the Netherlands: the vision of Veronne van der Meijs

As a Talent Acquisition manager you are responsible for the recruitment strategy. The nature of this process depends on the country or region you are located. In this series we will showcase this. Last time we talked about Belgium, but what does it look like in the Netherlands? Veronne van der Meijs (Randstad Groep Nederland) will tell you.

What does Talent Acquisition look like in the Netherlands?

“Talent Acquisition is in the Netherlands an important extension of HR in which she takes her own role as business partner. In the last years it has become clear that recruitment and talent acquisisition, in the whole area, has been described as a specialism to meet the demands of the candidates and to make sure that you get talent. Organisations with an Angelsaksian culture have not always made this step. Here you risk recruitment being seen as ‘cv shifter’ instead of the first important step in the employee journey and as advisor and partner of the business.”

What do you want as TA manager?

“I want to support the people and my organisatie in realising their true potential. Talent Acquisition is the first step to happiness at work. Like offering the optimal candidate experience, recruiting a new colleague and friend, everything is important for happiness at work. That what makes you happy, you don’t want to lose.

As manager of the department Talent Acquisition I am responsible, together with my team, for attracting new talent, to connect talent and cherish them by letting them grow. Our team consists of passionate Talent Acquisition, recruitment marketeers and employer branding specialists. They are the faces and experts in their field, online and offline, and because of that they are a steady business partner for managers and ceo’s of our strong brands Randstad, Tempo-Team en Yacht. They are marketeer and ambassador of our wonderful brands and with our top vacancies we know how to get the best talents. We’re also looking at the potential of current employees and how we can help them take the next step in their carreer.

We strive everyday to get happy candidates and hiring managers to get a sustainable match for both parties. We need to make a lasting impact because of the technological changes and the candidate market which can change everyday. We see these changes as opportunities. The question is: how do we deal with change? How can digital innovation help us do our job better? Because if you want it, you can do everything tomorrow, right?”

Which technology do you use and what do you want to use?

“Data about the labour market, assessments, good websites. In short: everything that has to do with finding and connecting candidates, external as well as internal. Everything I want as a TA manager is there. My biggest wish: a tool that can 3D print real goal getters, top talent and other impossible wishes of hiring managers with one press on the button. Just because it’s easy.”

About which subject would you like to know more?

“How is technology going to support us in the future? We believe that tech makes it possible to enrich and increase the human touch, certainly in a world that gets digital more and more. That’s is why we’re thinking about questions like: how can VR and AR help us to give that warm handshake at a distance? How can technology helps us show what will happen on the labour market? What is really going to change in the different jobs in job placement service? In brief: I would like to get a crystal ball. Do you have one?”

We’re afraid not, but who knows… What is your tip for other TA managers?

“Make the goal less important now and then. Look at the purpose of your department and organisation. Think about how this purpose suits the people who work on the department and look what the purpose of your organisation brings the candidate. Don’t focus on data only, but connect the most important elements with each other and always stay connected with the wishes of your candidates, your own team and the hiring managers.”

Background of TA Managers in the Netherlands

Based on data of  The European Recruitment Dashboard we give an insight in the background of TA managers in the Netherlands. We looked at the ratio men/women, age, work experience and experience abroad.

Mees van Velzen: ‘We live in the golden age of recruitment’

Finding and connecting with the right candidates in these times of shortage is hard. Mees van Velzen (MrWork) thinks that we, on the contrary, live in the golden age of recruitment. He will tell more about this on TA-Live, but we wanted to see a glimpse of his presentation.

What are you gonna talk about at TA-Live?

“Our mission is: we make recruitment social. We believe that we live in the golden age of recruitment. This means that when companies recruit the right way they don’t suffer from shortage on the job market. But how do you do this? Nowadays you have a direct line with your target group via social media. Imagine that I told you 20 years ago: you can send everyone who works at the competitor a message. As a recruiter you would have gone mad of disbelief, but this is reality. The important thing is how you utilize this line the right way. If you have the right focus you can build a talent pool of people who really feel a connection with your company. Then you don’t have to depend on recruitment agencies and people will work longer for you, because they are intrinsically motivated.”

What is talent management for you?

“It’s a big concept. I think that companies should realise that they are actually naked and everyone can look inside. This means that you can form the dialogue with your target group the way you want and if you do it the right way, you will enter the golden age of recruitment. The recruitment process should be more social with the acknowledgement that we live in a new era.’

MrWork has offices in the Netherlands and the UK. Do you have plans to expand?

“Yes, the markt of Germany with a physical office is high on the agenda. Of course there a differences between countries. The Netherlands has a lot of startups and technology and we are ahead when it’s about employer brand. In the UK for example, this is different, because the traditional recruitment agencies have more power. They need to take more steps when it comes to thinking about how employer branding can be efficient for their recruitment strategy.

We are people that embrace new technologies quickly. When you look at LinkedIn, you will see that the Dutch are the most active community in the world. There is a lot of innovation here, but companies start abroad. We went to the UK, because their market is really interesting. We have the ambition to make sure that companies never experience shortage again, preferably worldwide.”

You say we are in the golden age of recruitment. What follows after?

“You have to know for each job who the next 3 to 10 candidates are who would be suitable. You have contact with them, even before the person who has the job now has left the company. This means you can be more strategically with your staff planning, which creates more flexibility on the job market. It is important that when we come in an economic downturn again you don’t have to build up your recruitment from scratch.”

What is your biggest challenge?

“We try to change the market in a way that companies realise that we live in a new age and adjust there recruitment strategy. That is a challenge on its own, because you’re dealing with traditional companies who have been doing the same for decades. It’s about a mindset that’s needs to change. We do this by having conversations and to achieve success, so the rest of the market will think: this is the way to go.”

Can you tell something about yourself that most people don’t know?

“What a lot of people don’t know is that – apart from the chance I saw in the market of consumers because of the rise of social media –  I founded MrWork, because I hate to apply for a job the traditional way. It’s hard to decide on an interview of half an hour if I want to spend a lot of my time at a company. That’s the advantage of founding your own company: you don’t have to deal with that anymore!”

Matej Matolin: “The quality of relationships matters most’

Matej Matolin is head of HR at STRV, a software design and engineering company located in Prague that works for top Sillicon Valley clients. We are very happy to have him back at Talent Acquisition Live this year after giving a very highly rated session last year.

Matej, you are very passionate about delivering a great candidate journey. But just to make sure we are all on the same page, what do you see as the typical candidate journey? 

“Candidates are similar to customers. You won’t buy from someone you don’t know, and you will buy at a time best for you. That’s why brands have switched from selling to building relationships. Before anything else, you have to attract customers with interesting and useful content, build your authority, and explain your added value. Only then can you start selling. I believe the process is exactly the same in recruitment.”

STRV requires you to attract the infamously hard-to-recruit IT developers from all over the world. Content plays a big role in this. What makes your content stand out?

“Content must bring real added value. You won’t engage the tech community with press releases, corporate propaganda or recruitment articles. Therefore our content isn’t produced by HR or marketing. We involve all of our tech experts in writing technical articles, providing mentorship, giving public speeches, and creating tutorials, online lessons and workshops.
Good content attracts passive candidates to your website, and these are people you can then transform into regular visitors, readers, fans, and ultimately applicants.”

I remember an awesome presentation by you in Berlin. You covered how you measure candidates’ various signals in order to classify their engagement as a candidate – and you build a strategy based on those levels of engagement. Can you elaborate a bit on this?

“We have an engineering newsletter that we send to subscribers, and we can easily identify the most loyal readers and those who click on job vacancies. This information is then synced with our ATS. We also know who the frequent visitors of our events are. We use ad retargeting to deliver information based on past behaviour. Our latest achievement is the implementation of attribution modelling. I’m eager to share more insights in my talk.”

You’ve said in the past you use technology to make recruitment more human. Where do you see the future of the recruiter going? 

“There will definitely be more technology: chatbots, automation, programmatic advertising, assessments… you name it. But human interaction won’t disappear. It’s the quality of relationships that companies have with candidates and with the community that will matter most. Technology is just a tool. Successful recruitment teams must balance both sides and be composed of people with various skill sets, including technical geeks and data analysts.”

Anna Ott: “We need to have more HR people being knowledgeable about tech”

Anna Ott is the host of Talent Acquisition Live on April 18th in Amsterdam. When she isn’t hosting events like ours she works for an investor that invests in early stage HR Tech start-ups in Europe and South East Asia. She also consults with several of these start-ups on their strategy, be it on their product or the go-to-market strategy. Next to that she advises HR practitioners on HR tech trends, tools and how they can reshape their HR functions to better fit with the changing world. So she has a unique insight in the world of HR, and mainly talent acquisition start-ups and their potential. We had a chance to ask her about what’s happening in this world.

You do a lot of work with start-ups. Where do you currently see the biggest advancements in recruitment tech start-ups?

“Talent Acquisition and Recruiting related companies are still the majority of the overall HR Tech start-up cohort, so there is a broad spectrum of solutions. I love the ones most who look at fundamental shifts in HR rather than fixing smaller problems like interview scheduling or sending an application as a video. After all, there are so many established beliefs in HR that demand for systematic changes. For example: why do we even force candidates to submit a CV? Or why recruiters sift through endless candidate profiles manually to find a suitable match? Having said that, I like the use of technology where it augments the job of an HR person to an extent that humans wouldn’t be able to do things. Take for example the whole matching of talent to employers or jobs. The re-engagement with a growing audience of talent. The unbiased detection of skills. Stuff like that excites me!”

You have seen technology change in sourcing, ATS’s, assessments and all parts of the recruitment industry. What specific part of recruitment tech have you seen change the most in the past 5 years? And what specific type of technology have you seen most easily adapted by corporations?

“Tough question! In reverse, I can say that I see job boards, for example, haven’t changed a bit in the past years and I wonder when that will finally happen on a broader scale! The adoption of tools and thereby the adaption of new processes in HR is a slow but steady movement and some companies, maybe ahead of the curve, play around more optimistically with new ways of discovering talent, having more confidence in letting algorithms automatically select and engage with talent and all that. Some less tech-confident companies will maybe start exploring automation first before they dip into augmentation or amplification through tech. Which is reasonable and already for some organizations a quantum leap! For example having smart ATS systems, low-threshold application processes, using professional tools for talent discovery or employee referrals and onboarding as a set of “essential” things an HR department should be using. The more advanced organizations consider even chatbots a “standard” for candidate engagement and I love that this gets more traction, as the appreciation by candidates is unquestioned.”

What are you see still missing in the current recruitment tech world? 

“I see more and more companies trying to solve skill detection through various mechanisms, whether it is self-directed assessments, gamified diagnostics or even automated data-mining where people leave traces, like e-mail, internal chat or documents produced. I appreciate all of those approaches, but haven’t found a convincing one yet that also factors in that we are less optimistic in the EU about data mining. As detecting skills will also always detect skill gaps and this is a great example of where technology can enhance our careers within an organization (or even outside), but also be less beneficial for a great chunk of the workforce when a machine might decide they must be let go. This is why we need to have more HR people being knowledgeable about tech in order to come up with opinions, values and also maybe even a codex on what we want AI to do in our organizations – or where we set boundaries.”

You see a lot of countries and their recruitment tech adoption. What is your opinion on which countries are leading the race and who’s lagging behind?

“Historically in Europe, I feel the UK is a couple of years ahead of for example the German speaking region of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. BeNeLux is somewhere in-between. France is catching up due to their great ecosystem for tech startups. We also tend to look at the Nordics more often than we should at for example Eastern Europe where more and more hubs for startup entrepreneurs are evolving to an extent that might even surpass some of the non-London hubs in the UK. And then there are some outliers, like Lisbon or Barcelona, but I’m still not seeing stuff coming out of Italy for example.”

You said you hadn’t broken enough things at your employer (at that  time Deutche Telekom) yet, because they hadn’t fired you yet. A lot of people in the room were shocked when you said it. Do you think HR/Recruiters are too conservative?

“Well, I myself like questioning, breaking rules and things to create innovation and experiment with tech – but this is not everyone’s choice. I do believe though that the root cause for some HR departments being left behind in digitization of their function, is a combination of two things. One, most of the HR practitioners I meet in especially small and medium sized companies are not tech-savvy or confident in exploring new tech tools. But also, their management isn’t either so even if everyone expects them to “digitally transform”, they wouldn’t know where to start. Everyone feels the pain but putting this into practice, is where they struggle and sometimes are left alone. There are surely also the few who are not at all open for change or fear technology even. But the majority are those willing to change but lacking a plan on how to start.”

What do talent acquisition managers want in… Belgium

As a Talent Acquisition manager you are responsible for the recruitment strategy. The nature of this process depends on the country or region you are located. What do TA managers actually want in different countries? In this series we will showcase this based on data acquired from the European Recruitment Dashboard and the experiences of TA managers themselves. This time: Belgium.

TA managers in Belgium in data

Based on data acquired from the European Recruitment Dashboard we want to give an insight into the background of TA Managers in Belgium. We looked at the ratio men/women, age, international experience and countries where they would like to work.

Stephanie de Wulf, Talent Acquisition and Employability Manager at the Flemish Government (Vlaamse Overheid)

‘As a TA manager in Belgium, working for the government, I notice that there are more regulations that need to be respected. It does not allow enough flexibility.

At this moment, we are implementing a new Talent SaaS (in the cloud) system, Cornerstone on demand. This is a lot of work, but will give the Flemish government much more possibilities, which we are looking forward to. We also want to make use of artificial intelligence, because we find it important to have an efficient and fast selection process where candidates can do tests and interviews 24/7. Currently we state the time of the interview, which is not always appreciated by candidates.

As a talent manager, it is important to have a vision on strategic talent management. This is not just about recruiting and selecting, but it’s about the added value you want to create towards the business This means following trends and being aware of the job market. At the Flemish government we want our employees to be sustainable deployable. This means that we expact each employee to be on the right spot or moving towards it and contributing maximally to the values of the organisation. That’s hard with 28.000 employees. It is important to be creative. We help people to make use of self leadership when it comes to their career path. We also notice that we have to prepare people for the jobs of tomorrow, even though we don’t always know what these are.

To go forward in your job, you need to take the time one in a while to stand still en reflect on what is happening. I know this is a challenge in todays agitated society: I do notice when I schedule these moments for my team people get creative again and take the time to discuss. Work on your employer brand strategy and also work inside out. Your own employees are the best ambassadeurs to attract new colleagues.’

Steve Goethals, IT Recruiter – Matching Talent at vind!

‘A recent research (in Dutch) shows most Belgians don’t look for a job at all. You really have to convice them to get a new job, even if they would be happier. They value the work/life balance a lot and are not as active on LinkedIn as for example the Dutch.

For me, is it important to align the HR politicy with the goals and challenges of the company. For this, it is important to figure the whole recruitment process, from from vacancy intake to off boarding. You can only do this by using a sourcing plan, employer branding, KPI’s, ATS, testing etc.

My tip for TA managers is to pay a lot of attention to a good sourcer/recruiter who looks at hyperpersonalisation when looking for the right candidates.

The attention for remote e-testing is lacking in Belgium. I also would like to know more about social referral, augmented sourcing and onboarding.’

Isabel De Baecke, Business Unit Manager Talent Acquisition at Solvus

‘The biggest challenge in Belgium lies in recruiting volumes. Because of the language problems, the overheated job market, the influence of mobility challenges and because Belgium mostly is a market for small or medium-sized enterprises, the recruting is in relatively low volumes. This makes the cost per hire high and innovation in the selection process relatively expensive, which means the employer branding budgets are not optimally spend.

As a TA manager you want the right talent on the right place at the right moment. To do this optimally, TA on its own is insufficient. That’s why we aspire to use Total Talent Management at Solvus. Apart from attracting talent internally, we also centralise the development and retention of this talent. But we also invest in attracting different forms of external talents. So I would advise other TA managers to not look at TA in isolation, but to think about a Total Talent management and take the business and hiring managers with you in this practice and the interest of it.

As a TA manager I am interested in new technological development and scanning the market looking for new trends. The added value of tools is not always clear. You have to know exactly what you need to make a right choice in the growing supply. We use tools like ATS and VMS to gain access to the job market and automise tasks so recruiters have more time, which they can use to invest in their relationship with our candidates. Apart from the classic assessment we also focus on value fit and measuring the potential and learning agility. We do this, ecause we believe that almost every job will change fundamentally in the next 10 years.’

Sophie Theen: “Learn to grow when you really need to”

Sophie Teen is a culture and talent guardian at 11FS, a London based start up in the Fintech sector. Currently her company is growing headcount at 300% a year globally. Before this, she was the head of HR at Revolut where within the year the headcount went up by 500%. You might say she knows a thing or two about recruiting in hyper growth, the subject she will be addressing at Talent Acquisition Live this year.

Sophie, I don’t think many of us can imagine recruiting for organisations growing at rates above 100% a year. Tell us, what do you do on a day to day base?

“The reality is as the first HR person, you end up doing everything working with the founders on almost everything about their people and culture. And as the company grew, so did my team. They specialize in their areas leaving me to have the headspace to plan for our future, which normally includes reviewing objectives for the business, the teams and myself. Looking at strategic workforce planning because we’re bootstrapped, everything needs to be accounted for financially, which kind of makes you do the 3rd, 4th, 5th degree thinking before you make a decision to hire. Although this might sound like you’re wasting a lot of time especially in a really fast paced startup, but you think: if I don’t do things strategically, then what makes us different? How do we know we’re doing better than others? I really enjoy that part of my day. The rest is when I spend time with leadership to work on human challenges, because let’s face it, there isn’t a one size fits all manual created to help HR professionals solve every problem in an organization. You’ve got to approach, think, resolve, learn, then bake it back into your current process. It’s all about learning constantly, never stop reflecting.”

So you will be talking about recruiting in hyper growth. How do you describe hyper growth and tell us a little about your experience with it. What numbers are we talking about?

“Hypergrowth is a common ask from founders when I get to meet them. We all live in the myth that hyper growth means hiring a bulkload of people, because it makes us look a lot more superior that our competitors. Well, that’s a lie I’ll tell you. Hypergrowth is when you double, triple your headcount but people are still happy working there albeit the new hires shifting your culture as they go. You can only do this by removing yourself from the idea of “grow grow grow at any expense” and finally learn to “grow when you REALLY need to”. It will force you to think about skill mapping, strategically mapping your workforce based on cost, workload, deliverables before any hiring managers say “I want to hire someone”. My hyper growth experience comes from running medium to XL sized headcount companies, but again, this is not a numbers competition. Hiring 200 people and losing 100 at the same time means you’re not doing it right.”

So you are doing insane numbers with a very small team. How do you manage that?

“Strategy and your people. I know, I sound like a flashy consultant about strategies, but there’s a reason why. I used to have a team of 11 hiring 200 people, now I have a team of 2 and we hired 120 people last year. It’s not magic, and there’s no secret sauce to it. Leading a strongly charged organization to hire so many people in a short period of time meant two things: strategically planning for gaps to fill (means asking questions you normally don’t dare to, because they tell you that HR’s role is just to hire when asked) and optimizing your internal resources. Ask yourself, who are your best ambassadors of the brand, and who knows more people than you do? The people in your company. Our biggest source of hires come from word of mouth which means, someone in the company already know them to refer them to us.”

You call yourself a culture guardian. What do you mean with that and how do you handle that part of your role?

“It means I take the word “culture” very seriously. It means that when one of our staff is in despair, or having a challenge, I drop everything and go to them. They are my first and utmost priority. But this doesn’t mean just being a listener, because I’m not that. My role to guard the culture to is keep our people happy by solving their problems. Of course from time to time, there are exceptions when they’re out of my control. But all in all, I know what our company principles are and I bake them into every process, conversations, trainings, and wherever I see gaps.”

Last question: can you tell us something about you most people won’t know?

“I spent a huge chunk of my life living near the beach and so while I’m in the UK, I use the Calm app for beach waves sounds for sleep all the time! I’m one of those people who you call beach bums, because I can be there for hours and hours on end.”

Watch the Talent Acquisition Live 2018 after movie

We look back on a very successful first edition of the international event on innovative recruitment: Talent Acquisition Live. More than 150 visitors were inspired by 4 keynotes and 20 breakouts. Do you want to relive the day again or did you miss it? Check out the official after movie.

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