Putting the Human back in Human Resources

Last week we attended an event about skilled worker shortage hosted by bwcon – good people and good talks: If you’re interested in organisational innovation and looking for connections in Southern Germany you might want to look into them.

We had some discussions with the speakers and attendees of the event and discussed the shortcomings of recruiting in tech companies. The main takeaway for me was: HR’s recruiting processes have changed only marginally in the last ten to fifteen years.

Sure, there’s more channels available today and some companies have a mobile strategy or have given some thought to “candidate experience” when it comes to connecting with potential co-workers – but the fundamentals of it, the culture behind recruiting hasn’t changed much:

  1. You post a job offering full of buzzwords and technical specifications.
  2. You wait for applications full of clichés and empty phrases to come in.
  3. You hold interviews that look and feel like rehearsed plays.

See if any of these sound familiar to you:

  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • “What would you bring to our company?”
  • “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • “What would you do different from the way we do it today?”

I get it, they’re not meant to be taken literally; you want to find out more about a candidate’s reasonings and trains of thought. But either way they’ll tell you what they think you want to hear, what they’ve been taught is right by countless articles, blogs and carreer coaches.

In any other scenario, be it on the job or not, a conversation in the manner of a job inteview would be extremely awkward – and probably not a good way to connect: Imagine walking around a networking event, the lunchroom or a bar trying to strike up a real conversation with gambits like “Hey, how’s it going? I was just wondering, how would you convince me of a project I don’t believe in?”

To do their job in keeping with the times, HR must remember that it stands for Human Resources – and start living up to its name: Recruiting must free itself from thinking in profiles and team/skill matrices to match actual work with real human beings:

  • Stop asking for letters of motivation and start radiating a culture that the right people will gravitate towards.
  • Scrap CV/application templates and replace them with mutual honest character assessment.
  • Overcome interviews in favour of actually getting to know each other.

If HR is to remain relevant among the recruiting platforms of tomorrow, it needs to realign today – and it should, because it has the potential to be one of the most rewarding areas of work out there: If you do it right, you’ll be paid for making real people really happy.

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