HR Vision Podcast #09 – Recruitment as a Function ft. Erwin de Wildt

By FourVision
Aug 11 • 1 min read
HR Vision Podcast Episode 9 ft. Erwin de Wildt

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Erwin de Wildt, Engagement Manager and Implementation Consultant at FourVision, comes on the podcast to discuss Recruitment as a function. He’s a practical guy, with a solid expertise in talent acquisition and currently working with one of the leading Talent Experience Management platforms in the market – Phenom. In this episode we talked about his expertise, common challenges that recruiters face, how can tech help and he shared some advice for recruiters.

Ivo:
Hey everyone, and welcome to the HR Vision podcast. I'm your host, Ivo, and every week I'm going to have a conversation that matters about HR. This week have with me: Erwin de Wildt. Welcome Erwin. How are you?

Erwin:
Welcome yeah, good morning I'm doing good, how are you?

Ivo:
I'm doing great, thank you. Erwin is an engagement manager and implementation consultant at FourVision with a solid background in recruitment, which will be the topic of today. So let's get to it.

Erwin, normally we start always this conversations with presenting the guest a little bit, so I would ask you to do exactly that. Just small introduction about yourself personally, professional, so people get to know you.

Erwin:
Sure! How far back do you want me to go?

Ivo:
Well as far back as you want, it's fine. We have time.

Erwin:
Sure. Now yeah, I studied psychology in Enschede on the university and I also did a master in European politics after that. Both weren't enough and I found a job in recruitment which was in the Czech Republic, in a recruitment agency where they taught me everything about talent acquisition and thankfully I was allowed to do recruitment for recruiters which really showed me how the business worked in more of a sales-focused recruitment agency. After that, I made the step to come back to the Netherlands. Started working with Booking.com as a recruiter for the customer service department and I did that for around two years. Maybe 2 1/2, not 100% sure anymore. After that I made the step to the recruitment operations team in Booking, which actually manages everything off recruitment without the recruitment itself. So all of the systems, contracts and projects that are involved with their recruitment.

Let's say half a year ago, and it's already a bit more than half a year ago, I joined the FourVision team as an engagement manager/implementation consultant for the Talent Experience team, which implements the Phenom platform mainly, among other products.

Ivo:
Alright, so you have a solid background. I think you are one of the 1st guest that we have, that has a solid background in recruitment. That's what we want to talk about today. So from all your experience with talent acquisition in recruitment. What is your view about it? What I'm more interested to know is how much companies actually value that position? Do you think it's like the the A-standard for HR, or the thing that you know companies look the most in HR? They think more about HR on the talent acquisition part than the other parts? What do you think?

Erwin:
Well, it really depends on how the company indeed views HR- and recruitment as a separate part because... Trust me, a few people I've known in the past will laugh about it. I've had a lot of discussions about what is recruitment. Is it sales or is it HR? And because sometimes you're selling a job and sometimes you are hiring a person and it really depends on perspective of how a company approaches it and thankfully most of the companies I work with that definitely saw importance of talent acquisition or recruitment, in their business model and also helping them towards the future.

Ivo:
OK. I'm interested in what you just said. Like having that discussion between, is it sales or is it HR. Why do you say that? What do you view in the market in some companies? Or are some companies acting to recognize it as more of a sales thing, than an HR thin?

Erwin:
It really depends of course on where you are working as a recruiter, because the first few years as a recruiter, I was working in a recruitment agency and they have to sell candidates with the right experience and also sell themselves; The companies to be able to allow them to recruit for those companies with the right candidates. So in that regard, it will be mostly a sales role, which is focused on selling recruitment. But if you are working as an internal recruiter, or corporate recruiter or whatever title, you have in the company itself, then it becomes a completely different show because you are the caretaker of the company and making sure they have the talent to move forward in every way possible that they are asking for. And sometimes you can even. Lead them and also suggest things on how to improve in their business, by recruiting and forward meeting people.

Ivo:
OK, so do you think that having recruitment agencies actually can be tricky sometimes? Because of the fact that their business is actually getting talent to sell to companies? Let's say. So sometimes it has a pernicious failing to it.

Erwin:
I know. People of course never love to be spammed on LinkedIn with "I have a position for developer" and every minute you already have a new LinkedIn message. If you're in that position, of course you're lucky that you have a good role that is wanted. But in the end, sales recruitment or agencies and HR internal recruitment or corporate recruitment all have their place in the market and we all know, of course, the 'uitzendbureaus', the broadcast agencies, for temporary jobs like Randstad.

Everyone has their place. Of course most of the companies find their own people, but there are also companies who have just careers and jobs in their firm that they cannot recruit for themselves, or it is not worth recruiting for themselves. And so it really depends on again, what your strategy is. If you have a high level seasonal work, why would you do this yourself? You could just expand it to another company who has the network. Who has the people who are already willing. And to work this work, and so it really depends again on how you how you approach it.

Ivo:
OK, so would you say that if a company has a strategy to create a proper culture in the company, you know, having people setting for success for career development, all that. You would say that those companies are the ones that actually prefer to hire internally, than an agency. Although as a company for example it has rotational jobs, seasonal jobs and those kind of things they can be better served with a talent agency that can provide that talent because it's always changing, right?

Erwin:
Yeah, well of course my experience in previous companies, for example with booking and there have been a lot of hirings that I had to do in half a year, possibly around with a team of 20 people we had to hire. I think 5000 people each year and for Europe wide, but it really depends again on the company, because Booking had a great way of making people feel included in the company. Even for the seasonal workers. And we've also giving them plenty of options to prove themselves to become a real employee for longer terms, and so the company culture really is important, because that really shows the value and also the motivation for people to really work and put out more than their normal best in.

Yeah, actually work. Doing the work. Very interesting, that's a very interesting point, uhm? So as a recruiter, what do you identify as the common challenges? Let's talk about recruiters, internal recruiters, right - not the agency ones. But what do you think are the main challenges a recruiter faces? Or at least from your experience?

Erwin:
If we're talking about internal recruitment itself, the biggest challenge I see happening is that a lot of the companies, they have a lot of marketing, a lot of plans and a lot of wishes for the future. And also I want to have their internal progress working the best way. Some have planned this and also worked it out in the right way, but it is really difficult, especially in larger companies, to do this in the right way. To do it also in an open way, so everybody knows why certain people are chosen above others to actually make the promotion. In a team of 20 that has one leader in a sense, a lot of weight and also to have this openness about who is actually being groomed for the next role and who has just made a change in their position to make another step.

So these are lot of discussion points that you will have to have about how you make this fair and how everybody can have their fair chance to improve on their career while still making sure, of course, that it doesn't hurt their own morale.

Ivo:
OK, that's pretty clear! And for external, to hire externally. What do you think are the the challenges there?

Erwin:
Well, in the external market, I guess that depends every year, the same with the internal of course. And yeah, we had the wonderful corona epidemic and I absolutely don't mean wonderful. Yeah, and this has changed the market quite a lot. Thankfully we were very adaptive, especially for IT companies or more remote work, that was possible. And that changed a lot of thinking about how working is done and for external hires. This can change a lot, right? You can practically be in Portugal or even in Poland or Bulgaria if you are working for a company in the Netherlands. It doesn't really matter. Of course there are some, let's say tax and legal indications that you always have to think about. But you are a lot freer than you ever think about doing the work that you're doing. Let's say for most of the high tech industries and for other industries. There are of course other limitations, but they also have seen that there are still quite flexible in this sense.

And about issues issues. Well, the job market is very strange at the moment, and everybody is of course changing jobs from Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes in the Netherlands or the customer service. All these kind of things go back and forth between jobs that are, let's say, less skilled or higher skilled or differently skilled and which always takes time for the job market to adapt to.

Ivo:
Yeah. If you connect that to technology and how can technology help? From your experience, do you think HR or recruiters, they are very tech savvy. They like to work with tools or they just... What is your feeling in there?

Erwin:
Recruiters are very practical people. That has nothing to say about how tech savvy they are or how they are not. They want to have something that works. And if, let's say they have a system that works and can do the interview for them, well that's wonderful, but they want to see the result in the end, and that it is actually good as well. Because as soon as you talk about systems, you also start talking about analytics and performance indicators. And then you want to see. of course, if I personally hire 10 people a month and my colleague does 5 a month, but let's say eight of my 10, are already gone the next month. Who is the best recruiter there? So you really have to think about what is practical and what actually helps you achieve your goals.

But in sense to go back to being a bit more specific. Yes, systems of course always work. I mean, in the smallest sense of the word, they increase the efficiency of a lot of recruiters, so they can handle a lot more people. Do a lot more interviews and also be very much more flexible in the work they do for the company with hiring.

Ivo:
OK, alright, that's clear. What do you think are the best tech tools that are recruited can have? I'm sure there's plenty, like video conferencing and I don't know, email leads gathering. I don't know, what do you think are the most important ones? Of course you work with one. We're gonna talk about that, but in general terms, let's say.

Erwin:
Of course, thankfully the recruitment market is now also catching up on all the new developments in the IT sector. With everything that can be done with it. I've seen messages, or at least blogs and everything about. "OK, let's do virtual virtual reality recruitment" - that actually sounds very interesting. Something to try out, right? In the corona situation that will be almost a must if you want to do an atmospheric interview. But there are plenty of functionalities where you have a video assessment, where you actually not really interviewing if someone, but you're just answering certain words and certain questions on your own time. Which also gives the flexibility back to the candidates, and because then they can also have a little bit more time to practice their answers and make sure they show themselves in the best light possible and so many more developments with automatic scheduling. Emails, as I mentioned as well, with the AI indications, gamification of assessment tests. Because of course a lot of criticism is always there about, well, how do they actually know I don't have these skills she just rejected before. And so all these kind of complaints can be assessed a lot better now with assessment tools that help you really judge your skills and see if you're worthy or actually have the capabilities to do the job as well, or to learn it in a fast way too.

Ivo:
Yeah, that's very interesting. Let's move to the Phenom part. You obviously are an engagement manager. You're working with Phenom with Phenom People, so a very big partner of ours in in this recruitment area. So we had a conversation with Sanne. She gave us a great overview last week about what Phenom is doing. So I would like your take on it as well. If you would have to present. And how these can really help recruiters? Just tell us us how.

Erwin:
OK so now I have to sell the platform on Phenom People, good...

Ivo:
Well, there's a chance for you! Try it.

Erwin:
No, good. Now, the Phenom People platform and again, you can have a very long conversation about what they offer and I'm sure that Sanne also talked about this and the Phenom platform is generally a tool or a system. That really helps recruitment management and candidates to find each other in the best way, and that is the simplest way of saying it. Of course, if you want to be more specific and there are ways that it does this. It is by automation of a lot of parts in the whole recruiting process. You have leads gathering for finding the candidates before they even know that you found them already and that you can already reach out and find the profiles more suitable for jobs. Or just to add them to certain pools that are interesting candidates for the future. And there is of course a very intuitive way that they allow you to host and maintain your own careers website, and with a lot of functionalities that make it interactive; a modern way of showing your, for lack of a better word your VP, your Value Proposition for your brand and also the career of your companies and create opportunities.

Internal. This is of course a very big aspect where you can help your internal people also realize that potential. And most important, I would say, which is often forgotten, is also the analytics part where you really show what you have done and what is the result and what you've come could have done better. And because in my let's say experience and the numbers are often disconnected through the whole process of recruitment and actually from the, if we use one of those wonderful monikers: the hire to retire life of a candidate.

Ivo:
OK, so the analytics is always like, this goes to the second plan, right? It's not only for recruiters. I think it's for a lot of positions within the company.

Erwin:
"You just want to hire that person. Who cares about the numbers?"

Ivo:
Yeah, exactly. So they provide a lot of services and a lot of value to recruiters because you basically can do every everything with it. Would you say it's practical? Like we discussed before, do you think with a good implementation of this of this platform, actually you can focus on the most important things as a recruiter?

Erwin:
Yes, yeah, I know the Phenom platform is really a multiplier of your recruitment in a sense, and it really allows your recruiter to work as they were two or three or four or sometimes even more than that, four recruiters in a sense, that really saves time. Not only that, but it will also allow you to work more effectively. Now, functions that Phenom has is that they already scan a CV and show that they are compatible or if they have a good fit for your job. And again, there's always discussion in how good this actually measures the fit, but it really gives a specific window for the recruiter to focus on core people who are likely to be a fit. And that already says probably 50% of the time of screening CVS. And if you have a popular job that saves, let's say around 150 CVs a week and that saves a lot of time if you have to do this. Yeah. And that already, almost makes up for it in a sense. And there are so many more functions if you hire the right person. And if you have two good candidates, you can always hire the one later the role comes up again. And then you also have less cost of a role not filled, which is also often forgotten. You can find that Purple Unicorn, or purple squirrel, whatever the terms are. But until you find that one, you have an open position and not costs, and it's the cost of not having the person. This is also important and that the platform really allows you to do that in the best way, and it makes the whole journey as flexible in this; comfortable and not only for recruiters, really for the candidate as well.

Ivo:
Alright. I was thinking about this side-question. I'm not a recruiter, I'm a candidate a lot of times and I know a lot of frustration with people looking for jobs. Is not getting that feedback. You know. So you apply but you never hear back or even if they... So do you think that Phenom will help with that? You know allowing recruiters actually give feedback to their applicants, because other time consuming tasks are taken care of with the platform.

Erwin:
Yeah, of course it depends what the IT at least the IT architecture is for certain company, because a lot of firms and they let to the ATS do the rejection or at least help with the rejection of the emails. And again you can decide to do that with Phenom as well, which is not an issue, and thre are always functionalities to make sure that if the payroll is closed, that you at least send a rejection email to everyone that was in the pipeline or in conversation for it. So that they know that the position has been filled. And of course with feedback, it is always difficult to really go deep into that, because honestly, always you think like OK, well, I'm being rejected, I'm actually the the right person for this role... Most of the cases. Sometimes of course you shoot and you see what sticks.

But it is important, of course, to be able to give the feedback or to at least know that you're not in the pipeline anymore for the role. Because I personally had those experiences as well, that five months later I would get an email like, yeah, the role has been filled. I was like yeah, what role? And I had already forgotten this one ever existed.

So it is important to do that timely as well, and to have great communication in that way and to get on the recruitment side. Also reminders that if a person has been waiting for a week or something like that and that is all possible as well.

Ivo:
Alright, fair enough. Uhm, there's something that also we talked with the with Sanne, which is the fact that the platform; Phenom allows their customers to build a career site. You can manage everything within that within that career site you have a content management system behind it where they actually can add articles. A lot of things and that actually contributes as well to this broad topic of employer branding, right. To put your message out there to being proactive instead of reactive, for people to come to you without you searching for those talent leads. How important is that in your view? The employer branding. Of course you worked in Booking.com, which is a very well known company all around the world I guess. They have some kind of message. I think there's there's a message out there like Booking is a nice. It's a good employer. You're giving the tools to perform better, so how can this be important? You know, for companies to have this career website, but also working on their employer branding.

Erwin:
I would say of course you can have the best strategy of hiring the right people, and the best recruiters. But employment brand is, as I say, that shining beacon that attracts people without ever doing anything. And if they attracted and you actually are a company that is renowned, they are also proud of working at the company. And for all intents and purposes, all the companies have always something wrong or something not arranged in the right way internally with how they treat their personnel. There's always something that is not right.

Ivo:
There's no perfect situation.

Erwin:
Exactly. If they are proud of working at the company and if we keep the example for my previous company Booking, they really show that they care about inclusion, diversity and everything in this trend of the market and what the new generations are thinking about is important to change in the world. And that shows that they are not only a company, but they're also forward thinking in what they want for the world, and what they give to their employees, and what they stand for. Of course, there's always a very difficult points to maintain if, let's say there's always criticism by the company doing something wrong in that specific part, but at least it shows that they stand for it. And but as a person, I'm sure we never been isolated hypocritical about something. We say that we stand for, but we did it the other way around. So companies. Had the same leeway in my opinion. But if they had this focus, they add something to the work and it's not like "I'm working to manufacture something", no "I'm working to manufacture something to give people happiness in their last days or something in their life.". Or take the holidays to keep that example. So then you give it warmth and more emotions to what you're doing is work and then the work becomes more something that you enjoy doing and that changes almost everything about why we work for a company.

Ivo:
No, absolutely. I agree 100%. And do you think Phenom can help with that, with their platform, to put the message out there, you know. Because it's possible, you can be a nice employer, but if your messages... Now it's my marketing side talking about it... You can be a great employer, but if the message doesn't go out to the people that you're trying to hire or even close connections to those people. Nobody knows about it, right?

Erwin:
Oh yeah, absolutely right. And to add a little bit to what we were talking about the Phenom platform, marketing is really about things like the word of mouth and everything to make sure that you are known and what a platform like Phenom can do is to make sure that there is no negative experience. And of course, positive experience always helps. But as you said that that you applied for it five times and you never heard back and you want to make sure that there is always something that they are. Treated with respect and also in a timely fashion. From my own experience I had companies where I started and after a month I said, well, I don't want to be here because that is a different idea of how I ever felt this was going to happen.

The recruitment process, the onboarding are very important because those are the moments where the candidate will, as I say reflect on "OK what is the marketing, what is the brand image, what are the career opportunities that I thought this company had?". And in essence they are a customer of a company also. So you want to make sure they have the best experience. In that way, and their experience matches with the brand you are putting out. And that really makes, again, for a loyal employee who also is an 'expander' himself, what was the word for that?

Ivo:
No, marketing influencer basically for the company. Kind of. Yeah.

Erwin:
If you're happy about your work, of course you're telling your people, your family, your friends, and before you know it, they tell someone "I know someone there, they can help you or they have a good experience.". And that is always the best care way of showing and that your words are also where you put your action.

Ivo:
Absolutely, absolutely I agree. I want just to go back on this on the thing that you said is that those mismatches. I know that happens sometimes and it's sad when it does, you know when the employee gets to a company and you understand like "This is not exactly what I was looking for.". I know that this is a both way street right? It's not only the Recruitment's fault, the recruiter's fault is also the employee that probably is not self aware enough about what he wants; he or she. But what, from the recruitment side, is very important to try to convey the message of the company, the branding. But sometimes that doesn't happen, right? Yeah, how how can a recruiter actually. Do that in a way I guess honesty is the the key, right? Tell the truth to the employee. Look. There's high pressure here or there's no high pressure. Leadership is always changing their minds, but those kind of things is very important to be honest. Don't you think?

Erwin:
So it's a really good point because of course outside of all the realms of marketing and let's say, fluffiness of companies who want to make sure that they are the best and also seen the best. As a recruiter, I've had plenty of these conversations where I. Would be honestly blunt. And of course I am Dutch already, so I can be very blunt and we had conversations where we really were talking about. Maybe a simple role at working in customer service and or working in Administration Secretary job. You really want to talk about why they actually want to do this, and it's not like "Yeah, the company is great. It's amazing." - which is of course fine and maybe you are the right person with your personality with pins, but you're still doing a job in the end and we're still signing a contract, mostly for 40 hours where you have to perform. And if you don't have the motivation to perform well, uh, you can be the best. Let's say personality fit, but you also need to do the work. That is something that is very practical in it, and I've had plenty of conversation people who actually were moving and across countries, sometimes, even with three days notice to start a job. And on the Monday afterwards when I was talking with them on Friday and they would come very specific example from what was it? Croatia to France? And to the north of France and Lyon, and where they would be very eager to do it. And I personally would not see myself changing house, changing jobs and moving weekends along with the stuff that probably came weeks later to start a job that I really wanted to join the company for. So you really have to make sure that not only their motivation is good, but they also know what is waiting for them in terms of the job, because it's not all rainbows and sunshine, you do have to perform, and if you don't. Then there is the risk, of course, that you will not be kept as an employee. And that is the very blunt side of it. And that is what you want to communicate that they are aware of and really give that by examples.

Some of the tricks or techniques that include this user, I believe the SMART ways with the STARR method, where you really get a specific situation, the task and action and what is the response and reflection on it and that way you see if they have the right mindset. And also know how to act in this situation as you would prefer them to do 'cause everybody of course knows a job, or studies for it, and knows what they say they wished answers for them. But you also want to see how they actually react in a certain situation. If it comes to them. If, let's say a customer is screaming in their face, well what do you do? And these kind of situations yeah.

Ivo:
Absolutely. I think as a recruiter of course you need to also perform. So you need to hire people. You have goals you need. You need to get people in. But you also have a responsibility towards those individuals, right? As in yes, I want to hire. I want to perform as a recruiter. Yeah, but I need to hire someone that I actually; it's going to be a sustainable position or the people coming in actually can perform and will be able to. It's a fine balance, right?

Erwin:
Yeah, that balance is hard to have because personally, and maybe my balance was a little bit skewed. I always wanted to make sure that the person who we are hiring knew what they were getting it and they also saw this job is something that could really help their career. I would always make sure that the manager or the hiring manager also knows about this happening. And because of course we're talking about recruiters with targets, but those targets are coming from somewhere, and if you hire a person to be fired next month and that's... of course you can always discuss about who's fault is that, about the onboarding, the hiring manager set expectations, this communication. There is always a lot of discussion to have, but in the end it is really important that you, as a recruiter, make sure that both of the parties no what is happening. And if they then decides to let's say stop working for each other, then at least you know that you have done an honest job there.

Ivo:
I think there's a very rational and sensible way to look at things indeed. Well, Erwin, we are close to the end of this conversation, so I just have one last question for you. I'm asking in the recent episodes. So if you have one thing to say, let's say a recruiter, let's say about HR-tech or what HR in general, or recruitment. If you had one thing to say, what would that be?

Erwin:
That's a hard one. Recruiters always have a lot to say.

Ivo:
You can say a lot. You don't need to say one thing, you can say a lot of things.

Erwin:
The only thing I can say is that as I mentioned in the very beginning that recruiters are very practical. It really helped and helped me as well as that you are open to anything and then and again, it's also the core of the recruitment business, that you are adaptive to what everybody needs. Again, you have your own targets which depending on the company are enforced more or less and in terms of your performance as an employee, but you need to be open to whatever is out there, and again, this is also why I discovered all the systems on recruitment and is that these tools or, let's say marketing all the new ways that the market is developing, really gives you a lot of options to do the same work, but then do it better by using such a tool. So I would really say to be open and to try out things and don't be afraid to get a system wrong, because there are plenty of other competitors. I shouldn't say that of course, but there are always a lot of benefits on the market who have similar ways. Which actually drives the market if you go to another one because they just simply have to get their act better together. So try these things. It is always very easy to stick in how you've done it in the past. And but innovation of course breeds better performance, not only for you, but for the whole company in itself.

Ivo:
Perfect, I think that's a great way to end. OK alright. Erwin, thank you so much for your time. This was great. I really enjoyed this conversation. I hope you did too.

Erwin:
Yeah I definitely did. Thank you Ivo.

Ivo:
all right there in take care and I'll see you next time.

Erwin:
See you, bye bye!


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