Recruitment In A Digital World

We had a talk with Jonas Bladt Hansen about the advantages and disadvantages of technology in recruitment. With all the new digital possibilities it’s important to remember that it shouldn’t only be about doing things faster, but also about doing things fun. Jonas points towards Social HR as being the next bag game changer both in recruitment and retention. Keep reading to learn more about Social HR and HR in the future.

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Jonas, we know you’re very up to date with the latest technologies within many areas. Where did that come from?

At the age of eight, I had my first mind-blowing experience with technology. My dad bought me the coolest gaming console of 1985 – an Atari 2600. Ever since, I have been passionate about gaming and technology.  And for the same reason, this has dominated my approach to work. When I entered the job market in 2004, it felt like travelling back to 1985. There were so many old IT platforms that seemed to suck the time out of people’s lives. And people seemed to accept that this was what work looked like.

When someone had a great idea to improve, it was mostly about “How can we do this faster” – instead of asking “How can we make this more fun?”.

However, I have been fortunate to work with visionary executives who would let me experiment with technologies at work – and try to use them to make work more fun.

These opportunities kickstarted my interest in social technologies and other digital platforms at work. This might be the reason why I am now helping organizations understand how technologies of the 21st century are going to transform their business. I sincerely believe that social media has the capability to change the way businesses do business.  

How do you see social media changing the way businesses do business?

It can happen in many ways. For instance in how they recruit, sell or brand themselves – or even help to succeed with transforming their organization from within. My experience, however, is that many organizations are so focused on “Let’s do it faster” that they miss out on opportunities.

Social media is a great way to start building relations.
We trust people we can relate to - more than brands

Social media is a great way to start building relations. We trust people we can relate to – more than brands. And this is also where a change in organizations goes wrong. Sending out the CEO with a message won’t cut it.

But facilitating a dialogue on social media where people can share their knowledge, and where they can have conversations about the change about to happen – with people they can relate to – is much more powerful.

You will be participating in the Panel ‘How to access young talents in the age of AI and Digital’ at HRtechX 2020. What are your initial thoughts about the topic? How will recruitment actually change in the future as a result of AI and Digital? 

The first thing we should talk about is what change actually is. What qualifies something to be called a “change”? In my opinion, it is only by transformative change that we make a leap forward. So, the big question is: What is AI, and will it become that transformative change in recruitment?

In his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma (Management of Innovation and Change)”, Clayton M. Christensen explains how innovation is based on the present: The electric light is based on the gas light. When the wall switch was invented, nobody wanted one as you turned the electric light on by the bulb, as did the gas light.  The same with electric motors. Nobody was interested in electric motors. Even today, electric motors are built to look like the steam motors that they replaced.  They look like steam motors to help people get over the transition from steam to electric.

The Blackberry phone wasn’t transformative as it took “old” technologies, such as phone and email and put it onto a single device.  A friend of mine was offered shares in the startup Blackberry.  He turned them down saying “Why would anybody want email on a handheld device?”

We had transformative change in the mobile when the iPhone was launched.  Would we really have apps and have the usage statistics of apps such as Facebook, TikTok, Shazam, Snapchat without the invention of the mobile phone?

As far as I’m aware, understanding a person’s cultural fit has not been automated yet.

A lot has been written about Artificial Intelligence (AI) – but is it really AI that people write and talk about? Most AI is actually rule based algorithms – and this isn’t AI. AI is self-learning.

If you talk to people about using AI to recruit, you get a direct division where some people think that AI will totally automate recruitment. The other half of people think that while AI may help, people still want to look into the eyes of the people they recruit as it’s based around cultural fit.  As far as I’m aware, understanding a person’s cultural fit has not been automated yet. 

There have been a lot of talk regarding e-recruitment, what do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of it?

It depends on what you mean by e-recruitment. If you look at it as a process, it certainly has the potential to make the whole recruitment process more efficient and delivering a great candidate experience. But I have also seen examples where the process has been thought inside-out and just made the recruitment process horrible. I myself once had an underwhelming e-recruitment experience by one of Denmark’s largest companies. Actually, the whole process undermined all the values they stood for.

On the more positive side, I think that digital is far more likely to enable recruitment, as digital will enable you to reduce – if not remove – the need for job adverts as well as reduce – if not remove – the need for recruitment consultants. By empowering the team within HR, in fact all of the employees in Sales, Marketing, Customer Experience etc. in a company can externalize its culture on social.

Facebook, Google and Apple are all companies we would work at, but it does not matter how rubbish their website or recruitment processes are. We all want to work there. They have done an amazing job at externalizing their culture.

This enables companies to get the right candidates before everybody else. Even better, they will become the employer of choice in their industry.

What are the elements of an effective recruitment strategy, and how do you see it develop in the coming years?

Recruitment will transform over the coming years with Social HR.

Social Human Resources (Social HR) is not employee advocacy.  Employee advocacy is where Marketing – on realizing that advertising, email marketing and cold calling no longer works – try to “stuff” corporate content, that nobody is interested in, through employee’s social media channels. It’s often called corporate spam.
So Social HR is not that. Social HR is empowering your HR team to be on social.  So what?

This is about getting your HR team to have personal brands, to have strong networks (current employees, future employees, alumni, graduates, etc., etc.) and sharing content (their own stories about how great it is to work here, the importance of purpose in a company, our culture, etc.)


What this will do is for any recruit is that they will look at your company and want to work there. This means you will get more people wanting to be interviewed. As we know; the more meetings you have when it comes to talent, the better.

What if the people you’d want to recruit, are happy in their work and are not thinking about getting another job?

Traditionally, the only way to get them is to use expensive recruitment consultants. If you empower your HR team on social, then this talent pool will see how cool you are, and it will “turn heads”.

If you get your people to approach them, there are no cost of job ads or cost of recruitment consultants. There is no “on cost” of having to pay people above market rate to get them to come on board. Having your HR team on social will make you look cool. In fact, the more people right across the business you get on social, the cooler you look.

The more people you empower, the more people will want to work for you

My advice is to get as many people as you can on social media; Finance, Procurement, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, etc. The more people you empower, the more people will want to work for you. Need people in Finance? If your people are cool, this will attract people in Finance to work for you.

This means you get access to the cool talent before anybody else. It also means you will retain people, as you are the cool place to work.

So, in summary, you strip out cost in Human Resources, you become more efficient (do more for less) and you get access to the best talent. You might even be the employer of choice in your industry.

This isn’t some expensive tool or piece of software. This is empowering your people (so giving them a new life skill) and doing things they already do (being on social) but in a more programmatic way!

What trends will shape Human Resource departments over the next five years?

I think it will be to make work more human.

HR will be transformed to focus more on delivering great experiences at work. I acknowledge that HR is a very complex department, but there is a huge challenge in not passing this complexity on to the organization.

It’s about removing friction so that people spend their time doing their job or leading people instead of administrating. And unfortunately, a lot of the administrational tasks comes from HR. When I was a leader, I spent way too much time documenting things into a platform – for instance the yearly appraisal conversation. Why not use voice interfaces to do the resumé? So, removing friction is absolutely necessary – and possible!

Next challenge is the need for a mindset shift. HR has been working with HR Portals and yearly satisfaction surveys for ages. Today, it’s not about HR. It’s about giving people the insights they need in the context that they are in so they can make the right decisions. Technology is able to do that today, so the question is if HR people are capable of getting all this out of the new technologies – or if they just continue to “digitize the past” – like copy pasting a job ad from the newspaper over to their website. The least you could do would be a video instead. But nearly no-one does this and those who do get an immense response!

Third trend therefore is that HR will become social. HR people have to understand the power of social media. But there is a big distinction between being on social and being socialBeing social is about engaging in conversations and being authentic. This is why everyone in the HR department has to learn to be social and inspire other people in the business to be social. This will become one of the biggest differentiators in the future. As part of HR social, we will see an increased focus on the employee experience, as a great experience at work is a precondition for people having positive conversations about the company with other people.

Jonas Bladt Hansen is Business Owner and Senior Advisor at Inversus. Here, he seeks to help organizations to become more human-centric through technology – hereby creating a stronger culture and brand.

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