Autor: Petr Hovorka Akce 28. 4. 2020

The Era of Recruitment Is Over

I often hear recruiters wish to become real business partners and they often search for the meaning of the "HR Business Partner" role. There are a few tips I can offer you on how you can help your business significantly. A you can start right now. Without a large budget. Just with rolled up sleeves. But let us begin little by little, slowly, starting with words. 

Words Are Changing the World

Words we use affect our thinking and subsequently the solution we come up with. And what are the most frequent words used in HR? Recruitment, interview, human resources. Whenever I hear the word „recruitment“, I imagine a fisherman scooping up candidates from a pond full of candidates (and due to their number – weight – he is struggling to get them ashore). This used to be at times when the pond was still full. In five years, the number of working people will drop by 400.000 in the Czech Republic. This is 10% less. And it will be similar across Europe. That is at a time when trade is increasing and companies need new employees. When we manage to get good candidates to a first interview, we interview them. My last interview took place on the carpet in the principal‘s office in elementary school. The principal was standing over me having his nice little speech. Human Resources: I am not sure if anyone wants to be referred to as a resource, as a natural resource – and that would be a nice way of putting it – oil that we can extract, consume and recycle. But enough complaining – let’s see if it’s not high time nowadays to find real alternatives to these terms. 

The number of active population (aged 15 – 64 years) in the Czech Republic

(green = man, brown = women)

The number of active population, source: Czech Statistical Office

Energy Drives Business

In the time of Industrial Revolution, it was possible to gain a competitive advantage by building a factory and equipping it with the proper machines and required number of people. Then, Henry Ford came with his assembly line and labor specialization and took over the world of cars. He used the money he earned to buy other factories and better machines – technologies.  Then, a period of patents followed and only a few years ago, we talked about the era of knowledge. Now comes the era of people. People who can use knowledge, technologies and patents are the real trade movers. I like thinking about people as about energy and not resources. As energy we need in our companies. But how can we attract (formerly „recruit") such „human energy“ (formerly „human resources“)? 

The development of a competitive advantage in business, source: BrandBakers, 2015

Relationships Rule

When the pond was full, fishing was easy. All you had to do was throw a recruitment ad bait stating "a-successful-international-dynamic-is-looking-for-requires-offers-send-CV" and wait till sufficient number of candidates presses the button „apply“ on the job board. Then, you invited them for an interview and chose the best mercenaries for your army. After a short training, you could go to battle, to another war.

It is not only the approach to recruitment that is changing. Even in business (gaining customers) we do not push as hard as we used to. We are moving from the push approach to the pull approach – to attracting (formerly „recruiting“ in HR and „acquisition“ in business) and building relationships. We do not use "cold calls", business presentations and special offers as often as we used to. Content helps us a great deal. Unique – our own – content that gives advice, helps, inspires and entertains. And lastly it also informs. It doesn’t have to be only blog posts, lectures at conferences or sharing at workshops etc. The present day demands followers, not mercenaries. Followers who will connect with us through our thoughts, approach and the will to change something. This does not require promising them the moon. Just look at how Sir Ernest Shackleton managed to attract 10.000 people (unfortunately, he only needed 50) for his North Pole mission in 1912.

Ernest Shackleton’s recruitment ad, source:

We Need Results, Not Employees

After all, we do not want to fill a free position. We need people who like collaborating with us.  Who feel a connection with our mission, who believe what we believe in. Who sweat blood with us, who share their best with us. Their talent and commitment – blood, sweat and tears. Who enjoy working with us.

Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why bestseller (check out especially his legendary TED talk), says: "Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.  People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left." source: Simon Sinek, Start with Why, Penguin UK

Shh! Don’t Tell Anyone

Thanks to a number of researches and studies, we have a sense of (I am not consciously using the word „know“) what people want when choosing their employer and based on what the representatives of Y generation, engineers, IT workers, decide. Thanks to Dan Pink, the author of many bestsellers (the following has been translated and published in Czech: A Whole New Mind, Riverhead Books, 2008; Drive - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us! - Riverhead Books 2011); check out especially his amazing TED talk), we know people’s intrinsic motivation, the three things that are common to all of us regardless of our profession. In order for us to enjoy our work, we need: 1) purpose – participating in something meaningful beyond ourselves, 2) mastery – the possibility to do more of what we are best at because that gives us recognition and praise and enables us to grow and 3) autonomy – we do not want anyone smarter than us to nanny us, we want a task and decide about the steps to complete it ourselves.


Intrinsic Motivation, source: Dan Pink, Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us!, - Riverhead Books 2011

It Is Going to Take Work

In spite of everything we all probably suspect, the shortcut trend still persists in HR. Personally, I am always late whenever I want to take a shortcut to avoid a traffic jam, for example. Solutions that seem to be quick and effective are usually slow and expensive. Many companies accelerate crazily - they need to have „career profiles“ on social networks, now! And so they post all the information about their wonderful CSR projects, new colleagues, excellent results, simply content that nobody likes, shares nor comments. Recruiters are learning how to search for candidates with expertise and experience at Linkedin and then, send them inmails. I can see it: I come to a bar, where sits a beautiful girl. I take out my smartphone to show her my new profile and get hers. Then I run to the bathroom to see what she likes and what pictures she posts – a lot of selfies, by the way, and suddenly, I feel that it might go well. Do you really think it could work this way? On Saturday, I attended TEDxBrno and spoke to a young IT worker sitting next to me. He said: "I decided to cancel my Linkedin profile so that the annoying recruiters would leave me alone."

Work-life-balance is also another huge buzzword. Recruiters are blessing themselves "How are we going to provide people with this?!", when we require a significant performance of them. And so they are building relaxation rooms, buying more plants, including massages and warm meals at the workplace throughout the day in the benefits. But what does this „work-life-balance“ actually mean? I understand it as "being able to go home early so that I can do things that make sense to me and that I enjoy in a place that I like with people close to my heart." So what is the solution here? The last issue in HR is using Big Data. We are thinking about how we are going to analyze and learn from them, so that they can help us do our work better. I suggest something else. Start with your own small data!

Small Data  

We can start collecting the small data tomorrow. A small step for a recruiter, a bit leap for your whole company. This will prepare you for the time when you will not recruit people, but when it will be vitally important to attract people. To achieve that, you need to be a good employer and be able to introduce yourself as such in the job market. Candidates want to learn about you as an employer in the following three areas:

1) why your company exists, why you have your place in the sun – what you improve, what you bring to the table,

2) what you are as a company like, what is your corporate culture – what is your leadership style, what the opportunities for education are, how you support the growth of employees, what the unwritten rules  (lived corporate values) are, what events and rituals you have, what environment you work in... and

3) what you offer to your employees, why anyone should work for you.


DNA of an employer brand, source: BrandBakers, 2015

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

How can you prepare an attractive offer, I mean the part about what you are offering? To do that you need three ingredients to make your offer sincere, relevant a unique at the same time. The first ingredient is awareness of the reasons why your employees work for you, why they have chosen you and what they appreciate most about you. So go and ask them! They will tell you. The second ingredient is an insight into candidate‘s decision-making criteria. You need to know, how they decide, and what is important for them. Use the opportunity that dozens or even hundreds of people come in for a dialogue about cooperation (digression: that is just my alternative to the word interview) and ask them how they decide, what is important for them when choosing an employer. The third last ingredient is familiarity with the competition’s offer. Sit at a computer and go through the career pages of your competitor in the job market – within your region or industry. Describe those companies in terms of what they are saying about themselves, what they are like and what they offer. Then, put all the ingredients into a bit pot and cook them, mix them, cook them so long until you see your unique position as an employer in the job market in them (in their intersection). 


What do you offer as an employer?, source: BrandBakers, 2015

Return On Investment?

Believe me. It is going to be worth it. You will do a great job. All by yourself, only with the help of your HR team, without a budget. You will be able to understand your employees, candidates and competition in the job market. You will do an excellent job not only towards your future employees – in the area of attracting (recruitment communication), but also in the communication towards your current employees. They, too, want to be able to introduce their company to their friend and tell them why they should join you.  

If you persevere in the communication towards your candidates and inside your company long enough, you might become a new American Zappos, an admired employer in the United States that completely cancelled recruitment advertisement last year. There are so many people applying for their private pond that when they need someone, they can go fishing in their own waters.

Will You Have a Go For It?

Make a first small step. Change your vocabulary. As the recruitment as we knew it is dead. The future is about building relationships, about attracting. There comes a time of people who are and will be the energy of your business (not its source) who are partners, who you should have a conversation with (and not someone you should interview). Companies who will be the first to understand this will gain advantage, a competitive advantage. They will gain their followers who are beating armies of mercenaries day after day. Before you get down to work with the Big Data, collect your own small data. Give people a meaning they can connect to. Tell them who you are and why they should go and work for you. Start communicating with them as you have been communicating with your customers for a while now.

The era of recruitment is over, the future is in attracting. So good luck!


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