The human element is here to stay in the HR business

  • 2012-04-18
  • By Omar Heymans

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: The IT industry has a long way to go before it can design systems to replace face-to-face interaction and analysis.

TALLINN - “As I see it, collecting data for a CV (Curriculum Vitae) will become more automated in the future. Perhaps Google will take a leading role in this. Some companies already use Linkedin and Facebook to find candidates for vacant jobs.”
The person speaking is Heikko Gross, marketing director of CV Online, the Estonian company which since 1997 has been active in online recruitment. The first years saw a major expansion into many neighboring countries. Between 1998 and 1999, turnover multiplied 15 times.  

CV Online offers jobseekers CV posting (for free), CV consultation and courses for successful job applications. A single consultation costs eight euros. If you wish to get a good understanding of how to write a good CV, what the main mistakes are and how an employer reads your CV, you may attend a course for 23 euros. “But it is a problem that many job seekers are not willing to pay the price for a course,” says Gross. “It is a question of whether you wish to spend your money buying a fish, or a fishing rod!” His personal experience says that those who are already working and are in a better financial position are generally more willing to spend money on job seeking advice.

The company attracts its main revenue from corporate customers, mainly job ads. However, their aim is to help employers with the entire recruitment process, from posting the best job ads, to selecting the right people.
Executive Director Paavo Heil at CV Keskus, the second largest online recruitment company in Estonia, established in the bubble year 2000 and neck-to-neck with CV Online, agrees that everything that can be automated and doesn’t need direct communication will move to the Internet. “This is more convenient for all parties and more efficient,” Heil told to The Baltic Times. He also believes that “human interaction in the recruitment process will remain always.”

A phrase too often heard by job-seekers is: “Hello. Thank you for your application. We have reviewed it with interest. At this time, however, we do not have any vacant position. We will keep your application on file should an opportunity in line with your experience and expectations become available. We thank you for your interest in our organization and offer our best wishes for your search.”

Some companies make a greater effort to attract and develop their employees. The Radisson Blu Hotel in Tallinn is one such company. The Rezidor Hotel Group motto is: “We hire for attitude, then train for skills.”

Executive search
“IT systems are making recruitment processes more efficient, but they will never replace all HR management. This is my gut feeling,” says Alo Naelapea, a partner at Arista, an executive search company in Tallinn. “The recruitment process can be divided into two parts: research and assessment. The research part means creating a pool of relevant candidates. The assessment part implies assessment of candidates, and here there will always be a need for face-to-face communication.”

Arista Human Resource Solutions has offices in many European countries. The Tallinn office employs 5 people and has a contract with 2 freelancers. Since its incorporation in 2005 the company’s core business has been executive search, that is: executive managers and top specialists. “For example,” says Naelapea, “a company wishes to hire a sales manager. Together we decide on a search approach, whether it should be a public search, a non-public search or a combination. The aim is to attract potentially suitable candidates – a candidate pool. Then follows the assessment process. For higher positions Arista implements the Hogan method and conducts personality and ability tests,” says Naelapea.

The Hogan method was developed by an American couple, Drs. Robert and Joyce Hogan, who since the 1980s have strived to provide personality assessment systems. Their method comprises several tests aimed at revealing both the bright and dark sides of human personality. Employee performance, risk factors, core values and strategic and tactical reasoning are evaluated in four separate tests. Over a million applicants have completed the Hogan Personality Inventory and half of the Fortune 500 companies have used their assessment services.
“To be seen as an attractive employer has become very crucial in many areas,” says Naelapea. “Our work is closely connected with company branding and involves many sales aspects,” says Naelapea.

Lack of engineers
“Today there is a lack of highly qualified people in Estonia,” says Naelapea. “Estonia has always had a lack of engineers. This comes from the fact that our economy is still young and various business sectors are developing very quickly. Due to rapid changes in the industry and natural time-lapses in the education system, [that is, the time it takes for a person to start his/her education until he/she graduates] vocational schools and universities are unable to keep up with the changes. The IT sector is the best example,” says Naelapea.

Looking for solutioins
“Our companies in general are saying: It would be good if our young people would choose more math and science-related faculties. In the energy-production industry in particular, they are complaining about a lack of highly qualified people,” says Naelapea.
The unemployment rate for Estonia, according to Statistics Estonia, was 12.5 percent in 2011. 609,100 people were employed full-time or part-time. It will take some time to close this gap; in the meantime, employment agencies will have to keep working with the stock of skills that walk through the door, while schools gear up to prepare young students for the future.