A larger Swedish consulting company recently claimed that “A simple change in recruitment ads significantly increased women applicants”. “Wow”, I thought, “that’s so 2017”. I remember the first wave of claims like this when I was working in the automotive industry 5 years ago. We had a job advertisement “scanner” as part of our diversity tool box – rumors had it that the scanner would highlight male words so that you could change them to something more female. Which in turn was supposed to make more women apply. Even today, some companies offer paid services on improving your ads, other tools are readily available online or you can just check out the original word list here.
I got exited about the claim by the Swedish consulting company – especially since they wrote in there press release that there were “a number of studies […] [showing that] the presence of masculine gendered words discourages women from applying to male-dominated roles, as they can make women feel they don’t belong in that work environment.” Maybe that actually was true. Maybe much has changed since 2017 and new research had been published to find a causal link between carefully gendered job ads and higher application numbers of female candidates. Spoiler alert – not much had changed.
This essay will describe and evaluate Lee and Ashton’s (2009) 60-item HEXACO-60, a personality inventory which is a shorter version of the 100-item HEXACO-PI-R and is derived from the Big Five personality taxonomy. Firstly, I will briefly describe the HEXACO-60 and reason why it fits best with the trait approaches of personality. After this, I will interweave theory and application by describing why this test has been developed within this theoretical approach. Finally, potential criticism from the two other theoretical developments, namely the humanistic-phenomenological and the psychoanalytic perspective, within personality psychology is accounted for.
According to the Swedish Discrimintation Act (diskrimineringslagen 2 kap. 4 §) internal and external applicants have the right to receive written information on the qualifications of those candidates that have been invited to an interview or that have been selected for the position. Based on relevant literature and legal practice from the Swedish labour court, I analyse a couple of anonymised answers from employers which received a request based on DL 2 kap. 4 §. Replying to those requests can be a tricky undertaking if you don’t follow a competence-based and structured recruitment process. I elaborate on practical implications and provide suggestions on how to improve recruitment processes so that “DL 2 kap. 4 §”-requests don’t take you by surprise.
This essay is written in Swedish but automated translation to English usually works pretty okay.
Feel free to copy this job posting blue-print for your next HR-professional opening for a Swedish company. You will greatly reduce the number of applications from competent (international) candidates and in addition severely harm your employer brand. All translations my work, originals taken from real job descriptions.
Du har en PA-utbildning och minst tre års erfarenhet av brett HR-arbete med HR-frågor. (= You have a ”PA”-qualification and a minimum of three years of experience from broad HR-work with HR questions.) 
Erfarenhet av att arbeta i process med ARUBA (= Experience from working according to ARUBA) 
Vidare är du en street-smart person. (=Besides that, you are a street-smart person.) 
Du älskar att vara spindeln i nätet. (= You love to be the spider in the web.) 
Already in 2016 I reviewed my digital year that passed and now I am expanding this review beyond digital resources to my most valuable resources 2018 which helped me advance professionally and personally. Don’t have much time? These are the essentials of what I write about in this blog post:
Knowledge & Resarch
Aså Wikforss’ work, especially her book “Alternativa fakta”
This sally has a double-function. Firstly, I want to bring your attention to common learning myths and secondly, how you can use these myths to start diving into the world of research. Earlier, I wrote about evidence-based and research-based HR work and how far we have come already. I still remember how hard it was for me (especially in the beginning) to embrace research papers. They were boring and I did not understand the lengthy parts about statistics which some of them entailed. Today, I am happy that I gave it a try. Because academia contributes a lot to the field of HR. There are great reviews on all kinds of areas within HR and also researcher challenges common beliefs and reveal myths. Learning more about how to read academic research give you the critical competence to be part of the discussion when other HR professionals call their practices research-based. Learning and development is an area where many professionals claim this. Unfortunately a lot of learning myths have nourished a questionable way of learning practice at school and in the workplace. It’s time to dig deeper into this.
This has been my final assignment for the first course of my Master’s studies about digital literacy (Winter 2014). I was fascinated by the interconnection of (adult) education and getting a job, as well as the discussion about what it meant to be workplace literate. It was an ambitious assignment which I still find interesting to read, even though it is a bit too lengthy and not straight to the point. Enjoy!
The struggle for finding a superordinate definition of literacy can be retrieved regarding workplace literacy discussions (Mikulecky, 1988; Perin, 1997; Hull 2000; Belfiore, Defoe, Folinsbee, Hunter, and Jackson, 2004) and the influences of technology, being of interest for the workplace as a transforming key factor (Reinking, 1998). When literacy is seen as an age-independent continuum, distinguishing sharply between young and adult learners becomes hindering (UNESCO, 2009). In addition, the traditional dichotomy between literate-illiterate slows down the acknowledgement of lifelong learning (UNESCO, 2013). Rather, literacy is synonymous with “fundamental components of a complex set of foundational skills (or basic competencies), which require sustained learning and updating” (UNESCO, 2013, p. 17) to function as an empowering tool enriched by literate environments (UIL, 2010). The workplace connects various age groups with an enriched literate environment, where a social practice view of literacy is appropriate. When literacy is perceived as context-specific (UNESCO, 2005), a context definition backs the detection of skills and competencies for successful participation. Recruiting as a potential interface bridging literacy and context contributes by specifying required competencies to apply functional literacy in the work context. However, the expansion of literacy concepts complicates analysing it and distinguishing from “expressions such as knowledge, competence and learning” (Säljö, 2012, p. 6).
How we facilitated online collaboration in a multi-national team
In my central function I communicate with a team of roughly 20 people spread across different time zones. It has been a challenge ever since to get them all on the same page. This is what makes it work for us:
Be it via Skype, Google Hangout or the like, video interviews are a great alternative for a first contact to interesting candidates. Compared to telephone interviews, video offers a more personal way to get to know each other. In addition, you don’t have to invite all candidates to personal interviews, which is more resources-efficient. But it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of applicants are still new to video interviews. Even though it’s a widely used tool for private conversations, job hunting via camera needs a different way of preparation.
Here are some ideas on how to support video interview preparation in the recruiting process.
The challenge of defining proper language requirements
To establish some kind of strategy around language skills in a corporation does not seem to come naturally. Whereas larger, multi-national corporations might discuss an English language strategy, it is the local language of smaller firms which often acts as knock-out criterion for competent job seekers. Funnily enough, this also depends on the position to be filled. Where programmers might get along without speaking the native language, HR employees see themselves in the opposite situation. When you receive enough applicants, language can be a convenient and easy-to-apply gate-keeper. But does this gate filter for competent employees?
New employees need to do both, perform on the job and socialize with their colleagues. If they lack knowledge of the local language, they will never be able to do both, won’t they? Digging deeper, the answer does not seem as straight forward anymore. Defining, assessing and nurturing (not yet existing) language skills can be key to attract and retain long-wanted competence. This post analysis four scenarios. All of them line out challenges which can occur when language requirements are everything but not thought through.
What is a good command of German? – It depends.
As with all competencies, language requirements read differently depending on the role and the context of the job and the company.
How would you interpret “very good command of German” in a barista’s job description for a coffee-house franchise in Vienna compared to the same requirement for a corporate purchaser in a multi-national firm with their headquarter in Hamburg?
It all depends. The barista would need German to be able to read work and shift instructions and to communicate with (German-speaking) colleagues. For customers ordering in German, s/he needs to communicate with customers in a limited and repetative context. Customers order a drink (mostly some sort of coffee), maybe a snack, might have their particular special (soya-free, low-fat, etc.), pay in cash or with card, and then wait for their order to be served. Someone with basic German knowledge (or even without any) would be able to learn the phrases needed within some weeks – as soon as s/he is motivated enough. The corporate purchaser has to negotiate with external vendors, has to understand terms and conditions as well as legal contracts. The vocabulary and communication skills are more advanced, also taking into account that some statements might be legally binding. Most likely, someone without basic German knowledge would not be able to do the job right away. The interpretation of the description “very good command of German” depends.