In a context of never-ending talent war and talent shortage, companies try to solve these lasting challenges by creating new candidate experiences while also collecting data to better target and answer the needs of their soon-to-be employees. BEAST met with Arthur Meulman, the newly-appointed General Manager of Luxemburgish job board jobs.lu, to discuss the latest trends of the HR sector.
You have been in the talent war and the talent market for quite some time now. When and how did it start? What have the different cycles been?
I started eighteen years ago, in 2000, for StepStone in the Netherlands. At that time, we were already talking about the «war for talent». It was kind of a statement: «There would be a future where we all want to fight for the right candidates». Eighteen years later, we are still talking about it but there have been some changes due to the economy. Companies need to think more about how the health of the economy affects the market before letting people go in times of crisis, because it takes time and money for newcomers to be fully ready. Companies – especially in the ICT sector – spend a lot of money to find the right candidates. At the time, sky was the limit. Newcomers were paid well and offered cars, but after two years or so, they got fired. Despite all the money invested in their onboarding, people were let go because there was no assignment for them at the time. That is why I think that companies should think twice before laying off people when the economy is not doing well. It would be better to look for other tasks to give them, because crises always end, and this way, when they do, companies already have the right people for the job on board, instead of having to start the whole process again. It is something to think about.
Of course, when a company needs to save money, they have to find a way and do something. But they should think more about the future.
It is quite unusual to hear a manager whose company’s prosperity depends on the talent shortage and on recruitment saying that companies need to do more to retain their employees. Candidates come from everywhere in Europe to work in the Grand Duchy. How do you see the Nation branding of Luxembourg evolve in the coming years so that it can really be seen as a great place to live and work?
As a Dutchman working in Luxembourg I am an example of Europeans coming to the Grand-Duchy. The positive side of the country is its small size. This could be a negative thing, but Luxembourg is surrounded by bigger countries – Belgium, France and Germany. People here are used to speaking several languages so it is easy to adapt for people like me.
I don’t speak good French, but I do speak English and German, so it is quite simple to fit in and work. On the other hand, do candidates find Luxembourg «sexy» enough? There is a little more work to be done on that. In a survey, we asked people from different countries where they wanted to go work and of course the first cities were London, New York and those types of big and attractive cities. Unfortunately, Luxembourg was not mentioned. Naturally the low taxes are a great incentive and Luxembourg is safe, but at the same time it is expensive to live here. That is another thing to be aware of and work on. The traffic jams are also a concern.
Still, what they are doing now is making the country more attractive. New buildings are coming up, highways are being worked on… Obviously, there is a willingness to change, to become even more interesting for candidates. I am positive that this will help the country find an answer to the war for talent.
Regarding the reach to the talent that we are trying to expand, what is your personal view and how can jobs.lu help?
As I said, Luxembourg is surrounded by big countries. When companies are looking for candidates, they always start to look in Luxembourg, but they also know that some profiles are hard to find – engineers, IT specialists…
Being part of StepStone Group, we recommend our customers to look in neighbour countries via, for example, our LuxPlus product which enables them to put their listings online in these countries as well. jobs.lu is a member of The Network, a formal alliance of market-leading job boards active in more than 138 countries, meaning a company based here and looking to recruit in Spain or in the USA, for example, can do it via jobs.lu and/or our LuxPlus product in order to keep one point of contact only. We then take care of publishing the job offer on the relevant websites part of The Network, which are different brands, but all among the leaders in their countries. The chances of finding the right candidate get much higher using this process.
On the other hand, we often hear that it is very difficult to hire people from other countries when it is actually not the case. It does take six to eight weeks and the law asks companies to prove that they did everything they could to find a similar candidate in Luxemburg first, but it is easy most of the time.
Where does jobs.lu stand regarding candidate experience, which is one of the buzzwords this year, compared to new HR startups?
First of all, «candidate experience» is a nice expression to hear. From my point of view, there are two kinds of candidate experience. What do candidates expect from companies? Companies should be more open about what they offer and what they are doing. Within StepStone Group, we constantly work on improving candidate experience and delivering all necessary information to enable candidates to take the decision whether to apply or not.
For example, we have launched company reviews which give useful insights for jobseekers into corporate culture and working atmosphere. It is not yet available for jobs.lu.
On the other hand, if we compare the applying process to the one of buying things online with a few clicks only, it is plain to see that the former takes too long. Most of the time, it takes 14 to 18 clicks to get through the process while you can buy items with only three or four.
As a result, candidates stop the process before the end. Companies should be aware of that: people want to apply fast, and they are not willing to share too much information too early in the process. According to me, uploading a resume with an email address and a phone number should be enough. Then it is up to the recruiter to call the candidate, and after that if the candidate wants to work for this company he will give other information.
jobs.lu gathers data about candidates. How do you see analytics evolve? How far should it go and where should it stop?
Well, first, we will be GDPR-proof. We are currently finalizing all necessary changes to be compliant. As to how I see it, I think there will still be a focus on helping companies find candidates within five years, but from a technical point of view, they will apply much more Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. It will be more with big data, skill-based matching or something like that. Matching will start with only a few information such as the name and address of the candidate, gathering all the data. It would make it easy for candidates to apply and for recruiters to see if the candidates fit. It could happen in the near future.
So candidates should take this into consideration and think about what they share…
Yes, people must be careful but it has already been proven with Facebook or Instagram. People post pictures of them partying, and perhaps they only had one beer but still, if the recruiters see it, it could be a threat. Candidates should be aware of what is happening with their data. I warn people to be careful what they post because recruiters will find it.
What are your ongoing or new projects?
We have a survey currently open and provided all over our network, the Global talent mobility survey. We ask candidates about what they like, which country and which city they would like to go to and why. With this intelligence, it will be easier for companies to know what to do in order to attract the profiles they are looking for. I think it will be a great help.