Bullhorn’s Vice President of Global Enterprise Strategy & Operations, Leah McKelvey, recently sat down with Petar Divjanovic, Head of Digital HR Solutions at DEKRA Arbeit Group, for a conversation on how your firm can leverage modern communication and collaboration tools to improve candidate engagement.
Can you tell us about the path that led you to your current role?
I was born and raised in Croatia and was involved in two start-ups during my university time, having always been drawn to entrepreneurial activities. Given this background, it was a natural transition in September 2013 to join a team at DEKRA that was heavily focused on digital projects internally. In 2016, I moved to DEKRA Arbeit HQ’s in Stuttgart and started as a business development officer where I was managing international accounts, creating sales strategies, and helped in recruiting people from other European markets to move to Germany due to the skills gap.
In 2017, as the project lead, I led my team through an “innovation sprint”. The digital branch office was my first real project that involved digital transformation and digital tools behind it. The digital branch office was more of a manifesto–a chance to show where we are now, where we could be, and what small steps we need to do to get there. Some jobs will be lost in the future but we need to learn how to coexist and use the tools. If you reject tools, you won’t be as attractive in the job market.
What is your goal with this role?
To change the way that people work–I see our agency business as still very paper-based and under the pressure of laws and regulations. We have an old school mentality. I’m a Millennial and I want to bridge the gap between the older generations with those to come. Even though the older generations maybe understand the new agile ways to do business, they aren’t digital natives. They were born with newspapers in their hands, not tablets.
What’s your approach to innovation at DEKRA?
Our DEKRA Corporate Strategy & Innovation department developed workshops and training programs where your ideas and concepts should pass through a ten-week moderated innovation sprint.
With in-house created methodology we guide the projects from idea to reality. Afterwards, an active collaboration between service divisions with the full support of decision makers allows us to steer innovation and built growth-driven culture throughout the organization.
How do you keep the technology vision connected to the business initiatives?
We’re balancing between current business needs and future technology vision. There’s no one way to keep up with the technology vision. It’s like playing with the puzzles. You have a complete vision of a picture in your head, then you build it with 500 different small puzzle parts.
It’s the same with our business initiatives, every initiative is a small puzzle part of the broader picture/technology vision, and as we integrate those puzzle parts in the right way, we’re one step closer towards our desired tech-based ecosystem.
What’s top of your “digital transformation” agenda?
It will sound like a cliche, but honestly – people. Why people? Well, in order to fully understand, experience, and transform digitally as an organization people should stay open to new technologies, platforms, and gadgets. For instance, the company can introduce the best augmented reality (AR) solution for interviewing, while its team is still using paper and pens for interviews, feeling good and sure about it.
Deep down they are not ready for something new, and suddenly they have it. Frightened and with a dose of rejection, they start using this new solution. This is where the people factor comes in—if they do not understand the impact, added value, and advantages that this AR transformation brings, people will cut it.
Management and leaders should clearly communicate with their personnel and team members that digital transformation and technologies connected with it are not enemies, but the tools and choices which will make your work easier and more fulfilling. That is the only way we are able to get most of digital transformation—starting with people.
Is this term, digital transformation, real or hype in your mind?
Both. For me, personally, it’s real since on an everyday basis I try to speed up old school paper processes. My role as the Head of Digital HR Solutions at DEKRA Arbeit Group allows me to track innovation initiatives across all industries while conceptualizing and testing new digital services on real projects. It’s real. Digital transformation is happening, we are seeing it with our candidates and clients/partners. Their needs and demands are different and are leaning more and more towards full digital solutions.
On the other side, it’s partially hype, since a lot of start-ups and organizations are using those terms to get attention and jump in digital transformation arena where you are sitting with Amazon, Google, SAP, etc. Just use artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, deep learning, or blockchain and you’re good to go. That is why I don’t believe the hype, feeling like I am in a [house of cards], looking at wonderful front face designs without any solution or problem-solving in the background–no real business cases to be exact.
How are you staying close to the needs of the business and helping to manage change within the organization?
In the human resource industry, business needs are mainly people needs. So in order to stay close to the needs of business, we should stay close to the people: internal personnel, candidates, clients, etc. Let’s summarize it in five points so you can see what I mean:
- Exit interviews – I want to know why people leave and what can we do in the future to make them stay. Summarize the information, discuss it with the team and create retention concepts both for us and for our clients.
- International tenders – Here, our clients directly communicate their needs and future plans. If I see in three different tenders that one particular point/problematic is being constantly stressed and we currently don’t have it, we note it down and present business development initiatives at board meetings.
- Candidate feedback – If a high percentage of your candidates say you’re doing something wrong, then you usually are. Candidates will give you some insight about your organization that you wouldn’t be able to guess in a thousand years.
- Client feedback – Good or bad, I take it as a fuel for the future ride. Two years ago, we lost one international tender with the feedback that our content was weak. The following week, together with my team, we laid down the plan and particular initiatives in order to strengthen up our content. We are now creating wonderful content (presentations, job ads, reports, offers, etc.) in all of our European markets.
- Conferences – Discussing with like-minded professionals, exchanging experiences and collaboration on projects, that way we can learn how others have done it. We don’t copy, but we rearrange–test, fail. Test some more, fail until we make it right.
What are your views on candidate engagement?
There are many recruiters and HR departments engaging with candidates in the same way. Take job ads for example–99 percent are exactly the same: Long introduction text about the company and some motivating picture of two people smiling and holding their hands. Then you see a lot of text about what we as an employer need: around eight to ten bullet points. Then we sum what we offer to you as a candidate with about three to max five bullet points. It just doesn’t add up–employers need ten points from candidate/employee and at the same time, they offer five points. We often forget that the job is a relationship, and we should give as much as we receive.
Job ads usually end with some “provoking” question: Are you ready for a new challenge? It’s boring. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone from younger workforce generations. It’s all about the experience for Millennials and Generation Z, and the companies and recruiters should make sure to deliver it. From the very start, those candidates expect you to take care of them. From the very start, candidates expect you to take care of them. The way you communicate, from the interview all the way to the onboarding process, matters. Candidates expect to be amused, stay informed, and feel included.
Have you been trying any new exciting ideas in the last few years?
Yes, we are doing a lot of things differently. In 2018, we started integrating chat apps on the international level via chatyourjob.com, allowing our candidates to choose which kind of jobs they want to receive on their mobile phones, no matter where they’re located.
Further, we started creating video recruitment ads. Short 30-45 second videos explaining the main points about the job. We want to catch the attention of candidates, animate and amuse them. This way we tend to create communities of engaged individuals in search for great jobs and employers.
Also, we introduced an online HR communication and collaboration platform called D-Works which enables us to more efficiently manage client projects. As we are winning big international accounts, it’s important that our and client project teams stay connected in order to minimize risks and avoid bottlenecks.
We’ve also formed “D-Vision”: Digital HR Solutions where we create digital HR platforms that connect us as an HR agency to our partners and the candidates/workers. Oh, I almost forgot–we’re playing with AR and in-ear translation devices in order to create the perfect worker. We’re searching for partners to create the ultimate HR chatbot. All in all, what a time to be alive. I look forward to being able to share new groundbreaking HR innovations as they continue to be developed.
Interested in hearing more insights from Petar? Join us this September in London for Bullhorn’s annual staffing and recruiting conference where Petar will be speaking on our “Investing in Innovation: Advice from the Players on the Pitch” panel.