1 January 2020

Hiring in 2019: The year in which HR got a seat at the table, lost faith in resumes and still felt smarter than data.

January 1th, 2020.

Not only the first day of a new year, but also the end of a decade. A decade in which we survived an economic crisis. A decade in which the talent acquisition market was disrupted enormously. A decade in which the People Department slowly got a seat at the table. And a decade in which we slowly started trusting data.

On this first day of 2020 I will reflect on both the successes Talent Acquisition has booked as well as the challenges for this year.



2019: The year of getting a seat at the table

Over the last twelve months I spoke to more than a hundred founders and C-suite decision makers. The one trend that stood out in these conversations was the company sustainability formula.

Creating a sustainable company is the dream that every founder or CEO is willing to turn into reality. And we all need what it takes to create a sustainable company. We should win market share.

At the beginning of 2019, that’s all I got from a lot of my conversation partners. Just aim for a big market share. How? Well, just by doing it. Halfway the year, it seemed like these same conversation partners slowly started to wake up. Or maybe it was because I changed my opening question.

Where I would normally start the conversation with the question ”What’s your ultimate goal?’‘, I now started this same conversation by asking ”Do you think that your current team enables you to reach your ultimate goal?”. That was the ‘Aha!’-moment.


Company sustainability: The second Aha!-moment

In April last year I created Equalture’s Goal Setting Pyramid together with my own team. After my conversation partners answered my first question, I followed the conversation by showing this pyramid to them:


There you go. The second ‘Aha!’-moment. This simple pyramid helped my conversation partners recognise the enormous impact of hiring on company sustainability. Therefore hiring went from an operational execution to a strategy pillar. And to do this right, my conversation partners realised that HR should get a seat at the table.

2019: The year in which we lost faith in the resume

The world is changing rapidly. New technologies are introduced by dozens at a time, automation is the most popular word in company operations and we start realising more and more that a lot of jobs will disappear in the coming decade.

It makes us realise that we should hire for the future. And although that mind sound a bit vague, it’s something we simply can’t ignore. 40% of the kids who are in primary school now will get a job within 20 years that we don’t know about at this point. So if jobs are changing so rapidly, why would we, against all odds, purely hold on to job experience and degrees when hiring a new colleague?

This year more and more founders and CEOs realised that we should stop hiring for the past and start hiring for the future. And that means hiring for skills and personality rather than accomplishments which can be found on a resume. It’s feels extremely scary, because it goes against our gut feeling and hiring habits, but this year we slowly started realising that this is something we can no longer ignore or delay.


Hiring for skills and personality

So how to hire for skills and personality while your entire frame of reference is based on experience? My advice: Start looking at the data set behind people rather than the accomplishments that came out of this data set.

Last year our Predictive Hiring software launched a feature called the Team Benchmark. Sounds cool, right? Well, it is actually cool, but moreover it’s super simple. This is how it works:

  1. We choose a set of neuro-assessment games for a client which are capable of measuring (soft) skills and personality traits for the company’s different teams;
  2. Our client invites its different teams to play the neuro-assessment games;
  3. After the teams have completed the games, a report is generated including an overview of skill sets, missing skills and personality traits for each team and the entire company;
  4. And last but not least, we compare these results with similar companies in similar industries and similar growth stages to help you determine which skills and personality traits should be added to the team. Et voilá. You now know what to look for when hiring a new colleague.

2019: The year in which we still felt smarter than data

This one sounds a bit negative, so let’s start with something positive: The Talent Acquisition Tech Market has exploded this year! More and more startups, just like ours, are working on software products that introduce AI to help companies access and use data properly in hiring-related decision making.

We made some confessions

When talking about data, this year was also the year in which we all made some confession when it comes to candidate evaluation:

  1. Determining our needs for the next hire contains a significant influence of self-fulfilling prophecy and lacks of decent team analyses;
  2. Candidate evaluation largely based on bias and gut feeling;
  3. Interviewing candidates is driven by self-fulfilling prophecy again;
  4. And hiring is therefore extremely influenced by our frame of reference.

Another confession that we made is that all four confessions could be tackled by one single thing. Data. Because data helps us analysing our needs, it always fair and objective and learns from previous decisions.

Still we, however, tend to experience the use of data and AI in recruitment as a potential threat (”Would it steal my job?”) rather than a helping hand. Or maybe we just think we’re still better in making the right hiring decisions because we have years and years of experience.

2020: The year in which data will make our lives easier instead of harder

I believe that 2020 will be the year in which we will all experience that data in recruitment actually works. And it’s not there to steal our jobs, but to make our jobs more relevant. Data allows us to automate the parts of a hiring cycle where data simply outsmarts human beings so that the People Team can focus more on strategy rather than execution. Data helps us create the time we need to turn recruitment into a marathon where today we’re still sprinting, because now it happens too often that we’re realising today that we should have hired a new colleague already yesterday.

I believe that 2020 will be the year in which we trust on data and AI to execute hiring strategies, because if we don’t we will soon enough lose our seat at the table again. After all, if you want to be a strategy pillar, you need to accept help from a friend (read: data) to focus on strategy.

2020: The year in which Predictive Hiring will be the new standard

Finally, I believe that 2020 will be the year in which we do not only embrace Predictive Analytics in hiring, but also use this as the fuel for our hiring strategy.

Like I mentioned, many companies still deal with recruitment like it’s all about sprinting at the ‘right’ moments, while we should experience it as a marathon. People start training months before a marathon. They know their speed, their ideal heartbeat, the route and the locations on this route that will be challenging. They are fully prepared and one step ahead in the game.

I believe that we need this same mindset in hiring. To be able to build a top-performing team, we should know everything about our current team – their strengths and their weaknesses – in order to determine which skills for instance should be added to the team to raise its performance. And if we hire a new colleague tomorrow you will need to keep track of his/her growth in order to have an up-to-date data set. Only by doing it this way you will be able to predict your team lifecycle and your future hiring needs.


Where 2019 was all about getting ready for takeoff, 2020 should be the year in which we aim for the moon together. A new decade. And a new definition of Talent Acquisition.

Cheers to a year full of incredible hiring innovations and of course an amazing team for your company.

Cheers, Charlotte