There is a lot of talk about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in talent acquisition, but when you dig below the surface, the amount of practical action happening doesn’t live up to the promises made.
A few weeks ago long time friend of the podcast Bas Van De Haterd introduced me to one of the most inspiring recruiters I’ve spoken to for a long time.
Eugène van den Hemel helps employers recruit talent from communities that are historically underrepresented in the job market. In the last few years, he has been doing some pioneering work helping to connect refugees with employment opportunities and, in so doing, opening employers’ eyes to an incredible pool of talent.
In the interview, we discuss:
• Recruiting to make matches that matter
• Dealing with inaccurate preconceptions
• The power of humans meetings humans
• The problem with current thinking on certifications
• Advice to employers looking to hire refugees
• Broader leaning for recruitment in a time of automation and technology
• Jobs For Humanity
• What is the future of recruiting
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Matt Alder (58s):
Hi, everyone. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to episode 384 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. There’s lots of talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion in talent acquisition, but when you dig below the surface, the amount of practical action happening doesn’t live up to the promises made. A few weeks ago, a long-time friend of the podcast, Bas van de Haterd, introduced me to one of the most inspiring recruiters I’ve spoken to in a very long time. Eugène van den Hemel helps employers recruit talent from communities that are historically underrepresented in the job market. In the last few years, he has been doing some pioneering work, helping to connect refugees with employment opportunities, and in so doing, opening employers’ eyes to an incredible pool of talent.
Matt Alder (1m 45s):
Hi, Eugene, and welcome to the podcast.
Eugène van den Hemel (1m 46s):
Thank you, Matt, for the invitation. It’s wonderful to be here. Also, I want to say thanks to Bas van de Haterd who brought my name to you.
Matt Alder (1m 54s):
Absolutely. He is a great source of fantastic guests, and it is an absolute delight to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself to everybody and tell us what you do?
Eugène van den Hemel (2m 8s):
Yes. My name is Eugène van den Hemel. I’m from the Netherlands and I help organizations find people to do extraordinary things. Almost 12 years ago, I quit my career, the job placements business there. I had roles in sales, consultancy, recruitment, and management, but more and more, I had the feeling I was talking every day about the color of the leased car and the quantity and quality of the incentives we offered to the people instead of making really matches that matters, so I quit my job.
Eugène van den Hemel (2m 53s):
Started as an independent freelancer, and I decided to want to help organizations find talents among communities, which are, let’s say, historically underrepresented in the job market. By helping these companies, filling the job vacancies with these talented people, I would, at the same time, offer new perspectives to people from communities like Diversions, 40 plus, During the citizens, et cetera. Well, in 2015, we all know that there were refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea. I was asked to think about ways to help these people to enter the job markets and a new world opened for me.
Eugène van den Hemel (3m 38s):
I met the first refugees. I think it was November 2015. I had great conversations with them. Then there was a question in my head that said, “Hey, how is it possible that these people, with their skills, their dreams, their ambitions, their experience don’t find a job?” I did some calls in my network. I realized a couple of matches between employers and refugees. Well, that was, for me, the start to really dive into this community.
Eugène van den Hemel (4m 24s):
I started to visit the places where I could meet them. I went to the language schools, to the mosque, to the food bank, the thrift shops. I really reached out to them. By the matches I made, the stories I shared on LinkedIn, on local platforms, more and more refugees started to find me so start of quite a journey.
Matt Alder (4m 48s):
Absolutely. How has all this developed since those early days and those first matches you were making?
Eugène van den Hemel (4m 56s):
We are now about five or six years later. The last years, I matched hundreds of talents with refugee backgrounds to bait work. Every single story of a refugee helps into a job. It brings me joy and perseverance but what’s even better is more and more organizations are contacting me now and ask, which has also
Eugène van den Hemel (5m 47s):
This year, I was invited by
Matt Alder (6m 25s):
I want to talk about the employers that you work with. Going back to the early days, what kind of reaction were you getting? What preconceived ideas did you come to have to go up against?
Eugène van den Hemel (6m 41s):
Doubt, skepticism. A lot of them were unaware of the possibility so a lot of them watch them as refugees. It’s one of the first things I helped them to realize that a refugee, a person who has been forced to leave the country in order to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster was, in the country of origin, maybe a doctor, a teacher, a developer, an engineer, a painter. You name it. I invited them to stop looking at them as a victim, as a refugee, and start to watch them as human beings like you and me.
Eugène van den Hemel (7m 31s):
Also, with a human being with ambitions, with experiences, with skills, with a family, with dreams about making a career. Often, this was still theory so if they followed my enthusiasm and said, “Hey, Eugene. Good story, but still,” I asked them, “Hey, please let me invite a couple of refugees. Let’s have a cup of coffee together because seeing is believing.” I organized really small meetings and greetings where we didn’t talk about a job position or job vacancy, but just meet, greet, exchange ideas, stories, not about their flight but about their professionalism, what they have done in their country, what they think they can bring to companies here in the Netherlands, in Europe.
Eugène van den Hemel (8m 41s):
The reactions I got back when I called the employer later that day, they say, “Wow, Eugene. What great people. Wow, they speak really good English. A lot of them, even pretty good Dutch. Wow, I am impressed.” That was the start of, well, the success, because those employers shared this experience in their networks and so it was a start.
Matt Alder (9m 19s):
Some amazing stories there. What would your advice be to employers who are thinking about hiring refugees at the moment? What do they need to be thinking? How can they be effective? What would you recommend to them?
Eugène van den Hemel (9m 33s):
Well, a couple of points I want to share. First, I told you. Realize these are human beings, not refugees so skip that label. Then it’s crystal clear that some refugees have really difficulties integrating into the new sociality. Of course, it’s may due to experiencing culture shock, but also there are language barriers. The Dutch language is a very hard language. Most Dutch people pretend that you speak good English.
Eugène van den Hemel (10m 14s):
I always say this, “I speak Dunglish, but all of the Dutch labor markets, we speak in general Dutch so it’s really a barrier. As an employer, be aware of these differences, take time to explain. I think this is what we also do when we hire an expert. Also, ask yourself what you can learn from these guys with a different culture, with different experiences in a different job market.
Eugène van den Hemel (10m 56s):
Then the refugees may have skills, experience, and education, but they don’t have a professional network. Realize that even if you can’t help them in hiring for a job, help them to enter into your network. I know, for the position, is still valuable if we can help them by making their networks bigger. Another point, also important, is the focus on certifications.
Eugène van den Hemel (11m 37s):
We still love certifications. What’s the problem? With this group, they have studied, they have diplomas, from other institutions, from other universities, from institutions we don’t know. A lot of times, we don’t know how to value them so look to their skills instead of specifications. Consider if the traditional degree is really needed for the role you want to hire. Another thing is also logical I think. They all have a gap in employment because they left the country.
Eugène van den Hemel (12m 20s):
They have to integrate so two to four years, they haven’t done anything in building their career so be considerate of the reasons behind this gap. Do not disqualify this
Matt Alder (13m 9s):
What’s really interesting hearing you talking is there were really some broader lessons about recruitment here in terms of the way that people see job seekers and candidates as CVs and resumes rather than human beings. What can we learn as an industry from the kind of work that you’re doing?
Eugène van den Hemel (13m 33s):
For me, the biggest lesson is still playing the long game. I still see a lot of recruitment and HR professionals opt for instant solutions, instant success. This group, in particular, needs some time because of the differences in language and culture but I think in recruitment, in general, we often are two big Ari. I believe more in results that last and play for the long game.
Eugène van den Hemel (14m 18s):
Secondly, with all the technology and automation, let us not forget that we are in a people business. I really believe at the end, enthusiasm makes the difference and the biggest impact. I also believe that’s all those recruiters’ sources, HR people are in this business because of their passion for people to want to make an impact. Last, certainly not least, be aware of your position as a recruiter or a sourcer.
Eugène van den Hemel (15m 2s):
You are in the position to make huge impacts on the life of people, to organizations. You can walk the big talk because, let us be honest, we talked more than a decade about diversity, about inclusion, and the DNI topic is the most organizations’ topic now, but still, I dare to say, it’s more theory. I see it happen so let’s start the move from talking to acting.
Eugène van den Hemel (15m 43s):
We, recruitment and HR professionals, are in a position to take the lead. In my opinion, this makes the role of a recruiter or HR so really beautiful.
Matt Alder (15m 54s):
You’re involved with a project called Jobs For Humanity. Tell us about that.
Eugène van den Hemel (16m 2s):
Yes. Wow, I love this question. Thank you for this because some numbers. There are about 285 million people who are visually impaired, 36% of them are worldwide unemployed. There are 1 billion people with a neurodivergent, 85% of them is unemployed worldwide. Eighty million people are unfortunately displaced. We don’t know even the number of employment percentage worldwide. They should know that’s how Albert Einstein was a refugee.
Eugène van den Hemel (16m 50s):
JK Rowling was a single mom. Isaac Newton, neurodivergent. Joslin Manatee founded by
Eugène van den Hemel (17m 34s):
You can imagine, I am so enthusiastic about this global movement Roy initiated. It is now a really big group of volunteers and is making bigger and bigger and bigger. More and more companies will help us offering jobs.
Matt Alder (17m 60s):
Where can people find out more?
Eugène van den Hemel (18m 2s):
I suggest go to our website, www.JobsForHumanity.com. There, they can read the story. There, they can read the stories of their frontiers, why they volunteer. They also can subscribe to a newsletter and they can become frontier themselves. They can see the Jobs for the different groups, more than 1,400 already worldwide. We’ll help their network see these jobs and find these jobs.
Matt Alder (18m 39s):
As a final question to you, what do you think the future of recruiting looks like? We’re obviously in a time of great disruption and a great change. As you said, there’s probably much more talk about diversity in recruiting than there is action being taken. What do you think the future looks like?
Eugène van den Hemel (19m 5s):
Well, Recruitment is as
Eugène van den Hemel (19m 47s):
Even as automation takes over on most repetitive tasks, what is left to us humans will be more and more creative, less predictable, and more evolving. Talent will simply matter more and more. I believe that the technique and the tools will help us to find candidates more easily, but in finding them, you haven’t hired them. In seducing candidates to choose for your company, recruiters will keep on making the difference, I believe, more and more.
Eugène van den Hemel (20m 27s):
I think the field of recruitment will be even more interesting in the future that it is now because there’ll be more people difference where you, as a human recruiter, can make a difference to the company, but also sell to those job seekers.
Matt Alder (20m 48s):
Eugene, thank you very much for talking to me.
Eugène van den Hemel (20m 52s):
Matt, it was a great pleasure. Thank you.
Matt Alder (20m 55s):
My thanks to Eugene. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at recruitingfuture.com. On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show.
Matt Alder (21m 46s):
Thanks so much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.