Why We Need More Courage in Recruiting

Everybody's complaining about a shortage of skilled workers. Employers simply need to broaden the focus and open up to people with unusual resumes or interests states Kim Alexandra Notz, managing partner at KNSKB+

Hardly a day goes by without me reading newspaper reports in which companies complain about not being able to get specialized staff. Dear colleagues: Could it be that you’re only looking for linear resumes and aren’t considering applicants just because they are a bit more unconventional?

I’m the head of a communications agency. An industry that is extremely exciting, but in which a customer-first attitude also prevails — which certainly puts some of the people we’d like to hire off. Instead, they prefer start-ups or companies like Google and Facebook. I could complain about that, but I’m not going to. The challenge of filling vacancies has led me to a change of perspective, and in many cases we are now opting for applicants with a very colorful curriculum vitaes.

Happy employees are better employees

Some time ago, for example, while looking for a head of planning for our strategy department, I had chosen a candidate who made it clear from the outset that she would only come in combination with a colleague and only part-time. She is the referee for the Guinness Book of Records two days a week. For other companies this would probably have been too cumbersome for the workflow. But we immediately saw the potential in our agency. With her exciting hobby, she brings so much new and unusual experience to the agency that we all benefit from. She will also be happy and satisfied on the three days she works for us, which will have a positive effect on her performance. What kind of reaction should I have had with such a solution? By the way, she is currently training as a yoga teacher.

Part-time, burnout, pregnancies — not criteria for rejection

Taboo time: burnout. I have just appointed a colleague as managing director who had to take a break some time ago due to overwhelming exhaustion. People with burnout are often labelled as no longer able to perform and put on the sidelines, which is fatal not only for them but also for the talent pool. Of course, we talked for a long time about whether she was confident to do the job. But burnout is not always the same. She never saw herself as a victim of the situation, but consciously analyzed it and came to her own conclusions. In addition, she developed a new concept for our management consultancy during her time out, which we implemented when she returned. For me, the colleague is so valuable precisely because of her crisis, because she shows us all how to deal successfully with a difficult experience. She is, so to speak, our role model when it comes to resilience. We all learn from this kind of life experience in our organization and that makes us stronger as a team.

A plea for unusual ways of life

Recently, I read an interview with Daniela Rank, one of the founders of nod Studios in Berlin. She pleads for a positive approach to odd resumes. She herself didn’t graduate, used to work as a secretary, and worked in an orphanage. Today she is – after many successful management positions – managing director of a hip interior design company. A career despite a non-traditional curriculum vitae? That’s possible, and hopefully even more so in the future.

I myself was seven months pregnant when I was offered my current job. For many companies, pregnancy is still regarded as a disruption to the workflow. But hardly any other person is as organized and focused as a working mother.

Diversity beyond the mainstream

So if you’re still complaining about not being able to recruit enough employees for your company, you should take a look at yourself and think about how courageous and forward-looking the HR department really is when it comes to recruiting. Those who are willing to take a close look to the left and right of the mainstream can fill positions very well. And it adds something to the diversity in the team.

Diversity is an issue that takes place at many levels. For me, having people with different experience and backgrounds is a given for me.


Kim Alexandra Notz is managing partner and speaker of the board of KNSKB+. She started her career as a trainee at Bauer Media Group. She was publishing director at Hoffmann und Campe until 2013, and in the same year founded the content marketing agency BISSINGER+ (together with Manfred Bissinger). In 2016, she joined the KNSK advertising agency and in 2018 founded the agency holding company KNSKB+, which acts as a holding for the three sub-brands KNSK, BISSINGER+, and DIE NEUE VERNUNFT.

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