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Please put the Human back in H.R

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hr3A while back, a familiar story caught my attention on a recruiting forum -  an individual was asking for advice and a mentor – he was struggling to find a job, and was asking for suggestions and help – a mentor from the group.  There were several individuals who responded to this gentleman, some with good advice but one response stuck out – "I also hope others have the courage to speak up about the lonely nature of the job search process." That really tugged at my heartstrings.

Around the same time, I had recently attended a Recruiting/H.R. Convention where the focus had been based upon Metrics –

So What are these metrics that they so fondly spoke of – well it was People - the candidates – the very individuals who trust us with their personal information, their hopes and goals for a career, The people who come to us to help them reach their ambitions.

Some of The Trainers taught that Metrics are based upon the number of People/Candidates you bring to the table; the number/s of People/Candidates that fill the positions; the number/s of calls you make to the People/Candidates to fill those positions; the time you spent on the phone with these People/Candidates; the methods to source the People/candidates. It was noting the Average time to fill a position from start to end, the average Cost to hire.

Determining how to measure performance of the recruiter was based upon How many people you can bring to the interviewing party and how much better you can do over your competitor.

Metrics was about Quantity, numbers, and having a Human Capital Advantage over your competitor with the People/Candidates you fill.

At the Convention I noticed how agitated and nervous I felt. Each day the agitation Grew. After I left the Convention I was depressed, disillusioned - people kept asking me how I felt about the conference, and I could not give a straight answer, because I really didn't understand why I felt the way I did – disheartened, cynical and above all dismayed.

Was it the conference? Gee, there were some great speakers, and Yes it wasn’t all about metrics was it? No, not really.

So was it the people I met? Was it the conversations I overheard? I just couldn’t figure it out.

I just could not understand why.

But today, that Post I read helped put the finger on it for me.

Somewhere in the past 7 years or so the employment industry – Including the Internal Company Hiring/Recruiting, and the Headhunters – somehow and somewhere has gone awry.

All of a sudden there has been a focus on Numbers - excuse my outburst here - but this makes me so upset – but Darn It, when did People become Darn numbers? (would prefer a different word, but will refrain for professionalism)

Where and when did we stop caring about the welfare of the individuals we are out to help improve the quality and decisions of the most important thing in their lives – their careers?

When did People stop becoming employees, and became "Human Capital" for a company?

I was one of the few people who chose to be a recruiter – I really enjoyed the prospect of being influential in improving the quality of someone’s life, and that of their family. It didn’t hurt that I got paid well to be instrumental as I helped bring better insurance for the family with the sick kid, to hear how the wife now loves her husband more because he was such a mean jerk due to how much he hated his job. Now the husband can buy that diamond ring for the wife.. Now they can pay off the debt with the bonus they received. Maybe I helped save a manager’s life because my candidate won’t go postal today. (joke of course)

It was awesome to call myself a recruiter, do such good for others, and get paid well for it. But today, it is almost an embarrassment.

Today, have we forgotten the difficult and highly emotional toll that looking for a new career takes on a human being, their family and even their friends? Yes, even if they are employed making a change is a challenge.

Today, it seems that so many are focused on how we must make those numbers, get those positions filled, convince people to take jobs that may not be a fit for them, or maybe the individual may not fit with the manager, team, or culture.

Have We have forgotten to be honest with so many and even to ourselves about why we are recruiters, and who we affect with our actions? Especially as we continue to focus on Metrics?

I have heard recruiters say – hey how do I get rid of the annoying candidate who keeps calling.. Well here is an answer – talk to them, take the time to explain to them what is going on, and ask them why they are so nervous, upset, scared..

Understand their fears, their concerns, and address them.. Remember the Personal side – the People, the Human Being that we are representing. Remember that that annoying candidate is a Human Being that deserves to be heard.

Do we care? Really? I wonder as I face resistance on this topic day in and day out. Yes, I know some do, for sure, maybe even more than some.

I just hope that one day more will remember we are dealing with People’s Lives. That the People who turn to us for help Trust us, they Believe us, they depend on us. And we must be responsible in our actions and what we do everyday.

Yes our time is valuable, but so is their time as well..

Aw shucks, I ramble – but something is wrong here, really wrong here. Many may not agree with me, and many will criticize me for my thoughts..

Yes This is My personal opinion. My rant and my rave. So I apologize if I offend. Hopefully though this may strike a positive chord in someone today.



Karen Mattonen started a career in Human Resources when she served as a Recruiter for Snelling Corporation. Leveraging her tenure with Snelling, Karen founded Advanced Career Solutions in 1997 focusing on the  HVAC and Mechanical Construction industry. Her reputation for excellence is echoed in the satisfaction of clients and candidates she has serviced nationwide. Furthermore, Karen is esteemed for sharing her expertise in Recruitment Education, Ethics and promoting self-regulation for the Recruiting industry.

She has a new and future-oriented vision of what recruiting can and should become: a profession we can be proud of for its ethical standing, professional conduct and ability to build great organizations. Her doing-well-by-doing-right philosophy is shaking up the status quo in an industry that needs to be shaken. She does this with conviction, leadership, and a distinctive voice that cries out for change.

Outside of the HR community, Karen Mattonen has been cited by Microsoft as a resource in how to use Microsoft Outlook as an ATS. She has also served as the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the 3rd largest city in Utah.

Her passionate and tireless advocacy has led her to create HireCentrix - The Pulse of H.R, Regulation, Retention, Recruiting and Risk Management  Hirecentrix is a company dedicated to providing training to the HR, recruiting and staffing industries, which includes a special focus on the ethical and legal dimensions through offering a full service resource for individuals to share and communicate, obtain current and accurate information, acquire and provide education and learning within the quickly expanding, diverse and rapidly changing Recruiting and Human Resource climate.

Karen has achieved accreditation as a California Accredited Consultant (CAC) through California Staffing Professionals. She has also gained her Certified Staffing Professional Certificate (CSP) through American Staffing Professionals. (

Click here to reach Karen via email.


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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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