Leaving Behind the “War for Talent:” Q&A with Lars Schmidt from HR Open Source

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The co-creator of HR Open Source explains why recruiters and human resources practitioners can benefit from sharing their practices openly.

Lars Schmidt, co-create of Open Source HR #HROS

Lars Schmidt. Photo: Amplify Talent

“If we get this right, HR Open Source will be a true global community of recruiting and HR practitioners.” That’s Lars Schmidt, co-creator of the initiative that launched at LinkedIn’s “Talent Connect” conference in October 2015. He’s talking about the vision behind the project to bring open source thinking to talent acquisition and management. “It’s about companies from all industries coming together and sharing information to inspire our work and better our field.”

But why drop the “war for talent” thinking and focus on collaboration? Wouldn’t openly sharing best practices put companies at risk of losing any competitive advantage? Why HR Open Source, right now? We got on the phone to discuss.

“There’s a widening gap between the people who are leaders in the human resources space and the vast majority.”

Why is this the right time for collaboration in HR?

There’s a widening gap between the people who are leaders in the human resources space and the vast majority. People who are attending and speaking at conferences to share ideas and collaborate. But it creates a bit of a bubble; because we’re often working with people at the cutting edge, we start to think that’s where the industry is. But the reality is that many of our peers in HR and recruiting are several years behind. Not everyone has access to the same information, resources and tools.

HR Open Source (HROS) is a platform that can democratize the sharing of ideas and best practices – make it easier for anyone to access that information. We want it to become a global movement that all types of companies are involved in. It’s about getting away from this ‘war for talent’ and saying that there’s a better way.

But shouldn’t companies with successful practices protect them, to maintain their competitive edge in talent acquisition and management?

That’s a legacy mindset, a dated mindset. People who believe that believe that the war for talent is real, and that there’s no room for collaboration between organizations. We’re not trying to convince those people. But this isn’t about being completely transparent in all your practices – there’s room to be competitive and still collaborate for the greater good of our field.

How might companies choose to use HR Open Source?

Our searchable case studies can help you see how other companies have undertaken a variety of HR and recruiting initiatives, so you can learn from their experience. The case studies have all been peer reviewed by someone in the community to make sure they’re actionable: what the company did, why it was done, how it was done, results and metrics, what went wrong, and key takeaways for HR and recruiting.

Can you use the case studies to help set up your HR function?

It can help – over time, the case studies will include topics submitted by small companies and startups. But another element of HROS is our list of resources, which includes dozens of websites, podcasts, and blogs contributed and peer reviewed by recruiters and human resources practitioners.

Beyond case studies, should organizations be collaborating on recruitment and talent management?

Yeah. HR Open Source is taking collaboration to another level by crossing industries and geographic boundaries, but the idea isn’t new. In the very first conversation I had with [HROS co-creator] Ambrosia Vertesi, we spent 90 minutes completely opening up our play books to each other – I was senior director of talent acquisition at NPR at the time –  because we were both struggling. It was hugely beneficial.

“There’s room to be competitive and still collaborate for the greater good of our field.”

Are there opportunities for HR and recruiting to learn from people in different fields?

Yes. With HR Open Source, we were inspired by software’s open source movement, where you build something and give it out for free and then have other people work on making it better. How that’s impacted learning and inspiration in that space was really why we wanted to bring it to HR. Many of the recruiters doing work on social recruiting and employer branding look to marketing for ideas. Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of design, so I like to learn from web design and user experience because they, too, can help in recruiting. I believe we should all try to expose ourselves to ideas from outside our core domain.

How can someone get involved in HR Open Source?

Register at HROS.co – whether as an individual supporter, a volunteer, or a member company. You can sign up as an individual supporter, and receive updates from us. You can join as a volunteer if you’d like to contribute some time, for example, reviewing case studies. Or your company can sign up as a member by agreeing to submit at least two case studies per year. You can also engage with the HROS community on Twitter by following @HROpenSource and #HROS, and on Facebook by joining the HR Open Source group.


Christian De Pape, Recruiting Social’s Head of Marketing and Content
About the author

Christian De Pape is the head of brand experience at Recruiting Social. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


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