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The best-matched needle in the haystack

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Randstad Interim finds itself mostly occupied with the assessment and selection of qualified staff for its Luxembourg-based clients: either companies headquartered here or foreign companies with a branch office in the country.

“The job market in Luxembourg is quite unusual in comparison to other European markets,” explains Managing Director Jean-Pierre Mullenders. “We work with a lot of candidates from France and Belgium because many people living in Luxembourg work in the public sector. We have less than half a million inhabitants, but there are 100,000 people who commute to Luxembourg every day because living in Luxembourg is very expensive.”

For a few years now, other career services have also been on offer, such as outplacement and relocation programs. “If a manager from abroad is hired to work in Luxembourg, the partner may have problems finding a job here,” Mr. Mullenders describes how the relocation service works. “Our program helps them understand the job market here.”

Still the economy in Luxembourg is so strongly based on banking, insurance and in finance overall, Randstad offers Randstad Professionals, as well. This service provides staff in the context of project management, supplying the right people for the biggest sectors. Recruitment has been the traditional stronghold of Randstad throughout its 55 years of existence, and temporary work and recruitment are still the major markets in the Netherlands and the USA.

To keep the company among the top three staffing companies worldwide, it had to offer other HR-related services, hence the development of career services and Randstad Professionals. This diversification also puts the company on a more even footing. In an effort to keep the needs of both the candidates and the companies in mind, the consultants at Randstad have a dual function: Each one has to recruit qualified staff while contacting potential employers. This is what makes Randstad unique.

“Our consultants have both HR and sales functions,” the managing director highlights. “This has been our model since Randstad was founded in 1960.” The units consist of two specialists for one industry, and their daily work consists in balancing the expectations of the prospective employer and employee. “There is no perfect balance,” Mr. Mullenders says. “And if it were that simple, we would be out of a job.”

He describes the challenge citing the example of salary: The employee wants to earn a lot, but the employer wants to spend as little as possible. “We have to be honest with a candidate about what he can expect for his talents and assets, and we let the company know about the reasonable cost of a good candidate,” he says. The unit model works so well, the managing director notes, because the same person is in contact with both sides, and the consultant knows how to meet and balance their expectations. “The key word here is ‘matching.’”

With market conditions so uncertain, Mr. Mullenders is hesitant to give a clear vision of the future. “A little uncertainty is good for our sector, though,” he says on a positive note. “We provide the level of flexibility that companies need in such circumstances.”

In Germany, staffing companies give contracts for an unlimited period of time to the staff they provide other companies, and from there, the client companies offer the staff temporary contracts. This is a business model that Mr. Mullenders supports. “That could be a future for our business, but it depends on the market conditions,” he comments. “Each country has regulations that might have to be changed first to create the right conditions.”

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