A passion for recruiting
As a Recruiting Expert at thyssenkrupp Materials Services, Christian Pilz is on the lookout for people to join the company. The specific professional experience of applicants is not always the deciding criterion for selection. And hardly anyone knows that better than Christian himself, as the 32-year-old has not taken a traditional HR career path.
Christian completed his apprenticeship as a wholesale and foreign trade clerk at thyssenkrupp Materials Services in 2011 and like every other apprentice he got to know various departments in the process. However, the three months he spent at Human Resources (HR) were a special experience for him.
“HR was what I wanted to do”
“During my apprenticeship I worked in many departments, including strategic purchasing and product management,” says Christian. “But Human Resources was what I wanted to do.” However, on completing his apprenticeship there were no vacant positions in his department of choice. But there were in product management. So Christian started working there, while still keeping an eye on his preferred department.
That wasn’t difficult. By coincidence Christian found himself working in the same corridor as colleagues from HR. “My job in product management for tool and engineering steel was very technical and I always really enjoyed it,” says Christian. “But it wasn’t HR”.
“Being located so close to the HR specialists, I naturally picked up quite a lot of what was going on and kept networking,” says Christian. “One day I found out that a new recruiting team was to be established so I spoke to the person who is now my supervisor about it. He promised to bear me in mind and let me know if an opportunity arose.”
An unexpected turn of events
Almost a year and a half after they had spoken, Christian’s telephone rang. On the other end of the line was his current supervisor, who had kept his word. “He asked if I was still interested in recruiting,” says Christian with a grin. Of course he was. They soon met up for an initial informal chat. “At that point in time I didn’t know that my interest had already resulted in an official process,” he continues.
After the final interview he wasn’t all that confident. “But my supervisor seemed to see something in me. Perhaps simply that HR is more than just a job for me. I obviously managed to convey my enthusiasm really well because I actually got the job,” says a delighted Christian, who is originally from Mönchengladbach.
Christian’s wide-ranging experience gained during his five-and-a-half years in product management and two years in strategic purchasing counted in his favor and is now proving extremely valuable in his new job as a Recruiting Expert. “In my previous jobs I had many interfaces to other departments,” says Christian. “So I’ve developed an understanding of the various specialist departments and know how they work and how their teams are made up.”
Today Christian and his colleagues from Recruiting are on the lookout for the best candidates for vacant positions at thyssenkrupp Materials Services. Together with the specialist departments they define requirements profiles – what are the must-haves and the deal-breakers, what are the nice-to-haves? The Recruiting department is obviously doing a good job: every year they receive at least 12,000 (!) applications. “We are of course competing with other companies. However, in the steel distribution sector we have the advantage of being market leader. And the thyssenkrupp name still counts for a lot – above all in the Ruhr region.”
Character and motivation are often more important than 100% specialist expertise
Identifying the ideal applicant is the central challenge. “We naturally have a big responsibility and play a part in the company’s success,” says the young recruiter with conviction. But there is no such thing as THE perfect applicant, as Christian emphasizes: “Only very rarely do applicants meet all the specialist requirements. But that’s no bad thing.” It’s much more important that they can get on with others and that their character is a good fit with the company and the department. “Applicants can often learn the specialist knowledge they lack,” he says.
Even though learning specific skills can sometimes be hard – as Christian knows only too well from personal experience. Several years after completing his apprenticeship he decided to study for a degree in parallel with work, which he has since completed successfully.
People who come from different career paths offer valuable attributes
The roundabout route Christian took to reach his dream job was extremely valuable for his personal and professional development. Christian’s résumé represents a good blueprint and motivation for others aiming to switch from different career paths. They often bring broad-based knowledge, an extensive network and strong soft skills – attributes that are also in demand at thyssenkrupp: “My example shows that you can also take diversions along your career path in a large group of companies like thyssenkrupp.”