'Drives and ability to learn are more important than resume'

From tight labor markets, an aging workforce and the impact of automation to employees ready for a new challenge, companies are all grappling with HR issues and finding that the beaten paths are falling short. The Mobility Network North Netherlands (MOB) has therefore combined HR power from the business world and is achieving success with the courage to think and act outside the box.

The first matches are turning out well, and MOB initiator Anneke Post is proud of that. 'This is what we are doing it all for,' says the sustainable employability project leader. Using people's talents in places where they are badly needed or where they would be better suited. Filling vacancies by looking at them from other perspectives. Because then you can discover that an account manager who no longer has a future at the bank turns out to be an excellent budding process operator who is in demand in industry. The challenge is to look to the future, whereas resumes mostly say something about the past. What really counts are competencies, motivations and ability to learn.'

Context is crucial

That approach is exactly why HR consultant André Smit feels at home with the MOB. Having an eye for someone's personality and placing it in the right context is crucial," says Smit, who is partly responsible for the staffing in the north of the Netherlands at Reym BV. He joined the MOB because he believes in cooperation and sharing knowledge and manpower. Sometimes one company offers the challenge or development opportunities that another lacks. Or one organization may be faced with surplus staff, while others are desperate for good workers. The trick is to make the right connections and the MOB is an excellent platform for that.

Reym has already filled two vacancies in the northern Netherlands thanks to the MOB. A suitable driver/industrial cleaner for the Akkrum location was found through the UWV, which is also a partner in the network. And Rabobank and Gasunie put forward candidates who were interested in the position of branch manager with the possibility of becoming a regional director. These were people who had reached the ceiling at their current employer," says Smit. With us they can take that next step. I find it extraordinary that the partners within the MOB deal so carefully with human capital. They enter into open discussions and also dare to let people go if they know they are ready for another challenge. That way we can help each other.

Unique cross-pollination

The MOB now has 20 members with more than 7,000 employees combined. The initiative for this network came from a number of food companies. Most of the members are in the process and manufacturing industry, but parties like Rabobank Noord and Omrin have also joined. 'This creates a unique cross-pollination,' Post observes. 'It works because members are committed and actively participate. We meet with the HR professionals six times a year. Even in between, they find each other well via the app group and phone to throw up balls.

Drive and ability to learn are more important than resume

That way, when there are vacancies or people looking for another place, we can quickly exchange leads. It works so well because there is mutual trust and participants genuinely think with each other.

HR manager Jelke van Dapperen of Royal Steensma agrees. 'Within this network it's all about warm contacts. It goes much further than exchanging vacancies and CVs; it's about people's experiences. It is really a doing network, we spar until someone has an interview somewhere or at least a contact for the next step. This is how we also found a new plant manager for Royal Steensma through the MOB.

After a pitch at a networking meeting, three different partners called out the same name. It was someone who worked at another company - an aspiring MOB member - and who they knew was looking around for a new challenge. Then a ball can roll quickly.

(Joep de Vries, Project Manager NOM)

Open in conversation

Afraid of losing good people himself, Van Dapperen is not. "The reality is that people don't work for the same company for life. It is therefore better to keep an open dialogue with each other. Who knows, maybe someone can join the network and become inspired again. Conversely, Royal Steensma can also offer opportunities to others. We have long service records and we are proud of that, but in the future we will have to anticipate the outflow due to retirement. And the MOB is a valuable network for inflow, throughflow and outflow. Moreover, the network is collegial and inspiring when it comes to knowledge sharing. We also discuss topics such as strategic personnel planning or how to conduct development interviews with employees in the year 2020.'

According to Van Dapperen and Smit, the success of the MOB lies in the fact that the participating companies are not blinded by the coveted sheep with five legs. 'In the current labor market you have to think out-of-the-box and have an eye for what people want. Continuing to learn and develop is part of these times and then matches that are surprising on the face of it can turn out very well.' It is exactly what booster Post is pushing for: creative solutions. We find them because we actively cooperate. At the MOB there is no question of dormant membership; it is precisely by constantly knowing what is going on that we take concrete steps and matches arise.


The MOB stands for concrete action: exchanging people, filling vacancies and getting employees moving with an eye on the future. In addition, the MOB organizes lateral entry courses in cooperation with the UWV and the banking sector. Medium and large companies with at least 100 FTEs and professional HR management can get involved.

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