Work In Progress: TikTok Hiring, CV Hacking, Pawternity Leave

Rozena Crossman

PARIS — We've seen the employee of the future … and she's pale, red-eyed and hunchbacked. A recent article and a spooky life-size doll named Emma showing what can happen to the human body after working in front of a screen for 25 years, published in the French outlet We Demain, was meant to shock. And it does, on a pure health-related level for anyone working a desk job these days. But it's also a particularly good reminder of employee needs for those whose job it is to recruit and retain the best talent in our digital era.

This edition of Work → In Progress dives into the realm of human resources, looking around the world for ways that technology and other factors are driving the way we find the right job — and right job seeker. We'll visit a German hospital using TikTok to garner new recruits, would-be new hires hacking their way to outwit HR bots, not to mention a cuddly selection of companies worldwide implementing "furturnity leave" policies ...​​​

CV HACKING Recruiters have long used SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to boost their online listings, but now job seekers are turning to résumé submission optimization. As companies increasingly use AI to screen CVs, perfectly qualified applicants can get screened out, soft skills go undetected, and any bias unintentionally programed into the bot will lead to discrimination. While companies are racing to improve their automated hiring process, potential employees are using tricks such as including certain words and rewriting job titles to get past the digital gatekeepers.​

THE RIGHT RECRUITING MEDICINE? The process for hunting young talent, even in the most serious of fields, can't escape the whims (and outright silliness) of social media. The German hospital Klinikum Dortmund has created a TikTok account that features its employees lip-syncing with stethoscopes and dancing with disinfectant sprays. According to Deutsche Welle, the hospital says that in the face of severe staffing shortages, social media has turned into the best method for recruiting.​

DOG DAYS While some companies still don't have comprehensive maternity leave programs, others are way ahead of the game in offering competitive benefits. We're not talking paternity leave, but pawternity leave. That's right: Certain employers are entitling their staff to paid leave when they adopt a pet. The phenomenon is global, from Harper Collins in India encouraging responsible pet adoption, to the American data platform provider Mparticle that doesn't "discriminate against pets just because they aren't human", to the Scottish brewery BrewDog that, as its name implies, simply loves dogs. Arf!​


CHIEF SEROTONIN OFFICER Neuroscientists are delving into the realm of HR and helping companies boost employee experience. According to the French business daily Les Echos, in an article translated into English by Worldcrunch, some workplaces have begun monitoring their workers in order to apply the latest in neuroscience to improve life on the job.

• Advances in brain imaging are allowing neuroscience to better reveal the mechanisms of learning, memory, motivation, commitment, attention, decision-making and leadership —all of which interest the business world.

• Staff are equipped with headgear that detects stress and drops in motivation, alerting employees when it's time to take a break.

• Scientific researchers are working to create "neuro-friendly managers' who leverage knowledge about how the brain learns and functions to create a more pleasant, stimulating and productive environment for their team.

• The American company Emotiv has designed an artificial intelligence program that analyzes brain signals recorded from next-generation, intra-ear sensors similar to headphones.​

Read the full story, translated from French by Worldcrunch.​


And meanwhile, in Chile — which has become a key Latin American startup hub —, 72% of the adults say they are considering entrepreneurship as a viable career choice.​

SOCIAL SECURITY GUARDS As Japan faces declining demographics, the government is encouraging citizens to work until they're 70. Yet many men over 60 with insufficient pensions can only find work as security guards, making up 44% of the sector's employees. It's not exactly an age-appropriate job fit, both taking a toll on the worker's physical health and not necessarily providing the best service. For governments keen to raise the retirement age, it's time to get prepared for the real-life consequences on the job market.

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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