Ann-Kathrin Keil

Bild von Ann-Kathrin Keil

Personnel Officer

in a medium-sized company in Upper Franconia

 

What do you do for a living?

I work as a personnel officer in a medium-sized company in Upper Franconia.

 

What did you study and how did you get into your job?

I studied business administration, doing first my bachelor's degree, then a master's degree. I have specialized in Marketing and Human Resources in my bachelor’s and in Human Resources and Organization in my master’s. After graduating, I started working as a personnel clerk in a mail order business and then switched to the position of personnel officer at a new employer.

 

Have you always wanted to go into human resources or when did it become clear to you that this was what you wanted to do?

No, I didn't want to. The bachelor's degree at my university was very broad and I had considered specializing in business IT, for example. In the basic course you go through all branches until you finally specialize. During this time, I noticed that I really like human resources, communication and organization. After completing my BA, I realized that it was definitely the right decision and I was able to adapt my master’s degree to my interests.

 

Between hiring and letting personnel go - How many people are you responsible for and what tasks do you have as a personnel officer in your company?

I am responsible for around 120 people (different hierarchy levels). I handle the entire personnel process from hiring to redundancy, that is, from personnel planning, which leads to recruiting, through to onboarding, to employee support, and finally to employee departure, which goes into personnel planning and thus closes the circle. These are all very large and broad-based fields, individual tasks include: creating job advertisements, viewing applications, inviting applicants, conducting interviews, advising executives in the selection of candidates, supporting and advising executives in staff management, conducting probationary interviews, administrative tasks (contracts, create certificates, etc., mail processing, ...), applicant and employee contact, personnel marketing, ...

 

How do you make personnel decisions?

There are often no immediate, definitive decisions. If there is a conflict, one tries to find a solution for both sides and to show where the problem could have originated. If it is a matter of gross misconduct by a person, this is explained and what the consequence of it is. At my employer, few warnings are issued and there are few terminations issued by the employer. There is little conflict and little turnover.

 

From which knowledge or experiences gained during your studies do you still benefit today?

Above all from the communication, learning and organizational techniques. The former helps me in job interviews, in meetings and in employee interviews. The last two help me structure my work and quickly acquire new topics. The topic of leadership styles & personnel marketing also helps me in several areas. It affects recruiting, as well as employee support and giving advice to managers.

 

How important is industry-specific knowledge for your work?

Of course, I have to know what my company is doing, after all, I have to make the company interesting for applicants and at the same time choose the right person. However, I cannot know everything in detail. It is more important to have an overview and to master my craft as a personnel officer well. A healthy dose of interest in new topics is not bad here, because the job market is constantly changing, new methods are emerging, and the interests and needs of applicants and employees change depending on the generations. You shouldn't be afraid of changes in HR.  

 

What were the last three things you did at work?

I have viewed applications and forwarded them to the responsible department manager. Furthermore, I compared different platforms for job advertisements and their offers (reach, target group, price, additional offers, etc.). Most recently, I spoke to a department manager about how to proceed with a job advertisement, what timeline we have, what needs to be done when and what measures we would like to take.

 

Your parents did not study: What challenges did you have to master as a working-class child that your fellow students with parents who studied did not have? And the other way around: What can you possibly do better as an ‘educational climber’?

I had to learn the entire course of study, the language, behavior, etc. first. For example, I spent a long time preparing for a conversation with a professor because I had no idea that I could just go to the office. I was happy for every exam I passed because I thought that if you failed you would be kicked out. Those are little things that you have to learn first to understand how to study properly. On the other hand, due to my previous training in retail and professional experience, I had few problems with getting up in the morning, with concentrating or having stamina. I found it difficult to understand when someone came to class late or missed lectures. For me, studying was my job and I didn't have to learn to develop this discipline first.

 

What do you love about your job?

I work with people and, if things go well, I can make them happy. Getting someone a job in a company you stand behind is great. I also enjoy talking to my colleagues to hear how things are going in their jobs, and I enjoy encouraging them, congratulating them on their good work or solving problems.

 

Your tips for young professionals?

Do internships! Due to the personal data, human resources is a bit different from other departments. You cannot talk to colleagues from other departments about the issues that are pending. Much is subject to data protection and since you have a direct impact on the external image of a company with your own presence, personnel officers are rarely hired when still complete beginners. Find internships and soak up as much knowledge as possible. Actively ask if you can take part in conversations. Have everything explained to you that you do not understand. Don't be disappointed if your first job is as a clerk, just keep going. Then you’ll be on the right track.