Johannes Sundlo: The HR Interview

Perhaps I’m biased, but when I think of countries outside of the United States where there’s a Human Resources presence, I tend to think of places like Canada, England, China, and India. But there are many sectors of the world that have either rapidly evolving or mature HR models. Sweden is one of them.

A few years ago I was approached by a Human Resources professional in Sweden named Johannes Sundlo. He was requesting for me to be interviewed for his HR blog. I was a bit surprised; I didn’t think of Sweden as a country with a HR presence. I agreed to the interview and have kept in touch with him over the years. Now it’s my turn to return the favor–Johannes is this week’s HR Interview!

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State your name. rank, and serial number (aka who you are and what you do).

I´m Johannes Sundlo and I’m a superawesome social media specialist! I work for Academic Works, a Swedish staffing company which places recently graduated professionals into roles both locally and abroad.

How do you help your organization reach its strategic objectives?

First of all I have to give credit to my organization. We have clear goals and it really helps my work. But I am a facilitator who supports our recruiters to always be in the forefront regarding recruiting people. My job is to make sure that they have good tools to find people. I do it by looking strategically at how we will work to find people now and in the future, but also practically by updating all our channels online. All in all, it is good if I do say so myself and we´ve seen a huge increase of people applying from various social networks through the year that I´ve been working with this!

Speaking broadly, how would you describe the state of Human Resources in Sweden? When we spoke you mentioned that the recruitment space is highly competitive.

Yeah It’s a fight for talented people today, especially within the IT sector. I think there is a similar trend worldwide . Otherwise, the Human Resources industry in Sweden a little bit “sleepy.” Many HR people in Sweden have just discovered that there is something called social media but do not really know what to do there. But we´re getting there. If we look past that, it’s a positive trend within HR where HR starts to take more and more space and focus in organizations where it is seen more as a strategic partner which of course is fun!

The Swedish Human Resources community website you founded, HR Sverige, has a huge following. Talk about it’s evolution and how you were able to help it grow to its current state.

It’s hard work! Fredrik, Karl, and me (the three who manages the site) has spent many hours and much work in getting it to where it is today. Fredrik personally called the first 500 people who joined the network; he created a relationship with basically everyone in the beginning, which has helped us tremendously. Otherwise, it is about capturing trends, try to create a little opinion and be honest and good players. Thus we believe (rightly or not) that we helped to change the perception of Human Resources in Sweden a bit.

What is the #1 misconception Human Resources professionals in Sweden have when it comes to social media? What are some of the strategies you use to counter that?

HR people tend to think that Facebook is a platform where HR shouldn’t be because it’s too personal. No! It’s not THAT personal, it’s a place where your employees are and you have to manage it somehow. For me it’s about playing down the whole thing. To say that Facebook is not so bad, that you can be friends with their employees if they want it, for example.

Is social media savvy a necessary skill set for Human Resources professionals to possess?


What’s your top 1-3 business concerns at this moment?

  1. Finding the right candidates for our job.
  2. Increase the conversion rate for our jobs. We get a lot of clicks through social media, now its all about getting people to apply to them as well. 
  3. How to be the best company in the world at recruiting through social media. Sound ambitious but we’re not that far behind. 

What are some of the ways in which you keep up with current business or HR related news and information?

I follow a lot of blogs! Not Swedish ones because honestly, they’re not that good or innovative but US blogs and UK blogs. Among my favorite blogs is Fistful of Talent and The Undercover Recruiter.

What’s the next challenge for you, professionally speaking?

As said above – how to increase the conversion rate. I’m looking for that golden key to conversion. That means that I´m looking on a lot of things like who our ads are written for, how we target our ads and so on. It´s challenging and really fun!

When are you coming to New York City so we can hang out?

Soon! I visited in May but I ran out of time but I totally loved NYC so my girlfriend and I are definitely heading back real soon!

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