Johannes Koldehoff

The top skills for the job: Glimpse into the work of a HR consultant

Johannes Koldehoff completed his Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology & Human Resources Management at ISM in 2019. Today, he works as a Consultant People Advisory Services at EY and supports companies in the transformation of their HR processes. As such, he is able to see on a daily basis what is important in the world of work and constantly needs to take his own skills to the next level. We therefore asked him which skills will be in demand in the future and how you can acquire them.

Johannes, your job gives you insights into a multitude of companies. Which aspects are particularly important in the world of work right now?

Agile working and digital interaction are two important keywords. In addition, the focus is increasingly on the user. As a result, products need to be intuitive to use and designed for the best possible user experience. On the other hand, aspects of sustainability are becoming more and more important, and everyone should develop an awareness of this. Coronavirus has also promoted the relevance of science to a new level: Which experiences can be translated from science to practice, and how can we bridge the gap between science and practice?

Which skills are necessary in your own line of work? How do you think the job of a consultant will change in the future?

Basically, it comes down to an analytical mindset, a solution-oriented approach within a team, communication skills and a willingness to learn. The coronavirus pandemic has led to all our meetings and training sessions taking place digitally. Through numerous digital tools, we’re able to attract and keep the attention of customers in workshops while addressing the needs of each individual. This, however, demands more ingenuity to build up a relationship with customers. It remains to be seen how much traveling as part of your job will change in the world of consultancy. One thing is for sure though, digital forms of collaboration will be used more in the future. Nevertheless, I still see direct customer interaction being an integral part of everyday work in the future, too.

“We experience daily that the half-life of knowledge is decreasing rapidly. For me as an employee, it’s important to regularly create time for professional and personal development.”

Did you overestimate or underestimate certain skills before launching your career?

Thanks to the major Internet platforms, such as Amazon, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., we live in a world that is very much geared towards experience. This customer experience, which everyone experiences daily in their private lives, is also quickly translated into expectations within their working environment. For a wide variety of HR issues, it’s therefore no longer just about the actual HR work, but also about how I can design it all digitally and offer the customer user experiences that usually already exist in their private lives. So obviously digital expertise and marketing skills play a much bigger role than you think. I’ve also learned how important it is to focus on the essentials, to develop ideas and to get regular feedback on them. It’s neither possible nor sustainable to think through an issue from A-Z and then develop a plan.

Flexibility and a willingness to learn are high on every employer’s list of expectations for new employees. Do you think you can actually learn these qualities?

I think everyone has the ability to learn and grow on a personal level in these areas. We experience daily that the half-life of knowledge is decreasing rapidly. For me as an employee, it’s important to regularly create time for professional and personal development. From a personal perspective, flexibility and a willingness to learn are two key points that demand the responsibility of both employees and employers. In an ideal world, they meet in the middle. As an employer, I’m required to create the necessary basic conditions that allow my employees to act in a flexible manner; rigid structures tend to inhibit this. Moreover, it’s important to offer my employees individual learning opportunities to promote their willingness to learn.

Do you have any tips for current students on how they can further develop their soft skills?

I believe it’s important to identify your soft skills first. When am I at my most convincing and which areas have potential for development in my opinion? Then have your self-assessment validated by various people such as friends, professors or colleagues. Quite often you’ll discover completely new sides to yourself that you were previously unaware of but which represent real added value for others.


Interview: Laura Krause