Recruiting the right talent

   Once someone sees a job advertisement in the local newspaper or on social media, and if one feels that they do fit into the role, one immediately applies. Then of course, you are in dark days where nothing happens, and one goes from applying from one to another trying out their luck.

    But recruitment as such is both an art and a science:  art because many a times we are very ambiguous in what we are asked to look out for, and science because there does lie a process behind it, although it is hardly being practiced religiously.  Usually they companies are looking for that ‘missing piece’ in a jigsaw puzzle that has to ‘fit exactly’ – this is what they want ideally.

    Nowadays, I find in every company there are three divisions:  Human resources (either general or business oriented), Recruitment and Staffing, and then Learning and Development.  Eventually all fall under the Human Resources department.  I have a philosophical problem with the word “ resources” – this means people are treated like machines.  On one hand, the corporate big wigs talk about their people being their Intellectual property (IP), their Knowledge Solutions, their  Talents that they nurture and on the other hand, they have a department that maps them as a resource.  Finding a talent, training them regularly and retaining them is a continuous process and this has to be individually based, rather than a policy document or an objective in some performance assessment.  People have to be recruited  slightly differently based on whether it is a product development organization or a professional solutions organization. Then as a large team, they talk about ‘Pyramid fit’.

    What should a recruiter ideally do in order to get the best talent available into his or her organization?

Capture/Document:  The expectation of the hiring manager must be very clear to the person who is looking out for profile. The required technology skills and the soft skills have to be enumerated in order of priority.  It is better to have three Must haves and three nice to haves.  If one cannot capture the exact requirement in 6 lines, then one cannot recruit properly.  It is always desired for a hiring manager to put in everything that he thinks it is important, but it is like a matrimonial match – you cannot ever get an exact wife!  One needs to understand that the recruiter has to select the best fish that fits the size somehow from the ocean full of fishes. So, capturing the requirements and expectation must be the very first step. This is the reference for the recruiter to start his work

Research/Study:  It is not a given that the recruiter may be versed in the area that he is recruiting.  It is better for him to research and study the area or the technology that the recruitment is happening for, so that he is aware of the key jargons and outlier areas that may be interested as well. It is imperative that he understands what is that he is looking out for, given that he has a published reference point before him.

Search:  Now he scouts for the best fitting profiles and also uses his judgement to see if any outlying areas does fit the requirement as an extrapolative guess.  He must be able to see the profiles, make a quick call to understand the candidate and have a folder with 6-8 profiles that he deems are the best fit available.  It is always better to do a video call of the candidate at the very first instant so that there is a personal connect with the person. A quick 15 minutes call would be more than sufficient. This is just a pre-selection and once you are convinced, you must have the candidate send his updated profile across with an embedded photo. If he is able to send his profile within a day, we have some sort of assurance that the candidate is also showing interest.

Shortlist:  Based on the screening calls, a recruiter must confidentally be able to shortly 4 candidates now to further interview processes within the organization.  It would also be better if someone from the technical side is able to wet the candidates at this point with a quick call to ensure this fitment is there.  It is always better to avoid calling in more candidates for a  Face to Face than needed.

Select:  This selection MUST NOT be done by recruiter nor anyone from the human resources , nor do they have a right to reject. Selection is always done by the hiring manager as the candidate would be reporting to him and he has to be fully accountable for the same.  And al the final interviews must be done within a day and must be done face to face (F2F) and not spread across many days and over phone – this gives a professional look for the candidate as he comes in and leaves with a feeling that he is indeed joining a professionally run organization or a group.  From here on, the engagement with the candidate should be through the hiring manager and no more the recruiter. This gives a professional touch to the entire organization and makes the candidate very proud that he is wanted and  gets a feeling that he is already engaged with the group he is to join. One of the inputs to the selection process should be given mandatorily by the human resources person, both a generic HR and a business HR as they view the candidate from two different lights – this would include all the behavioural skill they had observed during the interview and the financial numbers (budget ted vs present and expected numbers of the candidates) – they must be able to sell the entire organization at a high level during this interaction.  A good 30 minutes must be spent with all interviewees and all inputs collected and decisions must be arrived at – select one, have one backup and reject two.  The hiring manager calls up all the four candidates and gives them the message within a day of interview and not later. For  the backup, one can just say we can looking at him for a different role to give a positive spin and this may take a little while for you to get back. This process is the best remembered by the candidate and they carry memories of the organization and the group here. The files are sent back to human resources department for further processes of hiring.

Secure:  I added this step as this is usually missed by any recruiter.  Once we have the selected candidate, it is important for the recruiter who called him in the first place to keep the channels with the candidate open and keep him engaged with the group and organization. Having a 5 minute call every week or so would be most ideal.  Any questions the candidates may ask can be referred to the right authority and information fed back to the candidate appropriately. By ‘securing’ him,  one knows for sure the candidate joins. If not kept engaged, you may have a no show during the joining day and the process has to repeat.  Atleast during this engagement one gets a feel of what is going to happen.  Depending on the market conditions, if it is especially for the skills you are hiring to, one can do two things:  Add a hiring bonus as a carrot (based on the person joining within a month) and making an offer for both the primary and backup candidate – this way you have a higher probability that one of them would join. If both join, it is merrier as there can always be a place for a candidate that the team selected and more work can be added to the groups plate.

How do you measure the recruiter’s work?  We used to have a metric that measures success by number of resumes screened and shortlisted that has been sent to the number of candidates selected. It has to be 33% and above (some product development companies have 25% and above), meaning one out of the three shortlisted is selected. If over 5 jobs that this is lesser than 25%, then it very well says the recruiter is not doing his job well.  We usually have this metric of 33% for consultants that we may hire for some ‘extra-ordinary’ hiring (in terms  of numbers to be filled or in terms of niche skills that may be sparsely available) – for normal recruiting, it is always beneficial to have an in house recruiter on contract to hire you the best talent. Once a consultant accepts the requirement to hire, it is their responsibility to get you the best.  Never have a external consultant contact a hiring manager and have the interface only through your internal recruiter on roll. For the first time, if external recruiters are called for, it is better for them all to come in one room face to face, get the expectations and their measurement criteria from the hiring manager , and then after that their only point of contact should be the recruiter only.

Now comes the debate of whether you need a recruiter on your roll permanently or hire a contractor. If you have a good human resource personnel on roll, then my take would be to hire a suitable contractor who has recruited in like fields for 6 months to a year and pay them a base and a bonus for successful hiring. On days that no recruitment happens, this recruitment is actually a liability on your financials.  The same rule applies for a guy on bench on any professional services organization- if he is not able to market his skills or convince his client and he does not pay back to the organization, his days are numbered within.