Recruitment Industry

Entrepreneurs and their Hiring Romance!

800 371 Kamal Karanth

Enterprenurs & their hiring processes can be exasperating. Once I got offered on the spot after the first round of discussion and another startup did 9 rounds before offering. Nevertheless, I joined both as I was desperate during that time in my life. But imagine the contrast. To be fair, in the first case both the founders were present and they took a 30 minutes break and decided right there; maybe they were desperate too 🙂 The second case was like a suspense thriller. After every round, they would call and say a new person wants to meet you stating a different reason. I obliged and realised that it wasn’t their process; Just that, they were not organised for interviewing in their busy world. After the 9th face to face interview, they confirmed the offer on phone. I resigned from my previous job and was on a short break. Then they called and said now the HR head wanted to have a telecon with me. With heart in my mouth, I took the call with her, after that conversation they emailed me the offer letter! When I look back I wonder how reckless I/they were about my career. Have times really changed and startups have become more organised? Is it the romanticism of the founders to find an ideal hire that they interview a million people?

Achievements are overstated and Potential is overrated!

800 371 Kamal Karanth
Sometimes I wonder how our profile description can be misleading. As it happens in my new world, I was asked for my profile recently which is worth reflecting with you. I realised that there were 3 major things I was taking shelter under while writing my profile. 1.  Designations,  2. My employer’s brand power and 3. The number of years of experience.  Nowhere was I describing what I achieved there or for that matter, I am capable of. The ‘titles’ my employers gave me. Let’s say, I negotiated for it. Employers Brand, I merely worked there not created it, Years of experience does not necessarily mean expertise. I wonder how long you and I will continue to talk about our past which is done and dusted.   Needless to say, we will continue to cling on to our past titles, employer’s brand, years of experience as apassport to the future.  The alternative isn’t exciting either. It would be funny if somebody introduced us with achievements or potential. I wonder how would it look if somebody introduced me through my ‘real’ achievements or about what I can create next. In the world of brevity, the former will be lengthy and the latter awkward? They say Achievements are overstated and Potential is overrated!

Monday morning Job Interviews?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
Monday morning Job Interviews? Must be stressful for Hiring Managers. Today I had a meeting with a business Head of a fortune100 IT Firm. As I waited, I observed that there were a few people waiting to be interviewed in the lobby. One of them walked to the frontoffice and said:” I was asked to be here at 10, it’s already 1130, I have taken half day leave, I have limited waiting time”. The front office lady asked “do you have the number of the interviewer? the job-explorer said no. The receptionist replied that she didn’t either. Right then a gentleman came & introduced himself as the hiring manager to the front office and asked her the order in which the job-explorers had come. The receptionist said she wasn’t aware of that ask but instead offered the visitors register as a backup.  Then, to my amusement hiring manager started to call out names from the visitors’ registry. “Aparna, Suresh, Rajanikanth (no kidding) “Kamal, Kamal (again)” I realized my name was there too on the visitor’s list. I said, “that’s me and I am not here to explore a job”. A couple of visitors too excused themselves like me later. The hiring manager ignored us & nonchalantly resumed his callout.   On the interviewing front, I thought I had seen it all 🙂

Free Interns

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When do you think of “Interns” what comes to your mind? Youngsters stepping out of academics to whom you want to give exposure or “free labour” for 2 months?

Unfortunately, the latter seems to be making more rounds.

Once an Intern stopped coming to work 3 days after she started. 2 things emerged when we asked the embarrassed team who were instrumental in bringing her on board.

First, she wasn’t offered any internship stipend, second, the first 3 days assignment/directions given to her made her feel it wouldn’t add value to her.

I am not sure we can blame her for not turning up, Poor girl, she couldn’t tell her boss that she wasn’t interested in continuing either.  She chose to go incommunicado and disappeared as she wasn’t sure how to manage this conundrum.

Employer Branding-The HR Template!

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Just like marketers who build great brands, can HR create employer branding with similar templates? 

Enterprises success is dependent on its customers’ loyalty and references. Hence, the entire organization continuously focusses on the customers. Marketers create awareness, interest, intent leading to purchase, and then focus on the retention of their customers. Moreover, organizations have a framework or a template to win and manage their customers. They also measure the cost of acquisition of customers quite religiously.  Just like marketing sets target on the market share and customer satisfaction ratings can HR have a target and path to Employer Branding?

Employer Branding Obstacles

Unlike marketing and sales, Human Resources team have a few more hurdles to pass. For the sales, team customer is the king. But, for HR, it is not that be that straight forward. They have to work through the prism of policies and framework for their customer, who is none other than the employee to deliver the service.

Most importantly, this framework is pre-decided by management, and there is very little last mile flexibility in most organizations. Unlike customer related issues which get solved in no time employee demands and needs take time to resolve. Before any decision, they have to go through multiple layers of discussion. Agility to attend to their customers is the critical challenge for HR, whereas the external paying customer gets the entire organization’s attention. This mindset change is what most HR professionals are asking.

Customer Branding Vs. Employer Branding

When it comes to the paying customer, there is a constant attempt to create a positioning. The value proposition, repeat purchase, customer satisfaction, the price point in which the service or products delivered are objective measurements. Marketers can diligently present this and pivot this on a dynamic basis. Employer branding is very similar. Great Employers define their value proposition first. They go on to measure metrics like attrition, retention of key talent, Employee satisfaction surveys, Hiring costs, Employee referral ratios, exit interviews feedback & Glassdoor ratings. In the case of Employer Branding, HR’s success depends on getting the entire organization’s attention with the same level of intensity and sense of urgency as they would do to the end customer.

Salary and Benefits

HR needs to set a competitive salary benchmarking for the entire organization. Many large enterprises and funded start-ups today have competitive salaries for their top and middle layers. However, the front line staff who interface with customers continue to be underpaid. This pay balance is an important starting point. The next step would be to balance the benefits. Just like customers, employees like benefits. Flexibilities in terms of leave, working from home, timings are becoming more critical than before. Tangible benefits like Creche, Gym, Cafeteria, sports facilities are becoming perks amongst larger enterprises. Some of these can be viewed as nice to have Vs. Must have. However, the results of best employers survey benefits seem to tilt towards employee benefits.

The employee experience has to emanate from the culture of the organisation and has a higher impact than the salary and perks which are easier to execute. Many startups may not be able to match the salary and benefits large enterprises offer but can be competitive in terms of their overall culture.

Culture Building

HR path to Employer Branding can begin with a conscious ‘culture building’ mindset. First of all, there has to be an awareness of how the organization collectively behaves or the culture as we more often call it. The conviction of HR and CEO that Employer branding is an inevitable by-product of a great culture is an essential first step.  This inherent culture of the organisation will eventually drive the Employer Brand. It all begins with how the job aspirant experiences the employer from the interview stage to the time he or she becomes an alumnus.

Beyond the culture which takes time to build, there are a few tactical steps that are relatively easy to follow.

Career Website

In the digital world, an interactive career page is an essential starter for your branding journey. Many organizations don’t even have pages that can narrate what it means to work with them. A video featuring their CEO and HR Head would give a glimpse of the organization. Videos of existing employees in current work settings is a highly engaging way of showcasing your organization. Advertise the existing openings of the organization in a simplistic way to apply via LinkedIn profiles than an extended form filling. Some of them even ask to email your CV to a standard id which is a dampener if it’s a non-responsive Id.

Technology

We are in an age where most of our hires are millennials and Zillennials. They are born and grown up with technology integrated into their lives. It is essential for organisations to invest in interactive Applicant Tracking and Employee management systems, which should reduce the friction and inefficiencies in our current hiring, onboarding, and employment processes. It’s a minor investment for a more exceptional experience. Many large enterprises and funded start-ups who deploy cutting edge technologies for customers struggle even to have essential technologies for their own employee experience.

When the politicians we voted for ‘are’ #poached does it upset you? Isn’t that our approach to #hiring  too?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
When the politicians we voted for ‘are’ poached does it upset you? Isn’t that our approach to hiring  too?  When competition poaches your key Talent what do you do?  Retaliate by adding anti-compete clauses to protect the remaining staff or counter poach? When I bump into some of my ex-colleagues at the airports or conferences, memories of how they walked away when I needed them or how competition headhunted them flashes back. When they left betrayal, loyalty, professionalism, ethics kind of strong words had crossed my mind. None of us is holier than thou. We continuously hire from competition, as that’s the fastest way to get readymade talent.  Have you ever called competition and given them a mouthful when you felt gutted about losing good talent? I haven’t yet, But, I have been on the receiving side of it. Once, I hired 2 people from a large competitor during my overseas stint. Their CEO called me for a coffee and told me it is unethical 🙂 The CEO said that they have discovered skeletons in the cupboard after their exit and happy to see them gone. He was quick to add that I need to be careful with them and he would come after them/me if any of their clients were approached. A few years later he offered me a job  🙂

The Search for Future Workforce-Blended is the Answer?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
“The whole is more than the sum of its parts said” Aristotle.  Many of us carry that to the workplace and frown at everyone who does not fit into a team. Organisations continue to reward loyalty and teamwork through promotions and rewards. Higher retention rates were carried as a badge of honour by HR leaders. However, the nature of the workforce was changing. Hence, we started to put our employees in different buckets based on their age to see if we can manage them better. By categorizing them from Baby Boomers to Millennials we tried to decipher the code on their drivers and how to make them more productive. But, the changes were more complex than just the demographics of the workforce. The future workforce needs were more complicated than the multi-generational employee mix.

Workforce Complexities

The work related complexities have increased in different dimensions. The skills are more transient, technology has become more invasive. Career tenures have gotten shorter even at CXO levels, in many areas the talent demand has outstripped the supply. Additionally, business cycles have changed rapidly or got shortened. The visibility of job opportunities has increased manifold with technology, social media, and smartphone penetration. Massive urbanization, long travels, the rise in nuclear families, expensive office real estate have become headaches to both employers and employees. But, nothing more challenging than the rise of the knowledge workers and the millennials.

The real problem possibly could be the way we look at our knowledge workers. Traditional workforce planning revolved around how many people to be hired on rolls. The IT and BFSI Industries pioneered the benefits of outsourcing based on core competencies and costs. This initiated a large scale distinction of full time and contract employees. This is still at a nascent stage in India and needs a mindset change. We still crave for the so-called permanent jobs. Leaders in organizations also need to go through a paradigm shift to manage core and seasonal workforce composition.

Core vs Non-Core

The definition or distinction between core and non-core activities has seen a transformation over the years. Much of the work which was seen as critical few years ago is now done by just in time workforce. Many large IT firms tend to have about 5-10% of their staff in fixed term contracts. FMCG, Financial Services organisations have their frontline sales staff in either contract to hire or outsourced model. Many MNCs tend to have their administrative and support staff as contractors.  With government also endorsing fixed term contract the acceptance of this workforce will rise further.  HR needs to balance between managing the flexi workforce with dignity and also make it sound cooler than it is today. Studies have repeatedly shown that the contractual knowledge workers are more productive than full-time Employees.

Independent Workers

Millennials are redefining workplace loyalties. First, they are not interested in long tenures. This is clearly demonstrated by the high attrition at entry level jobs irrespective of the nature of work or organisations. They are seeking greater flexibility, personal time and monetary benefits at the start of their careers. The boundaries related to roles, timings, bosses, organisation loyalties are not binding them. HR has to find newer forms of engagements to attract and make them productive. One work arrangement which can definitely enthuse them is the choice of being an independent worker. A freelancer arrangement is going make it easier for the millennials and less bounded to the organisation or supervisory rules. It will address the attraction, attrition, productivity challenges at the entry-level workforce.

What kind of work can be done by freelancers and how long are the questions that organisations need to answer. Whosoever is going to take the lead here has a first mover advantage.

Are u Special?

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The latest Report by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) shows Indian recruitment market in the region of 3600 Crores. It’s a market which has been growing in double digits except for couple of years during recession. As Permanent recruitment market consists of largely lateral hires, the double digit growth is inevitable given the demand for professional and niche talent.

The $USD 400 billion recruitment industry worldwide is moving in two spheres, first in the solutions space where organizations are outsourcing their global multi-billion dollar spend on talent; many large staffing companies have occupied this space and this is growing as a concept known as Talent Supply Chain Management (TSCM). The second area of growing interest in the talent market is for Professionals or Specialist Recruitment Industry as some would like to call it.

The Specialist Recruitment Industry is growing fast due to multiple reasons. The world is innovating so technology has invaded every aspect of life hence the demand for IT talent continues to rise. The world is aging, spent and attention to healthcare is increasing with more and more nurses, diagnostic professionals and doctors being in demand. The world continues to consume fossil based oil. The need for engineers to tap into this or alternative resources is driving the need for engineering professionals. Adding to this, the decline in STEM graduates (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in developed economies and the migration of Professional & Technical Talent to cross borders adds fuel to the growing demand.

The Indian recruitment market with a known history of about 4 decades now faces new challenges of creating an identity. Corporates in India who have large spent have very thought-out recruitment strategies. These days we see recruitment companies competing with external job portals, newspaper advertisements, in-house talent acquisition teams, LinkedIn, and other social media. Corporates today have more choice inclusive of the use of boutique recruitment agencies. Every major city has an average of about 5000 recruitment companies with each displaying very little differentiation from one another. Corporates have been challenged since the last recession on recruitment spends; they outsource recruitment only for niche skills or volume spikes. By the time the niche roles is given to be filled by recruitment companies, it’s likely that the corporates would have already scanned the market for some time.

Corporates today hire recruitment agencies for their unique expertise/talent. The strengths they look for are past track record backed up by consultants who have tenure and industry knowledge. While the brand of the recruitment agency does give an entry to customers, the brand does not guarantee returns. In the war for talent, talent always wins and needless to say, we will need sharper skills and the know-how to attract the best candidates for our clients. Our depth of experience in recruiting combined with our knowledge of the client industry will inevitably get us lucrative and repeat contracts with our clients.

Is everyone looking out?

800 371 Kamal Karanth

Recruitment Industry

Is everyone looking out?

Are you thinking about quitting your job? Most may say no depending on the context of your role and from an employment availability standpoint, but if I ask you there is something interesting, would you be interested to look at it? Many would probably say “yes”! Are you smiling now? Me too! First one was not a trick question, but it just does not appeal to the right side of the brain. Actually, both mean the same depending on how you look at it.
But then does that mean is everyone looking out for a change, probably not, but we behave in a way which indicates that we could be considering a change based on the next trigger. Just look at many job trends survey results over the last few years. Most surveys have pointed out that two thirds of people may make a job shift next year? I don’t know which that next year would be as I am yet to see this 60% attrition in most industries since these surveys started to predict about people movement. I am sure these surveys are not manufactured but their predictions never go on to become facts eventually, why? It’s because people like you and me respond to those surveys. Why do we say that we may consider a change ?

  • Lifetime jobs are now history, most of us are likely to have multiple employers before we retire, I have had 4 employers already, how many have you tried till now?
  • We all read, hear about exciting stuff happening with some other employer all the time. In the Fortune and Forbes world there are only few great places to work, so maybe we hope to get a chance to work in those marquee names soon?
  • In a world full of chances it’s good to believe the next best job could be around the corner, that is how we might have landed into last few jobs of ours, that hope keeps the trigger of “wanting to change” in our mind.
  • Lifetime jobs are now history, most of us are likely to have multiple employers before we retire, I have had 4 employers already, how many have you tried till now?
  • We all read, hear about exciting stuff happening with some other employer all the time. In the Fortune and Forbes world there are only few great places to work, so maybe we hope to get a chance to work in those marquee names soon?

Last week’s dinner with a VP of a services company got me to write this, she was excited about some breakthrough strategies her organisation is currently undertaking; she was even more passionate about the CSR work they do, how much her boss likes her and things like that, as it happens the conversation shifted to me and I told her that it’s one of the best years to be in recruitment industry, her eyes popped up, “Really? Yes with all the action in the start-up industry and a reasonable growth in economy, senior level hiring has seen a lift ” I said, “then let me know if there is anything exciting that suits me ” she said, I was surprised though I should expect this being in recruitment industry, surprised becoz till about 5 minutes ago she was at the top of her career enjoying what she was doing, and now without batting an eyelid she says she may want to change.

Would you hire people who are on Skaters?

800 371 Kamal Karanth

Recruitment Industry

Would you hire people who are on Skaters?

For most part of my career while hiring I had this bias that people who had stable tenures had a positive tick against their name. It was maybe influenced by my own career or the kind of organisations I worked for where people had long tenures. I still stumble every time I interview somebody who has had frequent job changes, my mind poses some questions around

  1. Is this candidate a poor evaluator of his own career?
  2. Is this candidate the sort who throws in the towel in the face of the first problem s/he encounters?
  3. Maybe s/he is the sort who fails to ‘hit the ground running’ hence it’s either s/he quits or the organisation shows him the exit door?
  4. or

  5. This candidate has a short leash of attention, talented but can get bored fast?

People tell me stability is dead and talent is everything, nowadays nobody believes in tenure/loyalty, shorter tenures don’t matter as long as the employee is productive, the argument that in the world of temps, Freelancers, Consultants, why wouldn’t you consider shorter tenures? If you can bring ‘this’ context it sort of makes sense, but you wouldn’t have an organisation which has a significant population of this interim cocktail of freelancers/temps/consultants unless you are making a Bollywood movieJ.

So what does stability really mean?

  • Is it working in a single company till you are an expert storyteller about when the company bought its first piece of furniture to when it installed its internet connection?
  • Is it jokingly telling head hunters that your resume requires some heavy-duty dusting since it was a decade ago when you last updated it?
  • Is it accepting all the crappy new roles your employers throw at you because you failed at noticing hints that your employers are threatening to place you in cold storage if you don’t quit!
  • Your collection of work anniversary certificates is now the size of a book and you genuinely look forward to the same repeated speech by your supervisor about the yeoman service to the organisation!

Does that mean we recruit people who are on skaters who keep moving even though they have only months against their average tenure against years that most have? Depends as to what’s your philosophy on work tenure and the stories people spin for their skating marathon.

“Horses for courses,” said one of my bosses when I queried him for recruiting a frequent mover. He needed somebody to accept a role which no one internally or externally were willing to take on, so he did the next best thing – hired someone who was a “rolling stone” but one who had gathered “enough moss” to get the job done well. In that case it worked.

I have seen people who have had frequent changes also hit the ground running faster, as they are used to job changes and the expectations which come with new employers. People who change jobs after long tenures with previous employers are high maintenance for their new hiring managers, they expect longer runway for take-off, higher pampering during on-boarding and are less adaptable to new situations.Predictive analysis suggests that what you have done before is something you are likely to repeat again. By that theory we can’t hire skaters. On one hand we say we hire for Potential, in reality, we have a separate measuring lens when it comes to stability and tenure; Yes it stems from our social ecosystem where stability is valued higher whether its relationships or the employment tenures of our previous generations.

Whether a skater has more chances of securing that leadership job or a loyalist we can’t deny that stability is still a treasured trait of most traditional Interviewers. In my view stable tenure is one filter which is fading slowly if not already out of many Interviewers mind.

I end by asking you, if there is a CV for a leadership role which has 8 job changes in 15 years vs 3 changes in the same period whom would you select, you might say it depends on the person, but most often the CVs of the former kind don’t even land in the interviewer’s inbox unless it’s of his friend or former colleague ?

imh

I used to fear skaters as I was always a fan of driving long rides with broader wheels, Time to change my thinking?