3 ideas for Multi-location Recruiting

ciel blog - rcruiting from multiple locations

Talent Acquisition Leaders plan recruiting calendars and methods based on what the business leaders need for their teams. This is fun and excitement; regular day at work. This gets a bit tricky when the plan is to hire in large numbers or there is a demand-supply issue. In such situations, recruiters get out of their familiar territories to explore new possibilities. They source talent from multiple locations, adopt new methods to attract talent, review their assessment methods just in case they are losing out good candidates, focus on candidate experience, challenge existing norms and so on. Though organizations keep doing this during their growth phase, each time such an exercise is undertaken, it becomes unique in many ways because we live in a highly dynamic environment. What are the top considerations for one such multi-location recruiting exercise?

Who is Recruiting for You?

Recruiters deliver the moment of truth to an applicant. They take your Employer Brand out there to the talent market. They need to have a good grip on both sides of the equation : demand side as well as the supply side.

The demand side point towards the Employer brand. So, they must have a good understanding of what you stand for, your future plans and relative positioning with respect to the employer brands competing  with you.

On the supply side, they need to have a good understanding of the behaviours of the candidates in the local market. We have technology-enabled databases such as job portals, social networks of professionals and various job search engines. Yet, it is critical to have a good understanding of candidate behaviours, availability of talent, their typical expectations and the dynamics of local talent market. It is important that the recruiter has a physical presence in the market and has a good connection with the candidates there.

Do you have many recruiters working for you? Are they all well-qualified and competent to work for you? When you have many recruiters tapping the same market, they compete against one another and often work at cross purposes. Secondly, recruiters tend to give their everything to an assignment which is exclusive to them, especially when the pool of eligible candidates is small. And at the same time, when you put them on a contingency mode alongside many other recruiters, you do not get any of them to deploy their strategic bandwidth on the assignment. So, the value that you receive becomes sub-optimal.

It is important to make the right choice of Recruiters.

Right Methods to Assess

You must have the right methods to screen applicants so that the right candidates do not drop off the process, great candidates feel encouraged to apply and misfits get eliminated early on. This is easier said than done. The context of demand and supply could be unique in each market. Hence, the methods for attraction of talent and doing prelim screening needs appropriate improvisation. For example, one could introduce a method of group interaction when you have far too many walk-ins and you do not see a challenge in picking up the desired numbers. Another situation could be to screen candidates online right at the stage of expressing interest. On the other hand, one could encounter situation of tight supply of the skillsets being hired. In those cases, you could hold challenges or seminars to engage with potential talent and network with them to build a long-lasting engagement.

Keep track of the Efficiency

It is exciting to go places and attract talent from various pockets. There is always a cost involved and the returns that we get for the organization. The costs include the fees paid to agencies, online databases, logistics and the person-hours invested by the personnel involved in the process. The returns are to be measured in terms of number of hires, average cost to company of the hires vs the company average, the retention rate of the hires vs the company average and the value of diversity on customer satisfaction.

At times, companies do not keep track of these metrics and hence, have no idea if the system is working well for them. It is not enough to keep a track of the efficiency but also, one has to make course-corrections in the system based on the outcomes.


Hasslefree Onboarding for New Joiners

ciel blog - onboarding

Organizations hire new people to fill either a new position or a vacant slot. As soon as the new joiner arrives, a payroll record is created and various stakeholders in the organization start their tasks to help the person start his or her work. Everyone is well-intentioned to make sure that the new person gets on with his or her job at the earliest.

A Check-list

Most often, the best case scenario of a hasslefree onboarding means, the employee has a welcome mail, a bouquet, a set of forms to fill, a few documents to read, a few videos to watch, a meal with a bunch of folks, a tour of the workplace with quick introductions and handshakes by many and assignment of a workstation with a bag of office stationery. This seems to be a well-organized check-list, but it takes immense efforts to organize. An HR person has to co-ordinate with several departments and seek some approvals to get these in place. Needless to say that many organizations find this tough to get all of these done free from glitches.

And some organizations have a longer list of activities in the list. They need to be delivered on the 7th day, 30th day, 60th day and so on.

Emotional Connect

Is onboarding all about organizing a set of tasks? Do these activities make the new joiner feel at home and make the person get onto the expressway?

A set of well-organized tasks can make someone experience a machine-like accuracy. However, it does not give the confidence to the person about the future that lies ahead. Starting a new job is much more than getting an appointment letter at hand, signing a few documents and getting introduced to a few colleagues and seniors. A new job inspires the person with new dreams, hopes and aspirations. An organization needs to think about these and create the space in the program to touch upon these vital aspects.

Normally, organizations treat onboarding as a transaction. Hence, a new joiner is most often just a headcount and a row in the HRMS database. While these are important pieces in the labyrinth of a firm, it is equally or more important for the leaders to build systems and processes to make the new employee feel valued.

Performance matters

Ultimately, an organization has a purpose and a mission to accomplish. It has its systems and processes. It has a set of tangibles that define the journey. There are roles and responsibilities for people working there. The organization has a structure that facilitates the employees to perform various tasks. Also, it delivers rewards and recognition to the employees. Onboarding must include this critical aspect the life at work.

Many organizations do not have an onboarding program that gets down to the brass tacks. A new joiner is not sure what is expected of him to be considered successful in the role. LEaders shy away from explaining the targets, the methods by which the job is evaluated and what support will be provided along the way to aid success. The measures of success must be clear for the new joiner.

In sum, there are three aspects of an ideal onboarding program : carry out a set of tasks driven by a check-list, build emotional connect with the person and define the key indicators of performance.

Should you outsource Recruitment : 3 Questions before you!

ciel blog - outsourcing-recruitingYou need the best talent on-boarded and retained to fulfill your ambitions. Do you hire them by your own team or get a service provider to do the job? Or you take a combination approach? While it could be safe to go for a combination or hybrid approach, let us have a formula that determines when to do it in-house and when to outsource. There are multiple factors: cost, efficiency, returns on investment, expertise, capacity, focus on core business, flexibility to match the peaks and troughs of hiring demand. Can we organize these factors into a simple format that facilitates easy decision-making.

Do you have a talent strategy?

This is not a rhetoric question. Talent strategy gives a clear idea of the roles and the number of people for each role they need to hire during the year. And for each role, they should know what competencies they require, the budgets, timelines and where the desired talent is available. They must also have a path for each role to develop and progress further. Not many organizations have this clearly defined and agreed among their top management.

Ideally, you should know the roles which give a competitive edge to the organization. These need not be the senior-most roles in the company. Depending upon the strategy, the competitive advantage of your army could be the foot soldiers or in some cases, it is the Generals; and in some other cases, it could be the mid-level managers like Captains and Majors. Irrespective of the level, the roles which give you the edge in the market, need to be the focus of the Board. Specialists must be deployed to fill these roles. Even when you have a team in-house sourcing talent, you get internal references and you have your own database of candidates, you outsource the activity to an expert organization to deploy one uniform method.

There are roles which are essential for the day to day functioning of the organization. You look for efficiencies in this case. Most often, you would have outsourced these roles to a Staffing company. A well-oiled machinery can service these requirements well. Do you run this machinery in-house or outsource?

The answer lies in the cost vs benefits. Typically, the fully-loaded cost of a recruiter in India is  1.0 to 1.5 million INR per annum for a company. This figure does not consider the opportunity costs. These are just the direct costs such as wages, tools, infrastructure and the cost of supervision. Many organizations fail to see the hidden costs associated with a full-time employee, let alone the opportunity costs. If the cost savings by in-sourcing recruitment are higher than the direct costs, it is a no-brainer to set up an in-house team to acquire talent.

How confident are you in attracting talent by yourself?

Top talent is not easy to come by. Depending upon the skill-set being hired, the depth of experience being looked for and the demand-supply situation for that kind of talent, candidates behave differently. When your target market for talent is experiencing extreme levels of demand (too high or too low), candidates are likely to have many questions regarding the opportunity. They feel at ease in asking questions to a third-party than the potential employer. Hence, such queries are best addressed by your recruitment partner rather than by your own team. If you haven’t outsourced recruitment in such cases, you are missing out on the best talent.

Sourcing candidates is just one of the many steps in the recruitment process. However, this is one of the most crucial steps. How confident are you about the expertise and capacity of the in-house team in attracting the best from the market? Depending upon the role that you are trying to fill, your Recruiting partner deploys the recruiter who regularly fills such roles. It is most likely that the agency will be able to do a better job in attracting the best than your in-house team.

You may have an in-house team filling a set of roles which are non-strategic but essential for day to day functioning. Let us assume that the cost vs benefits equation is in your favour and hence, you are happy to run the engine under your direct supervision and control. What do we do to ensure that the best talent is being picked up and at the optimum cost? We need to benchmark our processes to ensure that they are fit for the purpose.

Do you have the intent?

Leadership intent and belief plays an important role behind the decision of outsourcing. If your context is short-term, the answer is simple : you have to do everything hands-on, fight multiple battles at the same time, minimize cash outflows and ignore the opportunity cost. If you think in the long term, you have to decide what is strategic and what is not; secondly, you need to evolve a talent management strategy and execute it accordingly. Often leaders do not find the bandwidth to define the strategy for the talent attraction, assessment and development. Hence, their execution steps in recruitment become haphazard and hence, inefficient.

Leaders in HR, Procurement and Finance negotiate with a service provider on aspects like replacement guarantee, ownership of candidate, scope of work, MIS, penalties and so on. Unfortunately, they do not find the time to discuss talent strategy, employee value proposition and market trends. In-house team or an outsourced team, both need investment of time and efforts to co-create talent attraction ideas and fine-tune talent acquisition processes. That calls for not only an intent but also deep commitment.

In summary, ask yourself the 3 questions and decide what you should outsource. Needless to mention, these are strategic and deeper questions than the run-of-the-mill ones such as hiring plan timelines, numbers and expertise to hire. Outsourcing or doing it in-house is an important decision. The questions which help making this decision better be tough!

Get the best of your Recruiting Partner : 3 ideas

ciel blog - get the best out of your recruiting agency

Recruiters build organizations. They help companies pick the best and retain the talent longer. They are like the specialist doctors we visit to not only fight an illness but stay healthy. Do the CXOs and HR Directors see the recruiters as specialists who help their organizations with the right nutrition to grow?

Help them understand your context

Every organization has a context that is unique to itself. This context guides its actions and priorities which are different from another in the same industry sector. The choices an organization makes about talent are very different from another because its culture, leadership and strategies are different. Interestingly, these three aspects are not tangible; nobody can touch and feel them. These have to be experienced over a period of time and absorbed. The Specialist Doctor understands not only our body but also our mind; hence, she can treat us the best. Again interestingly here, our mind is not something that can be touched and felt. The doctor understands it through her interactions with us over a period of time and advises us accordingly. Do you interact with your Recruitment Partner such that your culture, leadership style and strategy are understood well by them?

Get strategic

Many a times, organizations think that recruitment is about finding a bunch of Resumes that a recruiter should submit and coordinate a few meetings as and when demanded. If this is all that you need, it is worthwhile doing it all yourself. You can post a job on a few platforms, subscribe to a few databases and use its search feature to find a bunch of matching candidates. You do not need a recruiting partner!

Your recruiting partner must have the domain expertise, the intellectual bandwidth and curiosity to understand your context. Secondly, they must be able to integrate their experiences to help you develop an insight about the talent market. If you run recruitment in-house, you normally get limited by your vision of the talent market. Get the best out of your recruitment partner by understanding the market trends and gathering various insights.

Invest your time and energy

Relationships evolve over a period of time. Trust and commitment get built over time like any other natural process. At times, organizations engage many agencies for recruitment. So, they do not have the bandwidth to transform any of these engagements to that of a partnership. Moreover, Talent Acquisition teams, Supplier Engagement teams and Senior Management Teams often do not find the time and energy to engage with the recruitment partner. In the absence of investment of time and effort, no relationship can gain strength. You need to give the time at the right levels in the organization to build mutual understanding and deepen the engagement.

Organizations can potentially make huge changes in their talent strategies based on the insights that they gain from their conversations with the partners. They can save valuable time and energy by improving efficiency of the recruitment partner. Given the nature of engagement, the partner is likely to get a lion’s share of the business with you and hence, a likely cost advantage for you. As they understand the context better and feel valued, they fortify their commitment to find the best talent for you in the shortest time. That’s a competitive advantage for you!

Is your Age just a number?

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A fifty year old salesman is looking for a change from his current job. He is a graduate and has been selling electrical appliances all his life. He understands the consumer preferences well; knows about the products thoroughly. He is skilled well to make a sale happen and has been meeting his targets. It should be easy for him to get a new job based on his proven track record, knowledge and expertise. Will the Top retailers hire him? Will the consumer durable industry welcome him with open arms to retail their products?

Age plays an important factor in recruiting decisions

Recruiters and employers alike, are prejudiced towards hiring a certain kind of people. They subconsciously choose people who match a set of criteria. Age is one such unspoken criterion that interviewers and assessors apply while deciding.

Two-thirds of our population are below the age of 35. Hence, a lot of managers in the mid to senior levels are in their youth. Given the social norms that we grow up with, most Indians are not comfortable to supervise someone who is senior to them by age. So, subconsciously they look for younger people to work in their teams. Age plays an important role in getting chosen for a job, not the skills alone.

And it is often believed that the younger people are energetic, dynamic, ambitious, quick-learners, tech-savvy and willing to adapt. Many people think that the older people are rigid, inflexible, slow, impatient and among the spent-force. Naturally, there is just a handful of jobs such as a trainer, a teacher, a singer, a chef where grey hair is valued.

No Law that prevents discrimination based on age

In the US, it is unlawful to enquire about the age of the applicant in an interview. In India, our constitution prevents discrimination based on caste, creed and religion. Age is not one of these. Hence, an employer can decide to use age as a criterion for their decisions of recruiting and retirement. Legally speaking, there is nothing wrong in using age as a filter. Organizations do look at the age of the applicants to judge their suitability with what the role demands. They tend to figure if the applicant will be able to cope with the stress, work schedule, challenges and demands of the role. This kind of judgement is not among the best HR practices. However, interviewers and assessors follow such methods most often than not.

Make way for the young

Many organizations in India are on a growth path. So, it is easy to promote someone into a bigger role, offer greater responsibilities at a higher salary. Hence, the ageing manager does not obstruct the individual growth of his or her direct reports, rather the experience and maturity of the senior are leveraged often in the organization. This sounds like a fairy tale. Does this happen routinely?

Certainly not! Workmen do not follow this kind of a growth path. Secondly, most organizations do not get on this dream run. Since our economy sees inflation, costs keep increasing each year. As someone ages in the same role, the cost goes up without a comparable increase in the impact. The only way an organization can deal with this situation is to rediscover new ways, transform itself and optimize its cost structure. So, the old guard has to make way for the young in order to optimize the costs and inject new thinking.

Age is not just a number. As long as it correlates with the impact delivered, it is hale and hearty.


Are you a Quiet Leader?

ciel blog - quiet leader

We grow up with various stereotypes and accordingly, we look up to certain kind of leaders as our heroes. Organizations tend to choose and promote people who are boisterous, loud and confident. It is believed that such a person is likely to inspire and lead the flock purposively, keep them together and deliver the results that the organization wants. We would have seen personalities who are on the quieter side and unable to create an impression in the first interaction. Social norms work in the minds of the audience and often they lose out when pitted against a verbal enthusiast. However, I have seen poor results delivered by the team led by the seemingly ideal person. Why is it so?

Context matters… Leader must adapt!

Situations differ and accordingly the challenges before a leader vary. One has to be flexible to be able to adapt to the situation. You may be loud and dominating; leading your team from the front and in the spotlight. Alternately, you may be quiet, analytical and empowering; prefer to be in the background. Neither of the two type is ideal! A leader is a human; the followers are human too. Hence, the group dynamics and the leader’s personal style determine how well one is able to adapt to the situation.

The leader has to invest the time and space to think about the context, recognize the situation, involve the team in arriving at the decision and building ownership of the execution steps. These steps sound very textbook style. Often, the situation could be such that the leader does not have the wherewithal to go through these steps. And in some cases, personal style of the individual comes on the way of following this style.

Results take a beating when the team expects consultation and participation whereas the leader follows his own agenda to arrive at the decision and merely communicates them down the line. Given the composition of today’s workforce, team members often want to understand the rationale of a decision and participate in the process; they do not like to be instructed and watched over their shoulders. Given this context, it is more likely that the leader cannot afford to have a dominating, invincible and instructive style. Similarly, there are situations where the house is on fire and the leader is expected to be on his toes, taking quick calls and leading from the front. So, the style of being participative, passive and consensus-driven will not work.

One-size-fits-all does not work. One has to adapt to the context!

Make choices!

One of the most important characteristics that defines a leader is the choices one makes. While the speed of decision making, the process of arriving at the decision and the way it is communicated are important, the first and most critical factor behind the success of a leader is the decision one takes. Normally, there is a set of alternate paths which lie before a leader and one chooses to traverse one of them.

Isn’t it frustrating to see the leader delaying a decision, procrastinating, unwilling to bite the bullet? We need our leader to be confident and calm in evaluating various alternates; we need him or her to be charismatic and creative in bringing up new possibilities before us. It is a unique combination of self-confidence, charisma and pragmatism that we look for. Again, easier said than done! How often we come across such people?

We find the macho and communicative boss who believes in speed and his instinct in processing the information, takes a call fast and pushes the team to get ahead. It surely raises the confidence of the team, boosts team spirit and fires everyone up. When the going gets tough, the boss needs to stay strong and calm to weather the storm, make course-corrections and sustain optimism. We have seen such macho leaders fail at times.

Quiet leaders are often stereotyped as people who are slow, tentative and selfish. However, from another perspective, the same actions might be sure-footed, determined and cautious. So pragmatically speaking, our boss needs to be balanced in his approach to a problem so that the choice is made quickly; communicated with vigour; and arrived after giving it the right amount of thought and experience. No one type of leader does it better than the other!

If you love solitude…

As we can see, there is no one particular style of leadership that works better than the other. Just in case you love solitude, prefer to write than talk, hate superficiality, embrace deep-diving, stay calm and confident in times of crisis as well as jubilation, you need not worry about your prospects of being successful as a leader. You have great strengths which need to be leveraged!

It is easy for you to listen actively, empathise, give credit to your team, put your team first, stay poised and find solutions. It is important for you to communicate often, show the way forward and exude optimism. Your team trusts you, values your position and looks up to you for inspiration!

Rise of Well-informed candidates

Candidates are consulting an average
of 16 sources before applying…
…and only 36% apply witho...

Over the last decade, internet has become ubiquitous in recruitment across the globe. Employers and potential employees alike use the internet to meet one another directly or through an agency. In either case, the candidate and the company make a choice based on their individual perception and judgement of how well they fit the requirements of the other. Traditionally employers and candidates meet one another and conclude if there is a fitment. However, in today’s time, candidates rely on information available publicly as well as what they gather through their contacts and the social media. Candidates have access to a lot of information other than what they learn during an interview. How does this impact talent acquisition?

The Moments of Truth in a Recruitment Process

We see experts in Communication and Advertising specialise in the domain of employer branding. They advise companies how to stand out in the crowd of HR Leaders seeking talent and communicate their value proposition to the potential employee.

Crafting a communication is a skill of high order. Done well, this helps a company tremendously in building an image that creates curiosity in the minds of potential candidates. We have seen it at play for several IT and Outsourcing companies in the last couple of decades. However, such communication becomes a hyperbole if the attendant parts in the organization cannot deliver the experience that the candidates expect. This is easier said than done. The moment of truth for a candidate starts right from the time he or she comes across a recruitment advertisement. Then starts several action steps such as applying for a job, receiving feedback, various communication through various stages of the selection process, the visits and contacts during the entire process till the person successfully comes on board.

At each of these stages, different stakeholders interact with the candidate. The moot challenge before the HR leaders is to ensure that all stakeholders in the process are aligned to what is being promised in the value proposition and deliver the experience consistently. It is a massive transformation program for the organization!

The Social Media is on an Overdrive

ciel blog - well informed candidate

Ex-employees and current employees of the organization express their views about working in a firm. Candidates who attend interviews with a potential employer talk about their experience. The social media and the search engines have made things easy for broadcasting these moments of truth all over. Companies do invest huge energies to communicate who they are, what kind of talent they are looking for and build an image that describes them as an employer.

One cannot escape from the fact that there are grapevines within an organization, a lone wolf who is an internal adversary, some unintentional cases of negligence that spoil the party and some disgruntled souls who are out there. The team has to be alert and proactive in warding off the evil eye. And at the same time, one needs to be fast enough to attend to the mistakes and failures; recover the lost ground. There should be no let up in one’s efforts to spread the positive news that takes place in different parts of the organization.

Today’s well-informed candidates form their opinions looking at various such intimations, undertones and nuances. So, the employer organization has to be fast enough and hitting the bull’s eye consistently.

Match expectations and stay agile

Life is fast today : decisions are being taken faster than ever before; thinking through is often understood as procrastination and viewed with despise. Organizations have to keep pace with the likes of their target audience. The cycle times are coming down in every aspect of our life. So, it is natural that candidates expect quick answer, the interviewers need more choice and the jobseekers have access to several opportunities at the same time. This trinity makes the task for the HR folks exciting and challenging.

Leaders have to organize a good set of candidates at one go and make a quick decision. They need to decide when to keep looking for the illusive ideal candidate and when to be happy with the best available candidate. Long cycle times aren’t going down well – organizations have to be agile.

Expectations are mutual and dynamic in a relationship between the employer brand and the talent pool. Hence, it is important that a winning organization keeps a tab on the trends in the talent market and makes adjustments in its actions on a regular basis.

The rise of well-informed candidates has made life simple for the Talent acquisition specialists and HR leaders in many ways. They get an enviable advantage if they tune in to the signals in the market with respect to their employer brand and make course-corrections. This calls for agility and rigorous execution!