Gold is passive! Are we settling for Brass?

    Recruitment budgets of companies are increasing rapidly. According to Forbes, Businesses around the world spend $3,300 per hire on recruiting and this budget has increased by almost 6% in the last year. This means that US based companies spend nearly $72 billion each year on a variety of recruiting services, staff and products- and the worldwide number is three times bigger.

    Organisation loses precious time and resources in identifying the right candidates. The best and the brightest candidates are beyond the reach of ordinary recruiters. Recruiters are drowned in the vicious cycle of numbers, time lines and competition. Often deadlines make recruiters CV peddlers, settling for the mediocre. The mediocre present themselves as gold and demand their pound of flesh. Urgency drives employers also to make do with the mediocrity!

    In such a situation where time is of essence, how can a recruiter still mine gold and present the best.

    Gold is passive, inert, has to be mined.

    ehA recruiter has to work with stakeholders, the client as well as candidates with a long term perspective.Work with clients to identify requirements long before the position becomes available. The recruiter needs to get involved at the project planning stage and be in continuous dialogue with the hiring manager. This provides time to the recruiter to start exploring every possible channel to search for the best. Building close business relationship with the clients, engaging with them right from the project planning phase, understanding the culture are some of the ways to maximise value addition and provide the most suitable candidate.

    The presence of the recruiter at the table cannot happen if the relationship is transactional. It has to be ‘strategic partnering’ which requires investment of time and energy.Only providing continuous value will carry the recruiter to the table!

    Good candidates are fully absorbed in their assignments, contributing and impacting their organisations. They are not busy framing their CVs on every job portal and renewing them periodically. The best, do not make a hasty decision of changing jobs over an email or phone call. Identifying or literally mining them is a challenge. Truly engaging them is a bigger challenge.

    In recent times search for passive candidates has become the trend of recruitment industry. Engaging candidates in social media platform is a prevalent practice but there is lot of scope for creativity & improvement. Understanding the psyche of candidates is critical to recommend the right opportunities. It is a gradual process which takes lot of time, for some people it takes months and for some, years.

    The recruiter has to develop long term relationships with the candidate as well as the clients. Every interaction should, therefore, be seen as an opportunity for investment. How such investments are done is what separates wheat from the chaff. Great leaders are passionate about their people and resources. They know what makes each team member tick, what assignment is to be given to whom to get the best.

    Do recruiters manage their resources with the same alacrity? How many candidates do you know, which is not like being connected on social-media? When was the last that one of your candidate’s spoke to you about their career plan? When did you last meet the top 10 percentile candidates in each domain that you cater to? When did you last speak to your client about a candidate without an open position in-mind?

    Candidates belong to diverse backgrounds both in terms of culture, demography, competencies and temperament. What should be the ideal strategy to engage with the top, but, passive job seekers? Relationships are not built with a phone call, these have to be nurtured over months and years.The frequency and manner of keeping the “connect” is key. This is a blind spot. There is no straight jacket approach. The creativity of the recruiter is the key! Of course, if you have a tool like Expert Hiring, it will help you to scale. If you are interested in knowing more about this tool, then please write to me at

    Go for gold! Happy Passive Candidate Hunting!!

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    Pedigree does it matter?

    Should we stick to the current range or do we risk placing the newcomer in the top percentile if he is great..

    Bringing in new people is like adding a family member… how careful should one be?

    John Maxwell..if you are on a 6 on a 10point scale of leadership, your ability to spot talent is restricted to people who are at level six and do not leave a fresh graduate to do the screening of the cvs to filter..


    What do we look for? It is always a difficult question to answer..the skill, competency and relevant experience are the easier things to look for. However is that all?

    Rercuitment now goes with the words, Talent Acquisition..what is talent? How is it different from skill, competence, aptitude, attitude, knowledge.

    HR manages the process to short list the best potential candidates for final selection by the hiring or senior managers..HR is an important in identifying the best and the brightest..

    Role of pedigree..does this matter. What about Mahatma Gandhi, what was his pedigree to lead the nation. Nurture vs nature..what is right,

    Potential vs performance...

    Salary fixation is also a complex situation..qualification, vintage are easy part of the scale, how would you identify the winners, how much premium would he deserve..

    Talent Chisel…identification of hi pots..criteria and how do we look at patterns which identify the elements reflecting potential..these elements are captured from the ecosystem..these in turn provide online data ..these would be analysed and presented to you..

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    Recruitment..the potent and portents!!

    “Our most important assets are our people”, there is no CEO who would not vouch by this statement.

    Potential of the people determine the capability of the organisation. People are the only sustainable source of competitive advantage. Their potential is a factor of multiple elements, such as skills, knowledge, attitude etc.

    Every individual possesses to a lesser or greater extent some uniqueness. Human beings are the only species in the universe who have, truly, unlimited potential to think, imagine, therefore innovate and contribute. However, every other species that has capability to produce fruits, offer service to humanity, has no choice but to give or be compelled to offer what they are capable of. The sun shines bringing with it brightness and warmth, the trees provide food and shelter, the cow provides milk, animals carry load etc. All of these have little or no discretion to withhold its potential because it dislikes someone, or is not in the right mood or whatever. Human beings with all their richness/endowments have an option to utilise the endowments. Investment of the potential is not automatic, but is discretionary, left to the volition of the individual.


    Identifying unique talent, skills, its relevance to the business, latent potential, together with the willingness of individuals along with the ability are crucial skills required, making the job of talent acquisition folks so much more complex.

    With all its complexity, it is so very tempting and human frailty being what it is, many companies leave it to green horns to do the initial filtering and mid to senior levels final selection. Compare this with Hindustan Unilever, which has it board members participate in the selection of Management Trainees. Seasoned CEOs or CXOs, who realise the importance of getting the right folks into the organisation in variably, find the time do the final round of interviews before the selection.

    Identifying, attracting and selecting the right people for an organisation is very critical to its success. What is HR value add in recruitment, what talent is and how one should go about its identification, get an appreciation of potential & evaluate the same in candidates, what generic skills sets in addition to domain skills, should one look for at different levels in the organisation & how are they actually tested for. The more complex issues relate to understanding of attitudes an individual brings along, the cultural & values fit of candidates.

    Does pedigree matter? Would you bring in outliers at the cost of disrupting the morale of the current set up? How does one prevent a back lash if one plans to bring in a high potential performer at very high salaries or break the seniority in the system?

    What analytics beyond cost and time criteria should one look at?

    The very issues that makes recruitment complex, makes it challenging & therefore offers interesting career choice. It provides the recruiter unlimited opportunities to identify the right gems to be inducted which make organisations great. This fortnightly series will analyse some key issues and perspectives mentioned above that recruiting teams should be aware of to select and induct the right recruits who enhance the potential and could create value for the organisation.

    In the meanwhile feel free to share your views.

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    HR Value-Add In Recruitment

    In this piece, we will discuss what we mean by value and value add, once we are clear on this, it would be easier for us to see how HR/Recruitment team could make a difference.

    Everyone in an organisation is a part of a large & continuous supply chain. Each member in the organisation is either receiving from or providing to others some product, material, resources, services or information in the process of his duty. This is done keeping in mind, the ultimate customer who receives and pays for the product or service being provided by the organisation. For every task, one is either a customer or a supplier. One can be a supplier in one instance and a customer in another.

    In the business context, even internally in an organisation, such material or services one receives has a cost; it is expected that one receiving such support, adds value far exceeding the costs; only then, will the organisation be sustainable. The more mature an organisation’s system is, the closer would it be akin to a market mechanism. The consideration internally as well as externally would be determined by perceived utility of the offering as well the demand supply situation. The perceived utility is what one refers to as value or consideration, which the organisation is willing to expend or a customer is willing to pay for the product or service.

    Recruitment is also a service and can be

    HR-value to Recruitment

    either provided by a team internally or sourced from outside. The value/consideration is, in turn, determined by the time at which the service is provided, as well as the quality. On most occasions, time is of essence and delays in presenting and bringing a hire on board, could be very expensive and could also result in total loss of the business opportunity itself. Similarly, quality of hire is critical. Organisation loses crucial time dealing with the poor hire and also pays very dearly in terms of its deliveries and customer dissatisfaction. Quality of sourcing and final selection is obviously most critical for the organisation; the recruiter can add maximum value in attracting the best and the brightest. So the mantra for value addition in recruitment is in getting the positions filled in faster, cheaper and attracting better talent into the organisation.

    The other way of adding value is by enhancing the efficiency, productivity of the recruitment team by being innovative in every stage of the recruitment and also exploiting new technology which now is easily accessible.

    Are recruiters, identifying or creating new supply chains for talent? Extend the search from competitors to suppliers who provide product and services, or customer’s organisations who have used the products and services offered by the recruiting company and are therefore offer great sourcing choices. However one needs to be ethical and not in any way break no poaching agreements or adopt back door methods to attract talent. Similarly go beyond ones industry and attract hi potential talent for whom, either domain knowledge or industry experience would not be a limiting factor but bringing other industry perspectives would actually be enriching.

    Today, technology has enabled, evaluating larger applicant base, remote assessment (vis-a vis, walk ins, manual written tests, including on line interviews). The recruiter needs to use every tool available to reduce organisational cost of hiring, time spent by line managers on recruitment process and most importantly, offer the best candidates for selection to the internal customers and thereby bring in top talent into the organisation.

    The ultimate proof of the value addition is in “recruiting team” answering the questions..

    • have we got on board the best?
    • do our recruits continue to stay in the company, say good things about the company and serve, contribute, grow themselves and the company?


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    HR-Mojo + Machine-Learning + Big-data = Agora Analytics

    Sangeeta (name changed) is the VP of a large business unit in a large enterprise. Around the release of the first version of iHire, in Nov’14, I could get a meeting her; my first sales call. I have been an engineer for 20 years of my professional life and a darn good one at that. I have never done sales and marketing, so I am like sweating all over. Two weeks before that fateful meeting, the preparation had begun – skimming through several “how to sell” books, real good ones actually, like - . . These are all great books and there must be many more. Then I said to myself, well you need to know that selling is just a technique and that could be learnt. Can it be learnt fast enough, can I close any deal, what will I close, how, what is close – thousand questions and one answer – read more books, read more blogs – here are theses other greats that I went to -,, Believe me, no answers; only more questions. As nature would have it, time never stops for anyone, more so when you are unsure of yourself.

    D-day! 20 minutes before time, waiting in the parking lot, the wall in-front had been imagined to be the mirror at home, rehearsing my product pitch – “We are developing a Big-data platform in HR space using which companies like yours could ….blah, blah, blah”. I went through the rehearsal 5 times over, then get onto the elevator and finally, escorted to the meeting room. Good Morning. Hello VP, Hello CIO, Hello Architect, Hello Recruiter, Hello Data Scientist… “Thank you all for joining me, from this discussion, my hope is, we will all come out winners” – a pickup from somewhere. Then started the 4-minuter blah, blah, blah. The VP, that sounded complex but what do you do? All my recently acquired sheen was now showing red on my face. All I could muster was “we save you time on the job, so that you can perform better”. So how do you do that? “The faster you can find the information you need, the better you’re going to be at your job”. So you think you are Google. “No, I think, I would like to be google for HR”.

    “I can demonstrate that, if you could give me a job-description”, which the recruiter happily and promptly sent to the email address on which Recruiter’s Delight was listening. Within 2 minutes, she gets 10 resumes in her inbox. Being human, she sends out another JD and this time RD returns in less than a minute. All of this happening in-front of full-audience. The CIO, what technologies do you use? You were saying something about Big-Data…? “We apply machine-learning and deep-learning on top of big data to predict on the best fit for the given job”. “What goes unnoticed is our passion for HR”.

    So we are “HR Mojo + Machine Learning + Big Data”. Did I mention Spark? Well some other time, to a more technical audience.

    That day, I learnt why these chieftains of sales and marketing have been calling it an art. Circumstances cornered me to shed the veneer and then on my susceptible, vulnerable self, I could stand on my strength SmartHire.

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    Why do you often find recruitment technologies primitive?

    I had the rare privilege of being part of a meeting between some hiring-managers and recruiters at a company. I have been a hiring manager for most part of my professional career and I was no different from the set of hiring managers in that room. The subject was so pressing that the meeting had no preamble; people cut to the chase: “What’s wrong with our hiring?. My role in that meeting: to be a fly on the wall.

    Here’s what followed:

    HM1: You folks take too long to get us the resumes.

    HM2: And the resumes that you send us are of poor quality.

    HM3: Even the candidates are of poor quality.

    HM1: We have no inputs from the recruiters about the candidate before the first interview takes place.

    HM3: Scheduling is all over the place. Candidates don’t show up.

    It went on and on until the head recruiter interrupted.

    She had a printout from which she reeled out data:

    Head Recruiter: JD1 – 8 resumes in 5 days; JD2 3 resumes in 5 days…

    HM2: What does it prove? What about the quality?

    Head Recruiter: JD1, R shortlisted 8, HM shortlisted 5; JD2…

    HM-head: STOP, STOP.

    Then he asked me to document, circulates the discussion paper and suggested another meeting soon.

    So I got down to documenting the current state of hiring in that company. The situation is no different in others. Here’s a reality check:

    • Hiring Manager’s goal of hiring for the same job-posting is shifting. It’s no more about what she said (job-description) but about what she wants. And the wants keep shifting based on the people that she meets. “But how is the recruiter supposed to know that?” The hiring manager has sent her the job-description (JD), the same JD which took her 5 days to send but 5 minutes to write, thanks to “Google-inside” and “Google-outside”.

    So what, she could say, everyone does that. It has all the information that they need to source good candidates.

    • With access to so many social media channels, sourcing is no more a challenge. All a recruiter needs to do is post the opening in an appropriate group on Facebook. She gets flooded with profiles. The problem is how to search for the right matches from their Applicant Tracking System. Why can’t they make it as simple as LinkedIn?

    I have stopped searching our ATS. I source directly from LinkedIn; after all, I am an open networker. My network responds to my request, but these hiring managers don’t know what they are looking for.

    • Sources like LinkedIn provide answers without thinking about if this answer is correct for that person’s current context. Try looking for candidates with two SAP SD implementation experience, or look for a candidate who has worked on Windows Azure design, say between 2005-07
    • The candidate profile has not undergone any significant change in the last 10 years.  Can we learn about this candidate’s ability to learn?

    These are all complex goals, but truly worth our while as we crack them with our product, SmartHire.

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