Monday, August 25, 2008

New ideas in recruitment

This post is inspired by Gautam Ghoshs post that pointed me to an excellent resource for recruiters- written by an old acquaintance of mine, Mohan Kannegal of Merit Trac.

The free e-book for 'beginners in recruitment' is a good black book for -not just novices-but also for regular practitioners-as it does us back to basics. I would recommend any body involved in hiring-including the hiring managers-to peruse it as it does give us a good checklist.

To me, the interesting takeaways were the 'new ideas' mentioned by Mohan- which included

a) recommendation of a 'standardised' biodata form to be advocated by all job boards, and employers- in order to help ' searching and retrieval' of the 'key words'- to enable higher recruiter productivity!

Personally -while I do agree most of the candidate do not always provide all information in their resumes as required, this exercise totally negates the fact that -each individual is indeed unique-and to me, the bio-data or a resume ( or CV) -is actually an extension of one's personality!! It would be a shame to try and compress an individual to a bunch of tabulated skills.

b) the use of airconditioned staff buses- as an USP for improving 'company loyalty' and perhaps a great retention tool- as well as a medium to impart 'communication and training'! Brilliant- one could not have got a more captive audience -twice a day-for an hour like this :-)!

c) The killer idea though is the 'using sms' as a good tool to improve recruiter productivity!

"Assume you are a Recruiter who wants to schedule interviews for a hundred candidates. You have the names and mobile numbers of these candidates in an Excel sheet. You fill out the date, time and venue of the interview for each of these candidates on the same Excel sheet. The Excel sheet can be uploaded onto an SMS based software application which SMSes the date, time and venue to each of the hundred candidates within a few minutes and provides a report of deliveries. Candidates who receive the SMSes can send back an SMS to confirm their participation. A report can be run off the application which tells you how many of the hundred participants have confirmed their participation.
Those who have not confirmed their participation can be reached by making phone
The advantage of the software application is that in ten minutes, it is possible to SMS a hundred candidates and receives confirmations. This substantially reduces the amount of time Recruiters spend on the phone, scheduling candidates. Further, SMS is most likely to be delivered and read compared to email or phone calls. Since most candidates are in meetings during a working day, they would not answer a phone call. Also, most candidates check their personal email ids once a day or once in two days. But, they certainly check SMSes during the day. "

Infact, I was instantly reminded of a new service-Mobismart launched by a Hyderabadi company..that uses bulk voice mail messages.

Just imagine- a personalised message that could trigger off a desire in an otherwise content start performer??

d) And yes, here is an attempt that is picking up...companies rehiring
professionals who worked for them earlier!!

PS-I am very keen to know your responses /opinions !! How would you feel as a colleague - especially since you have been loyal to the company and have stayed backwithin the system during the period-and the return of the prodigal-perhaps at an elevated position & higher salary!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Options in India- some HOT openings!


Just thought I shall file in a short and crisp note- as a long weekend comes up in India. Am hoping I can catch the attention of someone who could probably know someone else!! These are all HOT -and some of them are through my associates-but you can be sure -our clients would be interested in meeting them asap :-)!

Positions based in Hyderabad

-CEO role for Power Company
-Group CFO for another Power company .
-VP Finance for an infrastructure startup -promoted by 3 well known groups-
-Financial Controller -50 crores company -manufacturing industry
-Head Compliance-infrastructure company
-Head Budget- Power company
-Head Secretarial- group in infrastructure
-Head Legal- group in power
-Financial Analysts/Modelling for Power company
-Financial Analyst for PE company
-Mining Head for a group
-Engineering Head for a Biomass start up for Sugar cogeneration plants
-Taxation Head for an infrastructure company
-Corporate Communications Head for a fast growing business house

Positions based in NCR region:

-VP Finance for a group into Thermal Power projects -based in Delhi
-Business Analyst for Infrastructure- Big Four firm

Positions based in Chennai:

-VP Delivery -IT services
- GM Finance & Secretarial for a company that had an IPO earlier this year
-Financial Analyst
-Design engineers for Power plant-at various levels - for instrumentation/civil/ electrical/mechanical functions

PS- there are also a few openings in Europe -those with JDEdwards One World implementation experience !!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Increasing relevance of Recruiters-Role for ERA

In an earlier blog, I did hint about this!
'[T]he Hyderabad chapter of Executive Recruiters Association is embarking on some attempts to unravel the mysteries /challenges that the booming Indian industry has been facing- especially in the areas of talent acquisition and management.
ERA Hyderabad is having a series of 'power meetings' involving Business leaders, HR and recruiting fraternity -across industries to deliberate on the 'pain points' each one of them is facing. Concerns emerging out of a weeklong series of such 'industry specific' meetings will be analysed-and it is hoped that ERA shares possible & viable solutions at its National convention on September 5th in Hyderabad! '
Well, as I write -two of the 6 power breakfasts scheduled are over!! We had over 20 business leaders from IT/ITES and the Services track -taking time off-and sharing their concerns. There are already some definite takeaways-and we are are hoping to work on the deliberations!!

Just to give you a glimpse of the seriousness and the expectations of ERA- here is a concern expressed by a leader :
"ERA / ERA members could offer a special niche service to social sector organisations like creating a separate recruitment web site like has done, preferential rates for recruitment, linking corporate CSR arms to social sector organisations, offering volunteering and sabbatical opportunities for corporate executives etc."

Over the next week- we have leaders from Pharma, Infrastructure, Manufacturing -and one exclusive for the HR thought leaders across industries- promising to air their views. Should you be aware of any business leaders from Hyderabad who could add value & contribute -do feel free to reach out to me! ([email protected])

PS: The latest issue of the mag Business Outlook- featuring 12 niche businesses- does feature a recruiter, Ms Saundarya Rajesh of Avtar Career Creators , a firm that helps women find work-home balance, by finding part-time work for them!! Well, she is an ERA member!!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Naukri CEO visits Options!!

I am still wonder struck..
Today, I had a very special visitor to my office -Mr Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the Founder & CEO of!! It took me a while -to be at home -even while being in my own office!! Perhaps it was a mixture of emotions. Awe. Admiration. Respect.
It wasn't as if I was meeting him the first time-He was too polite to admit that he remembered we had met earlier at an ERA conference where he was a sponsor. Another time at TiEcon-when he had become a successful entrepreneur-and was mentoring a bunch of guys with dreamy eyes.
Perhaps it was because one had read about him a lot. Or one closely related to the leaps he had made. He made a difference to a lot of job seekers in India. And recruiters. And yes, to many other companies wanting to scale up. I had heard stories about him from one of my earliest colleagues Aruna. Her husband Satish -studied in the same batch as Sanjeev @IIM -and so I had this personal pride of being among naukri's earliest users from almost a couple of months since its inception!!
Then there was also a time there was this feeling for a few years- that naukri was a competitor to our business !! A job site and a search consultant aren't exactly allies as one like to believe. Most of my, and of course everyone of my team's, work hours are spent 'cleaning up' a lot of junk from among the lakhs of resumes that the Naukri Resdex has- cajoling, validating candidates to accept the opportunities at our client -and finally when we do present a willing and deserving person-the client turns around to say -"we have naukri-and so this CV is in our database". :(!
Over the years, I have grown to believe that yes-we would co-exist. Job sites attract active job seekers. Ready to jump for an immediate opening. Eager to land up for the interview whenever you want. And as a recruiter, one needed to offer some of these-along with those 'hard to get passive job seekers'- to the client and offer options!! As a search consultant, I have begun to use naukri for better branding, screening out leads, help by adding the 'personalised touch' -and build enough relationships -to transcend the transactions a technological tool couldn't give!! Blogging, Linkedin, and a host of well wishers giving their 'word-of -mouth' publicity-and presto, there is space for all kinds.
Within fifteen minutes into the meeting, I guessed it was on a level playing ground that we were meeting!! We got talking about the market. While I confessed I was too marginal a player to be affected by the booms and the busts, I conceded that it had to do with my partially de-risking my business model-of late, with a few retained search assignments and arrangements with some close clients- that the impact wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Sanjeev attributed the slowdown to a bunch of factors happening in June-all of a sudden- the oil prices hitting 147USD, the inflation rate going up to 12%, the interest rates being hiked, poor monsoons,...and shared that the turnaround times for placements in the industry -from the conception to fitment- was taking much longer-and despite the increasing number of job seekers registering on his site, things aren't going to be rosy for another few months.
We spent the next hour sharing thoughts about each one's perspective -of the methods to engage active job seekers, attract more semi-passive ones, naukri's attempts to help improve recruiter productivity, competition (read other jobsites this time around ;-)!), a brief mention why he doesn't cross sell naukri to the other companies floated by him in the real estate & matrimonial domains- defensively but definitely positioning a social networking site to overcome linkedin in India, ...and yes, of course, how would Sanjeev use naukri -if he were in my shoes...
The true sales professional he was, he didn't need an invitation to demonstrate his being hands on with naukri-and showcased a new feature launched to my team, while still making mental notes about the minor glitches.
As I sit back and post this blog- isn't surprising -why naukri has become a generic name in India. The passion was evident as the CEO -went off to the next sales call!! Success is all about sticking to first principles, right??

Life Lessons for Professionals by Subroto Bagchi

Yesterday was an evening with a difference.

I was lucky to be invited to a thought 'churning' discussion, organised by a Hyderabad based forum Manthan -when Mr Subroto Bagchi chose to spend about an hour and half to talk about his latest book -"Go Kiss the World".

Truly, the 'painter of words' as he decribed himself, he shared some of the anecdotes -that provokes all of us to sit back and reflect. (One would find a wealth of information here .)

My take aways?

1. Most of use mistake our job for our profession...often overplanning one's careers."Your first, second or even the third job will not build or define your career-the respect, the patience, affection and gratitude with which you treat them-will!"
He exhorted us to reflect at the lifecycle of a musician or an athlete- and the distinct stages ; namely being trained, being the professional,..and the striving for that extra bit of perfection.

2. We have ourselves to blame- as our education system is a victim of our society!! He dreaded us to think that if Sergey Brin and Larry Page were in the third year of an Indian engineering college- they may well have been content settling for a campus placement @TCS...

3. How does one define a professional? "Some one who can work without supervision". "Someone who can certify himself that the task has been completed"

Wouldn't we all be better reading his book?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Economic slowdown- Impact on Hiring?!

Economic slowdown=lesser jobs,lower attrition is an interesting article that summarises some of the impact on hiring-across industries in India in the recent weeks.

Personally though, as a recruiter, I think there are more things happening-other than frozen promotions, reduced bonuses and smaller annual increments - which are sure indicators of companies trying to bring in cost efficiencies, to prepare for the slowdown ahead.

In fact, I would even wager to say this time around, there are some in the industry reacting in a matured manner-going by the ringside view of the hiring process.

1. Wait and watch

Not so long ago, an employer normally ended up making an extra buffer of offers -not just to account for a certain percentage of dropouts, but also to adjust the attrition. And even while this happened, they would perhaps even keep "B+" candidates in pipeline-for one could not be sure all "A" hires would come aboard. A la 'hoarding' activity.

Today the client has the luxury of keeping even some "A" guys on hold-till they are pretty sure -without the fear of losing them to competition during the time! Companies are realising that while good candidates would demand a premium, raising the bar for such hires- by adding in a few more 'desirable skills' eg communication skills, or better domain knowledge -is truly a win-win!

2. Diverse candidates

Tier II companies are ready to look at mining/construction professionals despite them being closer to retirement age! Most of the public sector employees -especially those in the prime age of 40-45years of age-develop cold feet- despite their being offered astronomical increases- as the opportunity costs ( the arrears of sixth pay commission, security etc..) are high. Some of the hiring companies have now realising, that since the average lifespan has increased significantly during the last 3-4 decades, the case for 'retired executives' is more juicy!! Not only are they rich with experience, one can even count on their inertia to be stable enough while being employed.

There are some MNCs who have announced higher referral fees for recruitment firms recommending women employees!

One of my US based clients was willing to bet on the 'hungry immigrant professional' to be a better performer -considering all other things being equal :-)!

3. Increase in hiring

It isn't just cost cutting! The mantra could be even increasing revenues in this market. Clients have suddenly started beefing up their sales/business development teams in a bid to reach out and penetrate better in such 'slower' times.

One of my real estate clients- is no longer restricting candidates with local language expertise. They feel they can reach out to different segments of society by leveraging those with knowledge of regional languages too!

Do we see the rise of temp hires? Or companies willing to encourage telecommuting?

Affiliates from US -have seen their number of hires drop -due to the restricted mobility of employees-especially those who own houses-as the real estate prices have dropped drastically-and so there is less mobility of professionals across different states.

Of late, I have also come across some lady professionals -especially returned Indians, who are keen to explore part time jobs- opting for a ' work-life' balance -and willing to fill in for 'half the time' which can perhaps be done by a similar profile.

The innovative among us-can revel -even in an economic slowdown...