Thursday, November 21, 2013

Recruiters stereotyped as postmen

“Hi! I shared 23 resumes. Hope someone suits the job.” is what is typically heard from an associate in the recruitment department. HR role in an organization is shared by a manager, consultant and assistant which is influenced by the scale of HR operations in a firm. A HR manager’s scope of work has neither been given due significance nor has it been addressed as value addition, ensuring cost efficiency in the organization. The role of a HR manager or consultant is stereotyped as those who deliver smart resumes onto the desks of various department heads.

This is not a complaint, but an effort to reorient towards the definition, scope of work and crucial role of a HR consultant. This is a reorientation exercise for HR consultants and their colleagues who set expectations around this role. To address this diverted orientation I would like to lay focus on the attitude and self-expectations of HR consultants and the lifecycle of the company.

Attitude of HR consultant and their peers

HR consultants are not mere messengers who deliver bio-data sheets from a prospective candidate to a vacancy holder. They don’t find ‘jobs for people, but people for jobs’ and hence have a more responsible task of filling the skill gaps rather than just announcing job openings. It is simple to accept and understand that HR consultants offer hiring solutions and not messenger services.

Upon freezing this thought, we need to delve upon what is their actual role and scope within an organization. Let me address this in a separate section below.

Company’s lifecycle

The involvement and role of a HR consultant grows and changes with the growth of the company. The consultant could be associated for an exclusive set of tasks, when HR needs arise or when a firm is in its early years of business operations. Eventually as a firm grows in size, scale and vision, the role of their HR consultant gets inclusive to an extent that hiring people for a client’s firm would be as good as hiring for one’s own firm.

Hiring people now would be motivated by getting the best talent for a given job and negotiating the best price to bring maximize value for an organization.

Keeping these two aspects on the table, I would like to mark these words in bold, “Recruiters are not mere postmen, they are valuable resources who grow with the firm.” This will help us to set smart and viable expectations from the HR fraternity as well as the ecosystem being built around it.

Friday, November 08, 2013

How to manage your brand?

My advice to job seekers is always, “Instead of looking for jobs, be found by one!”. To stand out in the crowd, is not that difficult. All you need is a strong personal brand but, to possess a personal brand that commands attention is the challenge. It requires you to align all your professional activities with your personality, the personality you would like to showcase before the headhunters and talent finders.

Aligning professional activities with your personality

To raise your career to the next level, one needs to constantly plan and align their professional activities with their personality. What does that mean? It means that when you are involving yourself in a professional activity like participating in an event or leading a project or working with a team, it has speak about your traits that make you a better fit in the market for a given job.

While planning our career we work on multiple aspects but we fail to showcase them. On an informal note, we help many people and we get help from many of them. These interactions may seem mundane but when aligned with your career aspirations, they are the real things you are good at. It could be as simple as finding new talent for someone, helping in fundraising for a cause, networking with people or bringing in a sponsor. These need to be highlighted in your abilities and skills section because they truly are going to add value to the organization you choose to work with.

After choosing what to showcase and what not to, the next step would be to position them in the right channels. Are you someone still sitting down preparing lengthy resumes and expecting people to read through them completely. Then, you are expecting too much. People have very little time to make decisions and are getting social!

Here, is how we can leverage on little time and getting social.

Build a social brand

Resumes are being replaced by Linkedin profiles. Background checks are done on your Facebook profile. Your knowledge is scrutinized over your Twitter handles and followers. Your expert advice can be tracked on Quora discussions. Your next interview call would be over Skype or Facetime. What is this all about? You are living in an era where social recruiting has replaced traditional recruitment methods.

Social recruiters focus on how you are positioned across all these channels. Such positioning translates into your personal brand. Here branding can be subtly coined to messaging. What is the message being shared by your social profiles? Being social is not as easy as it sounds because it requires commitment and a genuine interest to network and know people.

It is a long journey to evolve from an entry level candidate to someone who has a brand of his own. Someone, whose brand represents his skills and whose skills are recognized by his brand. To build a personal brand, a person does not have to participate across all social media channels. Some of them are good enough to communicate about one’s persona. Someone who participates in tumblr may not feel comfortable to be in Pinterest and some others involved in flickr may not want to stumbleupon.
Your social brand is built across the channels you choose to stay active in. Each of the channels chosen communicate one quality about yourself after studying the activity you are involved in. This just explains why social recruiters are emerging and why they prefer people with social presence working towards creating a personal brand.

Today, these channels help as recruiting tools and tomorrow it could be something else. What remains as a critical criterion in the recruiter’s checklist is the effort made by a prospect to shine out with a personal brand.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Middle level jobs are getting extinct

Middle level jobs are getting extinct.  Trends speak that teaching, community service and construction and admin jobs are losing sheen.Is this true? Before I provide a direct answer to this let me share some of my observations drawn over the years, as a HR consultant.
  • In the last two years India has seen middle management jobs vanishing from the organizational hierarchy.
  • The recruitment sentiment tends to be that “I am happy hiring 2 smart guys and pay them Rs. 8 lakhs each, rather than pay Rs.20 lakhs one super smart guy.”
  • US has seen loss of jobs in segments like teaching, construction and community service.
  • People with all-rounded experience are preferred versus highly skewed or monotonous skill sets.
Does all this mean that jobs are getting extinct? The answer is precisely ‘No’.
We are moving into a new era seeing the emergence of new types of jobs. The jobs which require people to have medium level skill sets are the ones which lack employability. The aspect we need to address here is whether the jobs lack employability or the job seekers. Jobs lack employability because to perform them, a new set of skills are required. Job seekers lack employability because they don’t have the necessary skills. Middle segment job seekers are not being employed because here is where, skills need to be enhanced at a faster rate than the high and low paid jobs.

There is a skill transplant required to these middle level jobs where job aspirants need to spend time in updating and equipping themselves with the new set of skill sets. This makes us delve further into a thought whether the skills acquired during college or in a professional course are insufficient for job seekers in these categories. Gap between the skills demanded by industry and those provided at college persists as long as both these ends don’t work towards enhancing skill relevance. Such gap leads to skill obsolescence.
The skill obsolescence occurs due to
-Lack of proactive learning within the industry: Colleges do not structure educational programs and degrees in a way to compel the student to develop proactive learning. These students who turn as job aspirants are struck hard by the surprise of proactive learning and adaptation demanded by industry to survive in a job.
-Replacement of jobs by technology: Jobs which are process driven are being replaced by tools and applications offered by technology. The accuracy of monitoring and administering the flow of such processes is higher when compared to a traditional sales or admin process.
-Need of new skills for existing jobs: An instance of modern marketers stands as an apt example. Traditional marketers were involved in hard selling and direct marketing. With the advent of digital marketing marketers are expected to hone their soft selling skills and other skills like writing, ideating and graphics.
-Industry demand: Each industry has different expectations from a single role. A tutor or a professor needs to deliver different skills to his students, to the university, to academia and to industry. Similarly a CIO would have different roles in the media industry versus healthcare industry.
-Cost advantage: This is the most obvious reason for skill obsolescence. Firms do not maintain room for skills which do not provide a cost advantage or any kind of value to the organization. Such skills are bid farewell.
Also, while being extremely involved in executing the job, the employee does not look into inherent inefficiencies in the execution process. These process gaps lead to invention of new skills that become the norm for the same employee to survive in the same job. Traditional teachers, salespeople and admins are being replaced by new process driven jobs like social media managers,content marketing, online tutors and trainers, virtual consultant and so on.

These new jobs are a revamp of old jobs with new direction and newer roles.