Thursday, September 21, 2017

SHRMiAC -Reflections a week later!

I must confess I got off a false start -despite all the preparations/expectations. At 435am I was 5 minutes as the Indigo boarding gates, for my flight to Delhi, had closed. Which meant, I missed the first half of the first day-instead spending time reflecting, and meditating in a very quiet and hep looking Raipur airport!
Well, it was 'paisa vasool', as I was able to attend the sessions I was looking forward to, and the people I had set up 1-2-1 meetings with-apart from a lot of extra bonus points! Awesome learning, takeaways, points to ponder, and wonder who would be THE folks to bell the cat. If there was a theme that was underlying it was the adage- "what got you here will not get you there'!
SHRMiAC was rocking. Let me curate the Update from the SHRM India team
#SHRMiAC was the buzz-word on social, with 8k+ tweets generating more than 9mn+ impressions. Our great content was very well supported by the #SHRMiAC Bloggers & Influencers, and helped us garner the number "Second" trending spot for India on Twitter on both days.
Well, I would not attempt to share my reflections on 'what happened ' or 'Light not a candle to the Sun'. One cannot have it put it better than Gautam Ghosh did. It has all the elements of a box office hit, and at last count, has had over a 1000 readers.
Considering 1300 people, with probably the Whos Who in the Indian HR industry, not to mention some global leaders visiting India, the ecosystem was simply apt. Wonderful mix of delegates from the corporate field,(the decision makers & the influencers), and a bevy of professionals from the "business of HR"- the consultants, the techies, the startups, and others partnering the process of leveraging on human capital, it was learning on the go.
With so many thought leaders, and wonderful energies, I shudder to think of the possibilities that could be realised, if only we had a lot more opportunities to interact & engage -while being under the same roof. It was heartbreaking to choose between 4-5 concurrent sessions. And even more, as we rushed past familiar faces, often off in different directions, with promises to catch up...soon! Thankfully, whatsApp and Skypes are there as glue to build on the handshakes.
Infact, there are lot more opportunities these days, that need the best of specialists, and in a world -where the half life is constantly changing, the margins for errors are negligible, there is no substitute to collaboration and crowdsourcing.
And yes, stay tuned -as I have come away with some exciting ideas/options for making a difference to the stakeholders in my area of specialisation- clients, candidates, and other collaborative consultants. Rearing to WIN!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Yes, we recruit there!

We help companies find talent they cannot find themselves. The right LOCAL talent GLOBALLY.

You've got to be IN it to WIN it!

The countdown has begun. I am excited to be in Delhi later this week for attending The SHRM India Annual Conference & Exposition!
I am positive the sixth #SHRMiAC will help me stay abreast with the driving factors of business units, and listen to some of the top thought leaders from across the globe as they share key insights, best practices and as also get a peek into some of the exciting tools that will shape the future.
As the world has changed from an industrial economy to the connected economy, the power of choice has significantly changed from the employer to the jobseeker. I strongly believe the recruiter therefore has to be playing the role of a trusted advisor -both to the client and the candidates, as well as to a fraternity of fellow recruiters globally.

People Are Not Your Best Asset, the Right People Are

As a Talent Scout, I shall be particularly keen to see how companies are gearing up for better Candidate Experience, and how we can make people the centre of our business.
I would not miss the two deliberations that Abhijit Bhaduri would be engaging in:
-What is it that TA leaders should look for when they are looking to hire truly transformational talent? Business success is about working with people and communicating effectively, and not just about narrowly defined skills. And the relevance of Liberal Education graduates in a country that been obsessed with Engineers and Doctors!
-The conversation with actor Ashish Vidyarthi promising to bring about awareness of careers that are being transformed by technology and societal shifts. It is time all of us think 'inside out' and find our calling -rather than follow the herd mentality that was the norm in the past few decades.
I must confess I have always been intrigued by the way Team Belong is able to conjure up ways to replicate/enhance (or is it magnify?) Human touch and see the world from their perspective. ( They never cease to surprise me-packing in so much of wisdom in their young years!). And get some gyan on Artificial Intelligence in HR: Myth or RealityAnd how we can leverage the power of technology!
Yes, it could be myopic of me to look at the world -purely thru the 'talent perspective'. But I can bank on some of the old pals, as well as the cronies in the blog squad to sensitize me with the other jargon in the industry.
Give me a shout out-am open to unlearning some of my stuff -and get influenced!!

Monday, August 21, 2017


I am glad I invested a day long training program in honing my skills on Saturday the 19th!
There is enough and more information on the internet. Tons of amazing insights are shared by several practitioners and passionate professionals, that help us to be 'better than yesterday', courtesy tweets, blogs, podcasts. But there is no real substitute for the 'human touch'.
Raghunandan Patre and Ashfaq Ahmed simply regaled some 25 plus participants on how as sourcers /recruiters, we could be prepared for the #futureofwork ! Their firm, Skill Scaler Learning Solutions is a Recruitment Capability Building organisation that endeavors to  improve
-candidate/client proximity
-recruiter productivity
-process excellence.
For a person whose learning was very much self taught, by trial and error, picking up nuggets from the social media buzz, it was awesome to be tuning into a structured presentation- as Raghu played the role of the philosopher & Ashfaq the hacker! The mantra - to not just unearth the unique candidates, but to engage and influence them -and 'manage clients' -in a market that is increasingly becoming in favour of the candidates.
Let me record a few takeaways for posterity :
-Hiring per se hasn't reduced in the post Brexit/Trump/Demonetisation/GST era. Only the pattern of hiring has changed. Expectations have rised. Customer focus and delighting them is the only route ahead.
-All the sourcing tools essentially help in identifying just those 'who are willing to leave their social media footprints'. Would you believe 70% is Dark matter?
-With sourcing increasingly becoming AI/ML focussed, the art of engaging candidates boils how to asking the right questions!
- It is essential to deconstruct a job description to be able to understand the real need of whom we are looking for. In a keyword infested world, to be in sync with what the client wants- it is essential to get under the skin of how the candidate conveys the competency!! ( for eg :Technical keywords showcase skills, Functional keywords help understand the nature of work and the Anchor keywords relate to identifying roles.)
- Horses for courses. Every search engine or social networking site is driven by algorithms-that often get changed. While there are n number of tools that are being generated daily -to help us hack our way, the trainers got us to be sensitive to the subtleties -and pivot our way. Be it in Naukri, LinkedIn, Facebook, Git Hub or Stackoverflow. Understanding the logic is imperative before we dive deep into the search.
-The basics of talent branding in an increasingly cluttered world!
As I refer my notes today, I cannot believe the range of tools and best practices that they alluded to. I already have doubts if I can navigate -with the ease Ashfaq the magician -did!
Well, knowledge is available on demand. It is how one applies it -that makes the difference between the best and the rest, right?
I look forward to a new day today..
And with a thought that ought to be a wake up alarm.
Amateurs practice till they get it right; professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.

Friday, July 14, 2017


Life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments. -- Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
"It is 25 years to the day, since the birth of Options," my mother reminded me this morning. And so the family is getting ready to celebrate.
Flashback to July 14th 1992.
Looking back, the journey has been simply amazing. "Helping others to find their calling" has been the pivot as we have tried to help several hundreds of clients find talent aligned to the similar values. We have worked with clients at different stages in their lifecycle of growth, (why even offering outplacement services during a stint that saw a temporary de-growth!), across different management ownerships/styles, and across functions, industries, levels and locations. Amidst very exhilarating times that has spanned from post liberalisation days in India, as India opened up to foreign investments, and abroad, even as clients survived the dot com boom/worldwide financial crisis, and now coming to terms with Brexit et al, totally changing the dynamics of global migration.
Internet, globalisation, disruptions in the VUCA times, have all forced us to change with times, stay relevant with the best business practices, and look to the future with more hope and conviction.
Options is now poised to leverage on orchestrating a global network and add value to each of our stakeholders- be it aspiring job seekers, or hungry clients, or like-minded fellow recruitment specialists with whom we collaborate, to be able to make a better impact!
With 92 Sales Directors and 1300 recruiters, the potential reach of Options is simply mindboggling-considering we have partnerships across 41 countries.
I take this opportunity to thank each one of you -who has been part of the journey, helping me learn, relearn, and even unlearn.
I am grateful, as they say in the cricketing parlance, as I take a 'fresh guard' to continue to make a difference, one individual at a time.
There are more milestones...waiting :)!

Life is now and now is amazing.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

If you could change one thing in the world...

When you are a recruiter by choice, and forever asking questions, and catching folks off their guard, you get a feeling that you can interview even in sleep! But it is totally another game when one is being interviewed. And I hadn't reckoned what the Pro Paul Slezak was upto!
Here is the link to the detailed interview- that he had done as part of a monthly newsletter that is sent to the Recruitloop ecosystem!
I am tempted to share an extract of the same echoing some of my thoughts:

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

"People ought to get paid for doing what they love doing most! There are far too many unhappy folks currently in the wrong job lacking the passion for making a difference to others around them. Too much of one’s identity is hinged on what one does for a living."

If you could have dinner with five famous people (alive or dead) who would they be and why?

  • Mahatma Gandhi – for bringing about change amongst the masses in an age well before the internet!
  • Steve Jobs – based on his ability to bounce back from being sacked by Apple, follow his heart, and change the way people now listen to music, learn, and interact.
  • Amitabh Bachchan – a superstar in Indian films for constantly reinventing himself, and staying in the limelight for 40+ years.
  • Michelle Obama – I’m just really keen to know how her brain works. Something tells me she is the real force behind the former US President, his political rise to bring hope for millions while leaving behind a scandal free life in a world where there is no privacy.
  • BNI Founder Dr Ivan Misner – he has been able to build a worldwide entity for promoting a structured way of networking.
Well, as I reflect again, I wonder if I had another chance who else I may have added. I must confess -at times, you end up answering what you think the interviewer probably wants to hear!! And in this case, as most of our ecosystem was Americans, I opted to keep cricket out of it. It was tough keeping Rahul Dravid out of the list.
And as always -it would be wonderful to know how you would have approached these questions! Feel free to share..

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Jobless Growth -Who is to bell the cat?

WYSIWYG, right?
Let's take a handful of media tidbits we see just in the last 48hrs.

'Software firms in India have good hiring plans, jobs meltdown is a media myth'

'Layoffs are good for IT industry in the long term’

In contrast, we also have been advised some mantras that could help resolve the situation, if only the HR were to reimagine in a new world, and the onus could be that of an organisation ( see how AT&T chooses to respond), or by the nation. (Singapore's SkillFuture program for job seekers, trainers and employers).
As a person who has been a ringside observer -of the demand and supply side for the last three decades, I would like to attribute some of the above staffing problems are the result of hiring the wrong people, to begin with. 
I endorse the statement made by Hayes Drumwright in a recent presentation. "Most often, the people closest to the problem know how to solve it. And it is career limiting for them to tell you."
It is a catch 22 situation for a recruiter!
Let me explain taking a couple of pointers that need to be reflected on-especially the current practices that prevail in the Indian IT industry:
1) The 'typical' annual increment for the best performers is about 12-15% ( and of course subject to the company/division performance/market conditions). And if one were to job hop, the company hiring would entice one by paying a 25-30% hike. Are we not penalising good performers, and encouraging them to look for greener pastures elsewhere?
Ironically, instead, companies try to shut the door by enforcing a notice period of 2-3 months that the employee has to service before joining the new employer. In reality, the incumbent now has all the free time to shop around with new suitors, (for a better hike), before even the present employer can conjure up a juicy counter offer!
2) Now over to the demand side. To replace the deserting employee, the hiring manager is in a tearing hurry to get the new person boarded asap, and so doesn't have the luxury of identifying, wooing and attracting a 'passive job seeker'-and so there is a huge demand for those immediately available ( read, hmm..unemployed?), or those 'serving out notice period', thereby encouraging mercenary attitudes -and compromising competency!
Perhaps the learning from this could be - Hire slow. Fire Fast?
For that, there is a need for more emphasis on the quality of hire. It is perhaps easy to keep track of metrics like time to hire, cost per hire, and turnaround times..( the comfort zone of most Talent Acquisition professionals). How about reckoning the opportunity cost of hire? Facebook perhaps lost $3Billion in not making Brian Acton a hire!!
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that getting to the truth of matters is hard, and often incredibly uncomfortable.
Look no further than the author who was known for 'fantasies'-there could be some thoughts for us adults to reflect too.
"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair "- CS Lewis