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New-age hiring: Tips for job seekers and recruiters

Rashmi Shenoy
25th May 2018
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The new financial year has just begun and most companies are in the middle of firming up their recruitment plans for the year. On the other hand, a considerable number of experienced professionals, as well as fresh talent, are in the market looking for new opportunities.

Here are a few things to consider to ensure you make the most of the peak of the hiring season

For candidates:

  • Your story should be contextual: Imagine that you are the recruiter. Whom would you more likely hire? Someone with mundane experience and ambiguity and the impact they will be able to make in the role? Or someone who is able to clearly articulate how their experience is relevant? The second one right? When faced with the question – “tell me about yourself,” do not end up repeating your resume. The recruiter has read that anyway. Your story should focus on – “this is why I am reasonably confident that I make a good fit for this role”.
  • Be proactive: Most recruiters have come across individuals who focus only on the interview, but forget that it is a process beyond that one hour interaction. Let us start from the beginning. Once you have found a job opportunity that you would like to explore, being proactive starts with finding out who the recruiter is. You will get this information for most jobs today. Make a call to the recruiter and share your interest in brief. Once you have sent your application, be proactive and follow up at the right time. It does not end there though.

Being proactive also includes keeping the communication open. If you are unable to make it for the interview, make sure you convey the same. Even if you have not cleared a particular interview, being proactive in asking for the feedback on what you could have done better, puts you in a positive light. Remember, it is a small world and if the recruiter cannot hire you today, she may want to recruit you for another role tomorrow or recommend you to any of her industry peers, provided you make a solid first impression.

  • But how well do you know the other side? It is a no brainer that having sufficient knowledge of your potential employer’s business, clientele, etc. can give you an edge over other candidates competing for the same role. Yet, many candidates continue to discount the importance of this research. A brief background about the organisation, checking the LinkedIn profile of the person you are going to interact with, and thoroughly understanding the job description, are some of the easiest and most-effective things to do before an interview. In fact, I recently came across an interesting anecdote on Quora, where a candidate had seen the profile picture of a well-known person in the recruiter’s phone and was able to influence the interaction by being aware of this. Of course, this situation may not arise for everyone, but the point is to be alert, as well as be aware.

And when the recruiter asks you… “Anything you would like to know about us?”, if you are genuinely interested, you are bound to have some queries. This shows you have made a genuine effort to understand fitment and you are not there just to get your next job. Lastly, dress appropriately even for the interview.

  • Keep that learning meter on: A friend once introduced me to the concept of VUCA. The volatile, uncertain, dynamic, and ambiguous environment that we live in, businesses and roles undergo massive transformations. Perhaps this is why growth-oriented organisations like Cleartrip seek individuals with high learning agility, and those who invest sufficient time to learn new skills or gain more knowledge that may be beyond the realm of their current responsibilities. For any company that is hiring, what the candidate has done outside work matters as well. Your profile on websites like Github, your contribution to open source, your presence on design sites, positioning yourself as a thought leader, being an influencer in your field… all of this reflects well on your passion for work outside your job. This is when your narrative gets compelling.

An example of this would be taking up week-end projects and being able to share the impact.

For recruiters:

Be in sync with the business as a partner, and plan your year well. Here are a few other things that can help you meet your goals…

  • A candidate search is a game of probability. Think about it. The more you increase the probability of having the candidate come across the job opening, the better your chances of getting the right application. Use a comprehensive sourcing mix. Make sure you leverage the right internal and external channels to look for new talent and optimise your cost per hire. This can include online job boards, professional networking platforms like LinkedIn and other social media platforms, recruitment agencies, employee referral systems, etc., which can connect you with suitable candidates to fill positions. Tapping into your alumni groups and leveraging the network of your employees to spread the word has helped many recruiters get quality candidates fast and easy.
  • Approach recruitment like you would approach marketing. Know your target audience well. Are the potential candidates digital natives? Will they be open for a Skype interview?

In addition, recruiters must look for a cultural fit when evaluating a candidate.

  • Optimise candidate experience: The employability metrics for the industry are not advancing at a great pace. Let us face the fact - quality candidates have a lot of options. Even though you may offer a competitive role and compensation, it may not be enough. The experience you are able to create for talent at the time of being hired and being on board plays a critical role. At Cleartrip, for instance, we send a box of chocolates with a note welcoming new recruits to the Cleartrip family once they have formally accepted the offer. We also have a dedicated team in place that will ensure all new hires have a smooth onboarding experience. Involve family and keep the individuals continuously engaged till the date of joining to create a positive first experience.
  • Invest in perception management, build relationships: As much as it is important for the candidate to present a good picture of oneself, it is equally important for the organisation’s representative to do the same. Being courteous in demeanour, being responsive, making it on time for the interview, investing in the company’s online reputation management, and being able to answer to the candidate’s questions - all contribute in creating a good interview experience for the candidate. It is a two-way street after all.

We had once made an offer and the candidate had accepted, but could not join us due to some personal situation. We stayed in touch even though the candidate did not join, and once things improved, the candidate reached out and joined us at a later date. So, it pays to give a good experience and to stay in touch.

  • Mitigate the risk of bad hires: In a world where there is dearth of quality talent, ensuring objectivity in the recruitment process is paramount. Scientific and data-driven assessments, a well-trained panel, and pre-defined metrics for evaluating candidates can all go a long way in ensuring an effective recruitment process in the organisation. A few years ago, we had an interview for a client-facing role with two people on the panel conducting the interview - a lady and a gentleman. While one of the candidates appeared to be technically sound, the candidate would just not look at the lady. This not just made the lady interviewer feel uncomfortable, it also led to a negative assessment of the candidate from a soft skills’ stance by the panel.
  • Look at those JDs again: Make the JD (Job Description) interesting, talk about the learning one can expect out of this role, bring out the bigger picture and the macro level impact the role will make, rather than sticking to specifics. For instance, names like a chief wordsmith instead of content writer, rain-maker instead of sales executive sometimes may click well with some applicants. Optimise the JD according to your target audience for the role.
  • Close the feedback loop: Finally, always ensure that every candidate is updated on time about how the interaction went. Whether their profile is shortlisted, on hold, or not shortlisted, keep them informed. Create a feedback system to regularly update the progress of a recruitment drive. The insights from such a system can help optimise the hiring process by focusing on the kind of talent and skills that the organisation needs in the immediate future to further its business goals.
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