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Recruiting fundamentals - Part I

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

I have had the opportunity to speak to a lot of recruiters in my 16 years in recruitment, and I see the skill levels of recruiters seem to be waning away. Most of them don’t seem to realise this. This I think adds to the talent problems many industries are facing today.

There are some worrying signs

- The “I am not them” syndrome

- The fading search & screening skills

- The zero-sum negotiator

- The hazy larger picture

Let’s look into each of them.

Most often than not, technology recruiters tell me, “I am not a techie” so I don’t need to know what Java is and yet I have filled a lot of Java Developer roles. But there is a not so explicit problem here.

I vaguely remember the first requisition that I worked on was a Manufacturing Engineering role for a client in the US. I did a quick search, spoke to a few people, submitted a few candidates and interestingly one of my candidates got selected. Luckily, I was able to fill multiple vacancies for the same role.

Three months into the job reality started to set in. My job was getting harder by the day, I had anywhere between 25 – 30 requisitions and monthly targets that felt nearly impossible to achieve. Life was getting harder, interview coordination, client meetings, team meetings, suddenly you are doing 50-hour weeks and on calls 80% of the time.

Then I received a job from the same client and the title read Manufacturing Engineer. Without wasting any time and like how my leader advised, “get the resumes out in next 15 mins”, I jumped right in. I go back to my database, make a few calls, submit a few candidates. Only this time I did not close that role. In retrospect, I realised that only the title was unchanged. The role was different and so were some skills

I am sure this would resonate with most of us today. As a recruiter your life is so hectic that you seldom find time to learn, or should I say only a few prioritise learning!

If you are required to hire a driver and unless you understand between an F1 driver, a NASCAR driver, a truck driver and a cab driver, everyone will look like a driver to you. You aren’t expected to learn F1 driving but know what those drivers do. You need to learn that, or should I say, you need that willingness to learn that. The F1 world is very different from a truck driver’s world and unless you know the difference you wouldn’t be able to hire top talent.

The same holds true in the software development space. Life of a developer is different from someone in operations or support and unless you know the difference you would not be able to differentiate in a resume, at least in the way they are written in India.

The little screening done due to lack of knowledge leads to hiring managers screening far more resumes than they should, a lot of interview rejections and thereby a frustrated hiring team. In a market like India where there is no dearth of talent in many fields, the effects are far more significant in terms of lost time and money. This means, it is a question of efficiency and when you want to recruit at scale, efficiency is key. Efficiency means better TATs.

Recruitment agencies who are supposed to be recruitment superstars also struggle. Many-a-times the lack of understanding of technology and domain is very evident. I will reserve this topic for another time though.

A great recruiter is a true TA business partner who understands both the domain and the function. You function, the area you are recruiting for like, marketing, IT, finance etc. The second is your domain, banking, telecom, insurance.

So, where do you start?

Reading the job description – you need to read the full job descriptions. Take the first 15 mins to read what is in there. The R&R carries a lot of information that are vital for your screening. Most recruiters these days seems to look for the title and go straight to the required skills and start and this is where the problem starts.

Job briefings or intake calls – A great opportunity for you to clarify a lot of things. Asking questions is what you do during this call with your hiring manager.

Talking to your candidates – particularly if you are an agency recruiter and don’t have the luxury of talking to hiring managers. Don’t shy away from asking the candidate what a particular technology means or does.

General reading – Googling helps, always! Read up on the new stuff that is happening in your function and domain.

The lack of basic understanding of the domain and function leads to the next problem area that we have, the search and screening.

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