Do you really intend to hire humans?

It appears from job descriptions that organisations are looking really looking to hire assembly line robots rather than humans

Job descriptions—they are everywhere— in employment dailies, job portals, and in e-mail inboxes. Why then, do recruiters continue to complain about long recruiting cycles and irrelevant applications? Alibies abound!  They range from the data-driven such as dearth of quality talent and geographical skill concentration, to the purely nonsensical such as cost constraints and macro-economic conditions.

Sifting through hundreds of irrelevant job applications costs an organisation precious time and resources. Research indicates that the most common cause of receiving irrelevant job applications is a poorly crafted job description.

A job description is the first touch point of a hiring organisation with the prospective talent pool. In many ways, a job advertisement is similar to a note one sends to ask someone for a date on Valentine ’s Day. What works or doesn’t, depends on how well the note is able to portray genuine intent and earnestness.  And much like a Valentine’s date proposal, a job description is an appeal to the candidate to consider the prospect of employment as an experience to cherish.

So where do organisations go wrong in scripting job descriptions? The US-based business magazine Inc. published an article last week outlining that a recruiter can easily be mistaken as a passive non-committal entity through a job description.  Scripting a job description requires a great deal of thinking and restraint that a recruiter often fails to exercise. This leads a job description to sound like an activity list rather than an earnest invitation to consider and apply.

Here are five common mistakes to avoid while scripting job descriptions.

We are looking to hire robots

The first point where a job description can start to sound passive is through non-committal phrases such as “the candidate should possess.”  As experts argue a job description can introduce the human element through a simple rephrase from “the candidate” to “you.” Introducing the human element can work wonders in how a prospect views a job.

More detail means more exciting

Most recruiters are tempted to include every single detail leading to an exceedingly long and overwhelming job description.  On most occasions, including too much detail can prove to be counter-intuitive.

A superhuman is the best bet for this job

Understanding the difference between “desired” and “required” is very essential. While every recruiter desires the candidate to possess every skill available on the planet, it is important to exercise restraint and understand what is required of the job. The job description should reflect that.

The only thing more complicated is neural networks

Job descriptions that fail to provide clear, directive guidance around the application and selection process fail to attract attention.  Oftentimes, the job description presents the process as a set of complicated activities without definitive timelines. Clear guidance around the process of hiring in the job description can potentially get more eyeballs rolling.

This is the only job advertised anywhere at all

Oftentimes, a recruiter fails to acknowledge the fact that a job advertisement is really a competition in the talent arena and therefore, there is a great necessity to make a job description appear stimulating. A job description needs to have an inviting headline and needs to be written in a language that sounds exciting for a prospect to consider and apply.

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Who will be the biggest recruiters of 2013?

Business expansion will drive large-scale recruitments in several sectors, led by IT and Pharma

The head hunting firm, HeadHonchos came out with a report earlier this month, ‘Management Hiring: Perspective report 2012’ enlisting the hottest industries for hiring in India this year. The findings reveal considerable changes in the hiring landscape this year compared to 2012. Along with some macro-economic drivers, such as FDI in retail and Banking Reforms Bill, skill availability and demographic composition of the talent pool will drive hiring trends in various sectors including retail, banking, telecom and infrastructure. According to Amit Garg, Business Head, HT Digital, “There will be a 15 to 20 percent increase in both fresh and replacement hiring in Indian companies compared to 2012.”  While most sectors will continue to hire skilled professionals in large numbers, IT and Pharma are expected to be the biggest recruiters in 2013.

The  Naukri Job Speak Index, that tracks hiring trends across industry sectors, geographies, and functional areas has shown consistent hiring activity in pharma across several months and experts predict that the trend will continue across 2013. President of pharma company, Lupin says that, “All large pharma companies in India are expanding and will continue to expand across the next few months. Being a research-intensive industry, there is a need for technically skilled and knowledge workers.”

India’s biggest IT company, TCS, announced yesterday that they have plans to close the financial year with 10,000 more recruits over and above their earlier goal of 50,000. Corporate India is also expected to see significant competition in IT hiring from a very unlikely player, the PSU sector. In November 2012, 14 of the largest PSU companies announced plans of hiring via the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) 2013. A look into the career websites of these 14 PSUs (including HPCL, IOCL, BEL, BHEL, NTPC, and NALCO) reveals that IT jobs are aplenty. With nearly 81% of the candidates who appeared in GATE 2012 from IT and IT-related streams, added to the attractive remuneration and perks advertised in PSU jobs, the corporate sector in India will face stiff competition from the PSU sector in IT hiring.

A January 7 report by the Times of India reveals that there is a dearth of skilled entry-level talent in the pharma and IT sectors. Tier 1 institutes, such as IITs and NITs are the first preference for hiring in IT companies. The growing scale of IT businesses will however compel these companies to dig deeper into the talent pool in Tier 2 and Tier 3 colleges. Some IT companies, such as Hexaware Technologies, are spending up to Rs. 30,000 per employee on training.  Pharma companies are also staring at the face of a huge demand-supply gap and companies are end up investing large sums of money in training. Companies, such as Lupin spend an average of Rs. 25,000 per employee on skilling and training.

As the hiring space in India will likely see a mad scamper for talent acquisition in 2013, social media hiring, access to larger talent pools, and employer branding will likely be the focus areas for companies in the coming months. Hiring organizations will also likely create region-specific strategies to maximize their investment in hiring. Tulika Tripathi, Managing Director of the Consulting firm Michael Page, says that “Companies this year should focus on designing internship programs that are more aligned with industry requirements and can potentially lead to conversions into final offers.”

Social media hiring- The future

Organizations that leverage social media intelligently can expect unprecedented returns in the quality and reach of talent pools.

Much has changed in the last 10 years about how someone looks for jobs. Not until too long ago, a job seeker would open the daily newspaper’s job supplement section, encircle the jobs of interest, note down phone numbers and contact details, and create a list. The more enterprising, perhaps, would go the extra mile― do a Google search on the company, and inquire in his limited personal and professional network to investigate about the company. The territory of job research was limited to publicly available (and often promotional) information on the Internet and word-of-mouth. As Internet penetration deepened, candidates began to realize the benefits of a larger aggregator of jobs― the job portals. Along with the convenience of having everything in one place, job seekers were also saved off the pain of having to note phone numbers, call for appointments, and visit individual company offices to deliver their resumes. The job portals provided a job seeker direct access to job openings from hiring organizations, as well as to a number of job and recruitment consultants. Job portals also offered the convenience of allowing an applicant to create a profile and store their resumes where potential recruiters can view and reach out to the applicant. From the hiring organization’s standpoint, job portals resulted in significant reduction in hiring costs and turnaround times. Trends indicated that job portal usage was more concentrated in the large employment hubs (metropolitan and Tier I cities), while job seekers in other parts of the country largely relied on job newspapers. For a while, both job newspapers and portals co-existed owing to their large consumer base and fairly undeviating search behavior.

Developments of changing demographic behavior and technological innovation have given rise to many changes in hiring workflows and the way jobs are promoted. These trends are largely driven by cloud and social media technologies that are triggering significant changes in behaviors, both of the job seeker and of the hiring organization. Social media is no longer limited in reach; 60% of all new Facebook profiles created in India in the last 6 months were from Tier II cities and the non-urban sector. With the increased ease of information access, job seekers want to know almost everything about the employment experience before accepting an offer, some even before applying. Hiring organizations, on the other hand seek greater intelligence about prospective candidates, owing to their ever increasing need to hire specialized talent.  Another key development is the increasing trend of organizations reaching out to professionals who are not actively looking out for jobs. The industry terminology for such skilled professionals is, “passive” candidates. While organizations can reduce significant cost by tapping into the talent pool for active candidates, the higher value proposition of social media is its ability to tap into the passive talent pool. Organizations, more often, find the right talent for their requirements in the passive talent pool. In the absence of the right information channel and a delivery mechanism to attract talent from this pool, organizations can potentially miss out on significant opportunities.

Irfan Abdulla, Director, Hiring Solutions, at Linkedin India says that they realized the potential of leveraging social media for tapping into the passive talent pool and started Linkedin’s hiring solutions in 2009. Launched in India in the first quarter of 2012, the “Linkedin Recruiter” is their specialized hiring solution, which opens up an organization’s access to 175 million active and passive professionals globally.

The need for tapping into the passive pool

The need for hiring quality talent for executing specific organizational activities has become more pronounced. “Given the current economic climate,” Irfan says, “organizations are not just required to hire the right quality of candidates; they are required to hire quality at scale.” It is possible that the right candidate for a job may not be looking out for a job at the time when an organizational position opens. Also, in the absence of macro-level geographical workforce information, an organization may end up focusing efforts in the wrong geographical talent pool. All of these issues can result in an organization facing in-ordinate delays in filling up critical positions, or selecting the wrong candidate for a position. It is, therefore, extremely important for organizations to track the right information on the following questions:

  1. What are the skills available in the talent market pool at this point?
  2. From where can we source the talent required for the specific role requirements from open positions?
  3. Are there opportunities where we can attract the right candidates that we need in our organization, even though they may not be looking out for a job at this point?
  4. What are the ways by which we can send the right messages to attract this passive talent pool?

The social media imperative                       

Social media, owing to its presence and penetration among global professionals, offers the greatest potential to reach active and passive candidate pools globally. Social media recruiting companies, therefore, will continue to identify newer and more effective ways to gather intelligence and more accurate answers to the above questions. For example, post-login, a user of Linkedin views professional news feeds from the network, and suggestions about groups, associations, and potential jobs.  It sources and delivers targeted content by gathering intelligence from an individual’s professional profile. A hiring organization, on the other hand, can push their employer brand message and current job opportunities to a large pool of active and passive candidates through the platform.

The future of social media hiring

Very soon, organizations failing to realize the full potential of social media will lose the race for sourcing skilled talent. Organizations will soon need to integrate social media recruiting into their strategic organizational mandate and understand what drives talent behavior. Only then will they be able to truly realize the rich potential of social media hiring.