Challenges of today’s RPOs

Having served as Marketing Manager in RPO companies, I have always been closely listening to my clients. Some appreciated our work and others didn’t. But top three challenges they all would fret about are these:

1. Pumping in resumes: Recruiters at RPO companies are under pressure to fill positions. This pressure is directly felt by the recruiters and some times they pump resumes to hiring managers without scrutinizing them strictly. This results in hiring managers wasting their precious time rejecting resumes that shouldn’t have come to them in the first place. This frustration builds over time and creates a general feeling among hiring managers that the RPO team isn’t capable. Creating such an impression can only lead to the RPO team loosing their contract over time because of noise in the business.

2. SLAs that dont align to Business Success: I find this happen so often that RPOs have grown to ignore any concerns raised in this direction. RPOs today continue to sign on simple straightforward SLAs and grading their performance top class by benchmarking themselves with competitor RPO companies. Clients generally stay puzzled why they are still reeling under the pressure of War for Talent. Slowing hiring manager start feeling that their RPO partners are not truly their partners in success and the partnerships begins on its journey downwards until the SLAs show the result.

3. Being Strategic Partner: Companies typically rely on their recruitment teams to provide them intelligence on talent. When recruitment is outsources, this intelligence stops to flow and this over time bothers the hiring managers. Recruiters who were earlier working as talent advisor, are no more available for advice and RPO partner is more focused on their process, SLA and filling jobs rather than helping hiring managers in manpower planning etc

How Do We Fix These? 

Although the problem seems complicated, the solution is quite simple, Go above and beyond.

Going above and beyond in submission quality would mean ensuring recruiters get face time with business to truly understand the unsaid in job description. Training recruiters on importance of ensuring tight scrutiny of profile before submission, holding recruiters accountable by strict audits and management truly demonstrating their concern on the parameter…when management truly cares about something, it percolates down.

Going above and beyond in SLAs would mean holding meetings with client’s training departments to ensure they are happy with the incoming talent, ensuring hiring manager satisfaction is measured and hiring manager is involved in challenges faced in talent acquisition, ensuring there are quarterly meetings with finance to check cost and productivity targets are being met. Repercussion of RPO’s work is measured by various departments and expectations should be managed across.

Going above and beyond in being a talent advisor is to join the hiring managers in their annual planning meets, providing them market intelligence, benchmarks, showing them positive impact of the SLAs on business output and being available for a quick chat whenever required. To achieve this end, RPOs need to go beyond SLAs, beyond contracts, beyond what’s said… to the place where client feels the RPO and its effort and its contribution in business success.

Recruitment 2020

How do you think recruitment would be transformed in coming years and be in 2020?

Imagine, you are a recruiter and its April 2020. Your company decided to shut down the city office and decided to equip your home instead with infrastructure for you to work. Your new infrastructure consists of a Google glass and a hand motion sensor that you fixed to your wall. You are excited about the new gadgets and you put them on. The glasses greet you, “Hello Good Morning! Today we have a new assignment to recruit a technology analyst for Amazon. You will be awarded 30 points for selecting this work”. You think for a moment and say to yourself, I am game for something more niche! You reject the assignment and scan for more open positions. You suddenly spot another interesting, Data Scientist for Adobee Recruitment 2020Gamification analytics division; it has 75 points on it! You immediately block the position and the system says “Congratulations, the position is blocked for you for the next 120 minutes” You see a video icon at the Job description, you click on it and you see a message from the hiring manager. The video explains the success parameters for the opportunity and you feel good about finding the right person.

You remember the old days when you had to map talent landscape and source for people on job boards, social media and database; today everyone on the planet is in the company database that directly is linked to all social media platforms that has not only work data but also personal preferences, demonstrated skills and details of personality traits. Although these details are available the only hitch is that the government regulations don’t allow you to contact someone directly unless you have approval from them.

You order your computer through your hand motion to show you the talent landscape for the opportunity. The glasses suddenly glow up and in 3D show you people arranged in shape of a sphere representing people with desired skill sets and experience. Adobee wishes to find people within 75 miles of Bangalore so that a weekly visit to office would be possible. You throw this constraint on the sphere of people and the sphere shrinks to show only right people. Based on the video you watched from the hiring manager, you identify two personal preferences and throw both preferences on the sphere.  The sphere shrinks quite dramatically but is still quite large.

You wonder how to sequence the list in order of preference; You suddenly remember what Ashok, your information manager, told you about the social analytics feature that the company has invested in. You order the computer to run the analytics. The Rec2020pyramidcomputer turns the sphere into a pyramid! The top section of the pyramid has people with 90% suitability and subsequent tiers have 80%, 70%, 60% and 50% respectively. Curious to know how the system figured this out, you hit the help section and look for answers. You learn that the computer considers the following:

  • Match digital preferences of Current top 30 percentile employees in the Gamification analytics division of Adobee and that of talent pool
  • Testimonials written in linkedin and a few other media sites by people who the adobee system recognizes as top performers.
  • People who have performed well in companies and colleges where adobee top employees have done theirs
  • Digital content such as technical blogs, response in stackoverflow etc by people that is shared or cited or highlighted by Adobee top employees

And many such criteria that the HR data scientists have proven to be effective in determining top talent. The system is still in its beta stage and reads the caution note. You love the concept and tap the 90 percentage probably fit candidates.

The system suddenly beeps. It awards you 10 points for selecting the new technology in your recruitment process. Happy about the bonus, you proceed with reading selected people’s consolidated report that the system generated from all social media sources. You understand how these people work and what motivates them, what demotivates them and what benefits offered by the employer would strike a chord with them. You find that a few in the list have self selected themselves to be contacted for jobs and you also see their current assignment and the date on which their current contract ends. You order the computer to record your video message to these candidates and you also ask specific questions. The computer finds that the questions you have asked isn’t available in question bank and offers you bonus 3 points.

These active job seekers get a ping on their Google glass. One of them, Joe, is working and decides to put the message to his reminder stating play the video after finishing work. The Google glass noticing that Joe is shutting down his laptop, informs that the bus he wanted to take to his house is arriving and that if he starts now then he could take the bus without any waiting. Joe takes the suggestion and starts walking towards the bus. Upon boarding he finds a seat at the end and grabs it. Immediately the glass glows and opens the message from you. The video plays and you suggest how the position fits Joe’s preferences and career aspirations. Joe thinks about it and decides to find a little more about the company. He decides to look for friends who work in the firms. The Google glass finds that Peter, Joe’s school friend works here but also suggests that Peter is playing tennis now and that he should better be contacted in 20 minutes, about the time when Joe gets back home. Joe decides to wait and in the mean time checks reviews about culture, work styles, company strategy, financials, salary surveys and other details about the company. He checks his reporting manager’s profiles and check common connections. Upon reaching home, Joe calls Peter for inquiring . Peter gives a good feedback and thus Joe decides to apply. He opens your message again and looks for further steps.  He responds to your questions and the google glass records the video and sends it back to you!

Meanwhile you received a bunch of other responses and you screen each one of them and finally decide to just submit Joe’s video and resume in a report that has various scores the computer computed to determine fit and your thoughts on how Joe’s aspirations match the opportunity. You forward the report to the hiring manager and the hiring manager is impressed with your find. He decided to give you a Badge, Quick Feet!

This is cool! You say, and ring your best friend and colleague Nick! Nick too is excited and congratulates you. Nick says, the government has further introduced more regulations to ensure better privacy for candidates and companies are investing on technology to manage these regulations. You start thinking about the cost of implementing it. But then you suddenly remember that you need to get back to recruiting and you say bye to Nick.

At the pace the world is transforming itself, it’s very hard to predict the future. However here are my pick:

  • In technology era, its fair to assume that major changes would come from Information Technology and today’s nascent technology; Social Technology, Mobility, and Analytics would be the stables in future.
  • Interface gadgets such as Google glass is shaping the way we interact with computers. These will take center stage in order to improve productivity while interacting with computers.
  • By 2020, Regulations and penalty on compliance miss in Human Resources would become as stringent as they are for banks today. 

Technology of Recruitment

In the summer of ’09 I took the decision of joining a recruitment firm. Since then I have been studying the processes and strategies of various successful recruitment firms to understand factors that help recruitment firms succeed. In this blog, I am breaking down the business model of a recruitment firm and penning the fundamental factors that recruitment firms ought to manage to run their business successfully.

Function of a Recruitment Firms: India’s working population is 699.9 million. 10% of this population, 69 million, have regular employment, perhaps in the 7,38,312 registered companies that are registered in India. This gives the scale of market where labor meets companies and negotiate to close business! Also the information asymmetry in the labor market is high and inefficient.

Essentially, a recruitment firm creates a market where demand (a company’s talent requirement) meets or matches the supply (talent pool) and close employment contract in an efficient manner (productivity).

For success, an improvisation of each of the parameters highlighted above is needed.

  • Demand
  • Supply
  • Match
  • Efficient

Demand: Any organisation has several tasks to be performed. Managements are constantly asking the question “Who is going to do these tasks?” Tasks are done to achieve certain goal, thus we could re-frame the same question as “who is going to achieve this goal?” Demand originates with this question and takes shape of a Job description.

However we know that job descriptions are often inaccurate or vague and therefore recruitment firms should always ask this question to their clients upon receiving any JD. This will help them understand demand in its purest form.

Supply: Once the demand is clearly understood, the next obvious question raises, “Where is the person who is going to achieve the goal?” How the answer to this question is arrived distinguishes the one who succeeds from the one who fails.

The book Outlier by Malcom Gladwell has influenced my greatly. I learnt from the book that the success of a person is significantly influenced by the circumstances experienced by the person. Therefore, while matching demand and supply, it is essential to understand what led to success of the person currently performing satisfactorily.

Steve Jobs made a speech in Stanford, where he said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”.  To find characteristics of supply, one could pick profile of a successful person in the job and observe his ‘dots’. Once the ‘dots’ are identified and documented, pick the important ‘dots’ and start searching for people who would have those dots.  On side notes, since most of the jobs are replacement positions, its not very difficult to find a person whose dots we need to discover.

Match: Matching supply and demand is discovering facts about an individual to ascertain chances of his success. This includes scheduling, interviewing, testing and other checks. Traditionally recruitment firms have had limited scope to change client’s scrutiny process. However world has become a different place now because market has become extremely supply driven and recruitment firms being closest to ‘Supply’, could offer suggestions.

Every step involved in scrutinising a candidate cost time and money to firm and client. Therefore it is imperative that we optimise the process of matching. Firms should monitor steps involved and continually validate the people and methods involved in scrutinising. Continues improvement initiatives from the team should be handsomely recognised and implemented. To bring in innovation here, it certainly makes sense in forming cross functional teams and equip them with powers to find ways to reduce steps and time taken.

Efficient: Efficiency is calculated by OUTPUT/INPUT. Recruitment firms typically have following inputs:

Demand efficiency: Number of successful Join/The number of JD that enter the firm

Supply Efficiency: Number of people shortlisted/Number of people join

Process (Method) Efficiency: Time taken to process one candidate

Key to success is to measure and improve the above three efficiencies. Holding an individual accountable for improvement of each parameter and holding another individual accountable for all these together is imperative.

Demand Efficiency: Firms should invest on educating their people to understand demand well and setting processes to ensure demands that are not understood are not allocated any resource.

Supply Efficiency: Highest IQ resource in the company should be spending his time in guiding rest of the company in improving supply efficiency.

Method Efficiency: Good IT tools help in improving Method efficiency. Companies should always be on a lookout for improved IT products to increase method efficiency.

Trust: Peter Drucker quoted that “Suppliers and especially manufacturers have market power because they have information about a product or a service that the customer does not and cannot have, and does not need if he can trust the brand. This explains the profitability of brands” Applying the same analogy, the hiring manager and the candidates do not have as much market knowledge as the recruiters or recruitment firms. To bring in efficiency, firms must spend on trust building efforts and transparency.

Companies often mention words such as TRUST in their core value and hope that the trust factor is taken care of! To win trust firms must take scientific steps: creating right brand image, engagement with clients and candidates, listening and being true to commitments. empowering recruiters to stand up to their commitments, training recruiters to act maturely etc.

I need to measure the above for my firm and see if by applying methods mentioned above, and calibrate various levers discussed. If I could, then that would form “Technology of Recruitment”.