Recruitment and head huntingThis article is useful for all those professionals who are directly or indirectly connected with the recruitment. This article is based on views which have been aired on different online discussions on recruitment by HR professionals, employers and job seekers. Analyses of these views show that many recruiters, working in human resource departments, recruitment agencies and headhunting firms, are hardly doing their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Aggregate analysis shows that HR recruitment professionals are busy in making the hiring process complicated to justify their presence in the company instead of providing a useful link between the company and the applicant; in other words, it can be said that they are becoming part of the problem than the solution. If this tendency goes on it is likely that importance of recruitment professional is challenged.

Recruiters complaint may be genuine that they receive too many irrelevant CVs in return of job advertisements but transferring blame to candidates will not be helpful in modifying candidates’ behavior unless recruiters appreciate that quality of the job advertisement matters a lot. Assembling all sorts of job specifications, whether needed or not, in job advertisement will of course increase number of irrelevant CVs. Add everything makes the job specification broad which in return opens the opportunity for everyone to apply. Very narrow and sketch job specification may discourage many suitable and qualified candidates to apply. One of the reasons of irrelevant CVs is that recruiters have not done proper home work in conducting job analysis which is the mother of the recruitment process; hence unable to draw reasonable job specifications.

Reviewing job description of various ads gives the impression as they have been advertised for a specific person who has already been selected and ad is only published to full fill the legal formality. It is a growing impression that many recruiters turn desirable criteria into essential criteria for various unknown reasons, which is completely unhealthy and non-professional practice as it discourages capable candidates to apply. Prejudice and biased assessment are other reasons of increasing irrelevant CVs. When job seekers will not be shortlisted for the positions for which they qualify that means they are pushed to seek jobs in other areas.

Bureaucratic frame of mind is completely unsuitable for professionals working in the recruitment field. Human Resource department as a whole and recruitment in particular demands entrepreneurial frame of mind than bureaucratic. For example, demanding standard professional CV shows the bureaucratic mentality, meaning that a recruiter is unable to see beyond his/her nose and prefer a lazy and easy way in finding a talent. Bureaucratic mind-set is an obstruction in a talent. Bureaucratic type of recruiters who excessively rely on software to match skills by keywords are, in fact, not justifying with their profession. Matching skills through software apparently looks impressive but it has little essence of finding the talent from the available dish or assessing transferable skills. None of the software can tell you which of the skills are transferable and which are not. Match making of tasks and the candidate through software is analogous to translating documents using online translating software and still expecting to get a perfect translation. Can you really get a proper and decent translation of language by using translating software? Software can be used as a supplementary tool but not a primary selection method. Recruiters should keep in mind, solely relying on software means that you are just turning yourself as an operator and not a part of the body of professionals and becoming a source of demeaning the profession of headhunting.

Professional recruiters must bear in mind that many skills are transferable, especially, for strategic positions. Strategic positions are very different to clerical or many operative positions. Whether enlarged or enriched experience is required depends upon the nature of the job. Cognitive skills and enriched experience are more important, for example, for marketing positions whereas computer operators need more mechanical and by-the-book skills and enlarged experience. It is not necessary that a person who worked in HR department does not have a potential to join marketing, sales or any other department and the vice versa.

More important in the hiring process is potential, attitude and life experience. Evidence suggests that a candidate hired on potential, attitude and overall life experience in a strategic position prove to be more productive than a person who hired on specific previous experience. Generally, enriched experience is essential for generalist positions and enlarged experience within the field is important for mechanical positions, for example software developer, electrician, plumber etc.

Another key task of recruiters is to reduce the time and cost of hiring, which can be easily done by using the available human capital in their database. At the age of information technology, many companies maintain applicants database, if this resource is properly utilized, it will tremendously reduce the time and cost of hiring. Recruiters must practice what they promise while rejecting the job application, “we keep the CV for 6 months in our database and contact you if the suitable position arises in future.” This statement has become a ritual and customary in rejection letters as recruiters hardly bother to match the positions and contact the rejected candidate for any other available position. It might be correct to argue, if a recruiter or headhunter cannot see the jewel, he/she is not worthy of spending time in this profession. Experienced professionals know that candidates rarely apply to the same company again and again after receiving a rejection letter. If recruiters and headhunters follow what they claim in the rejection letters, they might not need to advertise positions so often, which reduces the cost and time. Likewise, intelligent recruiters can turn ‘unsolicited job applications and resumes’ in their favor by paying proper attention to them instead of throwing in a dustbin. Properly assessing unsolicited applications can immensely reduce the cost of hiring.

Last but not least, no investigations show that those candidates who learn about the company prior to sending application or interview perform better or proved to be more productive than those who had not visited the company website. Till the time, any research proves, it should not be a criterion for shortlisting or selecting a candidate. While reviewing resumes and job applications, it is more important to pay attention that the applicant has read the job description than simply knowing turnover of a company.

In short, recruiters carry heavy responsibility which is laid upon their shoulders by the company to follow ethical recruiting process and find the means to select the best candidate within the available pool and strive for reducing the cost of recruitment. Similarly, it is also a social, moral and professional duty of recruiters that they select the candidate without any prejudice of race, color, religion, caste and creed or any other personal bias.

Nadeem Yousaf

09 September, 2011

Guideline for Recruitment Professionals and headhunting Experts