Category Archives: Hiring

Candidate Sourcing for Diversity Hiring

diversity-employees-300x228As a recruiter, sometimes you may be tasked to source female candidates to maintain a healthy gender ratio in your organization. So while sourcing, how would you go about filtering female candidates from a large pool of eligible ones?

Good news: Many paid databases have an option that lets you search for female candidates specifically.

Bad news: LinkedIn doesn’t have any such gender-filtering option.

So how do you source female candidates on LinkedIn?

Here’s the answer:

  • Look for indicators that differentiate a female candidate’s LinkedIn profile from that of a male candidate.
  • Think about keywords that you would typically find only in a female candidate’s profile.
  • If you focus on the “Recommendations” section, those standout keywords are “She” and “her”.
  • So, if you use (she OR her) in your Boolean X-ray search along with other role-specific keywords, what you’ll get is a list of female candidates’ LinkedIn profiles.

While the above strategy may not fetch those profiles that don’t have any recommendations yet, it’s still a quick way to get you the desired pool of candidates.

About the Author: Vineet Arora is the Chief Executive of TalentNiti, a boutique talent search company catering to IT, Hi-Tech, and Consulting/Research sectors. He can be reached at vineet@talentniti.com.

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3 Techniques for Candidate Sourcing Using Boolean Search

aaIt’s a normal tendency for recruiters to use Keyword Search when using databases such as Naukri or Monster, or when scanning profiles through LinkedIn and other social recruiting platforms. Here you insert some commonly applicable keywords relevant to the JD and expect good results to pop up. However, in most scenarios, after a certain point, you start observing that you are getting the same set of results and feel saturated.

In contrast, there’s another technique, which is less commonly used but much more efficient, and that’s the Boolean Search. Here you use keywords along with the operators such as:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT or – (minus sign), depending on the database being searched
  • ” ” (double quotes)
  • ( ) (parentheses)

Using boolean search, you are much more in control of what you are searching for and therefore widen your scope of finding newer results every time. While we can discuss the advantages of such search at length in another post, let’s discuss how you can make the most of this search. Here are some smart tips:

#1 X-Ray Search: Use Google Search to X-Ray any site having public profiles. For example, a very basic X-Ray search to find profiles on LinkedIn, for say a social media manager in Gurgaon, may look like this:

site:linkedin.com ("Social Media") (Gurgaon OR Delhi OR Noida) -inurl:jobs

What this does is – it looks for all the profiles on LinkedIn who have social media and either of Gurgaon, Delhi, or Noida mentioned on their profile page. The last part “-inurl:jobs” instructs Google to exclude all the results which are job postings, giving better filtered results.

Note that we have used all the boolean operators here except “AND”. This is because Google considers blank space as AND by default.

Various complex variations of the above seemingly simple search format are possible. Try Googling to learn more!

The best part of X-Ray on LinkedIn - you get more flexibility in the number of searches you can conduct than what you can through the LinkedIn’s inbuilt search box before you reach the commercial limit. Nice workaround, right? :)

#2 Spider Search: It’s a technique where you look for profiles which are similar to a specific candidate profile.

For example, while searching on LinkedIn, if you land up on a relevant profile, look at the sections “People Also Viewed” and “People Similar to” on the right. There are very good chances that these sections may give you some more relevant results. Continue the process i.e., going from one profile to another under these sections, till you start getting completely non relevant results.

Paid databases like Naukri.com provide a similar feature called “Similar Resumes” which is again very useful.

#3 Pin Code Search: Not very commonly used, but can turn out to be a great time saver in certain scenarios. Consider, for a certain position, you want to source candidates who are located within 5 kms or 10 kms of the company’s location, how will you do it?

While in Naukri / Monster you can do a city specific search, unfortunately there’s no option to filter by locations within a specific city. There’s a smart workaround though:

a) Identify the company location on the map

b) Mark all the areas that fall within the 5 km/ 10 km (whatever applicable) range

c) Put the names of all those areas ORed in the boolean search in the database

OR a much efficient and convenient approach would be to

c) Put all the PIN codes covering those areas in the boolean search

and Voila, you get the filtered profiles of candidates who have mentioned the specified PIN codes in their correspondence address.

I hope you’ll use the above techniques and benefit from them, and if you’re already using them, would love to hear your experiences. Feel free to add more techniques in the comments below!

About the Author: Vineet Arora is the Chief Executive of TalentNiti, a boutique talent search company catering to IT, Hi-Tech, and Consulting/Research sectors. He can be reached at vineet@talentniti.com.

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Timeboxing for Recruiters

TimeboxingHiring involves several small activities ranging from sourcing, creating job posts, CV screening, replying to emails, telephonic screening, scheduling interviews, following up with the candidates, and so forth. As a recruiter, you’re always challenged to optimize your daily routine to maximize your output. So, how can you stay focused and improve productivity?

The answer lies in Timeboxing. It’s a technique wherein you divide your schedule into a number of small time periods (timeboxes), with each period having its own deliverable and deadline.

  1. So, begin your daily schedule by taking a stock of overall activities you need to take care of.
  2. Assign priorities to each task. For example, scheduling important interviews may take priority over fresh sourcing, or updating stakeholders about a cancelled interview may take priority over responding to routine emails.
  3. Timebox each task according to priority. Stay focused on doing that task alone during the planned timebox. Avoid the urge to respond to new emails that arrive in your inbox. :)

Typically, timeboxes of 30 – 60 minutes with break of 5 minutes after each timeboxshould be an efficient strategy for recruiters.

What techniques have worked for you? Please share in the comments below!

Posted by Vineet Arora, Co-founder, TalentNiti

 

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Why acquihiring makes so much sense?

default“Acquihiring” refers to corporate acquisitions done primarily to acquire talented teams of the company being acquired, and not so much to get hands on the technology, product, or customers of the acquired company. As is also evident from several acquisition examples where the products of the acquired company were quickly abandoned and the teams went on to work on the acquirers’ products after the acquisition.

While the most visible benefits of hiring star talent in this manner include the quality of talent and the speed of recruiting, there is psychological evidence as well that proves that acquihiring is more beneficial than hiring star performers individually.

Research suggests that people’s success is not entirely dependent on individual capabilities but also on their collaborative relationships with other people. This is because our productivity soars when we are surrounded by other talented people who contribute with their fresh ideas and thoughts. It is also true for seemingly independent jobs that rely on individual brainpower (“knowledge workers”), still the success depends more on others than generally perceived.

Renowned author and Wharton School Professor Adam Grant in his bestselling book Give and Take mentions about a research which was conducted to study whether medical surgeons’ performance increased with experience. The results showed that surgeons got better only at the specific hospital where they practiced. And that was because they were becoming more familiar with particular nurses and anaesthesiologists, learning about their styles, strengths, and weaknesses. This familiarity helped surgeons to avoid patient deaths. Similarly, another research showed how security analysts’ performance dropped when they switched to a different firm, even though they were star performers in their previous organization.

To conclude – hiring stars is advantageous neither to the stars themselves nor to the hiring companies. On the other hand, when teams move together (such as in the case of an acquihire), they retain their collaborative DNA and therefore the chances of them performing well increase.

Having said that, acquihiring is not without its share of challenges. Apart from the high cost of acquisition, ensuring the cultural fitment and smooth transition of the acquihired team into the broader organization is always a key challenge.

What’s your take – do you think acquihiring works better than individual talent scouting in the long run? Why or why not?

Posted by Vineet Arora, Co-founder, TalentNiti

Image courtesy: LinkedIn

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3 Key Hiring Principles for Startups

hiring

Hiring the first set of employees can be a daunting task for any startup. Having hired for various clients, many of them being startups, and also for our own organization, we believe the following can be easily considered as the key mantras for successful hiring:

  1. Hire Slow, Fire Fast

As a startup and especially if you’re investor-funded, you may be under extreme pressure to scale up quickly. “We need to quickly ramp up the team and launch the product at the earliest” – is a common conversation point in discussion rooms.

However, hiring too fast can actually prove to be counter-productive and you may run the risk of decreasing your “Talent Density” (a concept made popular by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings) i.e., the percentage of high performers in your organization. You should be very careful about the talent mix your organization should have. The right mix can help you roll out products timely, have more meaningful investor discussions, smoothen operations, and most importantly, shape the cultural DNA of the organization.

Having even one bad hire can put some serious brakes on your success journey. Rather than procrastinating in the attempt to make the relationship work or surrendering yourself to escalation of commitment, it’s better to immediately let go of the employee. For one person, you can’t risk affecting the morale of several other employees. Some people might get offended by the term “firing” but laying off doesn’t mean you have do it in an insensitive manner. You should always be compassionate during such layoffs and may also consider offering severance packages. 

  1. Hire the “Best Fit,” Not the “Best”

Hiring the best talent seems like a cure-all solution to many startups for their talent acquisition ailments. As a recruitment consultant, we often hear such statements from our clients:

  • “We want to hire from first rate Institutes only.”
  • “Let’s just poach people from Company X [market leader in the industry].”
  • “We are willing to pay handsome package to rockstar developers. We can even buy-out their notice period if that’s an issue.”

While strong credentials and impressive track record on the CV may seem like the most reasonable factors, they may not be sufficient to predict the future performance of the candidate. For example, the person might have performed well in a team earlier but may not be able to take full ownership of a work stream independently. Or, the person might have successfully led a large team of programmers in the previous organization but may not feel comfortable doing the heavy lifting required to get things done in a smaller setup.

So what you actually need to look for is someone who can be “good fit” for your organization – both technically and culturally.

  1. Hire Objectively, Not Based On Gut

Hiring managers would agree that hiring decisions are often taken within the first few minutes of the conversation with the candidate. You get a feeling whether you’re going to hire the person or not. Sometimes, it all boils down to the “likeability” of the candidate. However, such decisions based primarily on a gut instinct may go wrong. Have you ever been in a situation when you almost believed that the candidate would turn around the fortunes of your company, only to find later that the person couldn’t perform even the basic tasks?

To avoid such surprises and minimize error, start including more objectivity in your hiring process. Look for the actual skills and behaviour of the potential hires by creating coding challenges, conducting technical and behavioural assessments, performing psychometric analysis, and including role plays.

What best practices do you follow while hiring for your organization? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Posted by Vineet Arora, Co-founder, TalentNiti

Image courtesy: Mashable

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How to Prevent Pre-Join Churn of New Hires

12637257-1701x2539v2Consider this scenario — As the hiring manager of your organization, you were tasked to quickly ramp up the team in preparation for a new project. You put in your best efforts – leveraged internal referrals and partnered with external recruitment agencies to find potential hires, created a nice pitch for your brand and product to impress the interviewees, finalized on a few quality hires, and finally made the offers. Relieved and happy with the job well done, you now anxiously wait for the hires to report, after serving the notice period at their respective companies, on the joining date and get going on the project. Contrary to your expectations and true to your fears, some of them don’t turn up. You probably lost them to some other company. This implies you need to repeat the effort cycle all over again. Does this scenario sound familiar? If yes, you’re not alone.

Such dropouts are not uncommon. In fact, the following three factors are the key contributors to the increasing dropout rates:

  1. Those candidates were good, that’s why you hired them, and for the same reason there is high propensity of them being picked up quickly by other companies as well.
  2. The lean time between the day of offer and the day of joining provides an attractive window of opportunity to the candidates for scouting and evaluating multiple companies/offers and pick the one that best aligns with their career objectives.
  3. Most importantly, not engaging the candidates during the pre-join period makes them anxious, resulting in overthinking and generating doubts about your company.

So, how can you reduce the dropout rate and save yourself from reinvesting precious time and effort in the hiring process?

The answer is simple – create opportunities to engage with the new hires during the pre-join period. Such engagements allow the candidates to know more about the company, build a strong rapport with the company, and help alleviate their anxiety, and thereby prevent last-minute surprises.

Here are some tips to build the engagement:

  1. Create Networking Opportunities: Identify events or occasions when you can invite the new hires to the company premises. You may opt for the formal “meet and greet” sessions with C-level executives to help the new hires understand the company’s vision and clarify any questions they might have, or invite them to an informal setting such as an office party or an offsite to allow them to bond with their future managers and colleagues.
  2. Start On-boarding Much before the Joining Date: While technically the hires are still not your employees and you may not want to put in a lot of time upfront, there are a number of ways in which you can help the new hires understand the company’s history and culture without investing too many resources, for example through online portals. Pushing it a little further, HCL uses gamification techniques to make on-boarding fun and promote learning. Using such techniques, the company was able to reduce the dropout rate from 10% to about 1%.
  3. Maintain a Regular Flow of Communication: There are many ways to do this, but make sure you don’t bombard the new hires with too much information. For example, few days before their joining, you may send the new hires a welcome package with information about the company, a personal note from the HR manager, and additionally a gift, such as a company-branded item. Apart from gaining context about the company, such gesture makes people feel valued.

Adjusting these small things in your hiring process can exponentially improve the success rate and the quality of hiring.

What techniques have you used to build engagement during the pre-join period? What has worked and what hasn’t? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Posted by Vineet Arora, Co-founder, TalentNiti

Image Courtesy:  pixgood.com

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Hire for ATTITUDE, Not Just Knowledge and Skills

AttitudeHave you found yourself in a position when you hired someone who was extremely impressive during the interview but didn’t perform well after joining the organization? Ever wondered what went wrong?

Well, you hired the wrong person, and it’s the hiring process that needs to be blamed. You probably focused on the candidate’s knowledge and skills, but missed one key component – ATTITUDE.

A “successful” hire is the one who possesses all the three: Attitude (A), Skills (S), and Knowledge (K), or simply put “ASK.”

  1. Knowledge – It is the understanding of the domain related to the job. If you are hiring someone to work in the Telecom industry, you would want the person to have at least some basic knowledge of that domain.
  2. Skills – These reflect the ability of the person to perform tasks associated with the job. If the job requires the person to manage projects, you need to evaluate for project management skills. If it’s a customer-facing role, communication and negotiation skills become most important, and so on.
  3. Attitude – It is shaped by the intrinsic beliefs of the person. It defines the person’s behavior i.e., how well the person will use his knowledge and skills to perform the job. It influences how well the person will adapt to the new work environment, respond to and internalize new teachings, deal with failure, work with colleagues, and so forth.

While it’s easy to coach the person to acquire new knowledge and skills, it’s hard to influence and shape his attitude.

Therefore, it becomes even more prudent to assess for attitude. So, how do you really find out if the candidate has the right attitude for the job? Here’s a two-step process that you may find useful:

Step 1: Identify key job-related attitudinal behaviors – First, define what are the key behaviors required for succeeding in the job. For example, if you are hiring for a high-stress customer-servicing role, your ideal hire would be someone who is patient and has a calm and composed temperament. If you are hiring for a teaching profile, the best fit would be someone who is caring, has empathy, and encourages creativity.

Step 2: Ask targeted questions to test for those specific behaviors – Once you know the desired behaviors, you should focus on behavioral questions to identify suitable candidates. Ask them how they reacted to/dealt with a similar situation in the past.

Here are some sample questions:

  • Tell me about a situation when you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you handled it. [Temperament]
  • How do you make out what your team members are feeling? [Empathy]
  • What did you do when you received negative feedback from your manager? [Resilience]
  • Have you had an experience of working in a team that didn’t get along well? What did you do?  [Team playing]
  • Describe a situation when you were able to save yourself time or money? [Resourcefulness]

So, what are your thoughts on the ASK principle. What techniques do you use to assess candidates’ ASK? Let us know in the comments below.

Posted By Mallika Arora, Co-founder, TalentNiti

 

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Startup Hiring: What You Should and Shouldn’t Tell Your Potential Employees

HandshakeI once interviewed for a company that was just starting up and looking for its first set of employees. The company’s founder came across as a pleasing and intellectual person. The business model and the vision were impressive too. There was nothing about the interaction with the founder that should have made me nervous about joining that company.

Still, I walked out feeling uncomfortable. Something was amiss. I wasn’t convinced enough. On further introspection, I realized that the interaction lacked positivity. For most part, the founder tried to stress on what I should not expect from a startup and what the startup doesn’t offer when compared to other established organizations.

While what he said wasn’t wrong, since he was trying to set my expectations right, he did seem to overdo it. More importantly, he didn’t talk much about what his company had in store for new employees or how working for the company was a more rewarding experience than others.

According to famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman, our brain recognizes negativity faster than positivity as it is wired to give priority to bad news, which is processed more thoroughly than good news. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman talks about some experiments where it was proved that an angry face “pops out” of a crowd of happy faces, but a single happy face does not stand out in an angry crowd. 

Perhaps the choice of conversation points by the founder hinged more on the side of negativity, which resulted in my skepticism and discomfort.

So, what should you as the head of a startup do to attract star talent? Here’s what I think:

  1. Set the expectations right, but don’t overdo it: It’s perfectly alright to let your future employees know what they should and shouldn’t expect from a startup, which would help you also to gauge who would be a good fit for your company. But, ensure that you don’t make it sound too depressing.
  2. Talk about how your company is different, but be realistic: Focus more on the positives. Talk about what’s unique about your company – it can be a unique culture or a unique performance evaluation system, anything that stands out and would make your employees excited. Always gut check – “Do I myself want to work for such a company?” At the same time, you need to be realistic, after all you don’t want to overpromise and under deliver.

What has worked for you during interview conversations? Would love to hear your thoughts as well!

Posted By Vineet Arora, Co-founder, TalentNiti

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