May 8, 2007

De-skilling Recruitment at what cost

(Post contributed by regular contributor R. Karthik)

I was attempting a transition from HRM in Pharmaceuticals to IT industry in mid-April '06, when I answered a call from a recruiter at a top-notch (truly so) Indian IT services organization.

And that incident got me thinking on the above-said lines.

"Who is this?" asked the female voice that was to invite me to participate in their selection process for HR openings.

Taken aback I was, by the manner in which the call was opened I couldn't help saying "ma'am, you are the caller and it is universal telephone etiquette that the caller reveals his/her identity while ensuring the right person has been reached and I must say your question has quite surprised me".

"No. it is fine! You can just tell me your name and that will help", pressed the recruiter.

"Oh! I doubt that!", But I resigned, "Anyway my name is Karthik".

The chaos was because she was having some back-office person assist her in dialing up the applicants one after the other. (Perhaps she wasn't having the CVs with her or she didn't find my name worthy of remembering)

I almost formed my first cut impression about their HR organization from the manner the call was handled.

Why! When your recruiter's call to a candidate bespeaks such flippancy and a laidback manner…what message do you convey?

Mind you! The position has not been advertised and you have not a thousand applicants to schedule interviews with in first place; the candidate has written to you here.

In another similar occasion, the caller sought to know details about my current compensation package point blank during the very 2 minutes of our telecon.

It is even fair to have asked for my CTC expectations but this was just too much having not deliberated much about the organization or the position at all!

You haven't discussed anything as to the role nor have you taken a second keener look at my profile before sounding brash like that.

I ponder, when recruitment has been assigned the status of a specialized HR function and when one of the deliverables is to act as the organization's brand ambassadors, why this callousness in candidate calls which ought to be considered sacrosanct rather than a mundane task?

Also this brings us to the question of other most common recruitment mistakes such as not honoring commitments made at the time of hiring (or making false commitments rather), not taking enough precautions against faking of interviews etc.

If not directly, all these are in a way attributable to deskilling of the function.

Why can't recruiters be like other cut-throat professionals who are respected for what they do?

It is true today that recruitment is not getting the kind of talent it deserves to retain its status as a strategic function.

Culture and organizationally desired norms of communication or behavior have to be internalized by recruitment.

Only then can it strike a fit between Candidate aspirations and the organization's goals as fit only flourishes and misfit perishes almost prematurely.

The ability to make hiring decisions based on our insights into candidate's aspirations, motive behind the job change is all a far cry if we get the basics wrong.

Without a sound understanding of these, anyone who can only match skill keywords with CV constituents, ring up applicants and facilitate interviews can only do as much to tear and dispose off rejected resumes.

Last and not the least, recruitment has got to win hearts by the way it handles candidates from sourcing to joining phase of the hiring lifecycle.