Home / Industry / Human Resource /  An open letter to all recruiters: This is your moment in the sun
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There is a great resignation wave. IT companies are most vocal about it but one also sees it in retail, hospitality, health care and telecom... it’s a pan industry phenomenon. Intent-to-hire metrics are at a high, indicating not just growth but also replenishment. As people leave and business booms, the pressure to recruit increases manifold.

Recruiters in most organisations are under the pump. Apart from the pressure to hire, there are so many cases where candidates bring negotiations to the very last stage before sending their ‘offer regrets’. It’s demotivating, to say the least. Add to this the high demand for recruiters themselves in the job market. For many, it is a Hobson’s choice: Do you stay in the organization and get walked all over, or walk out, join another organization and be part of the same cycle of pressure, demotivation and departure?

It is in this context that I write my letter to recruiters as they step into a new year, and face every-growing challenges.

Give your team the bandwidth to research and analyse, investing in dedicated resources or a cell of data scientists for recruitment.
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Give your team the bandwidth to research and analyse, investing in dedicated resources or a cell of data scientists for recruitment. (Photo: iStock)

The first thing I want you to remember is to wear your badge as a recruiter with pride. This is your moment in the sun. In normal times, not many organizations realize the importance of the recruitment function, but today, you are in demand both inside and outside the organization.

There is always a flip side, of course. And in this case, being in demand also means you are the front-line target for fire, the infantry in this war for talent, but this is a challenge to step up to with pride.

Talk of HR (human resources) service delivery, and the first thing that comes to mind is recruitment. You have clear, measurable, outcome-based targets. Meet them and you are queen, fail and you take it on the chin. Learning, engagement and organizational development are all important, but if you don’t meet the hygiene metrics of recruitment, HR is history. But don’t fret, think of it as the air-cover you provide to other HR functions.

Track everything

Measure, Measure, Measure. If you want increased salary bands for offers, if you want to pitch your campus salaries higher so that there are better placements on campuses, if you want greater resources for recruitment… whatever you want, you have to measure and analyse data and keep refining the measures themselves. Without data, you can’t make your case.

Let’s take what I call the infant mortality metric, when hires quit soon after joining. This is an indication that the selection went wrong somewhere, either at the stage of gauging candidate expectations or competence. Better measures will help you avoid this problem next time. It’s the same advice I’d give when it comes to time to hire, bring on board, hiring via talent pools or channels, any function really. The message is collect, study, analyse, hypothesise, validate, conclude and act based on data.

Give your team the bandwidth to research and analyse, investing in dedicated resources or a cell of data scientists for recruitment. Have data at your fingertips. It’s suicidal to go to business leaders with proposals based only on anecdotes.

One of the key metrics you would collect is conversions—from offers to joins—by segment, by campus, by geography, and by recruiter. I strongly believe this should not be an HR metric alone but also a line metric. A candidate joins the function they are interested in; it’s not the recruitment process that draws them in. S.D. Shibulal, the former chief executive officer of Infosys, was a great believer in this, and said as much to me when he was chief operating officer: “Hema, you focus on identifying the candidate and getting them to the negotiating table. It’s my team’s job to ensure conversion." I hope leaders continue to think this way. If not, you as recruiters need to explain it to them and influence them to think thus.

Such data collection and analysis, critical for scaling, is not possible by being just spreadsheet warriors. A key requirement is IT enabling of recruitment processes, which is not possible without strong process documentation. Invest in the twin pillars of process and technology. This is your moment. Put down your counter demands in order to deliver the numbers.

Don’t work in silos. What you get in your salary discussions with candidates is an important piece of information to pass on to the Compensation & Benefits (C&B) team. While C&B does its market studies, what you get is actual data of candidates wanting to join you—a good sanity check.

Play for the team

Be a true partner to business. Understand their requirements. Ensure that the roles you are recruiting for have clearly defined knowledge, skills and attitude parameters and you understand them. Understand you’re the business of your client and your client’s client too. Meet them regularly, not just in conference rooms or annual reviews, but one-on-one and prior to major review jamborees. Be an integral part of their meetings and everything that they celebrate. You are an integral part of their business. So leverage that.

I have seen feted recruiters truly partner with business: Met them, kept them up to date, talked about what was happening, talked about their challenges. If your client walks the recruitment journey alongside you, it will go smoother and faster. Don’t neglect the business rounds of interviews. Learn from them as well. Check your success metric by monitoring how many of the candidates you shortlisted actually made it to the organization’s hire list.

If you really want to understand the business your company is in, a great place to be in would be recruitment. I do believe recruitment is the great centre of excellence at which HR professionals should be proud to earn their spurs and start their career.

Build culture

Finally, it’s your job to ensure that corporate culture is maintained and that the company does not get into litigation by asking the wrong questions. No discriminatory questions, no inappropriate profiling. Recruiters must know all the HR policies, go for a master class if required. Make sure you know the different legal and cultural sensitivities across the country and across countries.

It is said that advice is like snow. The softer it falls, the deeper it goes. My apologies if I have dealt a heavy hand but I am a passionate champion of recruitment teams and it is with the best of intentions that I proffer this advice for the year ahead.

Hema Ravichandar is a strategic HR consultant. She serves as an independent director and advisory board member for several organizations

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