Talent Acquisition – A Better Way To Hunt

If you think recruitment is boring, think again. A few months back, my friend Usman Sheikh who is co-founder & president of a company that specialises in providing an innovative online personality and aptitude measurement platform, invited me to his inaugural talent acquisition talk event. That evening, Usman had Michael Wright, Group M Head of Talent Acquisition APAC, to share his insights on the latest creative recruitment approaches. Here are my three take-aways from that session:

  • Traditional notion of a resume should R.I.PRecruitment using resumes as a basis is an old concept that tracks as far back as 54 B.C. Ever since, nothing much had changed, and progress on this notion is nowhere near inspiring. The notion of a resume has now simply become a document with all the glittering accomplishments minus the failures. Such documents serve well to sell, but are not some bestseller; we are talking about humans here. More importantly, such a document does NOT help us to seek out the truth of a candidate's competencies, experience and influence. However, there is hope. An infographic that traces the modern history of the resume highlighted some interesting progress of this notion. Think LinkedIn, video resumes, social media, multi-media, or even klout.com. All these channels can potentially point to the truth we are looking for.
  • 'Click-to-apply' phenomenonHow easy is it to apply for jobs these days? Simply head over any job board and click on that ‘click-to-apply’ button. This phenomenon makes it so effortless for job applicants to apply. However, tremendous and unproductive efforts are required in screening through the mountains of e-resumes. It’s a day job by itself and a boring one too! We need a much better way to say our goodbyes to Mr. Tom, Dick, and Harry who come knocking on the door.
  • Traditional recruitment process is inefficientWith the bulk of the day spent reading the wonderful achievements of the seemingly endless stream of resumes, what time is left for recruiters to focus on the building of great relationships with talents which last beyond the job reference number? This relationship-building effort is the real value recruiters bring to the table.

Michael Wright, alongside valued contributions from the audience, offered a solution to this problematic reality. Together, they suggest that a puzzle be given to job applicants. In Wright’s case, it would be in the form of asking designers to produce an online presentation on why they should be the chosen ones. Those who succeeded in impressing the recruiters and hiring managers would get a chance to be interviewed face-to-face. Not only does this puzzle approach allow recruiters to screen through applications that matter, it also impresses the applicants in its recruitment rigour. Best of all, Mr. Tom, Dick and Harry didn’t show up at the door. This approach does kill three birds with one small stone.

Or does it? This puzzle recruitment approach is not a novel one.  Companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and even Instagram had already been using this puzzle recruitment approach. One would argue that it is easy or natural for these technology companies to integrate such practices. The bulk of the workforce who makes up the DNA of such companies come with a programming background. These candidates need to demonstrate that they are really good at what they do best. In this case, it is the ability to solve programming puzzles. For the rest of us outside such industries, it is just not doable.

Instead, I would say, "yes we can" to such an approach and argue that it is profitable to do so as well. Instead of going full-fledged with this approach, we can incorporate a hybrid approach: I call this the quasi-puzzle recruitment approach.

Here's how this works: Most companies have an auto-responder feature in their recruitment portals. This feature allows auto-generated email to be sent out whenever a job applicant applies for a position. Rather than the generic thank you and application accepted message, we can incorporate 2-3 follow-up questions to learn more about the candidate. Question examples include:

  • "Why are you the best candidate for this position?"
  • "If you were to rank your skills that are relevant to this position, how would you rank them?"
  • "What would be your greatest achievement that you think is relevant to this position? Why?"

This process seems simple but the advantages are clear. Not only will Mr. Tom, Dick and Harry say their goodbyes, job applicants would be impressed with this different approach and the route to quality candidate engagement is paved as well. Recruiters can now spend all their efforts in attending to those that applied and responded. Feeling the stone in your hand? Start throwing at the birds!

In reflection, three reasons why this quasi-puzzle recruitment is useful:

  • A gradual approach; a transitional phrase to what is to come. We have to innovate our recruitment process and the time is now!
  • It is familiar yet different; hence easier to gain buy-in
  • It allows recruiters to have better quality engagement with both potential candidates and also with hiring managers during the launch and follow-up meetings

What do you think? Is this workable in your company? By the way, who says recruitment is boring?

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