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Frequently Asked Questions

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General Question

If you are in search of a job, let us help you prepare for it

I am looking for a job change, how should I go about it?

Finding a job is not easy and requires a lot of research and preparation. The process starts with identifying what are the drivers for the job search! Reasons could range from change in place of stay, existing employer is winding down operations, financial needs, dissatisfaction with current role, lay off’s and several such other reasons. You must prepare a convincing response to: “what are the reasons for exploring an opportunity at this point of time”.

 

The next step is to prepare a detailed yet summarised resume. The resume should provide adequate information for the hiring manager to ascertain fitment and must raise his/her curiosity to engage in an exploratory conversation. The document must showcase how over the years you have learned and added value at each stage for yourself and to the employers you were /are associated with. The resume should also clearly articulate key responsibilities and achievements; under and/or overstating usually has an adverse effect. Finally one needs to be clear on the kinds of job roles where one’s experience and skills could be leveraged. In today’s disruptive economic environment, it is vital to identify roles and map skills to business outcomes or how the organisation would benefit by hiring you.

I am not from a premier institute and I do not have any certifications, will I still be able to get a job?

Organisations and job roles often have certain pre-requisite expertise and skill set requirements. While the dilemma shall always exist and there are different schools of thoughts, job roles would continue to demand such pre-requisites. It is also important to understand that premier institutes follow a very strong rigor in their selection process and have an intensive curriculum. The exposure that project work, research and industry internship programs deliver, have a huge impact and creates the differentiator. Having said that, there are several examples of people who are not from premier institutes but have excelled in their roles and have gone on to lead large organisations successfully. The volume of applications an organisation receives is over whelming and with paucity of time to process these applications, forces them to use yardsticks to screen applications. Being an alumnus of a premier institute would certainly give you an added advantage, it does not become a road block for applicants with strong work experience and deep domain knowledge.

 

Certification in skills is a specific requirement to establish proficiency levels. There are several roles that require specific skills and experience, certifications help establish them. The key in any job search is to identify the roles and responsibilities and map them to your own experience and achievements and ascertain the degree of match. If you are able to identify gaps, then upskilling / re-skilling are options you may want to explore and get necessary certifications. Certified Actuaries, CPA’s, Black Belts are a few examples where certifications are mandatory for being able to deliver outcomes, however an analyst working in the actuarial department may not be certified but would need to have a high degree of proficiency in statistical analysis and data modelling.

How will I know if a job opportunity that fits my skills exists?

As shared earlier, a job search requires some prep work and one of those is to create a short list of roles and organisations. This step requires reading about potential employers and understanding their business and operating model; thereafter understanding how one’s skills and experience could add value for the business / operations. Connecting with acquaintances in these organisations is probably a good start to understand the organisational culture and business outlook including challenges being experienced. One must also keep a watch on all the job boards and social media for opportunities advertised by potential employers – usually one could either create alerts and / or follow these organisations. Reaching out to a select few recruitment firms could also help in identifying suitable opportunities. If you know employees in certain organisations which you would like to join, reach out to them and explore opportunities advertised on the employee referral program.

I submitted my profile, but I did not hear back from anyone?

No response / no update are some of the common feedbacks a candidate would share and further go on to vent about the organisation. Well it is true that there are a large number of resumes which get dropped into a black hole and no action is ever taken and thus no information shared with the applicant. But giving the benefit of doubt to the HR teams, they are usually over whelmed with the high volumes of resumes and the need to turn them around in the shortest possible time leads to high slippages in the process. Since there is limited automation in this function, it often is impossible for the HR teams to share an update / feedback with every applicant. A good approach is to establish an early connect with the HR team to confirm receipt of the resume. At the end of a fortnight a follow up call usually helps the HR team to review and let the applicant know the status; at this point of time a good question to ask the HR team would be “what are the areas I need to work on to be able to join the organisation” or “what are the skills and experience that would help me in securing an employment opportunity with the organisation”.

How can I prepare myself for an interview and compensation negotiation?

Preparation starts with researching about potential employers, their leadership, organisational culture and business performance. Today there is a lot of information that is available and one must research, including reading the profiles of the panel. These would give adequate insights into what to expect during an interview. Similarly understanding the business operations and financial performance would also give adequate indicators to their compensation philosophy – usually balance sheets available in the public domain would indicate employee cost, ESOP’s, attrition rate etc. Compensation negotiation involves a detailed analysis of the current pay structure, previous increments and bonus pay out. All of these would help aid justifying the hike being requested. Often terms such as “industry hike of 25 to 30%” are used; but there is no such formal benchmark that truly exists. When an individual is changing jobs they expect a reasonable hike, while the applicant measures the hike in terms of differential from what they currently get, organisations measure the differential with the benefit they accrue by hiring the skills, experience and domain expertise. Often the process fails because of not being able to reach an appropriate compensation agreement, which is a loss for both parties.

 

Here are some questions that as an applicant you should prepare for:

  1. What are the reasons for exploring a change
  2. What are your current roles and responsibilities and how are they measured
  3. During the last appraisal cycle what were the key achievements and how did they stack up against the targets? If you did not meet your targets, why not and what you did to improve the results going forward. If you did meet your targets, what were the key elements to your success
  4. Why do you think you do not have the same opportunities with your current employer
  5. If you are managing a team, what is the size and structure? How do you ensure that your team is engaged and successful
  6. When the interviewer reaches out to your team members, peers and supervisors what do you think they would have to say about you?

Recruiter Questions

If you are looking for suitable candidates, let us help you prepare for the search

How can we make the process of hiring efficient, reduce cost of hiring and compensation and improve probability of performance?

The trick to managing talent acquisition is to understand the science behind the art of hiring. While operationally this is one function which requires resilience and often considered as a thankless job, it is also one of the most important challenges that is keeping the senior leadership awake at nights.

The key to managing talent acquisition successfully is to have a very strong data visualisation plan and program in place. At each stage of talent acquisition monitoring conversion and throughputs is vital as it enables building a strong candidate pipeline. There are distinct areas that you would need to look at to create a successful talent acquisition function/ practise:

  1. Data visualisation – since talent acquisition is all about numbers, it is important to track all the data and create dashboards that give live status. An advanced level of data visualisation would also record data points for performance metrics for each role and map it back to hard and soft skills. Here are a few dashboards that all talent acquisition teams should have:
    1. Source channel mix
    2. Conversion and throughput by channel, function, interviewer etc
  • Recruitment quality
  1. Average cost of compensation
  2. Cost per hire
  1. Process – assuming there is limited or no automation, running a talent acquisition function which is highly manual requires process standardisation to ensure consistency and minimize errors and failure rates. There must be a process handbook which provides direction and also creates adequate checks and balances in the process.
  2. Financial – in talent acquisition has two aspects to cost
    1. Cost of acquisition
    2. Cost of compensation

Cost of acquisition includes all direct and indirect costs associated with identifying, sourcing and processing an application till the individual joins the organisation. Cost such as relocation and other one-time non-recurring pay outs should be included. All costs towards travel and telecommunication should also be included.

Cost of compensation includes all annual recurring pay outs, including ESOP’s. This cost should be compared with the floor average, organisation and industry average. The intent must be to measure the overall compensation paid to new hires against the budgeted compensation for that role.

  1. Time – This is one element that is always in short supply however in talent acquisition it is also a double edged sword. Business usually pressurises the hiring team to reduce the timelines to on-board new employees, but it is important to understand that early hires increase costs, while delays result in loss of revenue. Managing hiring timelines requires a good understanding of the sales pipeline and sales conversion, at the same time also understand exiting client requirements and plan for campaigns. Monitoring new hire performance helps in measuring the learning curve as this has a direct impact on hiring timelines and potential revenue generation.

How can we improve the conversion rates and throughput?

The process of hiring has the following stages:

  1. Sourcing
  2. Screening
  3. Tests / assessments
  4. Interviews
  5. Selection

To be able to improve conversion and throughput, you need to measure the current trends and determine the final throughput. To determine these rates you first need to measure and map current performance levels to skill sets and create an appropriate skill matrix. Based on the skill matrix you can create a sourcing strategy; based on the required numbers channels can be activated. Similarly the relevance to tests / assessments administered need to be validated with actual performance to ensure that you are not losing potential candidates. Finally the interview process should start with the hiring managers being certified on competency based assessments and their conversions measured. This is a very important step as it needs to ensure that there is no bias and that there is calibration between hiring managers. Most often this is where there is usually the highest level on inconsistencies. Measuring the quality of hiring is vital and this involves measuring the data points collected during the selection process and comparing it with actual performance on the job. These trends give insights which help drive process changes to improve conversions and throughput.

We made an offer to a candidate and the individual did not join?

Speak to any recruiter and they will share their displeasure about how candidates accept an offer and do not show up on the date of joining. Is there any way an organisation can reduce or eliminate such cases; the true answer is NO! There are several reasons why candidates do not join however what is probably more frustrating is the fact that candidates do not connect with the HR teams / hiring managers and communicate their inability to join. While the HR team and hiring managers try to ascertain commitments during the interview and offer roll out process, there has to be an over drive in the early engagement connect program. Driving a robust candidate management and on-boarding process reduces the incidents and gives reaction time. In our opinion, the most common reason for not joining is because their existing organisation was able to retain them by offering them a compensation correction and / or role change. The second most common reason is that candidates usually have more than one job offers in hand and use it to bargain a higher deal. We are not sure if there is a resolution to this issue, however there are opportunities to reduce it though.

How can we reduce dependency on consultants and increase sourcing from low cost channels?

This has been a strong focus for organisations to reduce dependencies on high cost channels by increasing the contribution of alternate channels. This is a strategy that should be followed however it is equally important to make sure the recruitment engine is designed to manage the alternate channels effectively. In recent years there has been a shift to sourcing through social media. Intuitively it seems be a low cost channel, however it also depends on what skill sets and profiles are being hired. Social media is based on networks and the effort needs to be to increase the reach by widening the network which is time consuming and expensive.

Recruitment teams need to develop strategies for business as usual hiring versus ramp up’s, in both these strategies the sourcing channel mix need to be adjusted. It is important to note that if organisations try to manage the entire process internally, they need to staff for peak hiring which is not optimal, similarly not having the necessary staff creates undue pressure and break downs. Hiring teams need to identify the hiring mix and identify channels which could help source and close these. Engaging with external partners maybe expensive and often have certain other operational challenges, partners usually are better equipped to support specific requirements and search mandates. Organisations who have a strong employer brand presence, robust campus connect program and exciting employee referral program, usually are able to service most of the frontline hiring directly themselves. Organisations that use external partners for volume hiring need to review their employee engagement levels as this is often a direct co-relation to footfalls for interviews.

Hiring for mid and senior level roles is when external partners are leveraged the maximum and the fee rates are usually very high for such mandates. Other than specific confidential and senior level mandates, organisations leverage external partners to expand the reach and connect with passive job seekers. This usually is an indicator of the leaderships brand equity in the market and their network. While organisations have practise to share best practises internally, they need to explore how they can position their business leaders as industry practitioners and thought leaders. Further when organisations share their success and case studies, it raises the curiosity and excitement for potential employees to engage in an exploratory conversation. Brand pull defines the channel mix an organisation can leverage.

What are the benefits of adopting technology and how can we prepare for it?

Given the sheer volume of hiring and the associated transactions, there is a crying need to adopt technology in talent acquisition. There are stages of how and when technology should be adopted and the one aspect that must be very clear upfront is that, technology alone cannot solve the recruitment problem.

Recruitment involves several steps and some of these are repetitive and rule based and ca be automated very easily. Here is how automation should be adopted:

Phase 1

  1. Raising of requisition and approval matrix
  2. Adopt a central database management system “ATS”. This enables access to all resumes received and can be tracked and mined at any given point of time. This should include integration with job boards, social media and the company website
  3. Administering of tests and / or assessments should be automated using a progressive testing application
  4. Integrating an automated scheduler enables logistics management
  5. Offer management and roll out

Phase 2

  1. In this phase the complex aspects of hiring need to be automated and integrated:
    1. Headcount and budget controls
    2. Tracking of performance metrics
    3. Cost and compensation budgetary control
    4. On-boarding and early engagement – surveys
    5. Data visualisation

Benefits of adopting technology in recruitment are manifold, goes without saying that it does reduce the overall cost of hiring, improves efficiency and creates transparency. With the recent advancements taking place in technology in the recruitment space, benefits have accrued from a reduced cost of acquisition, time required to hire and most importantly the quality of hires has improved.

Business Partner and Enabler

If you are looking to make HR a true business partner and enabler, let us help you with it

We have a strong HR team; however the business still does not feel we make a significant contribution? What can we do to change this?

Most often than not, HR teams are either caught up in recruitment and / or managing transactions. This has over a period of time led to business operations looking at the HR teams to manage all the transactional issues, while they make all the strategic decisions and HR is informed of the decision after the fact. Most HR professionals find this very frustrating and usually leads to departmental and power struggles, resulting in an adverse impact on the organisation.

HR teams need to very quickly transit from a team that manages transactions to a team that drives the people strategy for the organisation. This transformation includes digital transformation and process improvement exercise. HR teams need to reskill and upskill themselves to be able to make significant contribution to the business and the organisation. Companies also need to keep in mind that these changes often displace teams and thus there is resistance to change, there have to be plans in place to tackle such issues as well.

When HR teams start to drive a effective talent management and attrition control program and are accountable for the outcomes as well, the perception of the function shall change. Creating programs for succession planning and working with business to create training programs for these employees, designing capability development programs and monitoring the shift in performance, creating a talent pool map with benchmarks for compensation levels and participating in sales conversations are all aspects that would help HR get a seat at the strategy table.

There is a culture change program we would like to drive, what and how does this get done?

Take five senior most leaders and five junior employees into a room and ask each one of them to state the organisations vision and mission. You will be surprised with the response you get; each of them is going to be very diverse from the other. This exercise will only demonstrate the lack of communication and common understanding within the organisation. There are organisations that have been successful in ensuring consistency in the understanding, however over a period of time the messaging gets diluted and this is usually because of acquisitions, new locations, new team members and so on. It is vital to ensure that the on-boarding program covers these aspects and reinforces the messaging.

Driving a change in the organisation culture begins with the senior leadership imbibing the values and vision of the organisation and cascading these to their direct reports. Organisations aspire to transform from being an operations company to a performance driven organisation, this at the face of it looks simple but in actuality is very complex. The transformation involves mapping each role with a business outcome and helping employees understand the significance. There needs to be a significant rewards and recognition program in place which is transparent and measurable, this behaviour drive change in perception of individual biases. Finally there needs to be a very strong on going training and capability development program in place to manage skill changes taking place and build programs to create a ready pool of resources in anticipation of business.

Finally create an infrastructure which is comfortable, energised and ergonomically suited for all. It should be a place that employees like to return too and channelizes their creativity and sense of urgency.

We want to digitally transform HR, what does this mean and how can it be done with minimal disruption?

Technology is being adopted in every aspect of business today to reduce manual interventions. Transactions that are repetitive and rule based are being automated. With the Geographical spread of business operations increasing and employees working from remote locations, HR processes have become difficult to manage. In the first phase of optimisation, HR initiated consolidation under the shared service model and created a central processing unit. In the recent past there has been a shift to automating these and further transforming the operation digitally. Some organisations have moved faster than the rest and have also introduced BOT’s to manage HR back office transactions and query resolution. But there is still a long way to go for a true digital transformation in HR.

Before an organisation adopts automation or more commonly known as digital transformation, they need to revisit their HR processes and potentially identify opportunities of process improvement and re-engineering. In most cases we see that over a period of time processes change based on situation and sometimes the exception becomes the rule. Further these processes are or were created by employees who no longer are part of the function and / or organisation thus leading to a gap in the understanding. Unless processes are continuously realigned with business operations and regulatory requirements, they tend to become the bottle necks in people management.

Should organisations engage with an external consultant / advisor to transform HR?

Any transformation project has several moving parts to it and the key question then is, do we have the band width and expertise internally to manage the project. Transformation is like trying to lose weight, we all know that adopting healthy eating habits, regular exercise and leading a balanced lifestyle helps maintain health and weight issues; yet we go out and seek external counsel for advice? This is because one needs to understand what aspects of the diet need to be supplemented and complimented and these inputs only an expert can prescribe. Similarly, organisations need to look at transformation projects as programs that require a lot more than just supplements and compliments. An advisor usually acts as the project office and maintains the rigor to ensure timelines are met and there are adequate checks and balances in place. Since this is core to the advisor there are no other distractions which cause slippages and periodic delays. In addition engaging with an external advisor usually gives you access to a wider spectrum of expertise and for a stipulated period only, thus maintaining the flexibility and scalability that is required. There is greater accountability and responsibility in such arrangements.

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