Musings from my first six months at Shortlist
As a hardcore recruiter from the recruitment consulting industry, the last six months have been a journey of unlearning what I knew (or what I assumed I knew 😉) regarding hiring, and learning the way recruitment should really happen. I switched my job a little over six months ago to join Shortlist’s Mumbai office, where tech-powered recruitment is our core business.
Shortlist envisions to help all companies build happy, high-performing teams. Our mission for the other businesses (Executive Search, HR Advisory, Training, Campus Placements, and other exciting ideas) are in sync with that of the core business — to ‘unlock professional potential’.
So how has my thinking shifted in the last six months at Shortlist?
Crunched for time? Here’s a bulleted summary of key takeaways from this article, though you will probably miss my key learnings.
– Digitizing candidate data collection is a life-saver for recruiters
– A sustainable hiring strategy is built on a structured recruitment process
– Search approach based on potential rather than pedigree is a catalyst for effective hiring
– Employer branding works like a charm
Digitizing candidate data collection is a life-saver for recruiters
At Shortlist, we create chatbot questions to collect data on candidates. This data automates prioritization and screening of job seekers. Of course, traditionally I have done this manually by going through every resume and cover letter. Like most recruiters, right after hearing, ‘Go, get them!’, I would start calling job seekers. Frustrations would go through the roof if, after all my efforts, the candidate wouldn’t be interested in the job or wasn’t looking for a change at all. My stress levels were at an all-time high, given the unimaginable man hours I was putting into it.
The most awkward and tricky information to collect (which actually matters most to employers in the Indian job market) is salary expectations and the notice period of job seekers. On most occasions, where I was not able to predict a candidate’s earnings, getting this information meant calling up a stranger and asking upfront about their earnings. Our automated chatbots get all this information upfront. Transactional stuff out of the way, I can focus on what truly matters.
Our technology allows job seekers to submit virtual interviews in the form of audio and video responses, and we also offer a proprietary personality test, which job seekers can take for free. This means personality and communication criteria can be assessed by employers before meeting the job seeker.
Key learnings: Put technology to work for you. The basic information can actually be collected and measured before the interview stage.
A sustainable hiring strategy is built on a structured recruitment process
Organizations grow. Even the best places to work on the planet prepare for attrition. Companies will always need to hire. We know this at Shortlist. And so, we work with employers as thought partners, not just for account management but to strategize the entire recruitment process, right from the birth of vacancies till successful joinings. This includes writing job descriptions for companies, setting up a bias-free search strategy, creating multimedia job description pages and competency-based assessments, and sourcing applicants.
When the right match has been found for a particular job, the first job-pitch call of a talent acquisition professional can make-or-break the deal. In my personal experience, on calls, I have struggled with which points to talk about and questions to ask. Historically, I have ended up talking to job seekers about what’s already on their resume and have sometimes been driven into extremely long calls. A typical call between a recruiter and job seeker has each of them narrating stuff off of a good resume. The only difference being, a recruiter is framing the resume content as a series of questions and the job seeker is answering in the affirmative.
The human touch of the Shortlist process has us connect with job seekers at the end of the on-platform application. Here too, we have a fixed set of validation questions that we ask everyone in the same order, but they go far beyond the resume and instead probe into motivation and fit. We condense our chats in exciting briefs shared with employers on our Talent Gallery, for each of the shortlisted job seekers.
Job seeker care (Candidate Support as we love to refer to it in the Indian context) ensures that when someone applies for a role, we are there to assist because we understand that job applications make even the best of us nervous at times. As a recruiter, I have been at the supply end to black hole job boards for some of the popular life insurance companies. I take solace in knowing the fact that all applicant tracking systems have a subscription lifespan. Serendipitously, I might just cross paths with the hiring managers to tell them about Shortlist.😊
An integral part of our process includes closures with all job seekers who have been rejected during the screening stage.
Key learnings: Think long term. Structure wins. #Candidatelove matters.
Search approach based on potential rather than pedigree is a catalyst for effective hiring
When there is no other metric to consider beyond experience, education, duration of employment and work gap, and other (irrelevant?) personal data points, companies and recruiters do not know what criteria to look for and where. This scenario is often described as the talent shortage problem of our time. Here’s our take on each of these metrics:
Experience — At Shortlist, we study career paths and have created our proprietary salary benchmarking tool. We believe that skills matter more than experience — for example, a UI/UX designer or a data analyst can often step up as a Product Manager. To create job applications that can identify candidates with the key skills, we dive into our treasure trove of functional assessments, created and curated by our product managers and instructional designers in association with industry experts and include them in our job application flows. Performance on assessments guides us in making a judgement, whether applicants have become irrelevant and might not be a right fit, even though they have the on-paper experience.
Education — No doubt premier institutional education makes a candidate a great hire. However, on-job-performance might have no correlation to educational background.
Work gap and career shift — We like job seekers whether they are currently employed or not. Trying to keep millennials engaged at work is a herculean task. We have come to accept that our forefathers were much more patient about spending decades at a single company.
Age, race — Our process doesn’t screen for age or race, nor should ANY process! We work with and prefer job seekers who approach the application process with a growth mindset and prudence.
Key learnings: There are always enough people. As a recruiter, I can level the playing field.
Employer branding works like a charm
Impersonal searches have long bugged the industry. A key role of a recruiter is to motivate job seekers to apply to a company. Prior to joining Shortlist, I believed in withholding the name of my clients during my search. Communicating my client’s brand across was difficult on call or by email. It was difficult to even prompt the reply of job seekers with a copy of their updated resume with email templates consisting only of the job description and company website.
Shortlist has gone the human resources business partner way for companies. We are committed to telling job seekers upfront about the company and the role. Our multimedia job descriptions have been able to convey the employer’s brand across; at least the essence of it. This, in turn, has generated interest even from passive job seekers. We invest time, money and efforts not only in going where job seekers are but also in taking the employer’s brand along. This means job seekers aren’t ghosted anymore with promises of having applied to an esteemed client that cannot be named.
With our proprietary database and curated talent hot lists, we are building focused talent communities that are driven to your brand as your business grows.
Key learnings: Investing in employer branding can make hiring easier on many levels.