Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mind Your Language!

Another HR issue! Well, Maybe! The way to find out is to give employees a chance to speak-up.

Board-room expletives are known and at times are also a ‘given’! The reason for being OK with it is that we assume that the people in the room are all part of the senior management and they have the right! What a dumb assumption? I’m quite sure that meetings can get heated-up, discussions can get animated, and dissent can turn into anger – all without having expletives handed out like Christmas goodies! Honestly, there are tons of articles telling us that ‘Expletives/Swearing at Work’ encourages team spirit, bonds two very distant teams, and improves morale! What the bleep!

Swearing is ‘Contagious’! It can spread from one team member to another. It’s definitely NOT gender based! Before you realize it, the entire team is talking the swear-way! It’s known to be a personality-trait! Most times it just doesn’t go well with everyone. It’s even worse, if the “I-Am-Going-To-Swear-Mood” comes from a fight with your spouse, an errant driver on the road, personal financial issues! Events that nobody else in the workplace is even involved. Using swear words is then more of an emotional-outburst! Researches have tried a poll on this one too! What’s next?!?!?

Another point to note is that, swearing is not a organization-level-based occurrence. It could happen at the front-line just as easily as it could at the senior management. Really! It’s a leadership challenge to help create a conducive and professional work environment for all to work in. You don’t need a HR Policy to tell you that swearing is un-professional! After all, you’ve hired adults who need show some discretion while using language. Releasing frustration is ok, but just because you are in a foul-mood, the other don’t need a part of it! They have their own problems to deal with.

By the way, if you choice the wrong-words in front of customers! Damn, you just lost your contract!

- The HR Store

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Life-Work Balance

Life-Work Balance (confused! It’s intentional...) seems to truly be the case in times of recession. It’s a paradigm shift in thought and mostly everyone saw it coming!

You know you are grappling with one when:

- You are afraid to say NO! at work – might as well get into something and keep your job for that much more longer
- Food doesn’t figure in your agenda of Top 10 things-to-do for the day!

- Very email gets a reply within an hour of receipt – even if it means at midnight
- The past 4 weekends have been spent at work – so will the next 40 weekends – you think you at least you have a job to do
- Your spouse is threatening to leave you/sue you, if you don’t come home at least by 12:00am!
- “Stress” is your favorite curse-word of the month
- You missed the kid’s game at school, forgot your wedding anniversary, didn’t return personal calls
- “Fun” is a forbidden activity
- The 'Blackberry' is your constant companion – you can type that email blind-folded!
- Your patience is at its all-time low – even snapping at the water cooler!

Really! Your workload has just doubled – citing lay-off’s that just happened and your team was reduced to just 5 from it’s previous 15 people. The recession time is here to stay for the next couple of years. Please save for a rainy day! It’s easier said than done – but at least try!

Last year same time…you may have been at Peru visiting Machu Picchu!! Back to work now…it’s still 7:00pm!!!!

- The HR Store

Monday, December 15, 2008

Welcome: All-Hands @ 30,000 Feet

And I’m not referring to a meeting in the Airbus-380! Just kiddin'…

Well, it’s just that it’s a lot tougher to comprehend an All-Hands Meeting (AHM) that has discussions like a 100,000 light-years away from my current work! Really! It’s tough to understand the CxO talking about long-term vision, mission, goals and objectives from 30,000 Ft. While all along, employees are doing their best to relate the topic with their work-plan. The question that comes to mind is:

What should the AHM address?

Off course, the AHM is an integral part of the Company’s initiate to share company’s growth-plans, revenue figures, future product/project road-map, year’s accomplishments and a horde of other developments. It serves as an open-channel to get high-visibility to work that gets done at the Senior Management Level. It throws light on every department’s current standing and challenges that might come up - to go to the next level. Honestly, there’s no doubt that the AHM is needed!

However, the challenge in any AHM that arises is the way data is comprehended by the 1000 (at times even 10!) people in the audience. I’ve had the chance to sit through plenty of AHM’s and honestly, the end result is the same! Everyone goes back to work telling themselves – “It was just another meeting with the Boss!” It’s not ‘just’ another meeting. Is it? The real intent of the AHM is lost if that is the employee-perception.

Can we make it more interactive? More personal? More understandable? More informative?..

Yes! A simple way would be to break the AHM into various sessions addressing one business group in specific per session. It’s time consuming, but worth it! What better time can a CEO ask for than to spend time with the employees? Understanding their work is of utmost importance. The employees on the other hand will surely like these sessions, since it will be very specific to their department and work. Queries can be answered more precisely. It’s more like a department ‘one-on-one’.

In the end, it would be great to run a survey asking employees for their feedback on the AHM sessions. It will help modify the program for next time.

Now...Please fasten your seat belts – we are ready for landing!

- The HR Store

Monday, December 8, 2008

HR Customer Service Hotline ...Any buyers?

What’s the first-thing you do when computer breaks down? Ok, let’s assume you have no clue on what’s happened. You get onto the phone and dial the IT Helpdesk Number/Customer Service Number. Right? Off course, if you are a process-driven company, you would send mails, raise helpdesk tickets or even get a help-yourself sheet! However, the option that you would love to use would be to pick-up that phone and call for help! You don’t have the time now because your client’s on hold, RFP needs to be sent, reports are getting delayed, your mail to the finance team is stuck mid-way! All you want to do is – SCREAM! for help…

So what’s stopping HR folks from having a
“HR Customer Service Hotline”? Really!

Think about all the problems that can be solved:

- Help solve issues that go into unending mail-threads

- Stop the buck from passing from One HR person to another
- Transactional details become easy, such as, leave management, run learning and development programs, performance management queries, etc.
- This could even give a personal touch to employees’ queries
- Tons of other HR intricacies that can be resolved in matter of minutes

Are HR folks willing to try this out? Let’s see.

EMPOWERMENT: Such a system would require a well educated HR department which is Empowered to take decisions at all levels. They wouldn’t need to run to their managers, who in turn would run to their manager and the buck never stops! Remember the need to stop the buck and end the vicious circles. This system would help immensely.

TRAINING COSTS: The nag that HR is treated as a Cost Centre is a debate that’s been raging for a very long time (an idea for my next post!) Customer Service would mean training, which translates to more spending! It takes a sensible company to understand that – It’s in the long-haul that profits get measured. Try explaining that to finance!

OWNERSHIP: Who will take up the onus of running the show? HR Manager? Training and Development Manager? See, ownership is really an issue.

IMPLEMENTATION: The key the success of any program HR or otherwise depends a 100% on its Implementation. Seamless transition from existing systems to newer ones requires patience to weather teething-problems and hordes of cynics.

COLLABARATION: Such a HR system will require a buy-in from the senior management (starting with the CEO). The conviction in the company runs a lot deeper if they get their buy-in. You can again leave out finance!

DATA SECURITY: Since HR already deals with enough trouble with employees sharing confidential information through ‘non-official’ communication (water coolers, elevators, cafeterias, car pools, etc) It just got tougher to guard confidential data!

FOOL-PROOF SYSTEM: Involves money! Again! Getting top notch security for the system will come at a higher cost! Keep looking at the long term benefits.

The system needn’t be a 24/7 Hotline that people can use dial-in and rant! Honestly, it’s a unique way of letting employees know that HR isn’t just about people-skills. It’s a knowledge-oriented department aiming at helping run the organization smoothly. The HR seat at the table is taken seriously and not used as a department to run errands for the other business teams.

Any thoughts?

- The HR Store

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Music @ Work!


Here’s what you may be thinking today? Hurray! Thank God it’s Friday Evening! How about some music to set the weekend rolling? So you choose your best song and play it on your headphones. Off course, it’s a Friday evening and you think its ok. You’re enjoying your song playlist while completing your Friday report/wrapping that code on a module/finishing that employee relation policy document (yes! HR does work! Don’t know why it’s so hard to believe!). The song is giving a soothing effect; a positive one. This is the period of the day you love the most! Work gets done in the best way you could have ever done it and you head home…Monday is still more than 48 hours away…

Come Monday morning, a mail in your Inbox almost knocks you out! Someone (from another team) has objected to you listening to music while working and they find it disturbing their work! So that person thought the best solution would be to mail your manager, copy the HR and the rest of the world (I know! It does happen…) explaining how you are the cause of their bad productivity! Really! How the hell could that happen? You were sitting in your cubicle listening to songs on your headphones! How could that affect another person’s productivity? Maybe, the person used you as an alibi…But for what? So now in you stand in the court of your hiring-manager, who by the way, has summoned the HR, a couple of other managers (no clue why they got invited) and the Employee Relations Manager into a conference room…WOW! Your music has really got them interested! What follows is a session on work ethics, responsibility towards creating and being a part of a conducive work environment…etc., etc., etc.,…You walk out completely flabbergasted!

Yes, believe it! This is a real-life situation…

I guess it time to knock on the HR Policy maker’s door for some inputs…Unfortunately, there’s no such “Music” policy in existence! Who would have thought that listening to music would cause such a stir! Do you even need a HR policy? Maybe not! For HR Managers in such companies please don’t rush to ban all equipment that plays music (mp3, iPod’s and a host of others)! Take it one step at a time. Ask yourself ONE question:

Is the person listening to music @ work not responding to official responsibilities on time?

It could be mails, meetings, phone calls, etc., If the answer is YES! Then you have a case on your hands…If not, please spend some time explaining that listening to music is good except at work. You have a work culture that doesn’t encourage this habit (explain with reasons). No exceptions!

Why listening to music should be disallowed at work?

- Could be that the songs got downloaded from an “Insecure” website and poses a potential threat to your network
- Songs get swapped at work and could end up getting traced by the record industry, for piracy! Not at all good..
- Downloading songs from various sites will hit your company’s internet bandwidth - thus depriving folks of time to complete official work
- The lenient approach taken by the management got really abused in the past and so you don’t a repeat of that problem.

Why listening to music should be allowed?

- However, you really don’t need a survey to tell you that listening to music (responsibly though) acts as a good tool to market your work culture to potential hires.
- Music elevates the mood, injecting fresh enthusiasm and also relaxes the mind - a perfect setting to contribute to the team’s productivity. Right?
- Does the work get done? If yes, just leave the listeners alone…maybe that will help them achieve more…

By the way…there is already so such background noises around you…printers, fax machines, cell phones, pagers, the coolers…phew! I guess, it’s better to let the listeners stay plugged to their fave song!

- The HR Store

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Letting-Go Is Tough!

Letting-go is one of the toughest things to do – At work & Outside of work…and I’m not just talking about Lay-Off’s!

I’ve had to deal with employees, who have joined from organizations they served for the past 8 – 10 years and do the dreadful thing of NOT letting go off their previous company! Really! It can get quite frustrating and at times even irritating. Think about this situation:

Employee A joins you from a company where he/she worked for the last 10 years. You understand the obligations (don’t know why there should be any?) and let hem serve out the entire notice period before joining your firm. Although they could have transitioned out within a week! After all, you think this gesture to be a “Professional Courtesy”. You (as HR) spend enough time with them after they join you, explaining things in detail. However, after a month you (again as HR) drop by to their desk to check if all’s well and if they need any help - least expecting a rant-session from them! All they can talk about is the difference between their previous company and your firm! Right from infrastructure, colleagues, cafeteria, computers/laptops, benefits, compensation structure and even culture!

So what’s the big deal, huh? Everyone compares their old cars to new ones, old homes to new homes, even old cell-phones to new ones! So why not jobs?!?

Here’s why I suppose one should you not compare:

1. You are hurting your very chance to sink into the new circumstance/situation. You are only agonizing yourself by pro-longing the settling-down time. The sooner the better!
2. Tendency is to overlook all positives at the new place! While you are still clinging on to your old company…
3. The team-dynamics will change dramatically and there’s no one else to blame…but yourself…

So here’s my question: Why is it so hard for people to let-go and start afresh? Wasn’t that the idea to even look for a change?

I guess that’s the answer then…we can’t let go because we are too wary of change. I’m not able to think of anything else.

Any suggestions?

- The HR Store

Friday, November 28, 2008

Get your ERT Ready!

The on-going incident in Mumbai has left such a horrible feeling among people in India. Many people were lucky (even some I knew) to have missed the situation by matter of minutes! Many others got stuck in the cross-fire! My prayers go out to affected families. Life’s never going to be the same for the 100+ families, many having lost their bread-winners!

The time has truly come to stay alert and take pro-active steps in ensuring that we are well-equipped (with enough time to exercise common sense) in situations that demand action. Really! Those fire-drills and evacuation drills in schools, colleges, offices and homes, will NOW need to be taken very seriously! It’s very unfortunate that these actions are even needed!

Get your ‘Emergency Response Team’ [ERT] to keep vigil and be ready to help avert situations. Get them trained with the hope that they’ll never need to use their skills, but if they need to, then they are the best people in the building to help save innocent lives.

The need of the hour is for all us to have faith that the ‘Good’ will eventually win over the ‘Bad’!

- The HR Store

Relocation...Yes! -> No! -> Maybe!

My posts might indicate a strong inclination towards recruitment- but then, that’s exactly hat you get at a Start-up! A variety of experiences! Really, getting work done at any start-up begins with getting your candidates ‘Across-The-Line’! That's the case in all companies, gets a lot harder at a it makes you think and utilize your grey-cells for optimal results!

Many obstacles seem to crop up while hiring, but one particularly throws a stiff-challenge! Candidates somehow find it very hard to ‘RELOCATE’! Really, this happens 9 out of 10 times with candidates you would love to hire (your first choice candidate) – right? At least, that’s been my case. So what’s exactly happening? Here’s my understanding on it….

Questions that maybe a candidate might ask themselves:

Hmmm…the offer is exciting but let me think about it and get back to the company…
How much will I lose if I’ve to let-go of my departure-side house?
What’s the cost-of-living in the new place? Is it going to drain my savings’?
Does the company take care of my family transition too? Else, what’s the cost to move the family?
Will they help my spouse get another job at the same location? That would be fantastic…
What happens to my tax planning? Does the company help out there?
Take this job for now and think about an alternative later on
I’ve never worked in a company away from home…now’s the chance! I’ll take it…
I’m moving only if I don’t get anything in my home-town.
Maybe, I’ll shift if I do get a better role or designation.
What’s the new city like? Is it worth the effort of setting up things again?
Do I need to go through the legal hassles, immigration and work permit? Is it worth it?
I’ll surely move for the MONEY!

Answers that companies believe that they have:

Ok…we have finalized on a good candidate…it’s the first choice hire…let’s go full steam!
We have a good relocation package as part of the compensation structure
By the way, we still need to make sure we’re frugal in our spending…
Will the relocated candidate stay with us for a long time? Retention means ROI
Our relocation policy is great…the candidate gets most of his transition handled by the company! What more can they ask for?
We’ve had seamless transitions in the past…how difficult can one more get?
Our Relocation-Manager (Yes! That’s a real role!) is a Subject-Matter-Expert…we don’t see any issues..
The legal advisor/counselor can handle complicated work permits, so the legal part of relocation is in safe hands

Unfortunately, no matter what plans or strategic thinking the candidate or the company devise; there’s always an element of doubt in the mind of the candidate regarding relocation. I suggest it’s best to present the facts straight and set expectations at the recruiter level itself. Really, if we don’t do that we’ll end up with making exceptions that cost a lot of money! That’s because we failed to communicate the right thing and effectively too. The recruiter’s get so caught up in closing the job opening that they end-up over-promising and under-delivering. A very costly mistake!

It’s also good to take feedback from the relocated hires and make necessary changes to the policy (wherever required). This will be the best pro-active step that HR could take in their relocation policy. Also, payback clauses in the candidate offer letter will discourage them from departing early. Most importantly, make sure the company listens to the relocated hire and addresses the ‘promised’ deliverables. It’s key to future relocation hires.

The recruiter plays a significant role in getting the candidate to relocate from their comfort-zone. It depends on what you choose to communicate. Please make sure you read the company’s Relocation Policy very well. You don’t want to get caught promising things that the company will eventually reject. If it does, you can start looking for your next-best candidate!

- The HR Store

Friday, November 21, 2008

Staffing Challenges..Are you up for it?

There are tons of things that can prove to be challenging when you take on the role of a recruiter, such as sourcing high-potential candidates, juggling interview schedules, salary/compensation fitment, candidate’s relocation...quite evidently the list can go to fill enough reams of paper! However, from my experience of having recruited for years, I find that a recruiter who succeeds in specifically two types of companies have it in them go the long-haul. This was validated by a veteran from the HR industry too!

So I call upon recruiters to share their experiences in these two staffing challenges. It would be great to hear you and learn newer styles.

First Challenge: Hire for a company that does not have BRAND value. A Start-Up!

The reason that this is such a big-challenge is that, you are keen to hire top-notch talented folks mostly working in a safer, more secure, benefits-loaded ‘branded’ company, with fancy designations, to come and work for you! Think about it, you pick the phone and tell the candidate, “Hi, I’m Bill calling you from ‘TheNextBigThing Technologies’, would you like to work for us?” I’ve had people cut calls on me thinking it’s a prank/spam call! Really! I’ve had to spend the first 15-20 minutes on the phone just selling, selling, and more selling. Starting with a pitch for a very good reason why the candidate should quit their current work with the Fortune 500 Company and work for us. Yes! We did provide pre-IPO options, a loaded compensation package, just enough benefits to survive, spoke of work that we did on cutting-edge technology. But what we couldn’t really answer was the question on longevity of the company. Honestly, if we could predict the future, we would have built a machine and sold (damn! It’s my fave word…can’t really help not use it!)for a 100 trillion! It’s a tough question, since every start-up dreams of making it big! That means you work 90 hr weeks, no vacations, cannot spend family time, don’t remember the last time you spent a weekend at home!

If you are wondering if all of this is really true…WAKE UP! This is just the start; you haven’t even tried doing it! I’m confident that if you do take up this challenge - as a recruiter you will grow from strength to strength! You’ll have the answers to hiring problems of any kind! Talking to candidates will never be the same…they’ll take your word if you say the company is good!

Second Challenge: Hire for a company that doesn’t pay well.

This challenge is strange. The company you are hiring for does great work on cutting edge technology, its open work culture gets written in every business magazine, peers are excellent, benefits are good too. However, the single most painful part of hiring is that your company doesn’t pay well and to maintain internal-parity (another fave HR Word!) you can’t afford high-potential candidate! Still, your hiring managers think that it’s possible! Here’s how I explain them the logic: Would it be possible to buy a Lamborghini for $100k? The analogy might be a far stretched explanation, but that’s the point! That is exactly what happens when you want that chief technical architect to work for you and help take the product to the next level! The level of talent you get depends on how much you can afford to pay for it. It’s a simple fact but hard to digest.

Now, are you up for the challenge?

- The HR Store

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Career Compass!

Every time I come across the word “Compass”, the character of Captain Jack Sparrow comes to mind! The image of his mystical compass guiding him to what his heart most desires! Every time he is in a dilemma he only has to look at the compass! How about that? Wouldn’t we all love to have one for ourselves to show us the direction towards our career destinations! A CAREER-COMPASS!

Quite often we all tend to ask a question “Is my current career path the best for me?” We get into career roles that might have seemed the best option at that point in time. However, a few years later our thoughts swirl towards sending the “best option” spiraling towards oblivion. What happened in the years that passed by? Maybe the career choice we all made got redundant, your colleagues/peers moved to better roles (only according to you!), you don’t remember the last time you got a pay-hike, your manager is not the most supportive, customers aren’t seeing the “WOW” factor in your service…and a thousand more reasons for thinking of changing career lanes!

Believe it, there’s no such thing as getting ‘expert’ advice to make a career choice. Experts really tend to make people only realize their personality traits, strengths, behavioral patterns and other such qualities. They then map these qualities to jobs that best suit the perceived traits. Really, it’s good but then if we do have multiple traits that suit multiple jobs, it’s just a matter of time before we are back to start-point all over again! Creating your own career-compass gives you an opportunity to understand what you truly desire. Once you get this right (might take a few years doing this ‘trial and error’ process), I’m quite sure your confidence will be at an all time high and you’ll approach the role with loads of determination.

I’ve known real-life incidents where doctors, engineers, top tier B-school grads give up their high-paying jobs to become environmentalists, trekking-guides, even fashion designers! So a few things that might help determine the career of your choice would be:

- To take up internship with a company that deals with the role that you have in mind. Working in your ‘Dream Job’ role will take away your assumptions which you had in mind before starting! Things don’t always appear to be in an Ideal State. This process will help you take a realistic approach to your decision.

- Try and talk to people already in the role you have in mind. Request them to give you their point of view about both sides (positive and negative) of the role/job. Prepare a set of questions that will help clear your doubts.

- List Pros & Cons of the role based on your internship or interviewing people in that role. Is there enough scalability in the role? Both in terms on both short-term and long-term career opportunities.

- Don’t not let current market conditions control your thoughts – really, financial sector, investment banking was the flavor about a couple of years back. What happened then?

Career choices are best done keeping in mind your FUNDAMENTAL SKILL-SET which will keep you in good stead, should you find the need to change jobs in future! Like having good writing skills might help get you into various roles such as a technical writer, content writer, editor for a magazine, even as a blogger who gets paid!

Most importantly, try and reduce the use of the compass as much as possible! Honestly, your friends/colleagues/peers/siblings have their own set of career-compass. Focus on the direction you have chosen!

“Now, bring me that horizon” – Capt. Jack Sparrow

- The HR Store

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Go-To-Candidate" Strategy

Does that sound weird? Sounds very “out-of-the-box”?

Maybe, because all we’ve ever heard of is, “What is your go-to-market strategy?” Why not redefine it in recruitment? It’ll make your recruiting life a whole lot simpler. The strategy is a no rocket-science – it’s all about identifying the right channel to locate the right candidate and making that integration a high possiblity. Well, at least that easier said than done! Right?

The pain of identifying the right candidate makes it even more compelling to have a strategy called – “Go-To-Candidate Strategy”. So what’s this strategy all about?

- Basically, it is a winning plan to address your recruiting needs, with using minimum efforts to generate optimal results
- A plan that helps you address your “Drying” pipeline of candidates, help you identify and solve the mystery around why you need to talk to a 100 candidates to roll-out 8 – 10 offers?
- Help you map your company’s hiring requirements with specific candidate-pool across geographies.
- Influence (yes!) candidate’s decision making capabilities with sufficient data about your company

All of the above and a whole lot more. This plan is really judged and its effectiveness determined by its end users – the candidates!

Here a version of a simple plan:

Remember that this strategy would mean that you (as a company or employer) are reaching out to candidates – so watch out for your words and keep your promises!

- The HR Store

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How much is the value of your knowledge?

That’s a tough question to answer. We’ve all at sometime tried our best (mostly during interviews!) to answer the question, but somehow feel that we could have done better. How then do we give a satisfactory answer? I mean an answer that’s tangible, believable and most importantly acceptable by the listener. You definitely don’t want to be undervalued just because you cannot communicate your own effectiveness in a certain role!

I suppose the question is best answered when we read the question as: How much is my knowledge valued compared to my competitors? Now, we can answer that a lot more confidently. Right? Along the way we need to also understand that – “Comparatives are a necessary evil.” It’s the only way to really position you against another individual(s) who possess the same knowledge. Quite honestly, the best price for your knowledge is the amount that another person (employer, agency, customer, etc.) is ready to pay for your services. That value is directly arrived at, based on your conversation and selling abilities.

So here’s an approach I feel may work:

- Try your best to base your talk around tangible stuff that is easy to quantify

- Rate your skills on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being the highest). Be honest and explain with reasons. Only pitfall is don’t over-value so much that it hurts your very chance of asking for a price

- Yes! There is a market value, a benchmark against which all skills are valued. So are you a bar-raiser/trend-setter? Or are you being compared to a better individual?

- Make your “Top 5-Selling-Points” pitch when you try and value your skills. When you use your skills to get money through the door, its highly appreciated!

- Get in to an agreement which allows you to showcase your knowledge for certain duration, like a dry-run. Let the firm know what your capable of and then charge the price you asked for (hence the agreement). This might work well with a customer. Honestly, it’s like offering your knowledge for free for sometime! You’ll find a lot of buyers for this idea. Worth a shot!

- Lastly, do your skills help the customer/employer/agency/hiring firm to solve their most critical problems? Do your skills translate into revenue generation for the firm? If the answer is yes, then ask for the skies! Else, be content with the market benchmark.

I love intangibles, if only there is a way to find its value! Really. It’s nice to have them, but unfortunately if you cannot find a way to price them – then you are better off selling them as complimentary services! That’s a service the firm/customer would love to buy!

In the war for placing a price/value for your knowledge, the only person interested would be YOU! So go all-out and give every idea a worthy shot!

- The HR Store

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Interviewer: Can you tell me more about your personal interests outside of work? Any hobbies?
Candidate: Hmm…I do read a lot, love running long distances in the morning, play basketball

Interviewers: Any other personal interests that come to mind?
Candidate: Hmm….Yes! I love Tattoos!

Interviewers: Tattoos???? (Totally surprised, amazed, and shocked, whatever!) Do you have any tattoos?
Candidate: Yes, I do

Interviewer: I suppose that was an honest answer, but this role requires ‘professionalism’ and ‘present-ability’. We’ll need to review your candidature and get back to you.
Candidate (Stunned!): But how does having tattoos make me less professional than others?

Not surprisingly this conversation did take place at an interview.

So many questions come to mind based on the above discussion:

- Firstly, do the candidates really need to reveal about their tattoos? Unless off course, explicitly asked for by the company or its clearly visible

- How does having a concealed (give some credit to the candidate’s intelligence!) tattoo affect performances?

- Why tattoos are considered a taboo while hiring candidates?

- Do the professional qualities of the candidate get overlooked, because, the tattoo-thing is misinterpreted to be ‘crude’, ‘rude’, even ‘rebellious’?

- The corporate culture of the employer does come into effect. Do you want be a part of it?

Sometimes even employees aren’t sure on the company ‘Policy’ regarding tattoos. I suppose in such cases it’s harder to determine if a displaying a tattoo is ok or not. Sure, employers from certain industries don’t have an issue with “Tattooed” candidates. Better to try and check before you invest your time interviewing with your prospective employer. However, use your discretion a little more effectively. Like determining if the job you are interviewing for requires you to conceal your tattoo. It’s easy to determine right?

Tattoos are a form of expression. You can have a tattoo and a successful career. Agreed!

- The HR Store

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Take the Stairs

This week there are a few things on my mind (outside of HR) such as health, environment, weight-loss, training, going for a run, blogging…

So this month’s going to be – “Take the Stairs At Work”…It’s started off well, have so far climbed & descended about 2264 steps! Almost! Wow, I feel nice! Really, I do.

Got so hooked to taking the stairs that it rubbed off on other colleagues of mine and at times it looks like a stairway-marathon! However, some significant positives from this stairway-week:

- The expected happened! Feeling lighter after having lost some much needed weight

- Built up good levels of stamina, blood-pressure in check

- Didn’t have to stop at every floor for dropping off people

- Gave me loads of time to think and strategize plans for the day

- Got me to arrive early to work – since I couldn’t make it in 5 seconds (by elevator) to my work-floor!

Most importantly, it’s increased my WILL-POWER to stay with one thing till completion…at the beginning it was always easier to ditch the stairs & head to the elevator! It took a lot of will power to use the stairs…I’m hoping that this fad of mine would last for sometime…only the weighing scale will tell!

Next up! Ride the rickety bicycle to work…hoping to purchase one soon…

Any donors?

For a healthy life ahead!
The HR Store

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Recently, a simple not-so-important print-out got me thinking about our contributions at preserving the environment at work. The print-out was wanted and NOT needed!

It’s a clichéd question, nonetheless, an important one to ask?

“How Green is your work place?” “Are you doing your part to help save the environment?”

If you already are not, it’s time for you to step-up. You definitely don’t need a company wide campaign to tell you how to save paper, water or power! You need simple old Common-Sense!

Some questions require honest answers:

- Are you car pooling? Single occupant cars rate very high in carbon-di-oxide emissions…
- Can you avoid taking that print-out?
- Are you switching off power whenever its not is use? Its not just computers – even basic lighting and other electrical gadgets too1
- Is your company buying energy-saving equipment? If not, you do your part. You don’t need a company policy, remember?
- Are you the Champion promoter for a Green World in your company? The time is NOW! Take the lead!

It’s time to reduce your carbon-footprints! One day at a time……


- The HR Store

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Welcome to your New Job!

Your new boss: “Welcome aboard! We are sure you are the right person for this job. Good to have you on the team!”

Well, isn’t that what we hear on our first day at a new job? The welcome is all cordial, full of hope, excitement in the team which you are about to join, basically, the Red Carpet is out for you!! However, what we fail to notice is the fact that starting a new job is very stressful and yet we take it for granted!

Think about it: Signing joining forms, getting ID Cards, parking lot sticker, passwords from the tech teams, initial meetings, hmm…even understanding the floor-plan to locate the nearest restroom!!

Beat the Stress

- A commonly known mistake that we tend to do on a new-job at a new place/company is to COMPARE! Yes, we do it however less or more. We compare work cultures, processes, benefits, colleagues, travel, cafeteria, even about elevators from our previous company to the new one!!

- The faster you get over your previous job, the better it is for settling into the new one

- The new company hired you based on your work, interviews, etc. Give yourself enough time to showcase your talents! You didn’t get them overnight, did you?

- Start the new job with being less critical about the way things take off. You know the routine; it’s a matter of time before you ace the problems!

- Adjusting to the new job is about banishing your ASSUMPTIONS! The more you assume, the more you expect. Take it one day at a time. I’ve seen that Assumptions hurt even the best in the business.

- If you don’t know something, just put your hand up and ask! Really, it’s that simple.

Get yourself Oriented to the New Job

- Your orientation starts with finding the best travel route to get you to work on time. This definitely helps reduce stress!

- Induction on day-one will help you understand the company better. Don’t miss it.

- In case, there’s no such thing as induction (Yep! There’s no induction in a start-up of 20-30 people), try getting to know your colleagues over lunch or coffee.

- Your manager generally does the introduction-routines; however you can go one step further and send out mails asking for a good time to meet your colleagues at work for a one-to-one. Please don’t make the meeting look like you are interrogating them about the company!

- The HR is expected to work with you closely to help you understand the benefits and the point-of-contact for various departments. If not, ask for one!

Post 1st Week

- By now you are well into the work and time to get yourself a mentor. Preferably, someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in the company. It helps you resolve issues quicker, afterall they understand the company/product/client/process better. If you don’t ask, folks will assume you either know everything or you are not listening? Which one is true?

- Companies do have a ‘Buddy’ program, where you get to shadow-work with a team-member to learn the finer nuances of your work. If your new company doesn’t have one, ask your colleagues if you can shadow-work with them. Again, please don’t run to them for every thing you need to do! Respect their time and space, use your discretion.

- You were hired to bring a newer perspective at work, time to get those ideas out on to the table or during discussions. Sound confident in your approach and be ready for feedback!

Lastly, you might notice that there’s no mention of “Dress Code” for the new job. I suppose you have landed the job for the right attitude and common sense. Right? Go dressed in a way that you feel would work best for the role you are hired for.

- The HR Store

Friday, October 31, 2008

Recruitment Mass Mails

The approach of ‘Mass Mails’ (i.e. a mail that is sent to just about everyone under the sun) to dig/extract/flush-out/mine resumes from the remotest places, seems to have a great deal of effect on the recipient!


Picture this: a HR person on one fine day gets a mail asking for an updated resume for the post of a (Hold your breath!!!) – A “Neurosurgeon”!!! Well, you can quite guess the recipient of this mail. No?

This kind of mail got me thinking on the objective of sending out such unsolicited mails to people? Trust me; the only logic that I could arrive was very simple:

Get your message across to as many many many people as possible with the hope that at least 5% of them reply with either their updated resume or at least send their query! Pretty simple, right?

It’s a 5-Step easy process

Here’s how you can do it:


You want to hire a couple of Java Technology Architects (with about 10 yrs work experience) within the next 45 days. Hmmmm…you tell yourself, “OMG! It’s not possible. What can I do?”
Eureka! You have found a way to achieve your targets.


Step 1: Get hold of job-portals, search networking sites, enroll on all possible technology-groups on the internet – download as many email ID’s as possible!

Step 2: Compose a mail filled with loads of data – client/company, role, location, compensation........

Step 3: Send it out to the email ID’s which were garnered from various sources! Voila! Your message has just reached over a 100,000 people!

Step 4: Sit back & sift through the replies (remember 5% was expected to reply?)

Step 5: You achieve your target! The positions got filled, you get your incentives, everyone (almost everyone…read on) is happy!

Now, lets see who got the mails: HR (off course), entry level candidates, surgeons, teachers, gym instructors, graphic designers, furniture makers, actors, singers, doctors, trainers, etc. Mostly it has reached about 99.9% of people who ever not even close to a Java Technology Architect role or don’t know what that even means!!

What happens to your mail? – I guarantee that less that 3 seconds were spent reading your mails and more importantly your mails get identified as a SPAM! Someone is right now contemplating of suing you for one reason or another; another person is writing you a mail saying how much they hate receiving your mails, right? If you haven’t received any, you can push your luck a little harder!

The question that really matters is: Do you need to send mass mails at all?

My answer to that is NO! By sending them you are hurting your chances of identifying potential candidates even more!

You have just irritated a 100,000 people by sending them mails they don’t care about!
The 100,000 people spread the message to another 100k people, thus, hurting your client’s/company’s reputation (that’s a cost you cannot calculate!)
Chances of someone suing you (maybe for fun!) is very high
Time spent researching and downloading email ID’s was a waste of critical hiring-time

Finally - Guess what! You get spammed in return by folks who don’t mind sending their resumes hoping they’ll get a reply!!!

Get off the habit of mass-mails as quickly as possible! Since it’s like sprinkling seeds all over the planet hoping to reap a rich harvest! You are better off spending QUALITY TIME identifying a particular source which you can dive deep into and get the required results.

Think about it, as a recruiter, would you respond to a mail asking you send your resume for the post of a “Arboriculturist”!!!! Chances are, you might not even have heard about such a profession!
On second thoughts, actually, you might apply! That is, if you don’t like recruitment, in which case you should not be sending out those mass mails!

- The HR Store

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Employee Value Proposition

In turbulent times such as the current situation, it’s just as hard to let-go of people while trying to NOT create panic among folks the Company wants to retain!

So what can be done to communicate effectively the company’s stand in a turbulent situation? How to let employees know of where the company is going? A good ‘Realistic’ vision holds the key to success and surely the company wants its best people to be with them, while trying to achieve the targets. A down market can be turned around to work in a positive way if a good plan is laid out.

It’s time to get the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) ready for circulation! Yes, you heard it right . EVP’s were mainly designed to be used during recruitment to attract potential candidates, but the times have changed and so will strategies…

What is an EVP? – It’s a simple plan to let candidates/employees know what they’ll get in return for their performance.

What does it contain?

- EVP’s are like a fact-file of information about the company. It contains info about the company’s history, area of work, vision, investors, revenue, work culture, clients, work ethics, etc.,

- Mostly importantly, the EVP will focus on the TOP 5 Reasons to work for the company! (PS: Everyone love TOP 5/10 reasons, it makes things a lot clear)

- It highlights - ‘What-You-Get’ for ‘What-You-Give’! Simple and to the point.

How does this work in the current situation? –Stretch the plan to accommodate the re-jig in the organization due to lay-off’s…means that the individual performances will now have to double, the employees will need to stretch, but the company will respond with rewards.

Why the EVP?

- It’s always better to communicate openly and pro-actively, than let employees know of the company’s plans through non-confirmed rumors at corridor-meetings, near the water-cooler, sometimes at the stairway too!

- The EVP will ensure that the employees know what they are getting into! The ‘No-Surprises’ approach will work for the best

- The message is clear; the company is going a bad-phase & needs the support of its employees to tide over the rough patch!

- EVP’s will also ensure that the company’s vision is clear to the employees! It will act like a ‘Compass’ giving the necessary directions while at sea! Its turbulent after all and you don’t want your ship to be swayed to no-man’s-land!

- This will also lead to losing more employees (mainly to your competitor). Mostly lost will be the weaker lot - folks who believe that the situation will not affect the competitor! It’s good to let-go of them, since eventually they do more harm than good for your plans

- Highlight the reason’s why you feel the EVP will work, such as, good cash reserves, leader in the particular market-space, strength in performance, committed clients, etc.,!

Everyone is facing the heat, the better equipped ones will survive…the rest.....will be history!

Any thoughts?

- The HR Store

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Salary Negotiation

Salary negotiations anyone? Ask recruiters and they’ll say; NO!

Salary discussions somehow seem to be the biggest hurdle in the hiring-process. But why? Easy to predict the usual suspects, profile mismatch (found after the interviews!), company’s internal parity/team fitment, compensation structure mismatch, not able to match candidate’s expectations, candidate received a counter-offer from another company! Candidate got retained by the same employer with a hike! Loads of other issues. The situation looks grim and looks like it cannot be eradicated completely. After all, it’s called a negotiation NOT a verdict!

So what can be done to reduce the chances of having to deal with a messy salary negotiation? You give some and receive some, both for candidates and employers.

Quality wins hands-down in a negotiation, like sales people will tell you, quality is what is remembered long after the customer has paid a hefty price! The price was just a negotiating tool…

From a candidate point of view

1. Start with finding out the role and responsibilities of the job. If it’s a fit, undergo the interview process. You might NOT want to put an amount on your resume if you don’t know what you are getting into. Chances are you may need to do more than you had expected and quite naturally you need to be compensated for the same.

2. Set expectations right from the start – both of you should know what each one is getting into! It’s a build up to your negotiation phase.

3. When you enter the stage for salary negotiations – please be REALISTIC! Ask for a 500% hike, ONLY if you can substantiate with realistic reasons. No one in their right mind wants to low-ball you; barring a few, its people after all !

4. Do a quick check on the availability of your skills in the industry. Is it niche? You have a strong point to talk about.

5. Ask questions whenever given the chance about the company, work culture, peers, engagement model of the managers, company communication, etc., a strong indicator about the company’s fair-play attitude!

6. Compensation structure plays a BIG role! Start by understanding their compensation structure and later try mapping it your current salary structure. Both will surely have their positives. Be practical when you do this, since it could back-fire! A benefit here could be missing in the other and vice-versa.

Mostly Importantly

The Company doesn’t want to hear reasons like:

- I’m really smart, hard-working, with high integrity, etc. so I need to get paid more! What the heck, if you already are not, they would not even be talking to you. Get real!
- My friend with another company doing the same job is getting more than me! Hmmm…why don’t you wait and interview with that company then? Your friend is not your ticket to the salary negotiation table…
- You started out asking for 8% hike, but now realize you need more (10%)! Stick your commitment of asking for 8% (you were the person who gave them that number!) Don’t change that overnight, it’s a red-flag.
- An interview is a window to gauge you. You could been a STAR in your previous company. No one will ever know, if you cannot communicate that across with good presentation. So just because you cannot tell them your worth, don’t expect them to read your mind!

The company wants to hear you say things like:

- The company’s revenue returns will be higher because of your work! (Directly or indirectly) Time is money! Outline the reasons, such as newer, cost effective and process oriented approach to their latest problems (off course you may have to know about it during the interviews!) You are already up 1- 0…
- You are at the table negotiating for a salary based on your value, and they need to know that from you! Like you are capable of handling more responsibilities (give examples, not just talk) than what your current job lets you do.
- They’ll like to believe that your offer to do more sounds exciting since they get to fill a higher position with a lesser budget and a worthy candidate! Win-win situation. Score 2- 0
- Talk about instances where you have gone beyond your line of duty to complete tasks. After all, rewards are for people who have done more than what they are asked or even paid to do!

From a Company’s point of view

1. If you thought the candidate was already paid more than could have afforded – please don’t waste the candidate’s or Company time!
2. It’s unfair to low-ball a candidate, be fair and realistic. The Company has limits too. Candidates understand that!
3. Ask your HR interviewer to add more value to interview feedback, not just act as facilitators!
4. Candidates always expect more, stay firm and decide where to draw the line! You can’t keep stretching till the talks break…if you think the Company’s offer is good, stick to it!
5. Learn to say NO to more-than-necessary demands! If you set a precedent, others will follow! You do know candidates talk to others in the industry, right?

- The HR Store

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"What's Right NOT Who's Right?"

It’s getting ever so fierce at workplaces that decision making is getting blurred. You must have noticed that most times, suggestions are incorporated keeping in mind the person who gave it, since it happens to be a ‘manager’ or ‘someone-higher-up-the-ladder’!

Really, all you wanted to do was get up and shout that the idea sucks (off course, only if it really does), but held yourself back fearing being reprimanded in an open-forum! This has happened so frequently that you are feeling so very frustrated.

So what do you do next? Fight or Flight?

Flight Plan:

This is a no-brainer!

The perceived easier of the option is to take ‘Flight’ to the next best company, with the hope that the grass is always greener on the other side. Good for you if it works for your advantage and the next company is among the ‘Great Place to Work’ category. You might get the visibility, praise, appreciation, etc. If not, you are back at ‘Square-One’!

I feel the tougher of the options is to stay put and ‘Fight’ it out. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a face-face confrontation, but, it’s a good chance to learn management tact/skill in handling such cases.

Fight Plan:

- Listen to the suggestion at face-value, maybe they have a point. Give them the benefit of the doubt, considering their experience and expertise in the field
- Next, you can build your own list of ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ to the suggested solution
- Make your point, with its advantages and disadvantages. Highlighting on the practicality, economical feasibility and ease to implement, this will only strengthen your cause.
- Be ready to receive feedback! It may work or may not; at least it’s worth a shot.

The step that could be a little dicey is in approaching the ‘managers’ or ‘someone-higher-up-the-ladder’ with your suggestion. Hmmm…after all there is way out.

If your manager is not receptive to suggestions in an open forum, take it offline.

- Implement the idea that’s already suggested. Hold on! You are not going to surrender as yet…- - Next, complete it the way you feel it would work. Your Way!
- Make it appear that although the manager’s solution was good, there is a better way to do it
- Present it at a relevant time and a good presentation will only add value

Unless, it’s a mathematical problem there is a high possibility of having multiple solutions! It’s good thing to inculcate as you go to higher roles involving decision making.

My vote for: “What’s Right NOT Who’s Right?”

- The HR Store

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Change is Strange!!

Change is weird, strange, un-necessary, pathetic etc or Change can be cool, exciting, wonderful, fantastic etc.. What do you think?

First School of Thought:

Change could only be a constant! I personally would love to work that way - new ideas, new people, new everything! This set of people 'Thrive-In-Chaos', it's amazing that they are adaptable to newer surroundings, get up tomorrow morning and start their tasks with a change in their routine (Irony! Irony! Change & routine...). They are constantly thinking about the next big thing that can change their lives, daily routines tweaked for optimum results where 20% efforts translate to 100% results.

The need for change is their necessity. The only hitch to going down this path is that, it might take tons of effort to stay focused on one thing for long enough to complete it! The mind works furiously to find ways to make things interesting, easier, less complicated and YES! process goes out of the window! That's because change can happen anytime, anywhere...The hidden 'Entrepreneur' in them surfaces ever so frequently.

Tomorrow is a new day - for new things - to be done in new ways!

Second School of Thought:

Change is unnecessary! People on this side of the fence feel routine is best. It gives them a sense of normalcy in their lives, the security of knowing exactly what's going to happen next! People who love stability, to stay predictable and maybe even stay as a big-fish-in-a-small-pond!

Change is a crazy just throws things out of gear! Who the heck wants to do start doing the same thing differently...the results are predictable, getting the tasks accomplished is all about following process, stability is in knowing things will remain the same way since they left it the last time....

Tomorrow will start & end the same way - just like yesterday!

Where do you belong?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Resume Writing

If you recorded interviews you might get to hear something like this:

Interviewer: Your Resume speaks of a lot of activities in the project. What’s your part in it?
Candidate: We (team) have shared equal responsibilities around development, testing, bug fixing, etc.

Interviewer: I understand, but, what was your role in it?
Candidate: We (again the team!) played equal roles in the progress of the project

Interviewer: Hmm…so help me understand your individual involvement in the project?
Candidate: We (for the last time!)…..continues talking about collective approach towards accomplishing goals!

Interviewer: Thank you for your time! We’ll get back to you… (Never!)
Candidate (Extremely satisfied): look forward to hear from you… (I’ve got the job!)

If you are an interviewer, the answers might sound very familiar. If you are a candidate, your answers have just ruined your chances of making it to the next round.

Maybe, the resume contents were indicative of the thought process of the candidate. A resume is a great start point to tell someone about your achievements. You definitely don't want to mess that up. Here's a quick glance from a recruiter's point of view at a standard template of a resume which might be useful. Off course, use your creativity and intelligence to better it for your own good.

1. If there is anything at all that a resume should speak about – it must be you!

- It’s great that you accomplished the task as a team, but if you cannot clearly explain your role, then you might as well send your team for the interview!

- Listen to the interviewer, your resume is almost writing itself during your discussion. Get back & make those changes.

2. The resume should have a certain flow or method in it:

- Start with a Summary/Objective: What is it that you want from your next job? Link it to your short-term and long term goals.

- Mention your strengths: Both technical & non-technical. Keep it in line with the job requirement.

- Followed by a table with your skill sets, preferably with self-rating againt each.

- Start by mentioning your work experience in reverse chronological order along with timelines in each company
· Brief about the project
· Technology used in the project
· Mention your role in the project. Be specific. Telling more about your role and responsibility will help the recuiter and interviewer understand your contributions a lot better.
· Achievements in the project (if any)

- Education Details: Most companies want to know only your highest achieved degree. Stick to mentioning just that, unless asked for previous degrees.

- Mention about certifications/awards/patents/presentations/articles/Whitepaper etc.

- Any significant achievement in your line of business? Ensure that your work has positively impacted a sizable number of people.

- References

3. The resume should be ‘to-the-point’ and should best capture your work in the least number of words possible.

4. Ensure there are ZERO spelling errors, else it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

5. Please read through your resume a hundred times & get to know it like the back of your hand! You'll be suprised at the number of candidates who forget what's on their own resume.

6. Finally, if you think your resume needs professional help, ask for it! Get yourself a resume-writing professional. It won’t hurt to spend a little to put your best foot forward in an interview!

All the best!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Candidate Management

What is Candidate Management?

“It is a skill which is needed to treat candidates like human beings, by being polite, courteous, honest and candid with them during your interactions. It is about under-promising and over-delivering.”

What is the need for Candidate Management?

· Streamline our efforts in the recruitment process; in terms of increasing the capability to manager profiles with efficiency & effectiveness

· Derive statistics from the accumulated data; such as, strength to address open requisitions based on technology, domain, company, location/geography, levels of experience, etc.,
· Monetary benefits for & from the business

Candidate Journey

Effects of poor Candidate Management

Every bad action has always had repercussions! So does Candidate Management. Think about the last time YOU interviewed for a job and I’m quite sure you did at least one of the following action(s).

· Candidates tend to change their channel-selection based on interactions with the company

· Reduced interest in future vacancies with the company

· Big impact on the company’s brand through bad publicity. [blogs, word of mouth, employee referrals, etc.,]This will only hurt your future references! Watch you word…

· Wasted efforts in terms of time & money [Interviewer’s time, Company time, Interview No shows, Interview Reschedules, Offer Declines, Candidate’s travel costs, etc,]

What can be improved?

Think about your treatment to guests invite at home,

- Would you make them wait for long hours?
- Not give them food when you called them during lunch/dinner time?
- Talk to them like you are not interested?

The same situation applies to candidates! You called them 9 out of 10 times to check on their interest! So why not treat them with respect and care?

· First impression counts, whether it is via phone calls, meetings, emails, text messages
o Sound professional when you talk, send mails, etc.,
o Talk like you are selling a role in your company, with a lot of conviction.
o If you wont buy what you are selling, then don’t expect the candidate to buy it either!!!
o Be assertive and confident in whatever you say.
o There are things you CAN and CANNOT do, communicate without fear

· Make honest commitments; about the position, role & responsibilities, info regarding interview timelines, stick to timely communication & YES! Never forget to give feedback on time

Signs of good Candidate Management

• Candidate remembers your name & the minute details of your previous discussions! 1st sign of recall value

• They are careful, meticulous and trusting while explaining their current standing. Shares more info than they would have preferred. You are on the right track!

• You know exactly why they would select your company versus your competitor’s

• Readily gives you references you can solicit for other open positions

• Responds to all forms of communications; ON-TIME!!

What are the developments in the area of Candidate Management?

Companies hiring Candidate Management teams…building automation tools…implementing Six Sigma methodologies…and more

• Large companies are hiring exclusive teams for candidate management. The small ones are training their limited staff on Candidate Management.

• Companies are building automation tools to help monitor candidate management. A large number of Candidate Management Systems (CMS) are available

Your role as a Career Consultant/Recruiter/Candidate Management Expert (CME)
• Understand the business space, their requirements and the need for getting the requirements

• Sit with the hiring manager and list down a few key-points that will help them find the right candidate, Vis-à-vis ‘Selling Points’, role description, internal team fitment, compensation, etc.,

• Put more effort into understanding the hiring process & ways to optimize it. Agreed that 9 – 10 rounds of discussion are needed, but you shouldn’t let that affect the candidate’s psyche

• If possible talk your way to participate in one or two interviews for every position. This will help you to understand and put down the requirements crisply

• Learn how to sell the position. Eventually you are going to do that to the candidate. Never over-sell or under-sell. You can even try a couple of contacts that you can circulate across to the candidate for referral

All the best with your hiring!

The HR Store

Monday, October 13, 2008

Starting With 'A' Differentiator

It’s every hiring agency's dream to have that ‘Special-Something-Extra’ that gets them more clients and loads of money through the door. More importantly, they are always on the look-out for a differentiator that would give them the much needed head-start, compared to their competitors. The search for the differentiators more often than not takes away some basic functionalities that is driving the business.

The question I asked was: “If you were to start new, what would be the big differentiator?”

Here’s my take on it: There are 2 parts to the solving this issue, i.e. Internally & Externally.


This is driven more within the organization. Among internal teams catering to clients, in various recruitment related activities.

I would like to take an analogy of the game of football. The playing field, rules, parameters & all else is the same, the main ‘differentiator’ is the team’s core strength in:

1. Identifying the right players, vis-à-vis right person to work with

2. Hiring a good coach, who can strategize, has a short-term & long-term realistic vision, recognize talent, and promote talent. Replace Coach with the Manager & the Talent with the Candidate.

3. Cash in the bank to try out new experiments. My reasoning here with this point is because it takes time & effort to hire the ‘right’ people to work for you! You need to be able to get the best returns for your investment

4. The ability to have a star-player supported by the rest of the team, too many stars will only hurt the team in the long run


The client definitely expects positive results, that what they are paying for in first place!

1. From a company’s stand-point, they are trying to identify a ‘Business Partner’ in the literal sense, rather than working with just another recruitment agency. The partner should be able to take the same risks & also enjoy all perks in-tune with the company. The company wants the agency to become more accountable.

2. They want to be working with agencies which treat them as their ‘No.1’ client and not use their name with the agencies other 10 clients! So stand-apart from the crowd & your risk will be either worth it or not, based on your selection of the client & their performances.

3. A big differentiator that a new agency can have is the ability to say ‘NO’ to business that one cannot support. The effect of starting new & getting initially cash-strapped, missing deadlines & lot of other factors forces us to take on more than we can service.

Hope this helps.

The HR Store

Friday, October 10, 2008

Do we need a ‘Role Model’?

Did you like being:

- Compared to another kid in school, because he/she got better grades?
- Compared to another student in college, because he/she made it to the college-team, played a musical instrument, topped the university?
- Compared to a friend who made it big before you?

If we run this question as a survey, most of us would answer ‘NO’. It’s simple to justify the answer, why would we want to be like another person? They have their own strengths & areas of improvement, so do we.

Now let’s ask the same question about 5-10 yrs after we complete our education & head towards to work-life. Surprisingly, we do a complete volte-face on our answer! We are always in the search for reasons to compare ourselves to someone or the other all the time…so what has changed this time around? Not much. This time around we are in control of our actions and we term our searches for ‘That’ better person as a Role-Model (RM).

It’s great to have a RM if what we need from them are their principles or ideologies – which unfortunately are not the actual reason! As much as we would like to debate, we need a role-model to compare ourselves on our own progress. Up to a point where we sometimes become self-critical! Not a good sign at all.

So what’s the big-deal of having RM’s?

Firstly, it’s NOT a ‘Necessity’. The reason to not have a RM is because it gives a sense of putting a barricade or a ceiling that you feel as the goal that would get you to the top. Provided you followed in the same path of the RM.
Are you sure you cannot go beyond that limit? If the answer is yes, its time to start re-evaluating your idea of having a RM in the first place!

The very reason to not emulate someone is so that you have an independent vision of what you want to achieve, your own ‘Individuality’. That’s something that everyone carries, but unfortunately, it gets lost in the ‘Fight For Comparison’ with the RM. You decide your own goals.


We often get mixed up with not being able to differentiate between “Role-Model” & “Mentor”…maybe its time to give it some thought! That’s another post for another day.

Have a nice weekend!
The HR Store

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The 'Right Time' is NOW...

I’m sure we've all heard others & even ourselves talk about the ‘Right-Time’ to do the ‘Right-Thing'? Agreed, if you are sure of the outcome of a task, then it makes sense to wait, but, in the first place how the heck did you even find out the outcome? It may be because sometime back you happened to do the wrong-thing at the wrong-time! The point to focus is the ‘Optimistic’ mindset you had then versus the 'Pessimistic' thinking now…it’s foolish to repeat mistakes but then you need be bold enough to step-up and take charge.

The perspective of the ‘Right-Time’ is often viewed as an insecure and doubtful frame of mind. Come to think of it, if you start your favorite project today, wouldn’t you give it all? Off course you would. Sometimes, the 'Right-Time' is decided more from a necessity to achieve goals – quite confidently you don’t even ponder over ‘time’ to decide whether it is ok to proceed or not!

I keep wondering if the ONLY reason to not do something & wait for the ‘Right-Time’ is because we don’t like doing it! Think about it for a second, most of the tasks that you may have completed in the last week were something that you liked doing or thought it was the best thing to do…and the ones you may have avoided were most often than not the ones you obviously didn’t like! It’s get harder in a business situation where other people depend on YOUR work & time to get tasks accomplished.

So the next time around ask yourself – "What if the tech support agent doesn’t want to answer your call?" - While you are on tenterhooks to fix the machine to send out your RFP to a waiting client! The agent will be fired – but more importantly you’ll lose a customer because someone else thought it was not the right-time!! What goes round comes around…

Come to think of it, if there is something that you love to do, have the passion to do or basically needs to be done/completed – then waiting for the ‘Right-Time’ is only going to increase the agony! The ride will be rough when you dive in, but I’m sure you’ll dig deep into your resolve to reach your goals. After all, your future is dependant on your action.

The clock’s ticking - the ‘RIGHT-TIME’ was the minute that just passed by……

The HR Store

Friday, October 3, 2008

X-Factor: "Recruiter Sales"

“Selling is an art” – a known truth for over a million years.

Question: Does recruitment have anything to do with selling?
Answer: YES

What is ‘Recruiter Sales’? The simple Q&A style of answering it would be, “The in-depth selling of a hiring opportunity by a recruiter, to a potential candidate.” Now, it’s definitely not as easy as that definition, since it involves finer nuances of selling & recruitment. As a Recruiter, the minute you begin prospecting a potential candidate, the very first line you speak has everything in it to qualify as a ‘SALES PITCH’. One can’t help it – because it runs in the recruiter’s DNA & if it doesn’t someone should be worried about it!

I’ve noticed that good ‘recruiter-salesperson’ has some common selling traits:

- High levels of confidence
- Ability to identify the very-thin-line between being Assertive or Pushy
- Build a strong relationship with candidates through excellent communication, good follow-up
- They can take ‘NO’ for an answer, when they see a dead end
- An attitude that screams “Whatever it takes (legally off course!)…to get the candidate across the line”
- They never never never stop Selling!

There are very high chances of the candidate talking to a recruiter first than anyone else in the company - they need to know about the company, job, peers, work culture, benefit; the whole-nine-yards! The point I’m trying to make is that the recruiter can only sell as much as he/she knows. Eventually, the best salesperson wins!

Dose of Truth: Every candidate that has ever interviewed with your company & rejected your offer to join elsewhere, indicates that – someone in the same field has done better than you! That’s not a very good feeling!

There could be a hundred other reasons why the candidate rejected your job offer – the other company provided higher compensation, work from home facility, better employee benefits, open work culture, whatever! If your company has been able to employ a 1000 people without these very reasons; then you too have your positives! Unless the recruiter incorporates the positives in the sales-pitch at the discussion table, the offer-rejects will continue to happen!

From experience I can vouch for the fact that Selling would work best if it is done in 3-Parts:-

Part 1: Have a list of selling points about the company.
- The pitch would have the Big-Picture from 30,000 feet!
- Mostly would involve discussions revolving around company history, revenue, investors, customers, technology, peers, work culture, benefits, etc.,

Part 2: Selling points of the business that the candidate would be involved in.
- Discussion would involve details about the business group that a candidate would be joining
- The business groups latest successes – more from a motivating stand point

Part 3: The reasons you believe the candidate makes the perfect fit for a particular role
- Involves matching candidate’s strength’s to the business needs
- The reasons that the company & candidate will both have a mutually rewarding partnership

I’m confident that if a recruiter can stick to the basics of selling – the rest as they say – would MAKE history!

X-Factor: Sell, Sell, Sell!

The HR Store

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ideas to get new employees productive quickly

I had answered this question on recently & thought about sharing the same on my blog.

There are times when we are extremely happy to have a new team-member join us. After the initial few days, we realize that the new-hire might need more time to ramp-up, while you had hired thinking about an extra-hand to reach the deadline a lot faster.

What had gone wrong in the whole process? To start with, you could have done a few things to help the new-hire up-to-speed with the happenings in the project.

1. Before DAY-ONE

Even before the employee comes on-board (once both you & the potential candidate have agreed & decided to work together), get them involved in shadow-work with the technical team whenever possible.
(a) Share non-confidential technical data
(b) Get them to attend at least 3 out of 5 tech-meetings with the team before they even came on-board
(c) To a certain extent even incorporating their ideas, with a mention that the idea came from the new-source (new employee) will help boost their confidence.

I’m sure they know the technologies needed & so were hired, but the idea is to bring them to speed on the usage of those technologies in a newer architecture. This would also give them a chance to know the team well, making them compatible. All of these can be done even before they come on-board. Off course, getting a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed will help.

2. Ensure you have sufficient documentation of the existing work

This will act as a ‘best-source’ for the new employee to get relevant information, without needing too much of the peer’s or manager’s time. This could also help bring down the learning time considerably.

3. Hiring-Right

Hiring folks with technologies/skillsets that meet your requirement (at least to a 90% fit) will help in ensuring faster understanding of the codes, architecture, processes,etc., The lesser they need to learn something new; the faster they can become productive. The intent should be to get specialists into the role. Tell them of the challenges that you are facing & where they could add value – if they are able to see the big-picture (from 30,000 ft) and yet be able to get day-to-day work accomplished - you have a gem in your hands!

The HR Store

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Ever wondered why we need Superstars in sports, manufacturing, Information Technology, even Politics? Certain companies or individuals make all the difference in their field of work…Jordan in Basketball…Schumacher in F1…Usain Bolt in Athletics…GE…Google…Quite a number of times this question has often taken debating to a heated-level. At least I did debate it at a firm that was clear they didn’t want a ‘Superstar’ Culture – wherein everyone was treated as a star! It’s good to think that way when you are trying very hard at keeping EVERYONE happy. Let’s admit that’s never going to happen!

So why do we need Superstars? This is very small population of people who have it in them to risk everything and put more than 100% effort in carving new paths, setting market trends, providing new solutions – basically doing enough to stay ahead of the troops. They are NOT dependent on market conditions or strong products; at times they might not even require managers! Yes, this population is NECESSARY and we all need them in our field of work. They are the ones who push the envelope, define your high-bar for achievements and a whole lot more.

The challenge however is in accepting the fact that this population does exist. If we had to question their existence, then a good way to do it would be to ask – Why are performance management systems in place? Why are we constantly undergoing an exercise to find out the best person in the team? Why do we have awards for folks who have gone beyond their line of duty, performed exceedingly well, shown initiatives, and led teams to greater success? It is to ensure that ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution is not used. We go the extra mile to accommodate the top-performer, give into their demands & end up making them your team’s iconic figure. In other words, they are the ‘Superstars’ that we will ALWAYS want in our teams.

However, certain boundaries need to be expanded or erased to accommodate superstars.

- They need to be given freedom to excel
- Work with a manager better than them (else, you can say your goodbyes)
- They need to be directed on a particular course and let them take full responsibility
- Superstars work best as individual-performers
- Fast-paced environments really excite them

Now for some pitfalls to having Superstars, which can be managed effectively

- Don’t put them on a pedestal that clearly indicates them as the key-player. They are excellent in what they do; but that’s not a license to can walk over others!
- There is a big-boost to egos when people are identified as ‘Superstars’. It’s a killer if you don’t make them realize that – the fastest way down in taking a ride on ego-coasters! You don’t need to tolerate their Egos.
- Team members not able to match the Superstar’s level – are often subjected to humiliation. Ensure to kick some a%%! They are 'Part-of-the-team' and NOT 'a-team-by-themself'
- Please do not put them under low-performing managers. Superstars need someone to look up too; after all even they are looking at growing in their careers.

Superstars come with loads of baggage. If you are not up to managing them, then DONOT hire them!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Influential Manager

Don’t know if we all do it unknowingly as managers, but there is always a tendency to change working styles of team members to suit our own! Such as:

Meetings are held at times that work best at suiting the manager’s calendar – without consideration for the team member
Mails are sent in particular fonts & worded such that it suits the manager’s style
Operate in tones that match that of the manager

Effectively, managers try & make ‘CLONES’ of themselves via their team members! Net-net the team is headed for disaster (maybe some succeeded, an exception maybe). I’ve always believed that if two people in a room are always thinking alike, you are wasting precious time in finding a solution that you already want to implement. So how do you differentiate between good v/s cloning managers?

I’ve had a chance to work with a great manager who has greatly influenced my working style, cultivated thinking out-of-the-box habit and mostly importantly led by example by respecting & treating others with humility. Some pointers that worked best in improving me as a person both personally & professionally include:

Open Engagement Model

The open engagement model encourages team members to:

- Speak-up
- Bring their thoughts to the table
- Debate freely on solutions to a particular problem (unless you have a math problem with a unique solution!)
Ensure there is 2-Way communication, i.e., managers receiving feedback is as critical as handing out feedback

Excellent Communication Skills

Communication skills don’t necessarily mean verbal & written modes. There is a third kind of communication skill which is the hardest and that’s were Great Managers excel.
It is to resolve issues or problems in 2 parts: first, they ‘LISTEN’ to the problem thoroughly/completely & then get into ‘ACTION’ with practical solutions. The ability to involve listening powers with communication means that people will lend their ear to your speech; else, managers look like they are barking orders!

Excellent communication also involves precise data sharing, presentation skills that help to stay within timelines and engage audience in discussions.

Low Resistance to Change

Ask the HR of any organization about the people who deal best with change – very rarely will they say Managers! Surprising?

Great Managers understand that ‘Change is Necessary’, because eventually all individual growth plans, goals & efforts will only be as good as that of their Company’s. They have a low-resistance to Change, because they are able to reason & understand the need for such implementation.

As Jack Welch said - “If the outside world is changing faster than you are. You are losing the competition.”

Managers who are able to understand this – will definitely succeed!

Good Follow-up Methodology

Again the tendency is to allocate a task & bug the S**t out of the team member by asking for an update every minute of their existence. This can only lead to a disgruntled team member.

A more productive method that I’ve seen working very effectively would be to allocate work & DISCUSS/ASK the team-member for a reasonable timeline that they would need to complete the task. This encourages the team members to:

- Reciprocate the manager’s trust in them
- Get more organized
- Improve their time management
- Make predictable work estimations
- Ensure that there are NO surprises

Yes, even this can have ‘Check-Points’ when both manager & team members take stock of the work done. But, at least you give the team member some breathing space!

Brainstorm with team members

The success of managers is directly dependent on success of their team members. So to get the best foot forward in completing tasks; managers get the team to huddle in a conference room, cafeteria, coffee shops, wherever time-permitting – to discuss & decide on deliverables that would help the entire team to successful accomplishment the allotted tasks.

The HR Store

Monday, September 15, 2008

What the fuss about finding a ‘stable’ job?

During my conversation with people I get to hear about the kind-of-job a person would like to be in. The answers range from jobs that:-

- pay very high salaries
- gives career advancement options
- does not require relocation
- company is a top brand
- comes with lots of perks

The answer that stumps me is: ‘I want a stable job'….and by the way it should come with all the above mentioned goodies!

Now for a dose of reality…there is not one company that can give in writing about employing you for life! Even working for the government has age limitations! So how the heck do we get into a stable job that pays well, gives us perks & the rest of the goodies? Hmmm….the way I see it is crystal clear, there is after all a way to get a stable job with a Fortune 500 company.

Stability = Being the best in your profession

Yes, if there is a way to achieve the ‘stable-job’ goal it is only by striving to be the best in your respective field of work. The better you get at your work, the higher the chances of you staying employable for a long time & hence achieving the ‘stable-job’ criteria. Companies do have to increase or decrease their headcount based on overall company performance & that can only be achieved with individual’s contributing towards that goal. If you aren’t in the scheme of things that help the company get to that goal – tough luck – you are on your way out already. So effectively, your craving for a stable job can only be achieved with keeping yourself updated & abreast with the latest happenings in your field of work.

The only way to achieve ‘stable-status’ is to be ‘No. 1’ or ‘NO ONE’…

The HR Store

Friday, September 12, 2008

Five Myths About Leadership

Myth #1: You need formal authority and control to be a leader

Myth-breaker: Absolute, BS. How the heck do you intend to lead an organization without knowing the people who will help you succeed? You need to keep your stethoscope on people’s pulse all the time. It is possible to have an inclusive atmosphere and yet succeed. In a leadership role, people look up to you because they see a fruitful end to a vision that they share with you. They need someone to make them better than they already are - YOU are the ‘Chosen One’!! Think about a top league sports-club, the coach is accountable for a win or loss, however, the best team that wins has a Leader among peers. A player that holds everyone’s attention on-court directs the team towards a win – that person need not even be the Captain of the team.

Myth #2: You need a degree from a TOP 10 college

Myth-breaker: Not true. Leadership qualities are best seen in situations where you are required to get into the front-line and experience things from a close range. You need the ability to see the big-picture and get there through daily chores. Respect, trust and confidence does not stem from degrees from B-Schools, they come from implementation and execution.

Myth #3: Longer tenure with an organization can get you into a leadership role

Myth-breaker: Would you like a hire the services of a carpenter to fix your plumbing issues? You wouldn’t, huh. Same case with leadership too, a million years in an organization will not land you a leadership role, even though you play golf with the CEO. You need to have the patience, talent, vision, a trust-worthy attitude, respect of your peers/managers for the work you do - you need to LEAD ! In case you still have managed to get into a leadership role because of your tenure – thank your stars!

Myth #4: You need to be popular among people to be their Leader

Myth-breaker: Leadership is not a ‘Popularity Contest’ where you get voted for appearances and smooth talk. Leaders need to take hard-decisions at times which could improve efficiencies & effectiveness of work. Taking these decisions might make the 'popularity-contest-winner' look like a very unpopular person. Leaders should not strive to become popular, but have enough wisdom to draw the line between being popular and running in the opposite direction.

Myth #5: Only extroverted people can become Leaders

Myth-breaker: Leadership is a ‘Personality Trait’ NOT a ‘Personality Style’; the difference is definitely not subtle - it screams of a vast difference. You cannot categorize people as leaders just because they are extroverts; they need to be extroverted to project their business, talk to clients with confidence, appear to be approachable….its not a ‘Mask’…it’s a business need


The HR Store
"A leader is someone you would follow to a place you would not go to by yourself." - Joel Barker

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How much time do you need to become a leader?

You need ‘Zero/No Time’ to be a leader! Yes, you heard it right. There is not one person who can put his/her hand up & tell you a time frame by when you can become a leader.

Leadership is a ‘Personality Trait’, which might have showed up at a very young age…when you were asked to lead your kindergarten class in competitions…asked to lead the campaign at school…asked to lead the basketball team at college…at a young age you were asked to ‘Lead’ means that most people saw a personality-trait in you that could:

- Influence others positively!
- Get people to listen to you, follow you, back you up when needed
- Get people TRUST your decisions and have FAITH in you!

To become a Leader, you don’t need to age or get grey hair. You only need to stand-up and be counted because of your exceptional ability to comprehend situations and take bold decisions which involve calculated risks & are ready to face the consequences (good or bad). You are a Leader because the people who chose you do not doubt your capabilities; they are there to reinforce your belief in yourself.

The other school-of-thought will argue about people who have not been able to realize their leadership skills, until they are told about them! It is possible, maybe the person hadn’t come across situations or circumstances which demanded showcasing the skills, but that is a rarity! Cause if it’s a trait it’s more a ‘fight or flight’ decision and instinct kicks-in.

The final verdict: Leaders are born NOT manufactured! Keep an eye out & you’ll agree….

Feel free to debate this one…

The HR Store