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 clich├ęd 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