Spelling mistakes in resumes are not acceptable

There is a love-hate relationship between a Recruiter/Headhunter and Job Applicants. While job applicants complain about not getting interview feedback from recruiters in spite of regular follow-ups; recruiters complain about nightmares they go through when candidates switch off their mobile phones on the date of joining. In our new series of, “Interviews with HR Leaders”, we are reaching out to Headhunters and trying to find answers to some obvious questions. Ruchi Mishra is our guest of the day. She has around 15 years’ experience working with leading Recruitment and Staffing firms in India. During this period, Ruchi has played a critical role in facilitating the hiring of right talent for several business critical and leadership roles.  She has hired across industries ranging from Research, Analytics and Consulting to Manufacturing and Engineering.  Additionally, Ruchi has been mentoring returning mothers in fulfilling their career aspirations. She is an avid reader and traveller. Thank you, Ruchi, for agreeing to do this interview with us.  We value your time.

We would be pleased to learn about your journey from the beginning. So, please share with us about your first job interview. 

Right after my PGD, I enrolled with a Job Consultant who got me my first interview with GE Capital in Gurgaon. Those were early days of GE in India and the hiring process was pretty stringent. I was the only candidate selected that day among the whole lot, and we are not even talking any fancy job here. It was a simple data processing one. That alone required qualifying a GD, a written test wherein we had to write a mail to an irate customer, a PI with the recruiter and finally a business interview with the Operations Manager. I had no idea what to prepare really. I think what they were looking for was someone with good verbal and written communication skill and who would fit in the GE culture. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun during the process.

The first job is a major milestone for many people. Let’s discuss your first year at the job. How was your experience? What were your expectations for your job and your role? Were they all fulfilled? What didn’t coincide with your expectation? 

I got my job and I joined this cool workplace which was really awe inspiring. But day 1 into my job and I realized I was in the wrong job. Did I mention that I was a Journalism student and this job had nothing to do with my qualification and skills? It required data processing and while I had gone into it with an open mind I knew I would not be able to sustain this for long. Luckily, I had a few colleagues who understood my predicament and encouraged me to start applying for IJPs which were a better fit for me. As luck would have it, GE was migrating from Excel to Oracle 11i and the HR team had an opening for an HR Officer who would join the transition team. I secured an interview, was able to demonstrate my willingness to learn and give my best and joined the HR Transfers team. Now the best thing about GE was that it bet on newcomers as long as they had the zeal and were open to learning. And that is how my career in HR started.

Good bosses are “nice to have” but bad bosses can teach you some really valuable lessons. They are the ones who push you the most and you may hate them at the time but they are the ones who really bring out the best in you.

According to you, do you think workplace mentors and coaches play an important role in settling fresh graduates in their first job? How was your experience? 

I am all for mentorship and if you are lucky to find one, hold on. The trouble with mentors is that they are hard to come by and even if you do find one you would have to pursue them and keep the relationship going as it takes energy and time of both mentor and mentee and it's easy to let go. No, I didn’t find a mentor, but I did work with amazing people. Bosses, colleagues, friends at a workplace, even subordinates. Everyone can teach you something if you are a lifelong learner like I am. And while I learned a good deal from my best bosses I learned the most valuable lessons from my bad bosses. They are the ones who push you the most and you may hate them at the time but they are the ones who really bring out the best in you.

Often the Fresh HR Graduates tell me that they want a job in the core-HR as they don’t want to work as a recruiter or in recruitments. What do you think to be the reason to dislike recruitments?

See core HR is where all the cerebral stuff happens, strategizing, planning, policy-making and all the bells and whistles you read in your MBA. But let’s be real, even if you do join the central HR team, would you be really doing that? You would spend the initial years implementing the HR strategy set up by your VP HR. Running reports, collecting data and listening to employee issues. It’s only once you have spent a couple of years as a foot soldier that you would be getting a seat at the table. And then again you may not get a voice. As for the dislike of fresh HR graduates to join recruitments is that it sounds like a lot of hard work, plus you have hiring targets and you basically have to answer to your boss as well as the business. But those who have cracked the code will tell you that it’s the best way to learn and build relationships. Here is your chance to work closely with business, observe how they function, help them solve their hiring problems, and actually contribute where it counts, in building manpower for the company. And soon you would have moved from hiring in volumes to hiring for business-critical roles and really come a full circle.

A wrong hire is more expensive than a delayed hire

What motivated you to become a Headhunter? What do you like the most about recruitments and what do you find most challenging?

I am a people’s person. That’s what I enjoy most. And what better place than recruitment, where you can just pick up the phone and talk to a candidate and share a job opportunity. Even the most passive candidates would at least want to hear what the role is and once you have a foot in the door, from there on it’s your ability to engage and drive the agenda forward. Ask any recruiter and he will tell you the high he gets from closing a position. I have felt the same joy whether it was closing a front office role or a Business Head. Plus, a large part of my experience is into temporary hiring and sometimes you may be hiring the only bread earner of the family and the satisfaction you get from seeing some of those candidates employed is beyond words. Though, that’s just me. I know recruiters who thrive on big ticket size positions and that is fine too as long as you are finding the right talent and more importantly, the right company fit because a wrong hire is more expensive than a delayed hire.

As for the challenging part, nothing really, except that I just hate it when candidates go back on their commitment and drop out. I understand that exclusivity is dead now and while you must explore maximum opportunities when you are in the job market but it’s only decent that you take a rain check when something more to your liking works out. But collecting multiple offers and then choosing only on the basis of zeroes is not something I can wrap my head around.

According to you, what are the FIVE critical traits of a successful Recruiter/Headhunter?

  1. Persistence
  2. Eye for detail
  3. Ability to multi-task
  4. Great sales person and sales should be based on facts. So, sharpening the axe is critical here. Spend 80% time understanding the role, getting to know the client, the business, and screening. Actual closure is much simple if you have done your homework.
  5. Thirst for knowledge.

Spelling mistakes in resumes are not acceptable.

As the saying goes, “You have 8.8 seconds to impress with your CV”. You might have seen over tens of thousands of resumes in your career. What are the things a recruiter sees in a resume in those 8.8 seconds and decides to accept or reject it? Please elaborate.

Blame it on my editing class in Journalism but spelling mistakes are not acceptable. You have to spend time on it. Make a rough draft and keep improvising until you are satisfied. Check for the current trends. Stick to 2 pages, though I know it’s tough for IT guys ;)

I, of course, do a mapping with the role I am hiring for. I also look for job changes. Most clients I have hired for have also preferred stability. Moreover, a resume should be crisp and concise. Highlight achievements, key skills and also interests. You should be able to talk about everything that’s in your CV during an interview hence never brag or lie, including hobbies.

Hiring is not just a candidate joining an organization, it is almost a marriage of values hence conflicting value systems will end in a bitter separation.

In HR, it is said that – “Hiring” and “Separation” – are the TWO most difficult tasks. In general, what do you think are the FIVE most crucial factors that determine a successful candidate? Please elaborate.

I am big on right company fit. For me it's not just a candidate joining an organization, it’s almost a marriage of values hence conflicting value systems will end in a bitter separation.

Run a test if you have to but don’t compromise on fit.

1.      Initiative. Check for instances of initiative shown during his previous stints.

2.      Business Insight. He should be well versed on not just line of work but all the market forces impacting it.

3.      Result oriented. Hard work is all good but efforts and intentions won`t get the cash registers ringing, hence a constant focus on results is important. That includes taking tough decisions.

4.      Look for someone who is not there to be popular but get the job done.

5.      Last but not the least, team player. We no longer work in silos and ability to work and get work done through others is becoming critical now. You would need someone who inspires and influences and walks the talk.

Please share your most fascinating experience with a job applicant.

There are too many to recount but let’s just say I have too many candidates discussing salary on the first call and that’s a big NO, NO; if money is your only driver then good luck to you.

I had this very interesting candidate who was the epitome of patience and while it took months to close the position he was quite accommodating. And despite being at a senior level, he never threw tantrums.

What are the primary challenges of sharing interview feedback with candidates?

The sheer volume and limited time at hand - Though one of my previous organizations had automated the process. The recruiter just had to update the software and the candidate would get an email informing the status. Though not entirely personal at least it got the job done.

Please share your experience of working with the most demanding Hiring Manager/Client. What were the challenges?

Won’t name any names but I did work with a tough client in my last role. But he was fair. He was involved and also spent time discussing the role and gave elaborate feedback. But he did follow up on his position status every day and gave stringent timelines to deliver. And he would not take no for an answer. He was really demanding in terms of quality and turnaround time. But I did close some important positions with him and we have stayed in touch despite my sabbatical.

Do you find any change in the recruitment process since you first started? What is the latest recruitment trend you have adopted?

Time is money now. We don’t have the luxury to spend days in sourcing and scouting the best talent. Competition makes you leap a few steps. Internal HR teams are bigger than before. The talent pool is shrinking. Outsourcing is on the rise. Amidst all these changes if you want to keep growing you need to up skill yourself. Become an expert in your industry and domain.

As for me, I have become interested in gender diversity hiring. I think it will be a real game changer.

AI could probably help us not just verify the past performance but also determine the future outcome based on the provided data points.

HR is at the crossroads, yet again. According to you, what will be the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots, etc. on the future of HR Function? Please also highlight how social media has changed the world of HR practitioners? 

In the immediate future, the impact of AI would at best be on streamlining the screening, shortlisting, background verification process wherein we could have an algorithm set to finalize the right set. AI could probably help us not just verify the past performance but also determine the future outcome based on the provided data points. The KPIs have changed and we could perhaps have a more accurate scoring for the candidate. It could also link up with the social media and industry experts to get the right person for the job.

Social media has helped mainly in targeting the passive lot but also gives you an insight into the candidate overall. Now you have much more data to review before taking a call on candidate fitment and it can get too much at a time. As long as you know how to sieve through the right information, you should do fine; else it is quite distracting and time-consuming.

Do not get into HR thinking it is easy. Once you are into it, keep learning. Be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can at the workplace.

Lastly, what is your message for fresh HR Graduates? How should they prepare themselves for a career in HR?

First and foremost, don’t get into HR thinking it’s easy. Meet a career counsellor before embarking on any career for that matter. But once you are into it, keep learning. Be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can at the workplace. Don’t focus on money in the early stages. Work for organizations that value their people. And read HBR and other HR publications. Also, be ready with an elevator pitch at all times. Rest whether its business HR or recruitments, it’s your ability to deliver and work harder than all others which will set you apart from the rest.

Thank you very much, yet again, for sharing wonderful insight. We appreciate it.

*This interview was originally published on www.sanjeevhimachali.org. [Date: 9th November 2018]

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