Talent filtration process is based on organizational culture and team fitment.

Rupa Thakur is currently working as Sr. Delivery Manager with ITC Infotech. Rupa has over 12 years of industry experience with 9+ years of experience in all facets of recruiting IT and Non-IT professionals, leadership hiring, Client mining and comes with a background in Sales and Customer Services. During her Journey, she gained expertise in the areas of interviewing, profile reading, analysing hiring trends, skill competency mapping, people development and recruiting, and process implementation.

Rupa is a B. Com graduate from Utkal University and DISM from APTECH Education Centre. Embarking on her professional journey as Client Account Manager with Adecco India, Rupa moved to be IT Recruitment Manager with Datamatics Staffing Services Pvt Ltd. From there, she served as Sr. Account Manager with TEKsystems before joining Trueblue Pvt Ltd as Sr. Account Manager where she was deployed at Dell Technologies. She has expertise in the areas of Relationship Building, Account Development, Process Implementations, Client Assessment & Analysis, Employee Coaching, Recruiting/Staffing, Performance Management, Training Programs Development, Audit Preparation & Reporting.

Besides work, Rupa enjoys Cooking, Gardening and Reading.

Thank you, Rupa, for giving your valuable time to this interview. We look forward to your candid responses.

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

My journey includes a story from B-Town odd jobs to my first corporate formal interview with Adecco. My interview started at 11:30 AM and ended at 7:45 PM with 4 different stakeholders and with long waiting. The common question I had with two panels was can you sell this Pen, one with no filter one with three imaginary conditions. I had to convince them all why I want to move from sales to recruitment.

Normally a career in recruitment is a happenchance. I made a conscious decision to move from sales to recruitment once I had my first taste of recruitment success while hiring for Capgemini. “Recruitment is a 24/7 role”- over the years this is what I have learnt and experienced.

I call Adecco as my first job because of the learning and opportunity I gained during my stint with them. I became one of the consistent top performers across India. From an individual recruiter to Account management I grew to manage a team across major India. Learned how to grow business through account mining. Had multiple opportunities to celebrate. During one of the hiring activities, I interacted with Datamatics stakeholders and later was invited for an interview. From permanent recruitment, I moved on to executive hiring and international hiring. When I felt my skill was not scaling and neither I could see further growth I took a break and moved to contract staffing with TEKsystems.

My best experience after Adecco is with TEKsystems; the company which gave me dreams and skills. I am often approached by Clients to join their teams due to the depth of knowledge that I bring to the table. I have learnt the art of deep diving to gather intelligence about my customers and that has helped my bring value to conversations and provide solution-based recommendations. These skills were taught at TEK by Industry leaders.

As the first job holds a special memory, let’s discuss your first year at your first job. How was your experience? What were your expectations from the job and your role? Were they all fulfilled? What didn’t coincide with your expectations? 

My first year at the job was all about learning the corporate world, learning how to accommodate myself in-between people who were from Bangalore top colleges, how to have the right conversation with them to be part of their groups.

The first year is all about learning effective communication and building confidence. My expectation from my first job was 100% fulfilled. I worked under a female manager and she was the best example of making the right choices, doing everything best for business and organization and fighting for the rights of a team member.

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

Workplace mentor/coaches play a vital role in any individuals career. I am blessed when it comes to having mentors. I have seen the difference between great managers and great mentors. During my first stint, I had great managers who taught me how to get the job done and the aesthetics of working. My second innings gave me great mentors.

A Mentor teaches skill and gives direction to your career; they enable you to face any situation on your own.  A Mentor enables you to rethink the journey you have been on and takes you on a journey of Self Learning & Self-realization.  I got my first mentor during a review meeting at TEKsystems and he continues to be mentor even though I no longer work with TEK

Great mentor/coaches listen and observe you for weeks or months before they advise you.

For me personally, my mentor made me fight with my own fear and made me learn the art of self-reflection. Mentors help you identify your dreams and build your individuality.

Often the Fresh HR Graduates tell me that they would like to work in the core-HR and show less interest in the recruitment domain. What do you think could be the reason to disfavour recruitments? Why did you choose recruitment as a career?

Most of us come to recruitment accidentally. For me it was a choice to balance newly married life and on the other hand, I loved working as recruiter and it’s a desk job, that was my perception in 2007. The impact job change brings to one’s life, I learned in 2006, when I had my first success of selection for our client Capgemini in Kolkata. The talents who got selected were so thankful because of the prep they went through with our firm. I cherished every moment of my first success in recruitment.

Anyone who makes a choice of Core HR job might not have understood the job of recruiter, it’s a pure Sales job, which demands one to understand the demand and process the supply accordingly. I have always compared marriage and recruitment as the same game, if the compatibility and understanding are good, marriage will be successful. In case, understanding goes wrong, it leads to divorce, adjustment, and self-flagellation.

From profile sourcing to the issuance of the final offer letter, organizations put candidates through multiple filtration processes. What is your take on using “relevant industry experience” and “excellent academic record (first-class and above)” as filtration tools?

I respect the filtration of any organization as they are built based on the company culture and team fitment. I have experienced that for right talent the company do tweak their policy, however, it’s good to go through multiple filtrations both for organization and employee, as this helps them to decide whether they can accommodate each other or not.

Relevant industry or core field experience is required for plug & play kind of role fulfilment and it is also required for an individual to be confident to do his/her best in a new role.

With respect to excellent academic records, if the organization has a filtration to hire from tier 1/2 colleges or even to hire only masters/cut off is their choice and maybe the organisation has seen success from same pool of talent.

I remember I was hiring for a product company to build one of their key features. The team and hiring manager had decided only to hire candidates who would clear the online test with 60% and above. We came across one talent who was aware of the criteria but had scored 42%, on the test. He was very keen to join that specific role as one his friends had made it to the final shortlist.

We also pushed the manager to make a decision post the interview; he obliged us and the candidate was selected. We were unaware of the rigorous prep he was doing with a friend. However, post 2 months the employee resigned as he was not able to fit into the team and take the work pressure.

I understand it can be an exception; however, I strongly believe that if an organisation has a process in place after all learning it has gone over decades, we should learn to follow and enhance further for industry best practice.

What aspects of recruitment do you find most challenging?  What is the role of education (being an MBA) in becoming a successful recruiter or a headhunter?

In recruitment the most difficult part is to understand the demand. Unless you understand the demand, keywords search can give us success sporadically and that too with multiple trials. I still hear of a few of the recruitment firms who submit 60+ profiles for a single position.  Because we are in a rat race, we favour speed and quantity rather than quality.

Once you invest time to understand the need of the customer, you are able to process and present a small set of relevant profiles, thereby reducing the customers time on fruitless interviews.

WRT MBA – I believe an MBA does make a talent corporate ready and gives lot of theoretical insights about HR policy and law. However, it doesn’t have any content which can enable one to build recruitment skill. While a management degree helps you in building a corporate thought process, it does not enable you to build the content within to be a successful recruitment professional.

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

  1. Effective communication
  2. Skill to understand demand
  3. Skill to read a profile and then recheck by asking relevant question to validate
  4. Transparent and honest- Transparent about the opportunity to talent and about the profile to client/respective stakeholders
  5. Habit of timely updates, not waiting for last minute or anyone to ask for it.

As the saying goes,” You have 8.8 seconds to impress with your CV”. You might have come across tens of thousands of resumes in your career. What, in your view, does a recruiter evaluate in a resume in those 8.8 seconds and decides to accept or reject it? Please elaborate.

Effective recruiters will look for the following:

  • Skill – does this match with the active demand
  • Experience – the talent should have required experience
  • Work History – does the talent work history is aligned with active demand, Gaps, pattern in job change
  • Project - to understand the kind of responsibilities he/she has played

 The initial few seconds, we decide whether to make call to available talent or not, post call based on the conversation with talent on his/her aspiration for a new opportunity, do they understand what client is looking for and how far they are willing to do similar role.

Final lockdown depends on mapping the talent with active demand on the aspect of the skill, fitment to role, compensation benefits, availability for interview and start, if things goes positive.

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

The primary challenge is that recruiters don’t share any inputs to candidate, there can be multiple reasons but most common is that they don’t have feedback from client or from their respective manager.

I have also noticed that recruiters have all the details but don’t share it with candidate so as not to hurt them.

What do you do if a candidate unexpectedly rejects your job offer?

We call it as surprises from candidate, during my stint when I was involved in contract staffing have faced 30-35% surprises.

Personally, I look forward to understanding the situation and what were their decision-making criteria to make specific choice. In certain cases, I was able to connect with respective talent post 3-4 months because they just don’t answer calls.

I do not believe in burning bridges with people with arguments and fights. The recruitment industry is still small. You never know when or where you could encounter people. A candidate today could be a potential customer tomorrow

I have seen benefits when I respect their decision, they have extended help in backfill hiring or have given valuable inputs

“Candidates not reaching the interview venue” (making numerous stories) and “Candidate not showing up on the day of joining” are two most painful experiences for a recruitment team. What is your take on this? How do recruiters differentiate between a “real reason” and “a fake story”?

The most painful conversation with any recruiter can be about no-show, whether it’s for interview or start. This impacts some recruiters in a way that they lose complete day with a single no-show experience.

Being recruiters, we also get the knack of identifying what reasons are genuine and what are not.  If recruiters know the background of talent, then it’s easy for them to say whether it was a fake or genuine reason. Then comes the timing of reason also.

The most interesting case I remember, and my team laughed on it throughout the day was that the candidate was bitten by a Scorpion.  Here comes another one - my parents are scared for me to go out because of the news break of bomb in Whitefield, life is bigger or job?

Because of a few humans who just got with the wrong situation, recruiters have difficulty to trust active talent pool.  Sometimes I have told my team that we are police and our job is to question and get answers for our client and candidate.

What are your thoughts about Talent Shortage? What are a few practical tips you want to give to CEOs and Hiring Managers to manage the challenge of Talent Shortage?

I don’t agree that we have a talent shortage, I will call it out as a shortage of Plug & Play talent. Message to CEO & HM will be that if they treat their staff/team member with the interest of employee and organisation goals, they will be building and retaining talent. When an employee gets to learn and build skills under their leaders’ supervision, they try to bring their buddies to the same team.

On another note, if CEO & HM build their existing team in a way that they are enabled to treat the new hire as their buddy and make them competent to do the job,  they will have the opportunity to move to a new more challenging and upskilling role.

Exploring new talent from the market the HM/CEO should have a clue about where they can hire or from where they have experienced success. Every organization has another company in market with whom they can marry with or we call it as a company to marry.

Please share your WOW recruitment experience.

The WOW moment in recruitment is always when we close high escalation positions for our client. For me, the other WOW moment with us was when every hire contributed to the promotion of my team and added incentives for them.

I will share an example about an experience during hiring for product company where one of the HM wanted to hire 16 developers and had been interviewing talent from all business partner. When we requested for additional information for hiring 16 people and what skill they were looking for, the HR team told they are getting enough profile so they can’t spend time of business to explain the need. I told will do our best, but it would be difficult to share the right fitment till we understand the need. We chose not to support the hiring for the position.

However, six months later, I got to know they could only identify one talent and that also didn’t join them. On my request, we met HM and looked at the profile of identified talent. After understanding the need, we shared our plan with HM and ensured that their time invested is productive. It took two weeks to get the first success, but the client was happy because they didn’t have to meet 100 to find one.

We were able to close 9 position and client could identify an additional 3 from other competition following the same strategy. The other 4 positions were put on hold.

Our WOW moment got more stars the day client sent us an appreciation mail.

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? 

AI is enabler for recruitment industry; AI will help recruiter in the following areas

  1. Profile screening will be automated, instead recruiter engaging themselves for hours to screen profile they will have technically screened profile to continue the hiring process
  2. AI will be a non-biased tool to identify talent for required skill from market
  3. AI will allow recruiter to become more proactive in their hiring because of the enormous data it will have based on hiring history and it will help recruiters to build their relationship with hiring manager based on the market intelligence
  4. AI will enable us to identify any fraudulence in online interviews

AI is can work as best friend/guide for recruiters to save time and do qualitative work.

Thank You.

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