Social Media has refined Talent Acquisition

Manoj holds over 16 Years of experience in the Analytics & Technology Industry concentrating on core areas of Human Resources across the APAC & EMEA region. He is a result-oriented and passionate leader, associated with start-ups to fully matured organizations.

Currently heads the Human resources Function at Goodera. His previous stints are with Capillary Technologies as Associate Director – Talent, Managing the Global Talent Acquisition, and HR Business Partnering function for APAC region, dunnhumby as Talent Acquisition Director APAC and Stryde Consulting which was his entrepreneurial venture.

Manoj holds an MBA (Specialized in Human Resources and Organization Development) from Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam University,PGCHRM from IIM Calcutta, and PGPPE from IIPM Delhi.

Thank you, Manoj, 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 opening gambit into the HR world reminds me of the euphoria of being selected for an interview through the placement process at my campus. Being an aspiring HR professional, I did a thorough preparation in researching about the company, its growth, people, values, and culture. Finally, the D-day arrived, and I was all set to face the interview. Appropriately dressed, I walked down to the interview area and I found 70 other aspirants waiting to be interviewed. The interview process started in the morning with a series of group discussions, Fortunately, I paved my way through all the group discussions and made it to the in-person interview, along with 21 others, which resumed post lunch  As the interviews progressed, the inquisitiveness grew among us to know what questions were being asked. By the time my turn came, I was the last one to be interviewed by the COO which made me even more anxious. HR is a broad arena with multiple streams, I was perplexed about the questions that I might encounter. I was expecting that the questions would be more around different HR policies, practices, organizational dynamics, Culture, etc. but to my surprise, I was bombarded with questions around behavioral skills, values, and attitude. It was a nostalgic experience as I secured my first Job.

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 of your employer and your role? Were they all fulfilled? What did not coincide with your expectations? 

Being hired as a management trainee, for the president’s leadership club, I expected to get an aristocratic treatment, but to my bewilderment, I was just given a phone and a hot desk. I had to go through the grind and do mundane tasks.I felt that it was not adding any value to me, but soon I learned that every activity that I endeavored helped me to accomplish my job better. One of the most interesting tasks that I was given, was to find out the names and contact details of the Marketing Managers of various hotels, As I worked through the exercise, I understood the process of headhunting and that particular exercise helped me to become a successful head-hunter. As I started to perform, I gradually started getting support from my senior colleagues and managers which made things easier for me and made me more comfortable.

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

Of course, mentors do play a very important role in shaping the career of an individual, Graduates are like uncut diamonds, the more you polish them the more they shine. Mentors can help graduates navigate within the organization and help them to solve problems enabling them to advance in their careers. Thankfully, I had some great mentors at various stages of my career who were extremely tough on me but that made me stronger and a better professional. I am still in touch with my mentors and they will continue to be my mentors for Life.

Why did you choose HR as a profession? What was the motive and what was the motivation?

HR happened to me by chance, my motive was to do a job where I can interact with people and impact their lives. But once I started understanding the role that HR plays in building an organization then my decision to take-up HR as a career made sense and has helped me be successful across the various roles that I have been involved in.

COVID-19 has changed workplace dynamics in many ways. What has been your learnings during this phase? What permanent changes do you foresee at the workplace post-COVID-19?

There is no doubt that the workplace will no longer be the same moving forward. We have been living in turbulent times and it has been a great change both from an employee and employer’s perspective. For an employee, it has been about adapting to the change of remote working especially in terms of communicating and collaborating among teams and also ensuring that the work life balance between home and office is maintained as most of us end up overworking when working from home.

For organizations, we are seeing that companies who never encouraged a culture of working from home have started seeing more value in encouraging a work-from-home culture. Organizations like Twitter have already considered moving to a remote model while Goodera, Google, Facebook and many others have asked employees to continue working from home for the rest of the year.

Organizations need to start thinking about newer ways to encourage collaboration andkeep employees engaged and motivated while ensuring that their learning needs are also met.

Organizational Culture is a key differentiator between successful and not so successful organizations? What determines the organizational culture? What is the role of HR in creating organizational culture?

Organizational culture is a set of implicit and explicit values and behaviors that the organization lives and breathes.

Culture is owned by the CEO and leadership team and HR drives the culture.

There must be a partnership between the business and HR to foster the organizational culture and HR can drive and measure it.

HR has a pivotal role in developing the organization culture right from attracting to onboarding the right talent and creating a culture of performance by being a role model for organizations' beliefs and core values and also reward and compensate the employees who live and breathe these organizational values.

Please share an experience when your values and beliefs impacted your relationships with your colleagues.

As a HR leader, I always believed that I need to live by my organizational values and beliefs. Though at times there is difference of opinion among colleagues, I have ensured that I have communicated the reasons for my decision to ensure that they understand that the final decision is in the best interest of the organization. I have always believed that an open communication strategy will not impact my relationships with my colleagues.

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.

On average, a recruiter spends less than 30 seconds to review a CV. The key things that a recruiter looks for in the CV is a fitment for the role, steady employment along with progression in employment. Job-specific skills and competencies and educational qualifications. So,it is imperative to use action verbs in your profiles that highlight your achievements, skills, or work done.

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

In my view, giving interview feedback goes a long way in terms of building credibility and being an employer of choice. The candidates will be your marketer if the feedback is given in the right way. It is imperative to be tactful, and at the same time acknowledge the candidate’s strengths and offer meaningful feedback.

How social media has changed the landscape of Talent Acquisition?

Gone are the days of traditional recruitment, most of the talent that we recruit is on social media. On average each person spends more than an hour on various social media platforms. So, most of the organizations are doing Social Recruiting which means they are hiring using different social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, GitHub, Glassdoor, etc. Recruiters are proactively reaching out to potential candidates and personalizing the recruiting experience. The icing on the cake here is that it is much more cost-effective. Having said that, I know of recruiters who screen the social media pages of the prospective candidates to get to know their interests and thought processes. There have been instances of organizations rejecting candidates based on what people write on social media, so candidates must be careful here. Apart from these cons, Social Recruiting works well for employers to showcase their culture and employees to get to know the organization better.   

What do you think about Talent Shortage? What are a few practical tips you want to give to CEO’s and Hiring Managers to manage the challenge of Talent Shortage?

As a Talent Leader, I have come across situations where the Hiring Managers expect us to find so-called Ninja’s or Purple squirrels which is hard to find. So, it is always recommended to build teams with people who have the required skills, have the Value fitment, and are committed to learning and growing in the organization. Youmust develop a strong talent management and career development program and grow them into Ninjas and ensure that you reward them appropriately with great benefits package so that they can attract more such Ninja’s.

Please share an experience when you acted under pressure from your management or reporting manager even though you knew it was wrong and shouldn’t have been done? 

There was an instance when I was interviewing a prospective candidate for one of the niche roles and had to reject the candidate due to behavioral fitment issues. But the hiring manager had felt otherwise and ensured that the management approved to hire. Being the talent custodian, I tried to convince the manager not to go ahead, but then he went against my recommendation and hired the candidate. He soon realized his mistake and had to let the candidate go in 3 months due to the very same behavioral. It was a lesson learned for the hiring manager but at the same time, I earned the hiring manager's trust which went a long way.

How do you motivate your team?

I give my team enough freedom to perform their job and trust them to deliver results and in case they fail they know that am there to support them. Every team member is different, and they have different motivators and I create opportunities for them to grow.

Please share an experience when a person's cultural background affected your approach to a work situation?

I have been fortunate enough to work in different regions of Asia and I have found that it is not that easy to gain an understanding of cultural differences. In these situations, the approach that worked best for me was to acknowledge that every person is different, and they have different opinions and ways of life. This has helped me to embrace cultural differences.

If you need to draw a landscape of the future workplace, how will it look like? What disruptions do you foresee in HR over the next FIVE years?

The Disruption will be Multi-fold -

  • The Talent Acquisition and onboarding of Talent will not be the same. Companies will be looking to hire people with specific skills and will invest in reskilling existing talent.
  • Organizations will start investing heavily in remote working tools and training employees and managers with remote- working best practices.
  • Organizations will start focusing on employee engagement and employee wellbeing even more than before.
  • Overall, the entire Learning Scenario will be transformed.

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

My dear young friendsread a lot of HR journals, listen to great leaders, and upskill yourself on various learning platforms that are readily available. These are difficult times, grab every opportunity that you get to learn, ask questions on ‘why’ when you are making decisions. Be Humble, Agile & Digitally Authentic, and of course do not forget the human element.

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

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