Continuing on our saga to hire good candidates – here is what we are looking for. I believe this applies both for our internal hiring at both Pragna and SmartCloud companies as well as the hiring projects we undertake for our clients. Essentially there is a lot of difference between high potential hires/candidates and just another hire/candidate. Though its not always possible to hire the “high potential” ones, one can atleast try to evaluate if we have found one! There sure is a very short supply of the high potential hires which is probably the only reason why Pragna even exists.
Lets see what defines a high potential candidate (Hire)
1. Ambition – I would rate this higher than the others just from the fact that we are talking about a “high potential” hire and not just another hire. Ambition drives people to scale heights beyond their means and wild dreams. Makes the impossible possible. This is #1 for high potential hires. So, sometimes I get excited when I meet people with ambitions and sometimes have been guilty of overlooking other things :-(.
2. Ability – One could argue this should be #1 (maybe true for regular hires). This is to validate some of the qualities/capabilities that one needs in oneself to achieve the ambitions. Some of these can be tested easily in the interview process and some probably is a gut call or a marginal call based on prior work history.
3. Agility – This is extremely important for high potential hires, that one demonstrates flexibility (especially in startup environments) and also tendency to take a step back to review/analyze, identify root causes and always to keep an open mind to change, feedback, business strategy, criticism etc. and should have openness to share thoughts and learn.
4. Achievement – If the hires/candidates have certain amount of experience, then the above must have resulted in some achievements in their careers. I would think identifying their achievements with special emphasis on the above areas would give proof points about their potential. I don’t think its right to measure this in terms of $ revenue achieved or the valuation of the company (which I have myself been guilty of in the past), but more in terms of overcoming the adversities and challenges to achieve meaningful outcomes.
Well that’s it, The four A’s to find the high potential candidates; gives me little bit more structure to the interviews I need to do at Pragna and SmartCloud.
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Candidate sourcing is starting point of the Recruiting Process. In a series of blogs I will try to capture some of the nuances that I have learnt.
In the first part, lets look at maximizing the results from job boards like Monster, Dice, Hotjobs etc. They are a great resource for finding active job seekers. But the common complaint from every client is that they have either seen the candidate profile already or they do not have the ideal skills/competence etc. Why so?
The reason is that every recruiter looks there and looks at the top few pages of results. No doubt that one should look for low hanging fruit and quickly pounce on new candidates. But good recruiting also means looking beyond the most obvious and easy to find candidates. That’s where your IMAGINATION comes in to play to hunt down the right kinds of profiles in the vast repository of millions of profiles. Here are some ways to do imaginative searches to look for such candidate profiles:
- Competence search – This is the most basic searches where you are trying to match competency/expertise requirements of the job. For example, if you are looking for C# and .Net developers with Networking experience, you will use those keywords in your search. Here again looking for alternative representation / expressions of the technologies, tools etc. will certainly help (for example look for “protocol development” or “TCP/IP” while looking for Networking since they are similar)
- Company / Competitor search – Look for companies that are similar to the company you are looking to hire for – they could be competing companies or complementary to the business. So add a bunch of company names in addition to some technical competency for example (“Intel” or “Honeywell” or “Yahoo” or “HP”) and (“.Networking” or “Protocol development” or “VOIP” or “TCP/IP”). That way you will likely located people who worked in these companies before or worked on projects for these companies
- Ethnicity and locale search – Certain pockets of people / ethnic groups or universities have made a name for themselves and become specialized. For example I have seen many Russians are extremely good at Maths. So for positions that require good analytical skills, they are a good ethnic group to look at. So your search terms can include special groups in addition to some competencies like (“Russian” or “Russia” or “Poland”) and (“.NET” and “Networking”) so you are looking for specific pockets / ethnic groups that are normally successful.
One word of advice is that when you are adding specialized keywords like university or ethnicity, then expand your search to include candidates who have updated resumes in past 6 months or 1 year as well. That way you could dig deep into great candidates who might be dormant for a while.
Next up, lets look at Social Networking.
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At Pragna, we took upon the challenge of improving the candidate hit rates for Full-time (FTE) hiring. Improving the hit rates obviously provides significant advantage to Organizations – They can spend more time with project work and employee training than interviewing loads and loads of candidates for each position.
Here is a snapshot of the process that enabled us to achieve 100% or better improvement with candidate hit rates:
- Working with hiring managers, we prepared a very detailed profile of the position
- We employed targeted headhunting through social sites to identify pool of passive candidates
- We used a team that worked round-the-clock (from Seattle & Bangalore) to cover all timezones and international candidates
2. Technical Screening – Written
- We prepared a technical screening questionnaire tailored to each position and the job level
- The written answers are throughly evaluated by competent technical people (not recruiters but sr. engineers)
- We shortlisted candidates based on written test and examination of resume (spend 20 mins on reviewing/understanding resume vs. 2 mins
3. Technical Screening – In-depth Pragna Interview
- This interview is done by senior engineers of the same job level
- We did live meeting interview to visually see the coding abilities
4. Prepare a Candidate Scorecard
- We prepared a detailed analysis report that Pragna sent to hiring managers with details from our interview
- We identified strengths & weaknesses along with detailed descriptions of the problem we worked with the candidate
- Then we submitted the candidate with all the above documentation (saved managers precious time to weed out 90% of the candidates)
- We reviewed feedback on candidates after each client interview
- Based on each candidate (succesful or not), we optimized and updated our process to improve it
This resulted in significant gains to the organization in terms of both saving their precious time as well as getting better candidates and hires for the organization.
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