Ask any Indian HR professional and they will tell you that when it comes to acquiring talent their biggest burden is to sift through applications. Add to that what a 2014 newspaper report stated – that of the 12 million people entering the labour market every year in India, nearly 75% are not job-ready. This problem is amplified when mass hiring for lower level roles in sales, logistics, operations, data entry etc.
It is not uncommon for some recruiters to reject 90% of the applicants for a job without even the need to forward their CVs to the next round. Basic qualifications and relevant work experience are missing, which are crucial for discharging the duties for the role applied for.
This problem is especially widespread in a large and technologically immature work force like in India. Job seekers are struggling to catch the attention of employers and end up applying to many more jobs than they are suited for. At the other end recruiters are inundated with candidates they cannot push to subsequent stages and neither can they pipeline so many for the future.
So why is it so difficult for recruiters and job seekers in India?
There are a multiplicity of factors that have created this situation. Some are specific to the Indian landscape, and some are the challenges of every developing country. But largely they are problems of disorganised or insufficient data.
Resumes are not rich enough
The ability to present relevant information on a resume is not widespread among the Indian workforce. Typically they use a Biodata, which are statements of personal information like one’s address, parents’ names, marital status etc. These are remnants of older days that, unfortunately, don’t provide the right data that the recruiter is looking for.
Portals are limited and not used appropriately
The vast benefits of technology that can make big data consumable are not yet serving most job seekers. Instead, what exists are just databases of resumes and job openings with little value added to make them match each other. As a result, most portals are just dumping grounds of biodatas and not much more.
The challenge of remoteness
India is almost unimaginably vast, and permeation is made even more difficult due to large differences in language, culture, and access to the internet. It is primarily the metropolitan audience who have technology at their service, although it is the hard-to-reach who could benefit from technology the most. Internet has made huge inroads everywhere in the country, but the patterns of consumption don’t typically include job search.
Job alerts are often irrelevant
The lack of organised data, and the missing critical oversight, mean that job alerts often become very tangential to the job seekers need. Moreover, there are no layers of information added to the job seeker profile that refines the alerts based on preferences.
The Black Hole
This is every job seeker’s nightmare, the black hole where their numerous job applications go and are never heard of again. Dealing with such large numbers of job seeker applications means the recruiter is filtering them out at a massive rate. The candidate almost never gets to hear what happened to their application and why it was rejected. This feeling of despair also worsens the very condition that caused it, namely it becomes a game of volume for the despondent. When job seekers anticipate not hearing back from places they’ve applied to, they start indiscriminately submitting applications everywhere, hoping 1 out of 10 will respond.
At the same time, sitting at the other end of the application pile, is the employer who is suffering from the inefficiencies of this process.
Less information to process
Recruiters are not finding what they need to know about the candidate. Raw data doesn’t inform them, so it forces a slashing mentality that eliminates up to 90% of applications just because they are inadequate. This largely insufficient job seeker profile is not rich and hence too large a number of them become unusable.
Related to the previous point is the clutter these large volumes create for recruiters. And a process prone to cluttering creates jamming. This will create sub-standard decision-making despite having talented people on both ends.
This is what the recruiter is really after – good candidates. And what is a good candidate for the recruiter? Someone who is fit for the role based on his/her qualifications and experience, and also someone who is interested and intends to do this job and will not drop out soon. Finding this fit and intent should be what every HR tool and technology is geared towards.
What Is The Solution?
Cleaning up this process and making it future-ready means job portals have to wear the hat of being an analytics company at heart. Collecting resumes is the old way of job portal 1.0. We can no longer get by with data dumps, and what the Indian job market needs is job matching. We need to see the sunrise of Job Portal 2.0 – driven by data, sorting and understand behaviour patterns, presenting usable insights for the recruiter and response for the job seeker.
Pre-screening using technology
- Customised questions – Adding a customised layer of application filtration based on knock-out or must-have questions allows recruiters to control who can apply to the job posting. For instance, for the role of delivery agents a very important set of questions will be whether the applicant holds a valid driving license and whether they possess their own vehicle. Something like this will not be captured on a CV and neither does the applicant always self-assess before applying. So, by putting these criteria in the form of a quick questionnaire before allowing the candidate to submit will cut through the excesses in one massive swoop, and clear the dreaded black hole.
- Behavioural indications of preferences – Companies don’t have access to data for candidates outside their system and are, hence, unable to make fact-based judgements when looking to hire. An enhanced portal that has this collective data, and empowers the employer with it becomes similar to a credit bureau. It can effectively promote candidates who have behavioural traits the employer is looking for, thereby making an unbeatable matching engine.
- Skill assessment – Resumes come in all shapes and sizes and not all of them are utilitarian. A portal that is able to gather candidates’ data on a common framework and is then able to rate them on a point-based scale takes the guesswork out of finding the best candidates. If your job needs basic understanding of sales but deep knowledge of telecom, then don’t go by what they have written, and instead find someone who rates 2 out of 5 on the first and 4 out of 5 on the second.
- Instantaneous shortlisting – When all the data is cooked and ready, you can start shortlisting from even before the application is shortlisted. As mentioned above, custom questions and skill assessment will stop unfit candidates from applying for a job they are not going to get, and even those whose behavioural data indicates that for some reason they will not be a good candidate to interview. The recruiter gets auto-vetted candidates.
Quick review formats
- Infographic resume – The resume itself needs a revamp, and candidate information needs to come on to a common framework. Many companies are doing this currently by asking candidates to fill out forms on their own website. But the effort of filling out forms for each job application can be reduced when the portal itself keeps it manageable. The world is also going visual, so an infographic-style format resume gives much more value than a paragraph-style one.
- Graphical ATS – Taking it further, creating a graphical Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will allow for managing large volumes. A visual tracking interface allows for better management of application flow from start to finish. Think of it like the funnel we have so often heard about and seen for measuring website metrics. A funnel could typically start with the total number of applicants, then show you how many have been filtered out at the preliminary stage, then how many you have chosen to interview, how many you have made an offer to, and finally how many joined. Levels of complexity can be inserted into this basic flow that allows more granular tracking.
Technology has to make our lives easier, not harder. So, job portal 2.0 has to cook the data for the recruiter and give them actionable and customised readings for every 1 candidate, not macro level data overall for 100 candidates. It has to take the user to where they need to go, and not just vaguely point out the direction. This is where data can truly start making a difference to how we make decisions.
So, are we heading towards better recruitment based on data? Or will everything lose against the recruiter’s intuition? The answer lies in between – data’s job is to allow the recruiter to make an informed decision. It has to filter hundreds and hundreds of resumes to find the right person for the job, and also to find the right job for each person. Right now the system lets too many hapless candidates drop out of the funnel with no hope, and that is not where Human Resources should be comfortable.
It is a given, now, that more people will be looking for jobs online, and that recruiters will have to deal will massive volumes. So, why settle for an inefficient system when all the power of technology is just a click away?
About the Author
Sumit Ray is a Digital Marketing Manager, and part of www.MeraJob.in, India’s 1st Job Matching Portal. He is deeply interested in HR Tech and Online Marketing, both of which fields are seeing lightning-fast changes as traditional is replaced by digital.
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2 thoughts on “The Unique Challenges of Mass Recruitment in India”
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