Monday, April 20, 2009

On alternate careers - An interview with eminent photographer G. Venket Ram

My interview with advertising photographer G. Venket Ram has just been published in the career advice section on Really inspiring.

Go here to read it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Using technology to improve referrals

In the previous post, I promised to show how technology can make the referral process even more effective. So here goes. Instead of the usual wordy blog post, I have decided to use some diagrams, for a change.

First, let's look at the standard referral process.

In addition, using his network, the active candidate can identify and enlist the help of the right referrer from within the potential employer's organization.

And finally, when a candidate applies directly, the company can use the network of its employees to find the employee closest to the candidate and enlist that employee's support in sussing out the candidate before making the offer or even taking the recruitment process forward.

As you can see, technology can be used to dramatically improve the performance of referral based recruiting by making the already active participants, that is the company and the candidate, push the passive actor perform his role as the referrer.


What is needed of a referral based job site.

In the previous post, we saw why many of the referral based job sites have not succeeded. In this post, let us see what a good referral based site needs to provide in order to be effective.

  1. The ability for the company to inform its employees about job openings within the company
  2. A facility for the employees to forward the job opening to their friends
  3. Support for the candidates to apply for the job opening through a selected employee(referrer)
  4. The ability for the company to track which employee has referred which candidate, so that referral bonuses can be properly disbursed.
  5. The ability for the company to collect, aggregate and easily filter through all the candidate so as to be able to identify the right candidates.
  6. All other facilities of a job site, including the ability for companies to search for candidates, and for candidate, to be able to apply for a job directly.
Nice to have:
  1. A facility by which all members (of the site) can bring their network on line so as to enable themselves and their friends to find the right referrers.
  2. A site that is not just a job site (where people register only to look for a job) but is a comprehensive career related networking site that ensures that companies are also ready to have their employees registered (as their presence on the site helps in the referral process).
  3. An ability to find referrals through the network of friends' friends.
Rather straight forward and simple, don't you think? Well, this is all that is required to technology-enable the existing manual referral process. But with technology on our side, it would be very sad to if we were to just limit ourselves to duplicating a manual procedure.

In the next post, we shall look at how technology can be used to make the traditional referral process work even better.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why referral based job sites are failing

In the last post we saw how and why referral works. We realized that in order for referrals to work:
1. An employee of the company has to be involved.
2. A disincentive for recommending incompatible, unqualified people must be in place.
3. A monetary incentive is not mandatory but can help in making more people participate actively.

Let's now evaluate the current online referral based job sites on the above three criteria.

1. Do they mandate employee involvement?
Most sites do not. They give everyone an option to apply for a job or forward the job to a friend.

2. Are there disincentives for recommending a non-qualified candidate?
Typically not. Since the referrer is not part of the company, his reputation is not adversely affected if the referred candidate is sub par. This also means that there is no incentive for the referrer to do any pre-qualification of the candidate.

3. Is there a monetary incentive?

That's one out of three, at best! No wonder most online referral sites don't work!

Lesson learnt: An additional "refer a friend" button does not maketh a referral jobsite.

Next post, we'll look at what is required to make a good referral site.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How and why do referrals work?

In my previous post, I asked why online referral based job sites are failing. In this post, let's go back to the basics and try and understand why referrals work.

Referrals work when a person (say, your employee) brings two parties she knows reasonably well, namely your company and a potential candidate, together because she believes that the two of you are compatible.

The operative phrase here is "she knows reasonably well". This knowledge of both the parties is what allows her to decide who to refer. Typically, before referring a candidate, she answers the following few questions to herself:
  • Will referring him adversely affect my reputation within my organization?
  • Is this guy good enough?
  • Are his credentials genuine?
  • Will he be thankful of getting this opportunity in the long run, or will he curse me? and
  • Are there roles for him here that match his talent and capabilities?
If you notice, questions 1 and 4 are not so much about the company or the candidate and more about the repercussions of making this referral on her own career/friendship. Obviously then, the decision to refer is well thought through and hence the chances of compatibility between the two parties is very high.

It's how most arranged marriages happen in India (or anywhere else in the world where arranged marriages are prevalent). A relative of the bride/groom knows somebody very well who knows somebody who knows the family of a potential groom/bride. The credibility and strength of each of the connection help in bringing two families together. At every stage, the people doing the connecting know that they will face a lot of flak if the marriage does not work. And if the marriage works, the result is the reward!

In the case of employee referrals, over and above the result being the reward, is the monetary incentive promised by the company. However, if you really analyze this, the incentive that the company promises is not so much a reward for success as a mechanism to make their employees think of and evaluate each of their close friends (and their friends' friends) as potential candidates. The real reward continues to be the good feeling of helping two parties.

A disproportionately large reward would backfire because your employees may throw caution to the winds and start referring even strangers in the hope of hitting the jackpot. Similarly, if there are no disincentives to making bad referrals, the referral success ratio would seriously plummet.

Ah-a! Now we are getting a hint of why some online referral based sites have not worked very well. Let's explore this further in the next post.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yellojobs going down?

A few months ago, a IT specific employment referral site closed down because their model was not working. Earlier this week, we heard from that may be shutting down.

Yesterday, I was talking to the head of HR of a large multinational and he tells me over 40% of their new employees are recruited through internal referrals. Last month, I talked to a HR manager of one of the top 3 IT companies in India and I believe over 35% of their new employees come through various referral schemes!

We all know that new employees that come through referral schemes fit in, work well, and stay longer with the organization.

So if referrals are a HR's best friend, why are referral based job sites faring so badly?

Watch this space...

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Mallika Sarabhai - Gandhinagar Constituency

Mallika Sarabhai, the daughter of eminent scientist Vikram Sarabhai and reputed dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai is standing for MP from Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

Did you know she has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) and a PhD in Organisational Behaviour?

See the complete profile of Mallika Sarabhai here.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Know Your Politician

Manmohan Singh, current prime minister of India.Image via Wikipedia

As a contribution from our side to the Jaago Re! campaign, we have collected details of some of our eminent Indian politicians so that you can Know Your Politician. We have just added a few to start with and will be adding more in the days to come. If your favourite politician's resume is missing, leave a comment and we will add it as soon as possible!

Don't forget to go and vote!

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