Every global corporation worth its salt expects its employees to be masters in corporate etiquette, adept in presentation and communication
First things first, let's get some facts out of the way.
I've been in the business of Recruitment for a little over a year. So I can't and won't claim to be any kind of expert or industry veteran (or any kind of 'veteran', for that matter!).
However, in my thirteen years in financial and risk consulting, I had a fair few interactions with professional recruiters, and quite a few more with the (often hapless) candidates they put forward to be interviewed. So, from a client's perspective at least, I do know what I'm talking about.
It was what seems like (and probably actually was) a generation ago that I first heard Bruce Springsteen's rock classic 'Human Touch'. Little did I imagine then, that those two words would form the basis of my future philosophy on anything, leave alone Recruitment!
But the more we gravitate towards and adopt the latest in databases, interfaces and social media, the more I feel the Recruitment industry is neglecting what really should be at its very core – people.
Databases are great, but only as long as we are their masters and not their slaves. Queries and algorithms make life so much easier. They will accurately and swiftly match 'educational qualifications', 'years of experience', 'present CTC' and 'preferred location'. But what about 'temperament', 'etiquette' and 'team ethic'? Aren't those attributes at least as important?
Moving on quickly, what about knowledge and aptitude? Two extremely important qualities, not just in the industry I operate in, but across the board. How do recruitment companies assess knowledge and aptitude in the candidates they head-hunt? Can they?
I've been on countless conference calls where Finance-related roles and requirements were being defined and discussed, and I've heard the most ridiculous questions being asked by my fellow ‘consultants’. And this has always left me wondering how recruiters lacking the most basic industry understanding could assess if a candidate was up for the job – mentally – or not.
How can I, as a recruiter, really ‘add value’ (or whatever the latest buzzword is) if I haven’t the first clue as to what my client really wants? Can I truly be a trusted business partner and an extension of my client’s team, if I don’t speak the same language that they do?
With the importance of deep domain knowledge gaining ground in every business and industry, are we in Recruitment allowing ourselves to get left behind?
And knowledge isn’t the end of it, either. All employers today are looking for talent with a balance of technical or job-related skills, and soft skills. Every global corporation worth its salt expects its employees to be masters in corporate etiquette, adept in presentation and communication, well-versed with the ABCs of good teamwork and leadership, and well-aware of the cultural intricacies of every nationality they interact with.
In our business, we’re faced with this conundrum on a daily basis – “fantastic functional knowledge, but I just can’t understand what he’s saying” are words that are heard ever-so-often. In soft skill terms, there is definitely a perceptible gap between what our clients need, and what can be found. So do we, as recruiters, just gape at that chasm, shrug our shoulders and resign ourselves to the reality that is the available talent-pool? Or is this an opportunity to really be the ‘consultants’ we think we are, and partner with our clients to find a solution.
Would it be a good idea for our clients to invest in young talent, and nurture them through various stages of holistic development? Would the ROI make it worth it? Or should we, as prime purveyors of talent, play some role in correctly identifying, analysing and up-skilling that talent?
One thing’s for sure – if we’re in the dark ourselves, it’s nigh-on impossible to shine the light for others. And what’s more, there’s no way technology can give us the answer.
When Springsteen sang “I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch”, who knows, he may well have been making an honest plea on behalf of every confused job-seeker.
And we would do well to listen. As they say, 'The Boss' is always right!
About the author: Ratan Postwalla is a Partner and co-founder at People Trust, a Consultancy providing Recruitment, Learning and HR Advisory solutions