In today’s competitive job market, the hunt for top-notch talent with diverse and niche skill sets is challenging. To attract high-impact professionals, companies are actively seeking out untapped talent pools across India. It is crucial for HR leaders to develop future-forward strategies that will allow them to access these unexplored talent marketplaces and scout high-impact professionals. To dive deeper into this topic and gain actionable insights for hiring success, we recently hosted a panel discussion in partnership with Taggd.in, which was expertly moderated by their Founding Member & CEO, Devashish Sharma.
“In the first half of 2022, we saw a mammoth hiring across all sectors, especially in IT and Tech which subdued towards the latter half of the year as a result of the geopolitical situation. But now, we see the hiring sentiment picking up tremendously which makes it the perfect time to discuss how we can prepare ourselves for the onslaught to come in the talent marketplace,” said Devashish as he opened this power-packed conversation.
Here are some key takeaways.
The current skills and hiring landscape
The industry is facing unprecedented disruption as a result of different customers, changing technologies, and increased competition, leading to the pressing challenge of a large skill gap. At this juncture, what becomes vital is the importance of nurturing talent from within by making strategic investments, as emphasised by Shefali Bairaria Suri, CHRO, Greaves Cotton Limited. This approach fundamentally involves effectively balancing the dual responsibilities of motivating employees and addressing the demands of the business.
Another insight that came up is how the skill shortage is especially seen in data sciences, AI, ML, IoT, Network Security, Cloud infrastructure, System Software, etc., as shared by Sailesh A J Menezes, Vice President & Head of Human Resources, Hewlett Packard Enterprise India. To bridge this growing demand-supply gap, it has become imperative for organisations to create a compelling and differentiated EVP that excites all employee demographics. HR leaders must leverage technology effectively to ensure a fair and equitable recruitment process, he added.
Sanjeev Kapur, VP - Global Head of Talent Acquisition, NTT Data Services agreed and asked pertinent questions such as, “How do we leverage tech with AI all around?”, “What are the specific problems of our recruitment teams across the globe?”, “How can we weed out fake candidates during assessments, how to prevent no-shows?” These doubts need answering. Sanjeev then connected these challenges to the broader concern about the character and culture we live in, particularly the lack of commitment observed in external resources.
However, given the abundance of job opportunities for employees, organisations will have to adopt innovative approaches to address the talent availability gap and skillfully recruit the right professionals. And so, the panel went on to present several noteworthy solutions based on their learnings and experiences.
Design an impactful, symbiotic campus hiring strategy
HPE India increased its university intake from 24% to 30% to hire talent that is easily trainable, rightly competent, and strives to succeed. Sailesh shared how the campus strategy began with a deep understanding of which campus suited the business needs and gave maximum returns. This was followed by a strong focus on engaging young talent in a language they understood. This involved showing graduates a career path by engaging them through the power of social media, such as reels. It is a known fact that early career professionals love listening to success stories and hence campus ambassadors go a long way in establishing a powerful connection with these newer workforce generations.
Another crucial aspect is the transformation of selection processes from outdated and archaic methods to more contemporary approaches. This shift not only involves redefining employer branding but also placing a strong emphasis on enhancing the overall candidate experience.
Sailesh also highlighted the importance of establishing a symbiotic relationship with colleges and said, “Have a symbiotic relation with colleges not limited to hiring, but to develop talent.” He also suggested that organisations should evolve into training centres for young, aspiring individuals, thereby contributing to their growth and development. Devashish added to this and emphasised, “Organisations indeed can get their future talent by creating an employer brand right there in those colleges, by making the future of these graduates relevant with the right training.”
Invest in offering inclusive career options
Shefali highlighted how today’s workforce has different life priorities. “We as an organisation respect that and want people to flourish mentally and in their jobs”, she said. Having a heterogeneous workforce with different skill sets ultimately made way for an initiative called “Chalo Aage Badhe” which aimed to build managerial, technological, functional, and high-potential skills to train people for executive roles. The program has become successful because people can learn and see themselves building a career.
70% of the Greaves Electric Mobility factory workforce has also been found to comprise women, which reflects their commitment to inclusivity. “Building trust is important for HR. Each time there is a change, it calls for more efforts to build diversity”, added Shefali. One of these changes in the landscape of people and work is also evident in how organisations that offer a stable work-life balance have become more attractive, as pointed out by Devashish.
Another expectation on the rise is flexible working, which is especially true for the gig workforce. In line with this, NTT Data Services has leveraged part-time workers in an inclusive manner. For example, NTT’s Career 2.0 program is not limited to women but is open to everyone. HPE has also taken a leap forward in this direction by creating more flexibility around education and experience in their job descriptions and offering career-reboot options for those returning from a break.
Walk the talk with the values of your EVP
A powerful employee value proposition (EVP) is bound to yield phenomenal results evident in high-impact hiring. An example of this was shared by Sanjeev who highlighted how NTT Data Services’ core philosophy of ‘right-pay-for-the-right-job ’ helped ensure a healthy offer-to-joiner ratio despite industry trends reflecting the opposite.
Another EVP strategy in the US which helped solidify their brand is NTT Data Services’ sponsoring the high-powered IndyCar racing sport which is known to showcase high performance, precision, and teamwork. This branding resonated with the key values of NTT. “It helps take some experience from the pitstop, how every individual works when a car comes in for a tyre change i.e. with synchronisation and harmony. It helps build our brand”, shared Sanjeev.
Leverage your people for increased hiring success
As we shift from EVP to the wider ambit of employer branding, a company’s social media footprint is one ingredient for greater hiring returns as pointed out by Shefali. But creating an alumni network and bonding with these alumni is equally important. Sailesh said, “Alumni are your best brand ambassadors provided you treated them well, hence it is a good idea to rehire them if there is a mutual connection.”
Organisations must nurture ongoing engagement through strategies such as newsletters, events, networking programs, career development initiatives, and potential incentives, such as discounts on select products, to generate excitement among alumni. It is important, however, to recognise that the success of alumni re-hiring hinges on the prevailing organisational culture and the positive experiences individuals had during their previous tenure.
“When rehiring, try to understand the reason they left and fix any issues”, recommended Sailesh. Shefali agreed, “The exit interview may give us reasons, but HR needs to dig deeper to truly make alumni hiring a success.”
Continuous communication is another necessity, and NTT Data Services uses its alumni portal to send registration invites, offer retiral assistance, and also to communicate the latest company news. They also leveraged employee referrals, which are very popular. “We stopped incentives, yet referrals did not go down. Employee referral is not driven by a desire to earn money through incentives. People refer their friends to come and reap the benefits of the culture”, shared Sanjeev.
From a robust campus recruitment plan to embracing flexible and inclusive careers and finally investing in building your employee brand and voice, there are plenty of opportunities for organisations today to overcome the ongoing skill gap. With talent being key to continued business growth and success, it is not surprising that HR professionals and TA leaders must adopt a business mindset. “Our talent acquisition mantra is that we are all sales persons, not HR persons. If there is a role which does not require 18-24 months i.e. a temp role, I hire a temporary rather than permanent resource”, said Sanjeev. Business prudence and an ROI mindset are thus integral to expanding the talent pools and are a cornerstone of successful high-impact hiring in this new-age talent landscape.