Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why do Recruiters lie or paint a rosy picture?

Why do Recruiters "Paint a rosy picture"? - An article by Faisal Siddiqui

I am sure that if you are have been in recruitment or talent acquisition. You would know what I am talking about here. We recruiters seldom have the tendency of exaggerating or sometimes even painting a rosy picture about the company that we are recruiting for to make things appear more attractive to the potential candidate.

I personally would admit using this tactic early in my career when hiring for hard to fill positions specially when the employers would like you to go find that "purple squirrel"  (perfect candidate) out of nowhere. 

Some employers for instance don't understand that apart from a good recruiting skills & job portal access, there are multiple other factors that play an important role in attracting talent. More importantly these factors are not controlled or influenced by the recruiter. 

These intangible but yet important factors which are often conveniently sidelined by the employers, play a crucial role in attracting talent;

1. Brand Name & Company Reputation

If you are IBM, Google or CISCO's of the world, your existing brand name becomes a strength for the recruiter and helps them get right talent. But if you happen to be a start-up  then the same strength becomes your weakness. With the world becoming increasingly obsessed with brands, not having a brand name is a big let down. Hence it becomes a dilemma for most start-ups which can't afford to shell out huge amount of money for advertising their brands but strongly need to create an image. Not having a brand name can also be a problem for B2B companies not targeting end customer, and hence may not feel the need to promote themselves. 

So what do you do when your company is not a household name? While a one size fits all answer to this question may not exist but a mix of public relations, reputation management, SEO, branding on social media and networking sites may holds the key. For instance, if you have good reviews on site like Glassdoor, Mouthshut and many other such site, it helps portray a good picture about the organisation. So don't underestimate the power of social media and word of mouth. While it is OK for a business not to have a brand name but having a bad reputation can certainly jeopardize your business specially if you are a startup.  

2. Work Culture

A good and conducive work culture would not only helps you in retaining employees but it also works as a magnet for attracting talent. Remember if your employees like the work culture, each of them would function like a brand ambassador of your company to the outside world. And remember words travel fast. I know of companies that are brand names, great pay masters but don't have a healthy work environment. One good indicator is employee referrals, barring a few greedy ones most employees would never refer friends & family for employment if they don't like the culture. So you need to lookout for these signs before things go from bad to worse. 

How do you fix it? The best way is conduct an anonymous survey, find out what is wrong and try fix it. Though it may not always be as easy as it may sound; your environment might be suffering from small dysfunction to big monstrous problem which may take a while to fix. Whatever the problem be it's never too late to fix.     

3. Job Stability

With economy going global what happens on the other side of the world unfortunately does influence your job, specially if that other side happens to be America. So after surviving double dip and news doing the round that Europe is at the brink of triple dip recession. Hell! of course job security is important. An unstable tag can create a big time problem for your recruiters.While it's a fact that no company likes to layoff their employees and can do very little to prevent it. 

But what you can do is make sure that layoffs & terminations are done properly. Every employee has the right to know why s/he is being asked to leave, so be transparent and explain the real cause - why and how it happened. Don't be sudden, give time. No one likes surprises specially if it is about losing ones job, so keep your employees informed about the hiccups your business is facing. You never know, sometimes it might work in your favor and employees may put extra efforts to save your business and their jobs.

When dealing with terminations, again make sure that prior feedback and reasonable opportunity were given to the employee to make improvements. Make sure there is no communication gap, power plays, biased feedback etc. are not involved. Again be transparent, explain the reason for his/her termination and why you can't keep them anymore. Remember a disgruntled employee will talk bad and will try to tarnish the companies image. I would still recommend conducting exit interviews with those being terminated. 

And more importantly, whether in case of layoffs or terminations - please pay whatever is rightfully due.These are some of the steps that you can take to avoid being tagged unstable or getting your self branded as hire and fire company.
4. Employee Appreciation

Appreciation again not only helps boost employee morale and productivity but also goes along way in strengthening employee-employer bond. Regular appreciation helps create happy employees and these happy employees again can do tremendous amount of free PR for your company, thanks to the power of social media. I am sure that you all must have seen those tweets, pictures on Facebook and videos on Youtube where your employees share about their promotions, awards, recognition or company paid tours etc. These viral messages again can do wonders for your business and help create a positive image about your company to the outside world.    

True, the above may sound like a Talent Management issue but nevertheless they have strong impact on your hiring. These 4 factors are exactly what most recruiter exaggerate about to potential candidate. 

So, your recruiter may get lucky and might just find you a purple squirrel but if you are careless and do not address the above issues, you will have a hard time retaining good resources. And then you can't blame your    recruiters for painting a rosy picture. And thus, it becomes a vicious circle.

Article written by Faisal Siddiqui, HR Professional & Enthusiast. 
View my on LinkedIn profile.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I was interviewed the other day as an HR “expert.” Naturally I was flattered; I am a sucker for an ego play. They wanted to talk about what it is like to be an HR Professional and what does it take to get there. They asked a number of questions, and I talked for almost 45 minutes on a variety of questions. But, one stuck with me and that was the area of “skills” that go beyond HR knowledge and needed to be a great HR professional.


Number 1: Speaking Ability
The ability to speak in front of a crowd is a key HR skill for a successful HR Professional. In fact this skill can probably do more for you career than almost any other. To be able to make a presentation or speech with confidence and minus all the “ums” and “likes” and “ers” will set you heads above the others around you. It is well worth time, money and effort to learn how to do it well. Even the ones who are good at it realize that time needs to be put into the craft of making a good presentation. So get yourself to a Toastmasters, Dale Carnegie or some other professional coach and learn how to do this well and in turn you boost your personal marketability in an HR Career.
Number 2: Reading people
The ability to “read” people is another key HR skill. Most of us who have been around have developed an ability to read people. We acquire the ability to sense if someone is lying to us or trying to hoodwink us. We have a feel for “body language” and what it may be telling us about attitudes. This, however, is something we can all get better at with training. You can learn to notice and understand some universal expressions, postures and micro-expressions that reveal subtleties about an individual that will then allow you to better understand how to deal with them.
Number 3: Backbone
The ability to have a “backbone” and not be intimidated is a key trait. Too often HR professionals are seen as being weak because they back down when intimidated by a controlling manager or executive. A “backbone” comes from the strength of your convictions and the strength of your knowledge of your “craft.” The more knowledgeable you are the more confident you will be in your encounters with managers. With that knowledge comes strength. Although age plays a factor it is not sufficient. I have known my fair share of weak HR managers who have been well into their 50s.
Number 4: Empathy
Empathy is the fourth soft skill I consider key to being an HR professional. Without the ability to see another point of view or to understand the nuances of a situation you will be robbed of the ability to make the appropriate decisions at the appropriate time.
Number 5: Listening
The HR skill that I consider the last of my list is “listening.” You must have the ability to put aside you agenda and to listen and “hear” what someone is saying and how they are saying it. You must be able to make the person understand that you have heard what they are trying to say in addition. Generally this requires a focused mind and a disengaged mouth.
Being in HR and doing it well is a tough job. To be a true HR Professional you must have the foresight of Nostradamus, the vision of Issac Asimov, the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of David, the speaking ability of Cicero and the brashness of Theodore Roosevelt. Piece of cake!
Article by Mike Haberman

Monday, January 14, 2013

Leadership lessons for Gen Y

Essential Leadership Lessons for Gen Y -

Tips for first time Managers by Janine Popick

If your company culture is all about empowering employees, your managers need to know how to step back and just listen.

Why You Are Not The Boss

I love promoting people to first-time managers. They now have a different perspective on what their own managers deal with every day, and most of the time, they say something like, "Oh, I get it now. There are PEOPLE involved."

In my opinion, first-time managers should not manage people; they should manage situations and promote ideas for their team. Gone wrong, they get an ego, the perceived power goes to their heads and they end up having a team that not only hates them but now hates working at your company.

People don't just leave a company for money or benefits. They often leave because they don't feel appreciated by their boss. And if they were good, you now have a big hole to fill.

I've seen unsuccessful micromanagers:
  • Tell employees what to do every moment of the day (this only works if you hired them to be task managers).
  • Interrupt an employee in the middle of a task to tell them what they're doing wrong--especially if they're in an open environment where everyone can hear. (Ouch!)
  • Make all the decisions or recommendations instead of asking their employees for input. Outcome? They'll always look to you for what to do and will never feel like they have a stake in a decision. It's just easier that way, to them. Why bother?
In my opinion, here are what successful leaders do:
  • Remove hurdles that employees have in their way that are preventing them from getting their jobs done.
  • Listen to any issues that team members have, and ask for their recommendations on what a solution should be. Empowerment.
  • Gain trust from their team.
At my online marketing company, VerticalResponse, we've done three things to help out managers from top down and bottom up:

1. Instituted a Management Program

Every few months, we bring in a management professional to role-play and go through some interesting situations our managers have gone through. The professional is extremely aware of our culture and how we like to manage, so they lead the team in a direction that promotes it.

2. Leave Doors Open

Anyone should be able to go in and ask a question or pitch a gripe.

3.  Actively make ourselves available at lunches or after work.

People want to talk to managers in a more relaxed environment. When guards are down information flows! The team feels more comfortable and close to the manager when they can talk to them about what they're feeling.

If you've got a micromanager on your team, you need to talk to them about their actions. We've had managers who unnecessarily needed everything to go through them before they let any documents be seen. Heck, some managers didn't even allow their team members to talk to me without them knowing first. (They're long gone now!)

Hey, sometimes managing all the details is needed, but if you set up your company culture to empower employees, you've got to let them know to step back and just listen.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

LTA (Leave Travel Allowance), Tax Exemption & Claim

Tax exemption on leave travel allowance
(24 November 2012)

The Income-Tax Department allows you to claim exemption from tax on leave travel allowance only twice in a block of four calendar years.
With the year end approaching, are you planning a vacation to use up the Leave Travel Allowance (LTA) your office offers? Good idea! But while you’re planning and packing for that holiday, spare a thought for what LTA means for your taxes. With that in mind, here are three aspects about LTA that you should keep note of.
Exemptions :
First and the most important is the tax exemption angle. If you have been thinking that the amount you get as LTA is tax-free all the time, you are not correct. The Income-Tax department allows you to claim exemption from tax on this amount only twice in a block of four calendar years.
These blocks are also notified by the department. For example, 2012 falls in the 2010-2013 block. This implies that in these four years, you can claim the exemption for the LTA amount only twice.
But what if you have travelled only once in the 2010-2013 block? In such a case, you can carry forward the travel to the first year (2014) of the next block (2014-2017). In addition to this, you will be eligible to travel two more times in the next block.
Sounds a bit confusing? Don’t worry. All what these rules imply is that your office may be paying you an amount as LTA every year. Nevertheless, if you have already claimed exemption on LTA twice in that particular block, this portion of your income will be taxable in the remaining two years of the block.
Thinking of restricting vacationing to every other year to fit the exemption rule? Well, when both you and your spouse are working, you can work around this rule a bit. You both cannot claim exemption for the same journey. So you can vacation every year and claim exemption for two different journeys each.
The second aspect relates to what you can claim. Under LTA, you are eligible to claim only the expenses incurred on travel per se. Expenses incurred on stay, food, sightseeing, and so on are not included. The travel must also be within the country.
You can claim travel expenses for yourself and eligible members of your family. These eligible members include spouse, children (not more than two, if they are born after 1998) and dependent parents, brothers and sisters.
The third aspect relates to the amount you receive. Strictly speaking, you are required to submit the proof of travel and make a claim in your office. You will get exemption (if you have not yet exhausted the allowed two times) only for the amount you are eligible for or the amount actually spent on travelling, whichever is lower.
However, some employers may not ask for proof. Employers may disburse the LTA amount after taking a declaration that you have spent this money received from the company for the said purpose of travel.
Article by Parvatha Vardhini C
(The Hindu)