Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A good interview that ended up GREAT!

Had an interview a week back for a Senior Lotus Notes Application Developer. We both, candidate and headhunter had the mindset on this position and the usual brief chat and so forth, so the interview begin. As usual, while discussing his experience – an end user lotus notes support and IT Executive with a renowned MNC consumer company, I noticed that this candidate has a lot more to deliver than what is on his CV. He has 5 years of experience in a support environment.

This was not listed on his CV – Project Implementation, Software Lifecycle, End-User presentations, End-user Business Process Re-engineering, Migration, User Gathering and Identifying and Qualifying Cost-Savings Solutions for departments. His CV and the interview lead more to a developer role and an IT Executive role. After about an hour and having dug deeper in to his role and long talks and getting more out of him, I identified great potential. He has all the abilities in being a Business Analyst or a Pre-sales consultant, because he spoke very well and was very confident and had the making and experience needed. Clearly he had all the desired requirements and experience to take up a more challenging role rather than just a step up. This is a leap up and a different experience all together, leaving the sphere of developement and jumping into a customer fronting environment and performing customer add-value work. From an end user perspective into a reversal role. Now he has the domain knowledge because he was from the end user environment, he knows the flaws and possible problems, and being in the opposite role, he now knows his add-value to the client!

We brainstormed, drew out a plan on the whiteboard, he explained to me certain processes in his company and I thought, wow this person has good potential. Daring enough to take the opportunity, he is furnishing his CV and resending it back to me for my client who needs a business analyst for both software and middleware applications combined! This candidate fits the bill, after a long process of identifying prospects and a little persuasion ofcourse. He is now a step above his game and assuming a greater post, rather than be a Senior Developer. We both identified better and new opportunities. This is the upside to an interview and talking to an industry centric headhunter.

That was a good interview went well!


Its been a busy three month period. Despite having holidays due to festivities it has been a fruitful three-month. I’ve learnt a great deal of experiences of late, despite having being in industry for a long time. Either that, or I forgot what is like to go through the pit-falls and excitement of the headhunting world after a long break before this.

To be successful in this industry despite having technical domain knowledge, there is a whole lot of other essentials that a person has to have. Let me think:

You have to be a people person, posses a positive mental attitude and a strong one, to be very receptive to people’s thoughts, ability to have good listening skills, a definite persuasiveness, not a giver upper, to view perspective from both clients and candidate and lastly to be very assertive.

Let me take 3 points form the above: Assertiveness, listening and being a people person.

Well assertive. You are neither passive nor aggressive, you are assertive. You never are at your 100% everyday, you go through a phone call and to find that the other person is not responsive or the 2 hour interview was not a total fit. At times you may experience that, for all the hard work you have put into a position, and if that position has been filled by another headhunter or you were just plain late. Well too bad, it’s a risk, it’s a gamble hence your planning towards a position or a vacancy went down the drain. After all that hard work has gone to waste, because we headhunters also have targets to meet, it may seem like it’s the end. But wait a minute, you have done your work, why not use it for another company? Well sleep it off, don’t be passive and complain and don’t be too aggressive and get drunk and pick a bar fight. At the end of the day, you know what needs to get done, when a position like that arises and be on top of things. You are assertive, you pick yourself up, you remain confident and you move on to a next assignment.

Listening. Apparently I do not have the best listening skill, however I am improving that. Although it has been years. I believe your listening skills take years to develop. It is critical; to listen to specific words, to understand our candidates, to make do on how they have chiseled their careers, how did they go about planning a project, with what methodology the used, describing their weakness and strengths and so on. I have notice at times, in interviews; my candidates might not have the best listening skill. When we talk, we get cut off or they jump to a conclusion. 74% of our listening make up for 100% of total communication, the rest is speaking and non-verbal communication. At times I realized when I am doing a profile report, I suddenly loose specific information hence in an interview it is 100% focus; which involve listening, reading both person and their non-verbal communication. Listening is crucial, crucial in all areas especially in meetings!

People Person! You have to love people, you have to like people and you have to be passionate about people. We are agents who make a difference in peoples lives. Giving them new opportunities and greener pasture. We add-value in peoples lives. A lot of recruiters do not get this fact right! It is about the numbers game and doing just a job! It is not a JOB it is a career. Well, being a people person, you need to discover what is good about them, identifying mistakes and pitfall and strengths and experience. The total package. You have to understand people from various demographics, culture, backgrounds, race, religion and ethnicity. No one person thinks the same. A lot of times, people are influenced by these important factors and it is important to know, why people think differently than others. It is all variable facts that a headhunter has to identify and relating it to personal strengths. You can sell a BMW or a Ferrari because the facts speak for themselves, at times with people, you have to dig deeper than what's surfaced on his or her CV :).

I recently told a candidate this: Leverage on what you have done outside the job and speak of your accomplishments. It says a lot about an individual. Not everyday you find a 2nd Lieutenant in the Reserve Army Unit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

These few weeks.

Its been a good start. Really good start.

I've been visiting a few local SI companies lately and sad to say, i do not see any Staff Development plans for alot of our local companies for their employees. I came from an SI company from the HR department and its main agenda was always to stress and focus on Staff Development.

Alot of development plans for staff is usually certifications. When you certify consultants they are usually bonded for a year or 6 months and that is one retaining factor. If you ask me, staff should be compensated more when they are re-certified because, other companies will be willing to 'buy-out' staff.

It is important that in IT a career development plan is instilled in the total overall culture especially in Malaysia. Business is always there, whether it is the private or public sector, at the end of the day the public sector is always spending but unfortunately big tenders goes to big credible companies or ABC companies.

Well, Career Development why? Other than using it as a retaining factor a company should always have its resource plan for now and for the future. For instance, one company has a Middle Management team together with an Executive Management team, where staff from 3-5 years has a say and 5-10 years have a say on its companies processes and overall structure during feedback or planning meetings. Having that in place would mean that the employee will know that it is a democratic culture where by they are able to voice out opinions and to find a solution to a problem. Although it is a 50/50 chance on winning and implementing a new structure, the employee knows that the employer is listening. It is an instilled feeling that the employee has on its management and also the management will know how its companies culture is holding up and will implement policies accordingly.

An IT job can be at times very monotonous, especially in programming or development. In industry, these people will jump for a basic salary increase of just RM200. Believe me it happens and it happens a lot. Why? People get bored, they go to work and project and it’s the same thing different day, as the say (same shit different day). It is frustrating for employers; because the workload will be passed on to another programmer and that programmer because of the workload will jump for another RM200J.

So instead of staff having to come to work and perform coding or modifications everyday for 2 years, a good 2 year executive employee plan will be a good way to move forward. Letting them know that there is a career path for them within a a 2 year period, they will be promoted and in achieving your KPI you will not only be paid to be certified but you will be moving up to a senior post.

In this case HR has to be very hands on in Staff Development and management. They will be an asset to the company and also a member of the Risk Management Team because when a new policy or structure is impose it effects the whole company. Currently HR Development Managers are very highly paid, because they know how change management will effect companies and like business analayst they will come in and analyze current situations, study the organization closely with business heads and also implement policies that will turn around the business (Business Process Re-engineering) as a whole.
I pretty much like to liaise with companies that has a good career development plan for their employees.