Category Archives: best practices

A Savvy Recruiter (Part 2 of 2)

Fotolia © RonenThis is a follow to the last post providing suggestions of how one can become a savvy recruiter.

More often than not, the recruiter supporting a business unit is junior to the hiring manager. The recruiter is unlikely to have the industry training and experience relative to the hiring division. Perhaps the recruiter may feel nervous in approaching the hiring   manager due to gap in seniority level and even more inadequate because the he does not have technical knowledge of the role. Have you felt this way before? I know I have.

Insightful Industry Acumen

Get to know the industry of the company you work for. There is an abundant amount of resources where you can research to gain industry insight. You can set a news alert for topics pertaining to your company and related competitors. There are industry research by technical analysts and financial reporters. There may be professional associations with publications to read and conferences you can attend. You may want to read your own company’s website for press releases and technical white papers. A savvy recruiter pieces together the broader picture of industry trends necessary to begin having thoughtful and insightful conversation with the hiring manager.

Insightful Hiring Meeting

Never go into a hiring brief meeting unprepared. It shows that you are unprepared and disengaged with supporting the business. A true savvy recruiter proactively does some homework to prepare. Review the job description to understand the role. The role maybe a repeat hire but, don’t assume it is exactly the same as before. Get a briefing from the human resource business partner. Learn the organization dynamics and skills needs of the entire team, not just the position being posted. Talk to matrix managers to learn from cross-functional teammates who may have insight into the role. Bring in a set of sample resumes that encompass the full range of skills and experience based on the stakeholders you have spoke with. A savvy recruiter can now drive a more productive hiring brief, with information even the hiring manager may not have previously known.

Insightful Hiring Outcome

In addition to candidate sourcing recruiters need to be able to influence the hiring outcome. To do this, the recruiter must be part of the business or technical interview process, not just the “HR interview.” It is no longer acceptable to just pass resumes to hiring managers for their screening and simply collect feedback at the end of interviews. Recruiters must also participate in interviewing candidates for their business acumen and depth of experience in their respective discipline. Moreover, the recruiter must be able to assess and make hiring recommendations based on technical fit for the role.

This last part of making interview decisions on a candidate is probably the most difficult part, especially if the recruiter does not have the requisite technical or business background. One example to start, the recruiter can sit in together with hiring managers on an interview. Learn the types of questions asked my hiring managers and the responses they look for. After a while, the recruiter can conduct interviews independently.

Developing a level of confidence in decision making is what makes the difference between a typical and an outstanding recruiter. Having the trust of hiring managers to affect hiring decisions is the hallmark of a savvy recruiter.

What does it take to locate and recruit the best? in HR Matters Magazine

What does it take to locate and recruit the best?

I was interviewed in HR Matters Magazine for their January 2103 issue along with Tim Norman of DreamWorks Technology and Christa Foley from  The three of us share in common of working for Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For 2012 (DreamWorks #14, #11, Qualcomm #23).


In the article, I discuss the following points:
  • Bring your talent base closer to the customer

since some of the top mobile manufacturers are also located here, it makes sense to bring engineering talent closer to our customer base. This in turn is driving the increase in hiring wireless engineering talent in Asia.

  • Hiring beyond pure engineering talent

Customer Astuteness – we look not just for talent who possess strong core engineering skills but are astute with customer and market needs.


Technology Savvy – Most of those who work in areas such as marketing, finance or HR are not trained as engineers. However, we strive to select those who “tinker” with wireless gadgets and who are tech savvy.

Cross-cultural Leadership – In leadership roles, we look for individuals with a proven track record of building and leading strong engineering organizations.

  • Build strong relationship prospective candidates for the long-term

Talented individuals are always highly regarded and engaged in high profile projects.  They often are not looking for the next move but already have a clear designated career path. We make it a practice to involve our hiring managers and executives in building relationships with prospective candidates.


Download the excerpt article here.  Please visit the HR Matters website here.


Year in Review 2011 – Asia HR Blog

Towards this year-end I wanted to take stock and reflect back on the things associated with this blog.  It’s been a great year with a lot of new activities and probably the more eventful since I started blogging about 4 years ago.

Blog – I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress in October.  The average page-views is about 800 per month.  I’m sure there are a lot of other bloggers who have more views and followers.  But, I am happy with the results given the limited time I spend on my blog.

More popular posts include:

Workshop Presentations – I was invited to speak at 7 HR workshops this year.  I spoke on a range of topics from new-hire onboarding, integrated talent management and social media in recruiting.  For the first time, I was invited to speak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  And, I spoke for the second time in Beijing, China at the annual American Chamber of Commerce China HR conference.

SlideShare – I post all of my workshop presentations on Slideshare.  Several of my presentations made it to “Hot on LinkedIn” section.  I am not sure how certain presentations were “hot” but, I am happy to have been chosen.   Just 2 weeks ago, the SlideShare editorial team selected “Secrets to Entry-Level Employee Development” as a featured presentation on their home page.  Way Cool!

More popular presentations include:

Twitter – I started tweeting earlier in the year.  Although not prolific, I retweet on topics primarily focused on current Asia human resource issues.

ASTD Conference – One of the benefits of blogging was being able to network with the ASTD Conference organizers and was able to attend the conference “free.”  I blogged and tweeted the conference proceedings.

What I Have Learned This Year

Professional Development – Writing this blog and presenting at HR workshops requires me to critically think and analyze the respective HR topics.  I had to do research for background information and develop content that will be interested and engaging to my audience.

Networking – HR professionals typically spend most of their time inside the office managing the day-to-day activities required of them.  I have been able to engaged with a wider professional network:

  • Online – A worldwide audience are able to read this blog.  Many of them have contacted me offline for professional follow up.
  • Offline – These are the HR workshops.  Getting out of the office to meet people is important to build on-going professional relationships.  This allows me to better understand the HR challenges faced by HR professionals and learn how they overcome certain issues.

Staying Current – As much as I am sharing my ideas it is also a learning process for myself.  I stay current on relevant topics to the HR community.

  • Workshops – In addition to my own presentations, I also get to attend the entire conference day and learn from other presenters and how thew view a certain topic.

Someone asked me how much time I spend on writing this blog and other use of social media.  Although still not perfect, this is almost coming fairly natural.  Depending on the complexity of the topic, it is similar to writing a work-related project report or weekly progress report.  I do spend a bit of time outlining the topic for blogs and several weeks researching and preparing for workshop presentations.  The return on investment far exceeds the personal time I spend.

Looking for a great 2012.

Asia Talent Update

Talent Shortage

imageManpower released their annual 2010 Talent Shortage Survey.  Specifically to Asia, they found that 45% of employer have difficulty filling vacancies due to lack of talent.  Those of us in the HR field know this too well.  We either have to adjust the skills requirement or take extended period to fill positions.  The survey show the lack of talent trend is on the upward rise.

imageCountry analysis show that most Asia countries show a difficulty score that is above the global average. I am a bit surprised by the China result.  Actual experience may depend on the type of skill required for your organization.  As a result of the recent economic downturn, companies may be looking to Asia for growth and pressure for critical talent will only continue to increase.

Macro Economics and Labor Risk

imageKelly OCG and Eurasia Group released their Q2 2011 Global Market Brief and Labor Risk Index.  The Index showed in the second quarter that inflationary pressure is on the rise resulting
in higher prices for a range of goods, like fuel, basic commodities, and housing.  As companies hire new staff, they are facing upward
wage pressures.  It impacts retention as staff look to job change for the incremental pay hike.

The report indicated that in China, provincial governments, especially along the coast, have already rushed to raise minimum wages. This will increase the cost of labor there, and rising costs could spread to other provinces.

Local MNCs Catching Up

In a Harvard Business Review article, The Battle for China’s Talent, the author writes that the ability for foreign multinational companies (MNC) to attract top talent has been on a decline.  While foreign MNCs have suffered from economic recession, Chinese companies have seen growth and expansion.  Local companies have grown to become household names, if not global brands.  In rational decisions by Chinese workers, they are choosing to work for local firms seeking greater career opportunities.

image Foreign companies are under pressure to retain talent, especially middle-managers.  As the graphic shows, while many applicants join foreign MNCs with an intent of a longer tenure, many are leaving sooner than expected.

Solutions – Don’t be left in the lurch

Finding solutions may be elusive.  Not only are competition heating up against other foreign companies but, local Chinese firms are stepping to recruit top talent.  The macro-economies are complicating matters creating rising wage pressures.  However, if companies intend to focus growth in Asia, they must identify strategies and solutions to retain their talent base.   Talent development and management are key.  Don’t be left in the lurch.  Focus on high performers and succession planning with high potentials is key to success. 

Overview of HR Shared Services – Part 1 of 2

The topic on shared services while not new to me but, attending the 9th Annual Asian Shared Services & Outsourcing for HR Conference May 4-5, 2011 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, gave me new insights in the the current state of HR transformation.  I’ve summarized key learning and added my own ideas in this blog post.

Objective of Shared Servicesclip_image002

A key purpose of shared services is to take advantage of economies of scale and cost-savings by combining common HR functions. This often involved centralizing back-office functions from multiple HR groups under a single shared service team.

Centralized shared-services function requires a standardize processes approach and ultimately allowing front-line HR to focus on strategic and business partner work.

Shared Services Continuum

Shared services may have different meaning to different organizations. However, they generally fall within 4 approaches.clip_image004


At a basic level, organization pull together “back-office” administration under one roof in a single location, managed as a single team. Efficiency gain is derived from the elimination of the work that was previously done in multiple groups and locations. Processes and business workflow should be reengineered for optimal results. However, in most cases, work is simply relocated to a new location but, workflow is reconstructed in much the same manner as before the centralization. The idea is to not create disruption to existing service model and customer satisfaction.

Shared Services

Where centralization doesn’t go far enough, a shared service model takes advantage of economies of scale and process reengineering to optimize HR service delivery. High performing shared services organizations focus on customer service delivery by developing service level agreements (SLA), with performance metric score-cards. Cost is managed. A true shared service model looks at end-to-end processes globally.

Off Shoring

Companies are increasing their presence in the global marketplace. The consequence for HR is delivering global policies relevant to the new market, weaving in corporate policies with local practices. Companies gain by leveraging the consistency of a shared service model globally in disparate locations.


Companies with matured shared services framework may look for furthering means of cost-reduction and labor arbitrage. Some have turned to third-party service providers to manage the organization’s transactional tasks on a fee-for-service basis. Companies may outsource a specific function such as payroll or staffing. Other organizations may implement a strategy of outsourcing the entire shared services function. Only the strategic and business partnering function remains in-house.

The approach a company takes depend on the business strategy and HR organization circumstances unique to each company. There is no right or wrong solution but making the most appropriate decision to delivering HR services to employees.

Foundation for Shared Services

After a company evaluates and determines there is benefit of a shared service function, it moves towards the design stage. Designing shared services requires consistent processes and a standardized HRMS.


Process Reengineering

Creating shared services capabilities require process reengineering, the process by which HR organizations thoroughly evaluate, assess and align HR policies. Global consistency is a strict requirement. Only critical country exceptions are allowed, typically for legal purposes. Allowing for business process exceptions, continuing to do things they used to be, creating process excursions, erodes the benefit of shared services.


The second element is creating a global HRMS platform. A common infrastructure allows for the “sharing” of business processes, service delivery and knowledge-base across the globe. The shared service center maintains all data related to the entire employee life-cycle.

Companies also rely on “employee self-service” to reduce reliance on in-person contact with HR for basic queries and administrative services. Self-service is built on the premise of consistent policies which applies to employees globally. Moving HR to the intranet is an accepted practice.

Change Management

Managing expectations is essential in developing a shared service program. Employee will want to maintain the same level of direct one-to-one contact which they are accustomed. Another task is convincing the management teams the value of offloading tactical work and while line managers will want to see higher strategic work delivered by HR.

Finally, the HR team will need to be retrained on skills to perform in a shared service center. Front-line HR will need to develop strategic consulting skills to work with business units.

Any change will require executive sponsor such as the CEO and CHRO.

Managing Culture Shift

A careful assessment of the organization and HR culture will determine the level of adaptation needed for a shared services model.

Direct HR involvement at all levels; low use of technology Leverages on technology; direct HR involvement in strategic capacity
Talk to HR rep in person Same level of contact for all employee levels Online Transactions
Utilizes employee/manager portals
HR is the frontline for employee engagement Line manager is the frontline for employee engagement
HR provides all HR services Transactional work is delivered by a shared service team

Next Month

In part II of the blog, I’ll cover the types of functions that would typically be housed in a shared services organization.  We’ll discuss location strategy to the service hub.  Finally, having a change management strategy is critical to implementing an HR shared services.

Part II is located here