Category Archives: human resources management

A Savvy Recruiter (Part 1 of 2)

Fotolia © Stephen CoburnHuman resource practitioners consistently talk about being business partners with the clients whom we support.  Human resource managers want our line management to value the advice and solutions we provide.  More often though, business managers don’t understand the advice we provide and how it relates to helping them achieve their business objectives.  That is because HR professional offer solutions from the HR perspective.  They often lack the insight of the core issues affecting business managers.  The most effective HR solutions are those made with true understanding of the business and goals.

Recruitment professionals deal with the same issues.  While a recruiter’s desire is to help line managers find the best candidate and quickly, they frequently face situations where managers reject the set of candidates presented and being asked to find better qualified candidates.  Hiring cycle time are lengthy and misses targeted recruitment time frame.

A “Savvy Recruiter” is a recruitment professional who understands business requirements, finds qualified candidates and has support and trust of the business management.  If you observe carefully, there are some recruiters who show a certain level of confidence.  They don’t seem to have any difficulty sourcing for the right candidates.  They can talk with fluency of the business strategy, challenges and opportunities.  Business managers seek out savvy recruiters to help them with the toughest recruitment cases.

Savvy recruiters exhibit the follow three qualities:

#1) Being Prepared

  • Most job requisitions are not new and are often for replacement and incremental headcount. In fact, the majority of positions posted need the same skill sets as previous hires.  The savvy recruiter can use previous hiring profiles as a basis to get a jump start on sourcing candidates.
  • The savvy recruiter also works with HRBP and training teams to better understand skills gap of the team.  They use this information to source for better qualified candidates who can meet the current and future needs of the organization.
  • Knowing the business team is critical to being a savvy recruiter.  They can have insightful discussions with business managers about succession planning and offer job rotation suggestions to current employees.  These types of discussions help line managers think about career development for their existing team.

#2) Know The Market

  • Having updated market intelligence data such as competitor companies and talent skill set map is a hallmark of a savvy recruiter.  This can prove to business managers that you understand where to target potential candidate recruitment.  You have insight into business environment and the surrounding talent market.
  • During your hiring debrief, a savvy recruit will do some preliminary homework by bringing sample resumes to the meeting.  Having a set of sample resumes helps managers consider the potential profiles and offer insight of the preferred candidate, many times the profile requirements are not written in the job description.
  • Knowing the technical requirements of the role is also another strength of a savvy recruiter.  A recruiter who knows and understand the technical domain of a job role can screen, expertly interview and shortlist candidates for a hiring manager.

#3) Deliver Top Candidates

  • Ask you hiring managers for candidate referrals.  A players refer A players.  A savvy recruiter will go one step further to engage hiring managers to go through their LinkedIn connections and to post the vacancy on their WeChat account to proactively involve the hiring managers in the sourcing process.
  • A savvy recruiter will always personally interview their candidates before they presenting profiles to the hiring manager.  Recruiting is not about presenting volumes of resume to hiring teams.  It is about presenting a small set of qualified candidates to the hiring team and know exactly which candidate will be hired.
  • It is not done until it is done.  Recruitment does not end at the time of an offer accept.  A savvy recruiter will follow-up with the candidate offered until the person in on-board and at least, until the new hire has passed probation.  The recruiter will develop an on-going relationship with the new hire for future candidate referrals.

In summary, a savvy recruiter knows the business and the talent needed for the organization.  Secondly, the savvy recruiter is networked with both internal and external talent market.  Lastly, the savvy recruiter can influence the hiring outcome.  These are the qualities of a recruitment professional who can demonstrate the highest impact to the business they support.  Ultimately, they gain the trust of hiring managers and help teams become winning organizations.

Next Generation HR Leadership

HR Leadership Challenge; Fotolia © Andres Rodriguez
HR Leadership Challenge
Fotolia © Andres Rodriguez

Over the past year, there have been several CEO leadership changes in the high-tech industry.  To name two big titans, Intel and Microsoft CEOs have announced their respective early retirements.  These market giants  were slow in pentrating into the mobile market, where mobile devices have taken the lead from the PC industry.  Shareholders and corporate board have put pressure on them to come up with new strategies to regain market share.

CEOs play a critical role in transforming companies and industries.  Chief Human Resources Officers play an equal role in supporting CEOs with corporate initiatives.


1.  What defines the next generation leader?  What are some key qualities?

  • The business landscape is changing and fast.  As fast as the world is changing next generation leaders need to change faster to stay ahead.  Business leaders must be able to cope with multi-lateral macro-economies, geo-political, social-environmental and government and governance on a global scale.
  • In addition to running the company’s core business, leaders must build alliances with upstream/downstream suppliers; grow eco-system partners; and manage governmental stakeholders.
    • For example, everything in China is political. Business leaders need to align business strategy to the government’s new slogan “China Dream,” to enable economic growth for the nation.  Everything is also personal in China.  Attracting, hiring and retaining talent is a contact sport.  Leaders need to get involved in their employees to provide professional and personal support.
  • Leadership need to be flexible.  The war for talent is as intensive as ever and the landscape for talent is changing, especially for those born in the post-1980s (Gen Y).  They demand both flexibility and purpose at work.  The best leaders need to be inspirational in order to retain the new generation moving up the management ranks.


2.  In terms of HR leadership specifically, what does the next-generation leader embody?

  • The HR profession has come a long way moving from administrators to business partners, then to strategic partners.  The next generation requires HR to be business leaders delivering to the company’s bottom line.
  • Classroom training is often the solution for a development gap in an organization.  However, HR needs to take on a more active position in people performance.  The next generation of HR will be held to a higher accountability where the training and other people development programs result in tangible external business impact.  In addition to training company employees next generation HR will need to take into consideration vendors, service providers and customers into the training needs equation.
  • Another area is big data.  Today HR professional are continuing to improve internal process efficiencies through canter of excellence and HR information systems.  The day has emerged where HR leading from the front has the ability to extract data for even greater strategic insight.  Companies are already tapping into data for product research and development.  HR will need to focus on the people aspect for integrated talent solution.


3.  How do you identify next-generation leaders in your organisation? How early on do you do this? And what steps do you take to engage them?

  • Typically HR will start by using a succession planning and HiPo (high potential) employee assessment process.  They will also develop a talent pipeline for critical skills as part of their workforce planning process.  However, while these steps are needed it does not go deep enough.  While HR is looking at the top layer it doesn’t solve the leadership needs for the rest of the organization.
  • As discussed earlier, the next generation leaders have the capacity to make market shifts by cultivating a sphere of influence of suppliers, tangential business partners and expanding customer base.
  • For HR, only by developing an integrated organization capability solution, from top to bottom and across, will people professional enable next generation capabilities in their organization.
  • Next generational leadership isn’t about an inspirational individual but it takes a team of leaders to bring about greater impact of business growth in a growing complex global environment.


4.     What sort of leadership development initiatives will help them cope with new business realities? What do they need to learn?

  • Businesses have already figured this out.  In order to sustain business growth, leaders seek out investment capital for new innovations.  They form strategic alliances to expand into new markets.  They go through mergers and acquisitions to attain new intellectual property and related assets.  They might spin-off a division in order to let fledging organization survive.
  • True for most organizations, HR does not have a huge budget for leadership development program.  HR leadership can take a page from business strategies and how it developments human capital.  Earlier, I suggested that HR need to take into consideration external training gaps (not just internal employees).  This suggests that HR need to build internal and externally linking programs.
  • Taking a page from business, HR talent development teams can build alliances within the same industry for core or fundamental skills at a lower cost (cost is shared with external partner HR).  Participants now have an opportunity to learn from industry peers (gaining greater business insight).  From a developmental approach, future leaders gain tremendous experience by taking training on the road with alliance partners.  Partners begin to view them as industry leaders, forging relationships that will be beneficial to both organizations.
  • HR may be concerned with divulging proprietary internal training and development programs.  Some might be worried about their key talent being hired away by competitors.  Businesses leaders have a history of partnering with “frenemies.”  HR should be doing the same.

Finally, being a true HR business partner being involved in having a “seat at the table” means the ability to staying ahead of the curve with critical business decisions.  Don’t let yourself become expired but, stay relevant.


This blog post was inspired by a set of interview questions from the HRM Magazine for an upcoming feature article on Next Generation Leadership.


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Building a Winning HR Team

I gave a talk on Building a Winning HR Team at the Human Management and Talent Forum last week.  There were approximately 150 HR professionals in attendance.  When I was first invited to participate in this event, I thought about compelling topics and issues and how I might add to the discussion.

I have been recruiting in China (and around Asia) for a while.  In the course of my work, I have recruited and hired HR professionals for my business organization and recruiting team.  I have also met with HR leaders and practitioners at seminars and networking events.  Our role in HR is to help strengthen and building talent strategies to support our business.

What often intrigues me is what are we, professionals in HR, are doing to develop our own HR organization.

I speak with talent managers and organizational development experts and they agree with me, we don’t spend nearly enough resources on developing our own HR teams.  Their jobs and priorities are spent with line managers and organization leaders.  HR directors hire external consultants for leadership and management training.

I was sourcing for an external consultant to deliver customized training for my staffing team a few weeks ago.  The consultants gave me a blank stare when I asked about their experience with developing programs for internal HR.  When was your most recent in-house training for HR teams?  HR don’t engage us for HR training, they hire us for line manager training.  Oh!

How can we win against the war for talent if we don’t have a strong army of HR professionals?

HR a Top Issue for China CEOs

Year after year, human resources constraints are paramount issues facing CEOs in China.  The American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai has been conducting its annual China Business Climate Survey Report for over a decade.  Without fail, each year, the issues of human resources constraints rank in the top 3 concerns for companies conducting business in China.

In 2005, McKinsey Global Institute issued a report on the growing issues related shortages of talent availability and quality of the Chinese workforce.  The issues have not t abated seven years later.

Current Trends for China HR

Some major topics concerning companies doing business in China include:

  • No Longer Low Cost – The global financial crisis have had major impact on the future direction of corporations with large manufacturing base in China.  China is no longer low wage manufacturing base to the world.  Employee costs have been creeping up where the minimum wage levels are doubling.
  • Manufacturing or Consumption – While margins have narrowed, local companies are keeping up competition against foreign multinationals.  Chinese companies have gained the know-how in developing products targeted for a distinctly Chinese consumer.  Global brands are finding themselves facing stiff competition for a growing middle-class.
  • Changing Workforce Demographics – The face of the Chinese workforce is changing.  The Chinese government is contemplating about increasing the retirement age from the current 55 years of age.  The post 80’s generations are now coming into an age where they confronted with making large purchases, a house.  They are also faced with spending for retirement, not their own, but that of their parents.  The next generation, the 90’s generation is now entering the workforce.  While the China economy is slowing down, employing skilled workers have not abated.  All these factors continue to driving a different management system for managers in China.

The Future of China HR

There is a place for HR policies and guidelines.  The legal environment for human resources management in China is complex and filled with grey areas.  HR professional can do so much more in a country such as China, where talent shortage looms and talent development is in high demand.

  • Creating Opportunities– I recently met with an outsourcing vendor to one of our business units.  During the meeting, the outsourcing vendor director informed us that while the business partnership was great, they struggled with our company’s  internal policies which prevented “their people” from interacting with “our people.”  I recognized that our policies were put in place to protect company business confidential information.  However, there has to be a better way to increase the overall efficiency of the business partnership for greater impact.The future of HR requires us to relook at our policies in response to changing business environment.   A more business focused HR (not just HR business partner) can create a more impactful relationship with our business leaders.
  • Being Present in the Absence– Many firms in Asia Pacific are relocating their APAC headquarters to China.  Whereas, HR leaders in the recent past have regional responsibilities for managing China, the new trend is China HR leaders taking on new responsibilities to manage Greater China (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan).  Chinese MNCs are growing into regional and international players.  China-based HR heads are expanding their teams into APAC and internationally.This idea of managing in the absence is neither about virtual teams nor remote management.  It is a new approach to leadership and management.  Business and HR leaders have to grow into multinational leaders and managing effectively in a local context.  Local staff need to skills and expertise to communicate and work with bosses who are bases in different geographical locations.
  • War for Talent – The capability of an organization to win the war for talent begins with a strong HR team.  If an organization does not have a strong army of talent, including HR, it would be difficult to innovate and compete in the market place.  HR is no longer a service provider.  The profession is working as a strategic business partner with line management and heads of business organizations.  As a strategic business partner HR need to be able to create business opportunities, not just delivering HR services and programs.

In order to fulfill our professional mission of being a strategic business partner HR leaders needs to focus resources on building an army of strong HR talent, in additional to training the line management.

Final Thought

My talk was to encourage and inspire HR professionals to take immediate action to focus on internal development of our HR teams.  The profession requires it.  Our HR staff expects it.  It’s time to move our HR teams to a high level of play.

Review the slide deck for additional information presented at the HR forum.


Slideshow – Press Play to View