Not only in Pakistan but also all over the world, traditional form of recruitment, is being replaced by more creative, insightful and far more effective technologies that allow firms to make their candidate pool targeted and hire the best and brightest.
Changes are apparent in three specific spheres:
- Recruitment Process
- Selection of Candidates
It is true that nowadays interview process for fresh graduates is tougher than it was before.
Previously, the interview panel would consist of employees who were visibly older and had amassed years of experience to get a high position in the company. This age gap, allows a maternal or paternal connection to form between the interviewer and interviewee. Due to this connection, you feel more at ease and the questions asked are more general as well since adults go easier on you.
However, if you ask any fresh graduate about their interview today, one of the first things they point out is that the interview panel was young. They were arrogant, rude and practically grilled them to the ground.
So what does this tell us about our potential employers? That they are people who worked themselves to the bone and have climbed the corporate ladder in a matter of months rather than years. Since they were able to do so, these people hold the same standard of commitment and competence from their potential employees. They want people who are willing to work smart and work hard.
Once you graduate your employment will depend on a person who probably graduated just two years before you. They will not deal with you the way an older employee would. They know all the gimmicks and all the tricks up our sleeves, since they went through the same process recently too.
We live in an age where information is at the tip of our fingers. There are now no excuses for being uninformed about the company and not keeping yourself updated with current affairs. There are no excuses for having less achievements or credentials since universities today, offer so much more in the form of co -curriculars, workshops, competitions and certifications.
It also tough to work under someone who is in the same age group as you.
Interview is one thing, but actually being answerable to someone who may be of a higher status but closer to you in age, is a hard thing to do. Especially a culture which is more acceptable of a status that comes with age, there is a clash of egos which results in resistance.
So leadership in a corporate setting has drastically changed and has made employment much harder for fresh graduates, than it was before.
This process used to be simple. It usually required the submission of your resume, a written test and interview, but companies have changed their requirements. Where there were written resumes, companies now want video CVs. Where there were assessment centers now are simulation rooms. Where there were traditional interviews, now is gamification.
Many companies still apply traditional recruiting methods but they usually tweak it. A written test is a classic example. Previously firms would ask many technical questions regarding the industry. But now, they have questions that explore not only the applicant’s personality, IQ and EQ but also traits such as risk aversion and attitude towards effort.
These questions are not random. Most of them are designed in such a way that they assess you on your overall answer. For example if question 1 is about resolving conflict and question 4 is about negotiation style, the conflict and negotiation always have to match because the latter is an outcome of the former. You cannot detach these two. Students usually do not do well in these assessments because they are looking at each question in isolation.
There are several other steps in the recruitment process as well.
Companies nowadays prefer video resumes, skype interviews and gamification. They keep changing their processes too. For example, Unilever this year had an assessment center and interview, but last year they had a roleplay in which applicants pretended to be salespersons.
Reckitt Benckiser this year asked its applicants to make a single slide and tell them (in lieu with their theme) how are they a “game changer”. Last year the activity was different. Candidates were supposed to pick one product from RB’s product line, then pick its attributes and tell the interviewers how those attributes apply to the candidate.
This is why it is important to study the company beforehand. Contact your alumni who may be working there and raid their online chat rooms to see what they are looking for in this year’s batch. This would also give you a chance to know about the company culture, expectations, norm, dress code and types of people. The interviewer decides in 3 seconds whether they should hire him/her or not so like it or not, but first impressions are important.
Selection of Candidates
10 years ago the process of vetting resumes and CVs involved the human eye. Not the eye of a CEO, or CFO, but a mere junior employee in HR would be responsible for sifting through the hundreds of job applications. He or she however is given a list of key things to look for in applications and to accept only those that have them.
For example, a company prefers people with several co-curricular activities as this shows they have experience. Therefore, the junior employee will look specifically for resumes who have this section and pass them on forward. If a company does not prioritize grades, then no matter how good your transcript is they will not accept you unless you match their standard.
Nowadays even this has changed. Companies have a new way to filter applications; algorithms. With more and more graduates in the job market, there are more and more applications to review. The challenge of matching the right people with the right job has become harder. To extract usable insights from this ocean of data companies make use of artificial intelligence, a specialty known as job market analytics.
The system will “read” your resume and identify key words, that a firm is looking for in an applicant. For example, if you write, “I did a report on Engro”, this will not be picked up by the system. However, if you write, “I analyzed the marketing strategies in Engro” the terms ‘analyzed’ and ‘strategies’ would be picked up. If you are applying in the finance department then use words like ‘financial ratios’, ‘financial model’ or ‘financial solutions’. Same goes for other departments.
Bear in mind though that this system is used to evaluate fresh graduates due to the sheer number of applicants. For specialized jobs more attention is paid to applicants in the earlier stages.
Students nowadays need to accept the harsh reality. The dynamics of recruiting have changed and tough competition is to be expected. The best thing to do in this situation is to start preparing. Be it first year, second or last, it is never too early to start.
Understanding these changes is step one. How else would you adapt to them?