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26 December 2005  
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Home - Technology Life - Article


Just-in-time hiring is here to stay

Sudipta Dev analyses how IT organisations can make the quick hiring process effective.

Just-in-time (JIT) hiring is a common phenomenon in most IT and BPO organisations as a result of the nature of their business which requires meeting sudden manpower demands. It is an inevitability that these companies have to live with, despite the obvious disadvantages of the quick hiring process. The only solution lies in adopting ways and means for making the hiring process as effective as possible and avoiding common pitfalls. This of course requires a lot of planning in advance. The success of JIT hiring is a significant strength of the Indian IT industry—for meeting instant manpower demands and keeping the costs low.

“As organisations strive to improve the time-to-market of their solutions, hiring talent in time towards effective delivery within cost and time commitments will be imperative. In order to meet aggressive timelines all factors involving the work process will be optimised, so also hiring. Hence, efficient hiring is inevitable. However, it is not to be confused with reckless hiring,” says Harish Bhattiprolu, Director Sales, Kenexa Technologies, India.

Companies engage recrui-ting agencies and work in close co-ordination with them for procuring manpower. “Big organisations like Infosys carry out JIT hiring using in-house resources. You must be aware that Infosys has over 100 recruiters fulltime. The tier 2 companies do not have this luxury. They generally use outside recruiting agencies like ours,” says Kris Lakshmikanth, Founder & Managing Director, The Head Hunters India. The company has been into JIT recruitment for the last three years and has made 3,000 offers across India on behalf of both Indian and MNC organisations.

Why JIT hiring happens

  • In both software and BPO sectors, companies suddenly receive projects for which they have to ramp up almost overnight. Quite often, they find that they do not have the resources internally 100 percent and that they have to go for “lateral hiring.”
  • When a company is opening a new development centre in a new location it goes in for lateral hiring to fill at least 25 percent to 55 percent of the vacancies. The rest are generally filled by ‘trainees’ if the company has a sound training programme like TCS and Infosys.
  • When a company enters a new country, for instance when Verizon, the US telecom services provider, opened centres in Chennai and Hyderabad.
  • Most software/BPO companies are opening centres in new locations, more as a ‘risk reduction strategy.’ The recent floods in Mumbai and Chennai created jitters in companies’ overseas clients. By having centres in more than one location, they are able to show their ‘risk management strategy.’ Here again, companies are forced to recruit almost overnight for the new centre in the new location.

Source: The Head Hunters India

Advance planning

The ground work for JIT hiring is done in advance. Lakshmikanth adds that good companies use at least one or two recruitment companies who specialise in turnkey recruitment for JIT. “This ensures that the organisation gets full attention from the vendor (recruitment company) and assured number of people on board as per their internal targets. To ensure that the right vendor/vendors are selected, the client company calls a select list of recruiting companies for ‘presentation.’ Based upon the response of the executive search companies, one or two are shortlisted per city,” he informs. The recruitment strategy is then worked out, which includes the following:

  • Target cities
  • Target skills in each of the cities
  • Target companies in these cities
  • Fixing venue for interview
  • Ensuring that once the technical interviews are cleared, HR offer is made on the spot.

“Quite often a plan for one month to six weeks is made in advance. This is because of the need to book interview venues, release advertisements in the newspapers and so on. Our experience is that if the client works closely with the recruitment companies and considers the latter as an integral part of the recruitment arm, then there is a win-win scenario leading to almost 90 percent chance of success,” points out Lakshmikanth.

Speeding the time gap

The hiring time being a critical factor, every organisation needs to speed up its recruitment processes. This involves carrying out a process-mapping of the company’s recruitment/selection process. “One has to look for where all the time is unnecessarily wasted” and use metrics to measure which step(s) add little value. Besides, a hiring manager should use video-conferencing to negate scheduling issues and conduct simultaneous internal and external job postings—to eliminate any waiting period for responses. Several companies whom we work with, create “corporate resource” positions to hire superstars even when there are no roles open. The incumbents can at a later date be quickly moved into the function where a need arises,” says Vikram Bhardwaj, Managing Consultant, Redil-eon executive search.

The company has an extranet service for live hiring engagements called KAP Extranet. This enables clients and candidates to view the status and progress of the search on a real time basis, cutting short the ‘cycle time’ and ‘time to process closure.’

Pointing out that good candidates for any role are not easily spotted, forget hired, Bhardwaj adds, “We often come across biggest of brand names failing in hiring a key resource as the candidate finds the entire hiring process unstructured and ad hoc. His obvious question is—have they not hired someone like me before? What is taking them so much time, are they not sure? The inference is that candidates judge a company by the clarity they see in the company’s recruiting and selection process.”

Emphasising on the need for accurate and efficient hiring, Bhattiprolu states that there is a way to achieve timelines in hiring. The solution is two-fold: The first is to ensure efficient hiring—increasing the accuracy of search via clear job description, strategic sourcing of profiles and so on to achieve the required quantum of hiring. The second is accurate hiring—by using measured and scientific means assessing and selecting the correct persons for the job, resulting in hiring the best. Results show that an accurate hire demonstrates greater performance, than a quick hire.

Necessary precautions

Speed hiring can lead to disaster if precautions are not taken. The short hiring time is often not enough to do a thorough reference check of the particulars provided in the resume. The Head Hunters India recommends its clients to tell the candidates that a reference check will be done post-hiring and if any discrepancy is found in the information provided the candidates will be terminated.

Bhardwaj lists a few essential factors:

  • Setting a time limit for every step of the hiring process, including joining time for the candidate
  • Simultaneous process steps should not result in omitting an important step
  • Overtly aggressive salary offered quite a few times backfires
  • Have experienced and mature HR managers handle hirings where time is an important factor.

Best practices for JIT recruitment

In order to achieve efficient hiring an organisation must…

  • Prepare accurate manpower planning forecasts
  • Provide the staffing department with adequate time for tasks such as hiring managers to designing accurate job descriptions
  • Create a plan to brand the organisation as an ‘employer of choice’ and retain it
  • Ensure adequate resources are provided to staffing efforts both in terms of manpower, sources of hires, tools to evaluate and assess potential talent. Technology with applicant management and skill and behaviour profiling must be utilised
  • Ensure hiring managers are able to allocate adequate time and resources towards interviewing and other selection efforts
  • Create an effective reporting structure with metrics in order to measure the effectiveness of the hiring programme and make timely changes as may be required
  • An ambient workplace with effective management of resources will result in bringing the best out of existing talent, making them give that little extra and meet with organisational targets reducing the load on quick hiring.

Source: Kenexa Technologies

It is necessary to ensure that the hiring process works continuously towards identifying talent throughout the year and not only when the hiring numbers peak. Bhattiprolu acknowledges that it is essential to ensure that the hiring process is defined and has ownership from senior levels in management for making it a success. “Organisational vision and values must be connected to the hiring process early. This ensures that associates who fit the expectation are hired and create a better working environment. The hiring process has a multitude of costs involved. All the direct and indirect costs must be recognised and measured; else the cost-of-hiring can be a rude shock to the management especially when aggressive hiring numbers are to be achieved.”

The problem with the recruitment process is that managements want to reduce the cost of hiring while putting pressure on the recruitment team to reduce the timelines and introduce efficiency. “Hence, organisations must recognise that such pressures may lead to falling victim to bad hiring. Adequate measures must be taken to prevent this and realise the benefits good hiring practices can make to the income statement of the organisation,” concludes Bhattiprolu.



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