By Nikunj Verma
In the past few years, hiring and retaining talent has become tricky, particularly for new-age job roles in the IT industry. Companies often complain about issues like poor conversion rates (only two out of five job offers get accepted on average), low skill levels among candidates, and unprofessionalism during the hiring process (many candidates disappear in the middle of the process).
This opinion, which is often held by both senior executives and HR professionals in the technology sector, can be both myopic and counter-productive. Millennials (people between the age of 23 to 38) will make up 50 per cent of the Indian workforce by 2020 and 75 per cent by 2025.
This number is likely to be even higher in the IT sector, particularly for new-age technologies like AI, ML, and blockchain. Given this scenario, a much better approach would be to try to understand the opportunities and challenges that today’s millennials deal with and to adapt their hiring process accordingly.
A survey report released by HR tech startup CutShort provides some interesting insights into how millennials approach the hiring process. More than 1400 modern professionals responded to the survey, with 60 per cent of the professionals in technical roles. The survey report turns many commonly held assumptions on their head by unpacking the candidate psyche and how they think of the hiring process.
For instance, the report found that while modern candidates do value a competitive salary, there are several other factors that are equally important, if not more. 85 per cent of candidates said the job role was more important than the salary while 50 per cent said that the company brand was more important. So while salary is an important hygiene factor, it no longer ensures that companies will be able to hire and retain talent.
Companies now need to put more effort into things like outlining a clear job role and career path. Brand building from an employee perspective, especially in terms of the online reputation, is something that companies can no longer afford to ignore. According to the survey, 65 per cent of candidates said they read Glassdoor reviews when interviewing with a company.
The report also revealed some unexpected insights into the candidates’ perspective on the hiring process. For instance, 70 per cent of respondents said that they dropped out of an interview process because companies asked them to put in an unreasonable effort such as taking long home assignments or asking to report for onsite interviews prematurely.
Many companies still have the “employer first” mentality that worked 20-30 years ago when opportunities were scarce. In today’s high-skill, post-globalisation era, candidates with the right tech experience and skills have no dearth of opportunities. In fact, companies not only have to compete with other full-time job opportunities but also with the increasingly global freelance job market.
Given this situation, it is becoming increasingly important to be mindful of the candidate’s time and effort during the interview process. For instance, over 50 per cent of candidates said they really value professionalism in an interview process. This includes things like transparency, punctuality, timely communication, and respectful conduct. In fact, your joining ratio now depends more on what happens before the offer is rolled out rather than what happens after.
Another aspect of hiring and engaging millennials in the workforce is the frequent job hopping. According to a Censuswide survey, 60 per cent millennials job-hopped in the last 3-10 years. This means if the bulk of your workforce comprises millennials, which in the IT sector it usually does, you need to have a two-fold approach.
In the first place, you need to drive deep-rooted employee engagement programs that go beyond lip service. Millennials need to be inspired at the workplace and feel that they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. Secondly, it’s important to keep your hiring process ongoing because you simply can’t take a chance with the high attrition rates.
Millennials will be the driving force in the IT industry in the next five years. It’s important for IT companies to truly understand both the millennial mindset and the modern marketplace. An integrated, candidate-centric approach is the only way to access highly skilled IT professionals.
(Nikunj Verma is CEO and Cofounder at CutShort)
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