Work Life

HR Conferences – My Experience and Take Aways

We meet different kinds of people at our workplace: each with their own positives and negatives. Some inspire us by leveraging their negatives and turning them to use in a productive way.

Meeting thought leaders was no different during the in-person conference I attended the week before and the SHRM India conference I got the opportunity to attend virtually this week.

Some of the leaders had more experience than my age! Half of them agree they need to adapt to the growing changes in the industry.

Some of the leaders were old school with how they looked at their problems. Their approach towards the said problems was also old school. Approaches which worked 30 years back are no good for today’s generation. These are also the leaders who were not open to younger generation’s ideas to solve their concerns. I believe that’s why their concerns are persisting.

Some of the leaders were tone deaf to their problems. If they listened carefully, they had the solutions staring them in the face. One classic example to this is, hiring managers engaging the offered candidates. A candidate taking your calls during the post offer engagement is not the factor leaders should be considering. Candidates can make you believe they are joining your company. Your expertise comes into the picture when you are able to catch that he is fooling you: by “listening” to what the candidate is saying and not saying.

One of the speakers came with a persisting concern: How to keep resigned candidates engaged for 3 months when they lose their interest 2 weeks into the notice period? Am I the only one seeing the solution in the problem statement? And I am not asking companies to reduce the notice period to only 2 weeks. It will leave the industry in uproar! I am merely asking – do we need 3 months’ notice period when the employee is not being productive? Companies should have transition plan in place to determine how much time you need from the resigned employee to complete the transition. Beyond this, the employee will not engage, and the company will be paying him salary for just logging in and wasting your business hours.

Meeting some of the younger delegates was a different experience: some were out spoken, not a bad quality – sometimes aggressive, not so good quality. Young professionals always have time to learn from their experience. Few things I learned from these delegates: 1. Tone down our excitement (positive/negative) when expressing our points. 2. Always give chance to the other delegates to make their point. 3. Never challenge other delegates by arguing your way is better 4. Politely agree to disagree with other delegates.

My Key Take Aways:

The one statement made by one of the speakers at SHRM India Conference made an impact with me personally: “Don’t stick to biases”. Colleges from which your candidates graduate will not determine the kind of work they will do once they join your company. I have seen candidates from premium colleges underwhelm me during the interview process – not all, but some. Similarly with the previous companies where they worked – will not determine the candidate’s productivity. Companies’ criteria should be on how well a candidate performs during the interview (E.g.: Coding round for Software Engineer role, small assignments on the role the candidate have applied for, etc.,) and not mention “so and so degree from premium colleges” in the JD as “mandatory criteria“.

In another session from SHRM India conference, one of the speakers was talking about fulfilling experience at work and the factors determining employee satisfaction: 1. Rewards; 2. Relationships (Professional); 3. Respect; 4. Recognition. I liked how the speaker talked about Autonomy of individual employees and how each of these factors weigh in. Employees these days do not want to be micromanaged and want some level of freedom with their work. If the employees are not getting this at their current workplace they are not hesitating to move out of the company. But how many of the companies in India are giving this kind of “freedom” to their team members? We are not there yet, but by adopting this kind of company culture we can attract and retain the top talent.

This was my experience these past couple of weeks and take aways from the conferences I have attended. Stay tuned for my next article on the “Expectations from HRMS Tools” coming soon.

Work Life

Constructive Feedback

This post is again inspired by one of the posts I read in LinkedIn, just like the previous one: Interview Feedback Decoded ( The author of this post was idealizing one HR who was doing everything right and the rest of us should follow in her footsteps. While I agree with the author and also diligently share the feedback to all my candidates. I could not simply ignore the post since it reminded me of the incident that happened with me few months back.

Candidates expect the HR to share the interview feedback once the interview is completed. And when we do call the candidate to share the feedback most candidates will be happy they got a call from the HR expecting positive news (most of the time it is positive!) But I when share constructive feedback they will be taken aback and not have much to say except thanks for the feedback.

But not all candidates take the feedback in the way it is intended. My feedback to the candidates will be more in the lines of “you did well in the interview but the interviewers felt you could get a bit more exposure on certain skill and apply back to this position in six months time.”

If I reflect on this message, it is pretty clear I am leaving the window/opportunity to the candidate should he/she wishes to work on their skills.

But there was one very senior candidate who was interviewing for a senior role and did not qualify in the first panel interview. His coding skills were not up to the mark. I called him back to share the feedback, he went off in a tangent and asked “how can your company policy allow someone so junior to interview for a senior position? If this is your company ethics and policies I am glad I am not shortlisted and joined your company.”

Only an HR and professionals in senior positions can understand the wrongness of these statements. And the reasons these statements did not sit well with me were:

1. When you are interviewing for a product based company, the coding interviews will be a bit stringent than services companies. And product companies have 3600 interviewing style just to get a good read on the candidate in terms of company/cultural fitment.

2. For someone who comes with 11+ years of experience as developer should be able answer questions by a junior team member. By his logic, junior members are not so experienced. I mean, how difficult questions can he ask? And at some point in time even he was also a beginner and should have worked on basic codes. Ideally this candidate should be able to solve the codes given by junior team member.

3. For a senior candidate, this person lacked maturity while talking to a prospective job giver. Note: Never burn bridges when making contacts through job interviews. If not this organization, your paths may cross in future and it would be awkward at best to work together.

In the end, the feedback we share will ultimately help you crack an interview few days down the line, should the candidate choose to work on the given feedback. No point being nasty to the messenger after all!

By this I do not mean to shrink away from sharing feedback. We are moving away from the time where feedback was not provided, to it being provided in timely manner. It is now time to educate the job applicants the etiquette of communicating with the companies they are interviewing with! Agree?

Work Life

Struggles of a Recruiter

There are a lot of videos and articles that talk about Human Resource Department and how it is the most thankless department in any organization. This is true. Having worked in this Department for past seven years I know that HR team does not get appreciated – or rather real appreciation in any organization.

Employees and close friends of HR within the organization do make passing comments that we have no work to do. And the only work we have is to talk to the employees under the pretense of “Employee Grievance”. Which is all well, but who is taking care of recruitment, employee’s professional development, Payroll and many other things?

And no, we do not want to be appreciated more than any other revenue generating department. Just to be recognized that we do our part for the organization’s growth.

While this has been the real struggle of HR team for ages, Talent Acquisition did not want to be ignored in the struggles when the Pandemic hit.

It was nobody’s fault. Well, not the common people’s fault at least, that we are in this situation. Nor the organizations have to be blamed for the downsizing they have done. Considering they have to bear the cost in worst hit recession in the history of recessions. People who lost their jobs are upset for good reason. Since some of them are sole earners in the family.

Now is when the struggles in recruitment begun. To make for the lost time and money, people have become money minded with unrealistic expectations. To my utter astonishment, some companies are comfortable to accommodate.

Prior to the Pandemic, the IT industry was driving the job market: when the companies hired in high volumes and offered certain salaries which candidates were more than happy to accept. It was mostly to do with the joy of working with an MNC – a status symbol, more like!

Now it has become a candidate driven market: each candidate holds at least three offers. One much higher than the last in terms of salary and has nothing to do with market norms. While all these antiques must satisfy the financial needs of the applicants. It is certainly turning out to be a bad experience for the IT companies to hire under these circumstances.

I do not fault the candidate for wanting more in terms of salary. Just that they accept your offer and go back in job market to get another offer, since they have 3 months notice period to serve. Non-negotiable! Plenty of time to shop around for more offers.

And the candidate comes back one week prior (if we are lucky) to the joining date to inform us that he/she is not joining us, by which time we have waited 3 months for the candidate to join us. And if we are not lucky, we get to know the candidate is not joining on the joining date! At this point we would not be able to match the salary the candidate asks – because the candidate thinks it is ethical to come back and check with us if we can match the offer they have in hand. By now, we effectively lost the candidate and time waiting around for this candidate.

Just two years back the average turnaround time to hire a candidate was 2 months. Now we have positions open for much longer than I care to admit. Such is the situation of Talent acquisition in Indian job market.

For a recruiter, it puts you in a bad head-space when you’re unable to close positions within the anticipated time. But this is happening across all locations/Industries/Job roles.

To my fellow recruiters I ask this – how do we address this concern?

  1. Do we not consider candidates with 3 months notice period? For all you know, one out of hundred candidates could be genuine and might join us at the end of 3 months. Being overly optimistic.
  2. Are all companies being stringent about their employees completing 3 months notice period? If yes, what is it the employees are asked to do during this period?

As far as I know, once you put down your papers the company treats you like a traitor for leaving them and not trust you to do anything of importance. Or they would over burden you to complete every last task that was assigned to you – tasks that are not of considerable importance.

I know for a fact that any employee can negotiate their notice period and the company cannot hold the employee against their will if they chose to leave early. But the candidates do not want to negotiate, even when the company they are joining is willing to buyout their notice period. This is for the fear of losing out other opportunities in the next three months.

3. Can’t the companies adopt shorter notice period policy to avoid the pain it is causing for all the parties involved?

Come to think of it, companies have come up with longer notice period to create the fear of serving longer notice and retain talent. But the employees are not affected by this, they are reaping benefits from this greedy act by getting – on an average 100% hike on their current salary by the time they complete their notice period!

The situation might not be so bad for vanilla skills in the market, since we have candidates in 1:1000 ratio. It becomes a pinch point when hiring for a niche skill. Brilliant candidates come to us with at least three offers in hand and average candidates are not being selected by the hiring managers for the fear of hand holding these candidates would require.

Talent Acquisition is in a stalemate for the better part of last year. I am eagerly looking forward to the day when the companies (with their notice period) and candidates (with their salary expectations) are back to being reasonable. Until then, I do have positions to close and absolutely do not mind considering candidates shopping around in the market for more offers. On a playful note, if the candidates can play coy, recruiters certainly can turn the tables on them.

Work Life

Job vs Happiness

Bosses act like we have signed over our lives in the employment contract and not 8-9 hours a day or 40-45 hours a week. And they act like it is the end of the world if we make a mistake, even a minor one, that too for the first time.

Bosses need to have a check-in with themselves before they react with their employees. There is something called: “First-Offenders”. And this term will not come into the picture if the offender did not know it was an offense to begin with.

There are two sets of people we have sitting in the top management group: Bosses (whom we already know) and Leaders (we are yet to meet, not in person but personality).

We will not talk about bosses since we already know so much about them.

Let’s talk about Leaders!

If there is a situation however bad of an incident it is: a leader will get the facts from all parties involved before he/she reacts to a particular situation.

A saying I like that most: there are two sides to every coin. And if you are not making an effort to know all the facts before you jump to your conclusions, you will remain a BOSS and never be a leader!

I had a question for a very long time:

Is it just me?

So I keep asking people around me to get me back on my right axis whenever this question plagues me. Turns out, it is not just me!

Let’s rewind for a bit.

When you are stepping into the corporate world as a fresher, it is important to have a boss who can guide you through your initial confusion and not turn your mistakes into life hazards of epic proportions! Some mistakes leads to serious implications and the bosses who stand by their team and help them resolve the issues are the leaders! And are respected by their employees and peers alike.

The way I categorize them: problem solvers are leaders!

How many of them do we have?

I can count on my one hand and still not reach five people I came across with this trait in my years of experience, however long or short it is. Because I did work with a company as large as it can get to a Start-up – okay, make that two.

We do have bosses who would like to sit us through gruesome ranting sessions, implying that it is the end of the world. They consciously or unconsciously put their employees in a state of mind, where they would feel like ending their life for making such an error. Extreme, I know. And that is also the truth! In their defence, it is just their discomfort of the entire situation. And their intent could possibly be not to hurt the employee’s feelings.

But the bigger question here is: Is that okay?

Short answer: NO!

Again, bosses need to have another check-in here with themselves. Is this situation worth ruining the working relationship they have with their employees?

That brings me to my topic of the week!

Is a job worth the happiness of a person?

Short answer again is No!

We all no doubt need jobs to survive but not at the cost of our happiness! Nothing is more important than happiness in life; after all we live only once and do not deserve to be a part of toxic work environment!

Take that from a person who left an organization for this reason within a month.

There are many situations in our work life where we give our bosses the benefit of doubt. But not every boss out there is necessarily making these choices unconsciously. There is a certain percent of this lot who are purposefully cruel and outright mean to their employees for various reasons.

Let’s look at one reason why bosses choose to be mean to their employees: wrong –hire.

I would like to call it the Boss’s fault (not even giving the benefit of doubt here, for good reasons!) One particular candidate goes through an entire process of interview and then gets into your team when you hire them. If you were not able to judge that candidate better right from the start, it is not the candidate’s fault!

And accept!

Accept that you have made a mistake about the wrong hire; it could be a cultural misfit, skill mismatch or any number of other reasons. But that does not give you the right to put the candidate through a mental torture and make them leave you.

You can have a civil conversation about it and part ways cordially. I know the corporate world has a long way to go before we reach this stage.   

And I guess that is okay too, each and every one of us are growing as a person on a daily basis. As long as we are growing..

And many times, the bosses not complain about the work. Because frankly, majority of the times the employees are targeted for reasons other than work.

Mainly it is the ego. The bosses come with an air of superiority trying to suppress their employees making it a hostile work environment rather than being a team and creating a happier and healthier work place.

Back to my question again, is a job worth the happiness of a person?

If you are at this point in your professional life asking yourself this question, you need to leave the boss. As many before me said, people leave their bosses not the company.

Let it go! It is not worth to hold onto things which are causing you distress. Apply this to every situation in life not just personal, especially in professional life!

My POV (Point of View) Work Life

Laid Off

When you read news articles about so many people being laid off by well known organizations, our thoughts go to the company: is the company really in this kind of financial crisis that it is having to let go these many people & the employees: how will they survive, now that they have lost their job. What if they are the only breadwinners of the family? We sympathize with these people for just about one moment and be done with it.

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What if you are one of those people who got laid off? Our perspective changes totally when we are there along with the people who got laid off. It is one thing to be a full time employee with the organization and they are letting you go due to performance issues or disciplinary issues. You will see it coming, and maybe prepare for it too.

To be a third party employee is completely different. When you receive the offer of appointment from your parent organization, it is quite clearly mentioned in the letter, when the project is completed before the stipulated time or if the company does not have any other opportunities matching your skills, they will close your contract before the period. When you take a job on contract basis, you jump in a sinking ship with both your eyes open. Because you will be in the first line of defence when the company is not having enough projects and you knew it before you took up this job! No matter how well the company is doing, how big of an organization it is, this is bound to happen. And it is the logical thing to do too, if you think from the organization perspective, why would they continue to pay a third party employee when there is not enough work for the full time employees to begin with. If you want to cry foul, you have no one but yourself to blame for taking up a contract job.

One thing the company can do to make it a little easy on their employees, is give them enough time to prepare mentally. So they can accept the new developments, how it is going to affect them and plan for next course of action, rather than dropping the bomb overnight! Not everybody reacts to things like we expect them to. Some might be emotionally affected by this and can take extreme measures!

While working for an organization, in a particular team, your colleagues might not find the right time to appreciate you. But when you are leaving the organization, that’s when the appreciation starts to pours in, from different team. It’s when you feel, I must have done something right. It can most definitely be overwhelming. All the long hours, burning the midnight oil, finally being paid off!

I have seen one article in LinkedIn today. The article says: “Don’t post here that you have lost your job. Nobody is going to help you. Not your friends or Colleagues. There are few exceptions to this”.  First thing I noticed looking at the post was: She. Is. One. Very. Negative. Person! And she is blaming her circle for not helping her in time of need.

To all the people who were laid off during this pandemic, don’t just blindly rely on people to help you, be it your close family, friends, colleagues, etc. They need to also know of job openings that could work for you, so they can communicate the same with you. First and foremost learn to rely on yourself. Stay positive, be confident, believe you can beat the odds and get a job by your efforts!

Work Life

Interview Feedback Decoded

I was reading a post on LinkedIn sometime back by one of the HR Managers of some company about: 1. How HR should give feedback to the candidates on time. If a candidate is not meeting the criteria, they should be told about it so they can work and improve their skills. 2. How some HRs would not call back, although they mention during the call that they would.

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Point one: the feedback from HR standpoint, I believe most organizations shares them during the same call. The candidate is either meeting the criteria or they don’t. But if the same is pending with the other decision-making parties and if they are taking time, then the feedback also would be delayed.

And I totally agree with the point that we need to share constructive feedback to the candidates, so they can work on their shortcomings. This is something that we do when a candidate particularly seeks specific feedback. Meaning, these candidates intend to improve themselves. It makes absolutely no sense in sharing feedback to the candidates who are overconfident with their skills, they take it in negative light. Their response will be like: “Oh, please! I know what I am worth and capable of. Please keep your feedback to yourself!”

And then we have candidates who are overconfident and also seek feedback. They would be sure of clearing all the interview levels but for whatever reason they don’t get shortlisted. When the reasons of rejection are shared with them, technical reasons, they get defensive and try to prove that they are technically sound. But the actual reasons of rejection could be due to their personal attributes. Which will not be shared to the candidates. If we do, they get back saying that those reasons are not appropriate to reject a candidate.

Personal attributes are not important during an interview? They absolutely are!

It is not just the skills you posses makes you eligible for a job. Your personal attributes like attitude, presentability, ethics and how well you work with others matters too. You might want to come across as confident to your interviewer, but on the way don’t make yourself look foolhardy.

Point two: Again, I agree with the point that a candidate should not be left hanging. However, they would know if they have cleared the interview or not, based on their performance. Those who are confident enough that they have cleared, calls back or writes back constantly. They also happen to be (most of the time) the person to get selected. And those who are confident that they will not clear the interview will also call, not because they expect the results to be positive. Just to get a closure. As much as the candidate’s anxiety is understandable, they deserve to know their feedback. In most cases it is given on time and in some cases delayed to the reasons I have mentioned earlier.

To the person who has written this post on LinkedIn, which has inspired me to write about this topic. I am sure she wants to help the job seekers. I want to help them too. We also need to ensure we are encouraging the people who needs it the most. Not everybody appreciates the efforts we put into shaping people’s future.

Since we are anyway on the topic of feedback, I would also like to mention about the candidates who call at odd time to check their interview status. Which is very annoying! I am sure many others in this profession too, will agree that it is not appropriate to do so. It is always good to follow right channels of communication and give them a couple of days to get back with an update.

Work Life

Nepotism and Favoritism

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Nepotism is avoided by majority of the medium size organizations. They feel the employees will be more productive if they don’t have relatives working within the same office space. Although there are two loop holes in this:

1. The employees can refer their friends. How different is it to refer a friend to a relative? How different is it to have a friend rather than a relative working within the same organization? It all depends on the rapport shared between the two individuals. Some might even be more close to friends than relatives. And it is only a matter of prioritizing your tasks for being productive, irrespective of friends/ relative working in the same organization.

2. There are lot of cases in which employees find their life partners with in the same organizations. To this, different companies have rules laid out differently. Some organizations might ask either of them to leave the company, while some might move either of them to a different team if they belonged to the same team. The first scenario gives no scope for influence, while the second, gives plenty of scope. Especially if it is a medium size organization.

Nepotism is not as negative as its defined to be. In large scale organizations, it is even encouraged. The company does not want to lose talent purely because one candidate is related to an employee. If such a candidate is hired, the management ensures both their work lives don’t cross paths. Will it still cause negative impact on the company and other employees? I would say not as much as Favoritism.

What are the chances of the referred candidates clearing all the interview rounds and getting the Job? 4-5 candidates out of 100. The negative impact due to nepotism as such is decreased (by referring to these numbers). Whereas, we have bosses who pick their favorites from their teams. Each boss has their own reason for doing so. Some might not have the same level of connection with the rest of their team, while some don’t want to make an effort. As long as the outcome of favoritism is not impacting negatively on the rest of the team, right? Wrong. The one person your boss chooses and if this one person does not get along well with all the team mates, this person’s perception will be portrayed to the boss. Be it Negative or Positive.

Can we avoid favoritism at workplace? Probably not. People’s perceptions keep changing based on circumstances. Someone who had negative impression on you could change their perception with just one situation. Having said that, is it right to act good just to get in the good books of the right people? No. It might cause more harm than good. At the same time, for some, once the opinion is formed, no matter what a person does, the original opinion remains.

What can a person do if he/ she is not the boss? The honest answer: Do your job and let your work reflect your worth! At the end of the day, job satisfaction is more important..!

Work Life

Oh, Dear!

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Is it ok to address a person whom you have just met, as “dear“? Is it appropriate to use this endearment in a professional setting?

Let me give you a little background for my conundrum. In my profession, I take lot of interviews, pre & post joining discussions telephonically. In more discussions than I care to admit, people have referred to me as “dear“, which I must admit is quite annoying. I know some might be comfortable with it and over look this. Others, like me, don’t want to encourage this, not at least in the initial telephonic conversations, when they are at a disadvantage of not being able to gauge my reactions.

Photo by Anna Shvets on
Photo by Anna Shvets on

It is human nature, to address the other person either by name or by any sort of endearment. And if the name is challenging to pronounce (I know, my name can be a little challenging to pronounce in the first go), to remember it and refer to people by their name; you can always stop a sentence without actually addressing a person and leave it at that.

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While their intentions might be good, professional bonds develop over a period of time. It may take a couple of days for someone to connect with the other, and a bit longer for others. The other person might just be trying to be nice. But, perception is everything. Nice in someone’s perception might come across as overly friendly to the others. We can never be too careful with our choice of words in professional conversations!