Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back Out candidates phenomena

back out
1. To withdraw from something before completion.
2. To fail to keep a commitment or promise.
Recruiting is a very exciting and challenging profession and even more so when you recruit IT consultants. The challenges for an IT recruiter in today’s job market are in convincing and managing IT job seekers to remain committed and not back out during the hiring process. With the current IT market boom, good IT consultant can find himself with multiple job offers at any given point of time and will get approached and head hunted by head hunters and recruiters alike constantly. And because he has multiple offers at hand he is bound to remain true to himself and not being loyal to anyone consultant, after all he can only take up one offer at one time. This will also means that to the other recruiter he is bound to be another case of a back out candidate.

As a recruiter, the most frustrating aspect of my job is to have in my hand a candidate backing out – during or after the selection process. For most of us, the stress that we go through as a recruiter is not so much from the targets and the deadlines but the uneasy feeling of not knowing if your selected/shortlisted candidate(s) will remain committed to your offer and take up the job.

My first back out experience in Singapore was with a candidate who had a niche-hard- to-find-skill that we sourced and selected from one of the leading software house in Southern India. The pre-qualifying and the interview process went smoothly and the client was happy and they want him on board ASAP. To make a long story short, we waited for him for one month and on the day of his departure he kept us in tenterhooks by not picking up his calls and when we called his home his family will not give us proper response however subsequently we managed to talk to him and he assured us that alls well. But later I got a call from the airport and that was 2:00 in the morning and he told me that he is not flying and he will not be able to join us because of family reason. That’s it. He decided in the last minute he won’t join us. Here our client IBM is under tremendous pressure themselves from their client because this candidate was supposed to be the lead guy and they wanted to parade him in front of the client the following day. Poor me, I had that sinking feeling deep down inside and I just wasn't feeling good at all to face the client.

Backing out of job offers is a big issue especially in country like India because of the bullish job market. I believe the situation is not so bad for organizations which are of repute and are well established such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc but those second and third tier organization are the one facing the brunt of most of the back out cases. This could be attributed mainly due to the fact that the big boys do not have difficulty in attracting job applicants because of their good brand image and willingness to shell out above average market compensation.

Types of back out:
Let’s look at what stages of the recruitment process a back out can possibly happen.
1. Candidate backing out before the interview
2. Candidate backing out after interview
3. Candidate backing out after accepting the offer
4. Candidate backing out before joining
5. Candidate backing out just after joining

Probable reasons for back outs:
Varied reasons can be attributed as to why a candidate back out, from my past experiences below are some of the common ones -
* Have in hand several offers and will decide on the one best offer
* Developing cold feet at the last moment before submitting his/her resignation letter
* HR/Line Manager convinced him/her to stay back
* Was given a very good counter offer by employer so decided to stay back
* Not serious about leaving current job, and attending interviews just because the opportunity was presented to him/her.
* Learnt of the project which was not to his liking/preference/expectation and is not keen on joining
* The final offer not up to his/her expectation
* Did not agree with some of the clause(s) in the offer letter/appointment letter
* His/her friends/contacts gave negative feedback about the organisation so decided not to join
* Required joining time not reasonable
* See what offer he/she can get from the market to negotiate a better salary with existing employer
* Selection process took too long and has already accepted another offer
* Tried re-negotiating for more salary after selection
* Genuinely have personal/family issue because of which he/she cannot take up the offer

Repercussions & affects of backing out:
- Recruitment is an expensive activity. Every time a candidate backs out the recruitment process has to be initiated all over again.
- Good amount of time and effort is wasted to find a new replacement and projects can and do get delayed and all these translates to revenue lost
- But most important of all is the lost of client’s trust. This is non tangible and will have long term adverse affect vis-à-vis client-vendor relationship.

How to avoid & reduce candidates backing out:
• If you and your candidates are in the same area it is always advisable to meet face-to-face.
• Be it on the phone or in person spent as much time as you can and dig for information – what motivates him to look for a change, professional and personal reasons, what are his expectations in terms of money and roles, etc.
• It is important to be in control when it comes to recruiter-candidate relationship. To achieve that it is important that you conduct a thorough pre-qualifying. Get all the low-down about his background and aspiration, et al.
• Always insist on obtaining either verbally and/or in writing his/her response and commitment to the job offer. You may do this with a direct approach or with great subtlety. Which approach you resort to will depend on each individual or their level of seniority – you need to make the right judgment.
• Constantly update him/her on the process and try keeping-in-touch on a frequent basis.
• Pay close attention while talking to him/her and listen for those tones and expressed/unexpressed concerns and look for those signs that might indicate his intentions.
• If any of his/her words, expressions, actions gives you a sense of doubt and concern, then drop him/her and move on. It is better to drop him/her now than later have a back out in your hand.
• Have a set of questionnaire that you can run through with him/her before proceeding to qualify him - questionnaire that will test his seriousness and sincerity to look for a change.
• Do not hesitate to ask them if they have discussed with his/her family members about this plan to look for a job change. Especially for those who are married, please confirm with them if they have consulted their other half.
• Try and get inside your candidate’s mind, understand his needs and his aspiration.
• Pro-actively try to cover all areas that you possibly think will be a likely point of concern (reason for a back out) for him at a later stage and addressed them immediately.

If after all this you have a back out it’s probably all right, after all, let us not forget that we are only human and let us accept the fact that they too are also just human like us and not anything else (wink!). Like us they too can have many internal and external influences/flaws for them to change their decision at a drop of a hat or act differently at times without any rhyme or reason.

The trick here is to constantly learn from ones mistakes and not repeat the same mistake the next time round. A good recruiter is someone who no matter how many times he falters and gets knocked down will reinvent himself and come back again and again but stronger, better and smatter.

Appreciate if you can share any additional suggestions/comments on how one can avoid candidate backing out.

*** Happy hunting folks!***

Most IT pros are looking for a new job

I stumbled upon this interesting piece of statistics from a survey and thought to share with everyone.

Most IT pros are looking for a new job, Says survey

60% of IT pros are looking for new jobs, Of the 60% who want a new job,

- 27% are "actively" searching;

- 52% are "somewhat actively" looking,

- 20% say they're "not very actively" hunting for new work,

And the reason why the IT pros are looking for a change:

- 73% cited the desire for better pay as the main reason for their search,

- 40% are looking for better benefits.

- Two-thirds also say they are looking for new jobs because their current positions offered no advancement opportunities.

- 58% say they are looking for new challenges.

- 40% of the job-searching respondents complain that their managers don't respect or value the work they do.

- 40% say they hope to find new work in the same industries they're in now.

*** Happy hunting folks!***

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lost your job – what do you do?

The scenario:

“Yikes! You just lost your job! You’ve been so busy at *work* that you don’t feel your network is as strong as you would like it to be! What are you going to do with (and to) your network in the next 6 weeks as you begin an aggresive job search campaign? And, outside of your network, what job search tactics will you employ? Or your best networking tips related to job searches”. - Blog carnival by Jason Alba

Phone & e-mail:
Firstly, I would update my mentor (if you don’t have one yet, this is the right time to do so) on my unfortunate situation and seek his immediate advice and also share with him on my plan of action and listen to what he has to say. Secondly, pick up the phone and talk to my favorite recruiter and also later call my not-so-favorite recruiters. Thirdly, I would then personally call up all my networks, spend time catching up with them and subtly enquire from them if they are aware of any new jobs around. I would try not to be too aggressive or desperate the first time around. Showing desperation at the first meeting/chat after a long gap can be perceived to be not a ‘cool’ thing to do and for some it might even sound rude or might even be construed to being taken for granted. One has to be respectful and not take any relationship for granted, very basic and important. After all the talk is done suggest a personal meeting over a cup of coffee or lunch/dinner, provided you and your network are within the same city or vicinity. Personal meeting are always more effective then catching up over the phone. I’ll proceed to update my network on my situation, be nice and enquire about his health, about the market/industry, whatever, and be prepared to share my plans and my actual situation. I would then follow up this meeting with a phone call after 3-4 days and this time round I can be completely open with him and share my intention to look for a job immediately. I will check with him if he is aware of any job openings that will suit my profile and request him to talk to his network to enquire any relevant job openings on my behalf. I will be assertive about my intentions but will not show any sign of desperation. To those in my next level of network, I’ll try calling them else make sure I write to them and update them on my situation and enquire from them if they would be kind enough to refer if they know of any openings that would be suitable for my experience. I would also remember to thank them in anticipation of their help/assistance.
I’d use the messenger and the contacts to spread the word around that I’m seeking for a new job. Sometime, those contacts even though they might not be recruiters will know of recruiters whom they can touch base and enquire for any job openings on my behalf. Some folks do have this strong tendency to go out of their way to help others, pray you do have such contacts in your list.
I would also start paying close attention to all my contacts and my contact’s contacts. And try getting myself introduce to them or connecting to them.
Professional Membership:
I’d also find out about the members within the memberships that I currently belong and look around for anyone whom I can network with and get their advice/help/references.
If you do blog within the relevant area of your professional practice, do get in touch with all your fellow bloggers and subtly enquire around for any relevant job openings.
Mailing group:
If you are part of a mailing group (e.g.; like yahoogroups), do check for any relevant job postings by fellow group members. Also do touch base directly with some of the members whom you think might be able to assist you.

When all the above means are exhausted, the next best option is to go to Job sites and job boards and news paper/magazine advertisements and start checking out the relevant job postings and start applying. This traditional mode of job search sometimes can be very effective and that’s because the openings are generally of urgent in nature and that’s one reason why in the first place the job has been advertised.
Also, it might be worthwhile for me to shortlist few of the companies that I would like to work with, visit their website and check out if they have any relevant job postings on their website.
The last and the most extreme mode of job search outside of one’s network will be blogging. This is the age of web2.0, go ahead blog your way to the attention of your next employer. Blog about anything that is relevant to ‘the’ company that you really wish to work for, do your bit of digging and research, and impress them on how much you know about them, their products and services, talk about any market feedback if you know of any, et al.
And should all else fails, you might even try filming your CV and distributing it to all your prospective employers – this one is innovative but extreme and sure to attract attentions – both wanted and unwanted.
Finally, be passionate about yourself, your profession and your job search and you will find that sooner rather than later your search will land you your next job. Also in the process of searching for a new job and through the journey you would have importantly renewed and strengthen your network, met some wonderful new contacts, increased your knowledge and becoming wiser and more prepared should you have to search for a new job in the near future again.

*** Happy job hunting!***

Monday, October 02, 2006

Desktop Search Engines

Have you ever struggled to locate a specific email message or file on your local or shared hard drive? Have you ever wished that you could find anything inside your email attachments and in your hard disk instantly with just a few clicks and/or by keying in few keywords? The solution is available for you in the form of Desktop Search and it’s free!

Google V/S Microsoft V/S Yahoo

Desktop Search works like an internet search engine and is used to find a file on personal computers using keyword(s). Desktop Search is a tool every recruiter must have to achieve optimum productivity vis-à-vis effective search and retrieval of data – resumes, files, reports etc from their local machines or for those working in a network environment the Enterprise version of Desktop Search. A good recruiter will normally work at a furious pace and will not want to be slowed down by not having the means and tools to mine his database effectively. Desktop Search can be downloaded free and are very light and can be downloaded and installed in a minute or so.

Desktop Search has been around and the most common one that we are familiar with will be the one that Microsoft has in-built along with their operating systems and also with all their office applications. And for those of us in the search industry we all know how frustrating it can be to rely on this search mode because it is very ineffective especially when you have to search the database in the local drive for multiple skills set.

Google has taken the search concept a notch higher and they developed a tool call Google Desktop Search (GDS) and as expected they were soon followed by Microsoft with their version call Windows Desktop Search (WDS). And the latest one being from Yahoo call Yahoo Desktop Search (YDS) - Yahoo licensed the technology for YDS from X1, a desktop search developer owned by Idealab. We also have some more Desktop search applications flooding the market such as Copernic, HotBot, Ask Jeeves, Blinkx etc, but I would like to focus on the above 3 players because they are more or less known by everyone.


Google (GDS)

Yahoo (YDS)

Windows (WDS)


Yes – local

Yes – local

Yes – also network


Windows Exp



Email attachment




Auto preview




Boolean search




Auto indexing of web pages visited




Character search(eg:C#/C++)




One other company well versed in the science of search is Copernic and they offer Copernic Desktop Search (CDS) which has one of the best interface. After experiencing Copernic and Yahoo search, Google is such a huge disappointment. Firstly, the windows interface is very untidy and a pain when you have to click on the link every time you have to access the file and for recruiter like me I would prefer to have a preview before I can waste valuable time clicking on the link when I am not even sure if the file will even be relevant. Secondly, Google missed out on including the email attachment indexing, which to me is very important because most of the resumes are in attachment. Thirdly, unlike Copernic and WDS, Google does not let you search through the mapped network drive.

Almost all the players have something similar to offer and few can offer anything that is radically different. I would give my highest ranking to Copernic except for the fact that I struggled to completely index my database in spite of trying it few times and besides it does not indicate to me the indexing progress (percentage completed) which is like working in the dark.

Based on my requirements and the intended use of the utility which is searching mainly for resumes in email attachment and hard drive, my preference will be WDS. This is because WDS does a good job of indexing and even though it has a limited preview option it does serve its purpose because I can have a glimpse of the search result in the form of a windows pane. So this time round, for me it's got to be Microsoft.