“It’s still at 23%,” says Khitij, 27, glancing to check his phone’s battery life. He has been operating it on charge since he got to work. He still has 2 roles to shortlist candidates for - and he’s only halfway there. “Typically, I have to make at least 25 - 30 calls from about a hundred potential candidates for one position. Tough hai - but I get it done.”
Khitij (name changed to protect privacy) works as a recruiter for one of India’s top staffing firms and thinks of his work as war. The war for talent. Specifically, he handles the Oil and Gas sector. “Fastest finger first chalta hai idhar,” he says as his phone buzzes for the umpteenth time. He winces but still smiles as he talks to a potential candidate. He has had too much talking to do today!
The war for talent has only intensified. Firms today contract out a lot of their workforce to staffing agencies like the one where Khitij works. This works better for them, given the seasonality, the unpredictability of demand and onerous labour compliance that needs to be maintained. With the advent of digital commerce, staffing firms have become strategic partners in the hunt for talent. This reflects in the quality of the output that's demanded of recruiters. "They want specific skillsets and the right prior work experience. They have double the expectation - in half the time," bemoans Khitij. Given the industry's fragmentation (an estimated ~30000 recruiting / staffing firms in India), there is intense competition to get the right talent.
"If they had a rupee for every WhatsApp message they have to read, they would be millionaires." They should spend a disproportionate time speaking to candidates and understanding if they really are who they claim to be.
Once a job or, in recruiter parlance - a project - is received, it’s almost an organised chaos that unfolds. WhatsApp messages, LinkedIn posts, job-board searches, and database searches fly out - all marketing the job details. Phone calls upon phone calls are made until candidates pick up and confirm they are interested. WhatsApp groups are an essential source of referral candidates that must be checked simultaneously. There are more tabs open on a browser than calls from a team leader checking up on the progress.
So why do they do it? What keeps a recruiter motivated - day in, day out? “Sense of achievement hai. I work for my team leader, and we are central to our company. Also, someone gets a job because of all this” - there is evident pride in Khitij’s voice. Once the dust has settled, there is a feeling of a well-done job. After all the chaos, phone calls, WhatsApp campaigns, and resume searches, it is time to head home after a job well done.
Fortunately, recruitment doesn’t need to be this chaotic. Technology is changing the recruitment ecosystem with AI tools that make data more organised and resume parsing easy. Recruiters are strategic assets that battle daily to find the right talent for their firms. Their work shouldn’t be blind outreach hoping for a few converts. They should spend a disproportionate time speaking to candidates - and understanding if they really are who they claim to be.
At Hunar, we endeavour to empower this recruiter with digital tools that make them more effective. Workforce agencies and recruiting firms can now digitise their data and automate their job campaigns via the Hunar CRM. So that recruiters are free from their myriad tele calling tasks and focus on subjective assessment. So that they actually do faster what they’ve always been doing - winning the war for talent.