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An Alternative Recruitment Solution for Nigeria

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 “I have submitted my C.V in every place I can think off, but they still haven’t called.”

“I have applied online in various establishments, but it seems all are just scam.”

“You must know someone top the ladder before you can be considered for that position.”

“Don’t even bother sending your CV there if you don’t know have someone there to pursue it for you.”

The statements above is just a fraction of a fraction of some of the responses you would get from the unemployed youths scouting for jobs in the nation, and all around the world. They are ready answers the unemployed would give to sum up their frustrations of the burgeoning hopelessness in looking for jobs, which some employers claim to have but give excuses that the majority of the Nigerian youths are unemployable. Several reasons have been postulated for this millstone, ranging from declining educational standards to archaic curriculum, which doesn’t run parallel with the current economic needs of the country.

Some of the reasons given were further buttressed by Ms. Ronke Kosoko on one of her employment forums on the 30th of May, 2014, but what was deficient in the discourse was the failure to prescribe an elixir to the aliments diagnosed. Although, in her defence I must state that, the converse which was billed to last for an hour elapsed, but she promised to do a sequel which to my knowledge was never held. In the forum I had raised a question that, and I quote “There’s a growing concern that Nigerian youths are unemployable due to educational decay. It’s now common knowledge that job listings (on the internet and newspapers) by firms are now obsolete and not even used to recruit. Could you list creative ways firms can employ meriting applicants without the statutory job posts?

The poser was borne out of the fact that most firms are drained due to the tedious and expensive process of employing prospective applicants, and also the hazard which occurs when prospective applicants are gathered in one place, as we all witnessed in the recent Immigration stampede in February. It is therefore urgent that “we” search for new and unusual HR policies to curb the insuperable process to keep the Nigerian jobsphere safe. As new and unusual innovations are being developed in western climes to curb the overheads and time allotted to recruitment, we need to borrow a leaf and do away with the imminent ticking chaos. For example Stacy Donovan-Zapar, the Social Recruiting and Employer Branding Strategist for Zappos (an online marketing site) stated early this year, it will abandon job postings. The “abandon job postings” policy recalls an earlier era — as Zapar says, “It’s old-school recruiting, made new and fresh again.” She opined that new HR practices should motivate savvy conversations, not just imitation. She advised that, organization leaders should demand a conversation about talent sourcing as sophisticated as one about their supply chain.

Citing Zappos as a context, Zapar says that it has long used social channels to describe their culture, people, and events. Now, they have added the Zappos Insider program, which Zapar describes as a place “where people can sign up, stay in touch, talk to real people with real names and real faces, get to know us and allow us to get to know them. Our Insiders are people who might like to work for Zappos someday … today, tomorrow or at some point in the future.” It’s an old – school idea common to technology companies as far back as the 1980’s; akin to “we know more about the engineers that work for our competitors than they do.”

Zapar notes that Zappos received over 31,000 applications last year, responded to every single person who applied, and hired only 300 of those applicants (a similar case with Nigerian concerns). The company still has job descriptions with actual titles and actual job descriptions and actual requirements, they’re just not posting them externally anymore, but are allowing potential recruits to literally “talk their way into a job.” So, abandoning job postings doesn’t mean random hiring. These policies might have been effective for Zappos, but will it be a success when applied to Nigerian firms?

Approach that question logically, and with sound fundamentals. Let’s “retool” the Zappos strategy through the staffing supply chain, to see how their innovation can spur a great conversation. Zappos has a “labour pool” with some applicants who “spam post” resumes. Their new policy can yield an “applicant pool” that weeds them out in favour of applicants who invest effort interacting with Zappos employees. Zappos “screen” and “select” better applicants because they are having conversations with candidates, getting to know them — their strengths, their interests, their personality — and matching them to jobs on the back end. Zappos might also see benefits at the “offering and closing” and “on-boarding” stages, because decades of research suggests that candidates who devote effort to the recruitment process more readily accept an offer, and a “realistic job preview” increases candidate commitment and performance.

The staffing supply chain also reveals why the policy may not work for everyone. Some applicants may be unwilling to spend time on the Insider site, particularly those with attractive alternatives. Zappos receives 100 applications for every vacancy, so they can probably take that chance. However, if jobs are less familiar, more unique, or less attractive, the supply chain optimization may require getting more people into the pipeline, with an application process that makes it as easy as possible for them to apply, which might revert back to the “statutory job posting.”

However, Zappos hopes the Insider site helps reveal culture fit, and believes that is best assessed through conversations and interaction. That sets a high bar for Zappos employees and hiring managers. They need to develop and analyze interactions rigorously and effectively. As Zapar said, “We’re just cutting those boring ole job postings out of the discussion and proactively chatting with candidates ahead of time so we know exactly who our top potential candidates might be by the time the opening becomes available.” Evidence suggests that chatting with candidates is not a valid approach, unless you invest in well-informed, disciplined, and skilled interviewers. The investment may be sensible, if 50 percent of performance hinges on culture and when the investment can be amortized across hundreds of yearly hires. However, if you have a job for which the skills are rare, and can be identified from resumes or work samples, then your optimal supply chain should attract lots of resumes and work samples, perhaps even using algorithms rather than humans to winnow the pool in the early stages based on hard skills. You might even assess culture fit through deep conversations as Zappos does, but perhaps with a small number of well-trained interviewers on a much smaller pre-selected group of candidates.

Henry Onyidoh, is currently with the Department of Biological Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is mostly interested in the interface between Education and the Nigerian Economy, with a soft spot for Corporate Investment in Education. He can be reached via  haeryck@gmail.com


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