A career in talent acquisition is one of the growing careers in Human Resources, most companies that are growing rapidly and with a large workforce prefer having internal talent acquisition/recruitment teams.
We spoke to Gathoni Mwangi who is currently working as a Global Recruitment Manager, the conversation will guide us on how we can grow our careers as Talent Acquisition Specialists.
Gathonis Background- Linkedin Profile
Here are some of the questions we asked.
- What are some of the misconceptions people have about the recruiter role?
- That talent is everywhere so it’s easy to find someone that fits the job description. Recruiters act as “match-makers” so it goes beyond ticking the boxes of what the job entails. We consider team dynamics, company culture, manager-subordinate fit, and also the candidate’s short to medium-term career plans as we recruit.
- Another HUGE misconception is that recruiters have a bias against the company they work for. We act as intermediaries between the organization, the hiring manager, and the candidate. Our role is to help everyone get the work done.
- We read applicants’ emails! For organizations that run mass recruitment projects, most use an ATS (applicant tracking system) to manage applications. We use “the system” to bulk progress or regret candidates. Some people believe that if they respond to the automated email it doesn’t land in front of a human – but guess what? We see the responses and read them. Over my years in the field, I have received appreciation notes, and conversely some very derogatory responses.
- What are some mistakes you made while starting that you would advise newbies in the profession against doing?
- If you believe you’ve found your thing, your passion, get a mentor and start truly honing your craft. The further one goes with their career (whichever field you are in), the narrower it gets at the top. There are fewer seats to occupy so give yourself a fighting chance to get into one of those seats in the future.
- People say the world is small but your professional world is even smaller! Treat everyone you meet in your field as you would like to be treated. One day your former intern could be your hiring manager or direct manager.
- Go after what you want. Don’t sit and wait for it to be brought to you. Going after it doesn’t mean saying you want to be for example promoted to a certain title. It means assuming the role, filling in your learning and development gaps, etc, so that you are ready for this thing that you want so badly.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of your job as a talent expert?
When despite all the odds, I found that unicorn! There’s a rush that comes with successfully hiring difficult-to-fill roles. Working as an in-house recruiter vs. with an agency also allows me to follow the progress of my candidates. There’s nothing quite like seeing people flourish and having a clear understanding of where it all started.
- Which roles do you feel pay the highest?
I’ll share a generic answer here but it will cut across all if not most professions; any role that is specialized in your will always pay higher than a generalist role. Expertise pays.
- What is the biggest challenge facing recruiters today in the global market?
- Competition for the best talent continues to grow! If I take Africa alone and look at the number of start-ups on the continent now versus 8 – 10 years ago, the market is quite saturated. Candidates have a lot more options to pick from and culture often plays a key role in their decision-making. Money talks but not as loud as career progression, company culture, and flexibility in the work model (office-first, or remote-first).
- Gut instinct is totally out of style. More than ever, hiring processes have taken a scientific approach to boost efficiency in recruitment efforts and overall labor costs. These days, in-house recruiters do not just bring candidates to the door, we are making more use of data analytics to figure out if a candidate will be successful not just in the selection process but also in the actual job post-probation period. Figuring out the accuracy of interviews and testing processes with evidence is of utmost importance. Data analysis and interpretation are now required skills for a recruiter. Gone are the day’s recruiters and hiring managers who rely on “feelings” or rapport alone to make hiring decisions – we need concrete evidence.
This is a controversial statement but it is one from my own experience, not once but twice befallen…Be wary of hiring processes that move all too quickly for permanent full-time roles. I.e. within 2 weeks or less you’ve been contacted or applied, interviewed, assessed, reference checked, and received an offer. Organizations that hire in a hurry will more likely treat you the same; rushed – no patience for growth, or reflection. There are of course exceptions to this rule e.g. when being hired for entry-level positions. Be very wary of any organization asking you to sign an offer of employment within 48 hours of receiving it. An ideal selection process should give candidates 1-2 weeks to consider an offer more so if they need to resign from their current employer. It’s just like the African proverb says “Hurry hurry has no blessing” – our ancestors were very wise.