Stuart White, Managing Director of HRMC in Gaborone, has agreed to share his insights with us regarding the trends and tribulations of the employment market in Botswana.
Human Resource Management Consultants (HRMC), was founded by Stuart 22 years ago and has been a well acclaimed executive search firm for many years in Botswana. Stuart is a highly regarded Talent Acquisition Expert with over 25 years of experience and a well-known influencer of the recruitment industry in Botswana. He has gained extensive tenure in the field of Management Development, having designed and administered assessment centres for senior managers in South Africa and for many leading companies in Botswana. Stuart completed his Master’s Degree in Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology recently and often consults to Individuals and Corporations, regarding inculcating positive psychology and success principles into everyday life.
Tell me a bit more about HRMC.
HRMC was founded by myself in 1992 and we have since established a footprint in over 12 African countries, apart from our main operations in Botswana. We engage with clients across all the major industry sectors including Mining, Manufacturing, Banking, Microfinance and Governmental. HRMC is differentiated as an Executive Search firm, which means our requirements in terms of vacancies are geared towards senior and executive level opportunities, for instance Chief Executives, Financial Directors and Chief Operational type roles.
What strategies/techniques do you use to attract the best talent?
Our number one technique may be defined as “continuous networking activity”. We are fortunate enough to have built up an extensive pipeline of networking channels considering our lengthy historic operations in Botswana, however I believe networking is to be a relentless process of interacting with your connections, referrals and referrals of referrals. We do have an in-house database of candidates, but the advances in social media is beginning to override the necessity of maintaining internal databases. Most of our networking activities are on Linkedin and I’m of opinion that this platform will just grow bigger and bigger in future as the most viable networking tool for recruiters.
How do you cultivate your client and candidate networks successfully?
We have niched ourselves quite well at top end of the scale, pertaining to the roles we recruit for and therefore we operate in a smaller market or candidate pool. Thus, we have access to a high percentage of candidates on executive level. We keep our contacts informed regarding opportunities and therefore build relationships with passive candidates, who often provide us with referrals of their more actively looking peers. We create further brand awareness by advertising in the newspapers often, as printed media is still very dominant here. HRMC is very well known in Botswana, but I actively get involved in below the line brand building activities. Creating visibility and awareness of HRMC is imperative and that is why I attend conferences, conduct presentations at industry seminars, write articles on a regular basis and conduct interviews at some of the radio stations here. The more our clients recognise our brand, the better our chances of securing their assignments.
Advertising in printed media, is this strategy not a very time-consuming effort considering the excessively response rates often created these types of advertisements?
Yes, this can be a tedious task, but I believe the more applications I receive, the better chance I have as a recruiter to attract that potential perfect candidate for the vacancy. For me, there is still a positive correlation where higher numbers of applications increase the probability of finding the right person. The question one should ask though, is whether your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can process all these response data effectively as to identify the quality candidates you are looking for? A solid ATS with pre-elimination functionalities like “killer questions” and pre-empting testing capability, will save a tremendous amount of time as the first level of screening is done automatically. Aptitude testing and ranking of candidate applications done by your ATS will boost your value offering to clients substantially.
Let’s discuss the concept of value offering further. Is there still any marked value for clients to engage with recruitment agencies?
This is a question every recruiter who is worth their salt, should be asking themselves frequently. Our clients are using the same methods of advertising and networking that we do as agencies. Advances in communication technology, virtual business environments and instant access to information provide our clients with all the tools to attract talent themselves, significantly decreasing costs when not having to pay agency fees. We should redefine our business strategies and renew our service suites to remain competitive to other agencies, but also against the internal recruitment divisions of our clients.
A solid portfolio of LinkedIn connections or a strong internal database, does not cut it anymore in the talent world of today or the radical changes looming in future. The industry has changed completely and we need to be better and faster than the competition in our quest to find talent and explore opportunities where we can add additional value to our clients’ talent acquisition strategies to provide services they cannot undertake themselves. Relationship management and new business development is of key importance here, to ascertain the needs and preferences of our clients.
Speedy timeframes of sourcing and selection processes are vital in securing recurring business and additional services like testing and assessment functionalities, will also increase the value offering to clients.
Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is a further service we offer and provides more of a guaranteed income, where flat fee is paid to conduct a selection process of advertising, screening and shortlisting responses on behalf of a client or entails final interviewing and shortlisting from a pool of responses provided by the client. RPO type assignments very much in demand here these days.
Does culture play a part in defining the type of the talent you would like to recruit?
Culture fit is an important component when correctly matching a potential candidate to a job opportunity. Technical competence and experience plays a big part in assessing candidate suitability, but so does candidate personality and demeanour. Governmental clients here, would require steadiness and reliability, perhaps a candidate who has been working at one or two companies during his/her entire career and slightly unadventurous. In Microfinance or Banking an entrepreneurial spirit with a dynamic personality, would be more appealing. Here in Botswana, I have found clients rely more on gut feel during the interview event, as opposed to using empirical testing methods like the companies in South Africa, where the market is more sensitive due to the demographics of the population there.
Millennials are the so-called employees of the future. Tell me about your thoughts on this generation?
- Firstly, one needs to understand the “Millennial animal” and adapt your recruitment strategies to their preferred methods of engagement.
Considering the process of attracting Millennial candidates: According to statistics, almost 90% of those born between 1980 and 2000 look at their smartphones before they get out of bed in the morning and 80% of these job seekers use their smartphones to look for employment opportunities. Social media platforms and communication portals are the areas where Millennials spend most of their time on and you should market to those channels, using specific targeted approaches to attract their attention and interest. They also require access to as much information as possible and expect quick feedback and instant responses.
They way Millennials prefer to apply for positions, is also a far cry from writing cover letters and sending resumes via email. These candidates expect fast, simplistic uploading capabilities of their profiles or Linkedin URL’s. Currently we are developing a type of product where algorithms are to be used to match candidates to specific opportunities and send them notifications via a central database like Career Pool or Staffwise. Furthermore, these algorithms will afford prospective employers the opportunity to search for candidates according to specific criteria of competency ratings, university marks or experience functions and pull up candidate shortlists ranked from 1 – 10, pertaining to suitability.
- Secondly you should devise succession plans regarding the retention of Millennials, but is this even a viable cause to undertake?
The Millennial Generation is all for continuous change, which means you might be able to keep them for 2-3 years if you are lucky, before they move on to other organisations. Companies must come to terms with this fact. However, if your organization provides a meaningful, challenging scope for them to learn and then allow them to move on and be successful elsewhere, the changes are highly probable that they will then return to your organization after a few years. Thus, you are still retaining them in the end. For this to work though, the onboarding process must be executed speedily, with high learning curves and immediate value extraction or deliverables.
Any advice you would like to provide to hiring managers?
- Define your needs explicitly, prior to engaging in a search process.
- Utilize job profiling tools and decide what the critical success factors would be pertaining to each role.
- Ensure that your requirements are realistic and that candidates meeting those requirements actually do exist in terms of competency, skills and remuneration levels.
- You get what you pay for, hiring a cheap candidate now could turn out to be a very costly mistake in the future.
Is there a Talent Gap in Botswana relating to certain skills or areas of competence?
The workforce in Botswana is highly educated, whether they have studied in Botswana or completed their tertiary qualifications abroad. Our government sponsors these candidates to go out there and receive the best education and training possible in areas like Finance, Medical, Engineering and IT. The gap remains widespread though, in terms of experience levels and technical competence. Botswana is a successful country and not like South Africa, where historically a struggle was endured to receive recognition and equal opportunities. A sense of “laissez faire” exists here amongst the workforce, productivity is lacking and employees are not as hard-working as their South African counterparts, just because the working culture here never required them to be. This is where the challenge emerges in finding those executives in Finance, Mining or IT, with enough bench strength to be a driving force within the organizations here.
What do you see as the emerging trends in talent acquisition?
- A distinctive development towards, assessing and measuring what talent is, as opposed to what we thought talent was. We were never quite sure, of what talent was and the value of talent was perceived after the fact, by means of performance and KPI deliverables. Now we are using a more proactive approach with predictive testing and assessment tools, which provide futuristic information regarding levels of potential and growth ability.
- Research trends are changing considerably, where referrals accounts for more than 30 percent of candidates placed in the industry, as opposed to deriving placements from active candidate applications and search processes.
- Linkedin is going to continue to be a substantial part of any talent acquisition strategy, especially with the new Link Match functionality to be launched in the next 6 months.
- The use of algorithms will become predominant in the mining and assimilation of candidate data available in the public domains like LinkedIn, Google, Facebook and Instagram.
- The process of job applications will also be changing from emailing CV’s and face to face interviewing to uploading video CV’s and increased usage of Skype or Google Chat Interviewing platforms.
- The price war will continue parallel with economic indicators. Budget constraints will determine which candidate is to be hired, due to affordability and not necessarily the quality of technical competence.
Employfy wants to thank Stuart White for sharing his insights with us. I hope you enjoy the post. And if you like it, I hope you’ll participate in our discussion and share it with anyone you think might find it useful.
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Employfy HR Journalist, Liezl Schoeman
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