EP57: Philip Morris Malaysia - Defining the Candidate Experience (With Kumeresen Vairavan)

August 30, 2023
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All-In Recruitment is a podcast by Manatal focusing on all things related to the recruitment industry’s missions and trends. Join us in our weekly conversations with leaders in the recruitment space and learn their best practices to transform the way you hire.

Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Lydia: Welcome to the All-In Recruitment podcast by Manatal where we explore best practices, learnings, and trends with leaders in the recruitment space. If you like our content, please subscribe to our channels on YouTube and Spotify to stay tuned for our weekly episodes. I'm your host, Lydia, and joining us today is Kumeresen Vairavan of Philip Morris Malaysia.

Good afternoon, Kumer. Good to have you with us today.

Kumeresen: Yes, Lydia, good afternoon to you. Hope you're doing well.

Finding the Right Fit for Both Company and Candidate

Lydia: So Kumer, walk us through your journey because you've been in the field for quite some time now. What led you to talent acquisition and why is this something you feel very strongly about?

Kumeresen: First of all, Lydia, thank you for inviting me over to have a chat on this podcast. So, I would say recruitment was not a career path that I was actually focusing on. It’s just that I stumbled upon it when I was applying for career opportunities after my graduation. I’ve always been interested in areas of business and HR. I’ve been sending out applications for interviews and whatnot. Fortunately enough, I got contacted by my previous employer Randstad back in 2013. And I would say the rest is history. From that point onwards, I became a recruiter and have not turned back ever since.

Lydia: So, what might be some key areas of focus for you in this role?

Kumeresen: Well, I would say in my current role as a talent acquisition lead, I am actually in charge of ensuring that the end-to-end recruitment process is delivered in a superb manner, in line with the global guidelines. I also ensure that the entire recruitment stage, from the time we identify a candidate right up to the onboarding, is done seamlessly. The main aim, I would like to emphasize, is basically candidate experience.

So everyone can do onboarding, induction or recruitment. But I would say the thing that leaves an impact on a candidate is basically the experience or how the candidate feels during the whole recruitment experience and also the onboarding.

So, my main aim is to ensure that they have a pleasant onboarding experience and also for them to feel that they’re welcomed in the company. At the same time, their experiences are being valued in the company and they have a chance to actually put up what they have in terms of their experiences for the betterment of themselves career-wise and also for the company as well.

And also, for me, another thing that I like to emphasize in my current role is basically that I find candidates that are suited for the role and also for their own career progression. I do not believe in plug-and-play. I believe careers are driven by individuals themselves. And I find individuals who are committed to a particular opportunity at the same time they’re also looking for career growth in their particular lifestyle as well. So, I look into these two areas.

Generally, when a vacancy comes along, a recruiter will come in and place someone and then that’s the job done. But I ensure that I take my time to ensure that it’s a win-win situation both for the company and also for the candidate because I believe that a candidate needs to learn from a particular role they’re going through. And by the time they are resigning and moving on to better opportunities, I would always call them back and ask if they have actually learned something or if they have actually grown as an individual. And most of the time they did and that’s actually something that’s rewarding to me.

Breaking Down Candidate Experience

Lydia: You also talked about candidate experience at the beginning and also about making sure that they understand the company. So in terms of candidate experience, how long would you define this experience?

Kumeresen: Okay, so this is a very good question. When we have candidate experience, I usually break it down into different segments: pre-hire, during-hire, and post-hire. Pre-hire is basically the recruitment where we approach the candidate, the entire experience, and the entire ecosystem, from the time that candidate applies to the career site.

The whole journey on how soon we come back to them, the assessments, how soon they’re completed, how soon they get feedback and so on, a candidate will feel valued when there is constant feedback given to them.

So, that is pre-hire, and that’s one thing I would say that a lot of candidates are actually not happy about because they usually go around and say, “Hey, I applied for a role. I’ve not heard back from recruiters ever since and now the job is closed.” So, what happened in between? I need to ensure that good or bad, even if the candidate does well or does not do well, communication needs to be shared with them. If they are good, progress them. If they’re not good, do not keep them waiting, close the gap and keep them in the loop for future opportunities.

During hire, we have to ensure that the offer process, the due diligence process, and all other processes are done in a proper and concise manner while not skimming any areas. For example, if there are reference checks to be done, you need to ensure that it is done properly with proper references and not fake ones. We have to ensure that the whole process is streamlined because the candidate will need to actually get the timing right for them to tender resignations and do their notice periods and so on.

Post-hire is what I say is basically the experience during onboarding and also the first six months in the company. That will actually break down into the first six months of the company.

Lydia: So it is not a 90-day count anymore?

Kumeresen: I would say that 90 days is also good. But usually, from the 90 days onwards to the next 90 days is the time when they start to really get comfortable and assimilate themselves. They see whether if all that hype is really what it is. So, usually on the sixth month is when a candidate gets confirmed. Usually, I get in touch with them and say, “Hey, how’s it going? How’s your first six months over here?” and all that. I would say that’s the point in time where you can actually hear some truth from the candidate if we have done the job well, if it’s a fantastic hire, or everything is good, or if they feel that the job is not what they were looking for or there are some gaps in the hiring.

Lydia: And these touchpoints, do you do that personally or do you do that as an automated process?

Kumeresen: So, we do know about CRM systems and whatnot. We do have emails sent out and all that, but all of us know that not many respond to them. So, I believe in personal touch and usually, I will meet them face to face, and I won’t take much of their time, maybe just a quick 10 to 15 minutes, or I will prepare a set of questions to ask them. It will be a short, concise, and truthful Q&A session for me to really learn and for me to do future hirings better, and for them to know what areas can be done better.

Keeping in Touch with Clients and Candidates

Lydia: And there are two scenarios: one is as an in-house Talent Acquisition Professional who’s probably going to see these candidates at work or within that ecosystem. Then you’ve also got people in recruitment agencies who might want to do the same. So, for those who are outside or in an agency and they’re dealing with so many different candidates, how might they streamline this process, for instance?

Kumeresen:  A very good question. One of the ways they can actually do this best is basically to get in touch with their client or keep them warm. For example, if I’m an agency recruiter, I place a candidate in my client, I usually let them know. I would send a caveat to say, “Hey, please let me know if there’s any development with this candidate. If something is off, let me know so that I can have a chat with him.” So basically, during this time, the client in this case will let the recruiter know if there’s anything happening or any promotion or any areas of concern because the first three to six months is usually when they’ll have a guarantee period for a candidate. If the person resigns or is not performing well, there’s a possibility that we can replace them, provided there are certain T&Cs that they are abiding by.

Additionally, sometimes agency recruiters also reach out to them personally to say “Hey, how are things going? Is everything okay?” But this is usually done within the first month or two-three weeks down the road and after that, if there’s no news, it is good.

For me, it’s just the first month. The remaining five months and later on we don’t know what’s happening. So that’s the gap that we have right there. But then again, it works both ways. The hitch-up on it has to work with an external recruiter as well to ensure that everything is streamlined.

But as much as we can do it, I would say they will have some gaps compared to an internal recruiter like myself, an in-house recruiter where I know what’s going on because I meet them face to face on a daily basis. So there are pros and cons in that bit, but yes, that’s the best that we can do.

Engaging Employees as Company Ambassadors

Lydia: So, going back to employer brand, the pre-hire stage, and positioning the company or the employer in the market, how do you go about positioning the employer brand in the market, Kumer? What might be a few value propositions that you offer candidates?  We know now you’re dealing with multi-generational candidates out there and you’re also dealing with a time where candidate demands are changing rapidly.

Kumeresen: That's a very good question. So, when you compare the market from 10-20 years ago in terms of the candidate market versus the employer's market, you can see how the tables have turned. Right now, it's actually a candidate's market where there is a surplus of candidates in the market, but job opportunities are growing. So, what I'm trying to say is that candidates now have more choices and more reasons to demand more from prospective employers. Case in point, a significant example would be the flexibility given during COVID, such as hybrid working. This means you don't have to come to the office every single day; you can work from home for most of the week. What has happened now is that everyone is looking for a hybrid workweek. Some organizations are requesting everyone to return to the office full-time, like pre-COVID times.

But now, candidates are asking for flexible working arrangements, like hybrid work or the ability to work from home. This shows that candidates are more aware of their rights and are more demanding in terms of what they expect from employers.

Because of this, employers need to ensure that they stay up to date with the requirements of candidates and the current job market. With the advent of worldwide web technology, candidates are looking at practices in more developed countries like Europe and trying to replicate them here. While we may not be at the same level as Europe, we are getting there. This shows that candidates are also looking at non-monetary aspects, such as additional leave, shorter work weeks, and flexible benefits.

We need to position ourselves as an organization that values these non-monetary benefits. One way to do this is to revamp and re-evaluate our non-monetary benefits policies.

For example, wellness benefits, and optical and dental coverage are areas to focus on. We should highlight these benefits when speaking to candidates and share them on our social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. Employees themselves can be our best advocates. They can share what's happening in the office and why they appreciate working for our company. When people see these posts from employees, they become more excited about the company and want to be part of it.

These actions help us brand ourselves effectively, and it's important to stay relevant in the age of social media. Social media is a powerful tool that doesn't always require a significant financial investment, but it can have a big impact.

The primary goal is to engage employees and encourage them to represent the company as ambassadors, sharing what they value about working here. This positions us as an employee-centric company, differentiating us from traditional companies.

When employees share their experiences on social media, it aligns with our branding and what candidates are looking for.

Lydia: And this clearly harnesses the power of employees’ storytelling in order to get the attention of prospective candidates or candidates themselves. So, does that go in tandem with how it's being positioned internally as well? Is there some kind of parallel to that?

Kumeresen: Well, I would say yes, as well, because if it is not positioned as what you’re looking for internally, there will be miscommunication or grey areas which we actually don’t want. As an example, we do not want our employees to portray something that’s not happening in the organization just for the sake of attracting external candidates to come in. That is not something that is truthful or nice to do. So, this is where the administration of HR and the legal team come in to ensure that what is actually shown is basically what’s happening in the organization.

We need to have a little bit of homework done here to ensure that it’s actually showing what’s happening. So as an example, if somebody is showing that they’re going back home early on a Friday because it’s a half-day work week on a Friday, it has to happen. It doesn’t mean that if this person is coming in a different role and then this, because of the nature of the role is not happening, then this particular person is not going back early on a Friday afternoon. So there’s a mismatch and that’s not representing who we are.

So it has to really be ensured that there needs to be some type of protocol for candidates or employees who would like to post on social media. They need to have guidelines set to ensure that what is displayed is actually what you’re looking for. So it goes hand in hand. And we have to always ensure that it’s actually been monitored as well, any irrelevant postings or whatnot have to be taken off.

Then how we do this, basically, to ensure that this person uses the hashtag of the company so that the moderators can actually have a look and remove any if there’s no relevance.

Lydia: There might be a lot of work to be done to police or to even monitor all that is going on. So as you said, a protocol or even a brand new process put in place. Have you had any experience putting such a process in place?

Kumeresen: Well, I would say the simplest process is just to get them to show what they want to post to their immediate line managers. I mean, that’s the simplest thing ever. So usually, for me, when I share with my team to say that, “Hey, you guys go ahead and post things on social media, but please show a draft to your line manager before posting,” because we need to know that somebody has seen it before posting it to remain accountable. I mean, simple checks help.

Sometimes the hiring managers will say, “Okay, this is not something that is relevant, delete it.” Or maybe there are things like, “Okay, maybe we should write more.” So, if there’s a person in the middle actually vetting it, in a way it helps us to share more productive content. And at the same time, it reduces the governance from HR to actually go everywhere and check it. So, I believe that this is one of the simplest ways you can do it. And we have actually done it as well. And I would say that to date, no major issues have actually occurred.

Great Communication Skills and Enthusiasm to Find The One

Lydia: Excellent. And on the point of communication, connectivity, etc., we’re seeing so many trends in talent acquisition and we’re seeing different types of work arrangements as well. There’s a need to build more connectivity in the workforce so that it translates to improved productivity. So soft skills and teamwork, and everything else become as critical as technical skills. What are some traits that you look out for when you search for top talent?

Kumeresen: Well, I have to say, at this point in time, communication is key. And I can't stress enough how critical this aspect of communication is.

Now, when I say communication, I'm not just referring to verbal communication. It encompasses both verbal and written communication. You'd be quite surprised by the level of communication skills some fresh graduates possess. Sometimes, it's a bit disheartening to see their comprehension of the language. However, I would like to emphasize that these skills are trainable, and people can improve them over time. But first and foremost, what I look for is effective communication because individuals need to articulate their thoughts clearly. They must know how to communicate effectively, using the right language, proper words, and good writing skills. That's my top priority.

However, it's essential to note that not all roles require strong communication skills. Some positions are more analytical or moderate in nature and may not demand extensive communication skills. Nevertheless, I still emphasize communication skills because, at the end of the day, whether you encounter problems at work or have suggestions for improvement, you must communicate them effectively to your managers, whether they are line managers or program managers. This skill is crucial because you need to convey your thoughts clearly and precisely.

That's the first criterion I consider. The second is the level of enthusiasm and preparation a candidate demonstrates for a particular role.

Whether you're a fresh graduate or someone looking for a job, when you apply for a role at a specific company, you should have done some homework beforehand. Before clicking the "apply" button, you should know about the company—where it's located, what it does, its headquarters, the number of employees, and its operations in various countries. A little bit of research is expected.

I usually gauge this during conversations with candidates. I might ask them, "Could you share what you know about our company?" This is when I assess whether they've done their homework or not. Even if it's not perfectly accurate, it shows that they've made an effort to learn about the company, and that interests me. It tells me that they've applied for the role and actually read about it and the company. This ties in with my next point, which is about the role itself.

Many candidates apply for a role, but they don't keep a copy of the job description. They don't save it in a Word document or print it out and read it thoroughly. They should have done this. Often, when I speak to them, I get questions like, "Could you tell me more about the role?" While I don't mind sharing, I appreciate it more when candidates have already done their homework, read about the role, and ask me about the aspects they find unclear. It shows effort and goes a long way in identifying a suitable candidate.

So, these are the aspects I consider, along with the CV. I also evaluate how promptly they provide their CVs, how relevant the content is, and the structure of the CV. For me, a two-page CV is more than sufficient, as long as it highlights their achievements and qualifications. These are the three main areas I focus on when assessing candidates before moving on to the next steps, such as interviews.

Lydia: So, that’s the pre-screening process that you’re talking about. When it comes to understanding how interested they are in your company, or how interested they are in the brand or the business itself, how do you go about gauging that? Is it a pointed question that you ask them, “What do you know about the company?” Or is it expecting more questions from them about the company? How do you go about doing it?

Kumeresen: Well, basically, it’s also about them asking questions related to the company, but more particularly the role. So, this happens during the interview. When the candidates or job seekers are already in the interview stage, they’ve actually partially met the requirements for the role already.

So basically, the make or break is the level of understanding about the role, what are the correct questions they’re asking about the role, and also how they can assimilate in this particular position and also asking questions to the hiring manager. Relevant questions like, for example, about the hiring manager. Questions like, “How are you in this particular position right now? How was the career path? And for example, for the role that we are applying for? What are the challenges that you can actually come across in this particular role? What are the areas for improvement in this particular role? How can my skills and benefits be of use in making the role better?”

So, these are roles, these types of questions that show that the candidate is very eager to be a part of the team and also to actually contribute their level best based on their experiences.

And for me, apart from this, we also need to find the cultural fit for this particular candidate. You will be amazed that a lot of superstars, a lot of A-listers out there join a company but at the end of the day, they leave. The reason why it’s not because they can’t do the job is because of the culture. Maybe the culture is not what they’re looking for. Some companies are very boisterous, they’re actually very vocal, very happening with a lot of young crowds. So, they usually have long lunches at times or maybe have plans after work and so on.

And you are basically somebody who is in their mid-30s going to 40 and is longing for work-life balance. Let’s come to work, do your work, stay back a little bit if you need, and then go back and tend to your family. So, these are two different cultures. We need to ensure that the job seekers are also on the same wavelength as the current company’s culture because, at the end of the day, you do not want this person to be set for failure. We need to ensure that our current culture is maintained properly for optimal performance.

These are areas that also prove very well by asking relevant questions, and behavioral questions in order for me to gauge. And I would say that these are two things for me that I will see: The cultural part plays a huge role in this area.

Key Metrics for Assessing Success in Hiring

Lydia: Moving on to after they're hired, and that six-month probation period is over, you also talked about understanding whether or not this is a successful hire. So, what constitutes a successful hire, Kumer, and what aspects do you look into when you're hiring for, as you said, skills, culture especially, and also even the scope of development inside the company?

Kumeresen: I mean, for me, six months essentially constitute a probationary period to assess whether the candidate can perform the job and fit into the role. However, in my view, it typically takes around nine months, I would say six to nine months, to truly assimilate into both the role and the company. This period, I believe, is the determining factor.

Lydia: Does that depend on the level that they're coming in?

Kumeresen: I will say yes and no, depending on the level and characteristics of the job. For instance, if it's a fresh graduate or a new hire, I would lean more towards six months as an acceptable period. This time frame makes sense because they are in transition, moving from being a student to a working adult. So the first six months are crucial for them to grasp the basics of the job and understand what it entails.

On the other hand, when it comes to experienced hires, I would say that from six to nine months is the window in which they determine if the job is a good fit for them. It's challenging to learn everything within the first six months. From the sixth to the ninth month, after confirmation, is when they become fully integrated into the role. This period allows them to gauge whether they have enough information and capability to perform the role effectively. During this time, they might still be uncertain about their fit within the role, which is especially common in today's candidate-driven job market. In such a market, numerous job opportunities are available, and candidates can switch roles even after just six to nine months, a practice that contradicts the loyalty-oriented approach of 10-15 years ago.

When it comes to what constitutes a successful hire, I believe the most fundamental aspect is to engage with the new candidate or the candidate I have placed. After six to nine months, simply ask them how they are doing. If they express satisfaction with their work, understand their scope of responsibilities, have clear deliverables, maintain good relationships with their managers, and enjoy positive working relationships with their peers and colleagues, then I would consider them a successful hire. And the second point I consider is the feedback from the hiring manager.

It's essential to educate and set expectations with hiring managers regarding the fit of candidates. We should communicate that it's unlikely for a candidate to be a 100% fit for the role; a 60% to 70% fit is more realistic, depending on the level of expertise required and the support they can receive during their initial months in the role. Setting these expectations is crucial because we can't expect candidates to start performing magically.

Regarding the feedback, I evaluate the candidate's attitude towards work, their eagerness to learn, the speed of their performance, and any additional efforts they put in to assimilate better into the workplace. You can often observe these behaviors in how they approach their work. For example, they might proactively seek more assignments from their managers, inquire about their performance, and actively engage in both work-related and non-work-related activities within the office to demonstrate their capability to contribute more.

Ultimately, while not all candidates may excel in every aspect, it often comes down to the relationship between the hiring manager and the candidate. As long as both parties are aware of their responsibilities and are willing to support each other in different areas, the hire can be considered successful.

Lydia: So, you have two touch points to gauge whether a candidate is successful or not. You’ve got the candidate themselves and then you also have the hiring managers. So is there a process that must be put in place or is it one of those things that you just do when you know it’s just a casual kind of exchange?

Kumeresen: Well, it depends on the organization. Some organizations that are very picky will have processes in place. And the reason why they do have processes in place is basically to ensure that they are able to manage their level of turnover, the turnover numbers. So, companies that have processes in place may have experienced at some point in time a huge turnover. They have processes in place, but for some other companies, they would rather just have a chat with their hiring manager or with a recruiter and give them consolidated feedback.

This does not happen overnight. Once we start noticing that there are a lot of misinterpretations or gaps between the recruiter, the person that is placed, and also the hiring manager at a certain level of unhappiness or they think they’re not a good fit, that’s the time to decide to put in a process. Let’s not reinvent the wheel. If there’s no need for us to do a process, let’s not put in the process and burden the hiring managers. A simple chat will do.

Most of the time, when you want to know what’s happening, the best time is basically to have a chat during out-of-office hours or maybe during lunchtime, or maybe after work. Let’s have a cup of tea. That’s the time I would say is the best time for us to really know what’s on their minds, what they’re thinking about it, and also what are the areas that we think we can improve. Because when you ask them during working hours, they will be blocked with work. So, they’ll just give feedback that may not reflect what they’re thinking of fully and this might be a false positive to the organization as well. So we need to ensure that we ask proper questions at the proper times as well.

Challenges and Skills for Modern TA Professionals

Lydia: So, on that note, there are so many aspects to a Talent Acquisition Professional, even yourself, right? There are so many people to check with, lots of processes in place, and data to be analyzed. How would you describe the role of the TA professional today, and what sort of key skills do they need to have to be successful?

Kumeresen: So, a lot of people, when it comes to the term Human Resources, often think of HR professionals or individuals who oversee rules, attendance, medical claims, and other administrative tasks.

However, things have evolved over the years. In Talent Acquisition (TA) and recruitment, we are essentially the backbone of the organization. We play a significant and critical role in identifying the talents needed for the organization's growth.

To do this effectively, we must have a deep understanding of the organization itself. This includes knowing the core values, what the organization is seeking, the candidates' preferences, the vision and mission, and ensuring alignment within the organization. We must also be diligent in identifying individuals who may not align with the organization's vision and mission and work to realign their interests.

It's crucial to understand that we don't just look at candidates for their current suitability, but also for their potential in the future. Will this person be able to take on different roles in the next two to three years? Can they grow into leadership positions? We need to take a holistic perspective, not just consider someone for a short-term role. This emphasizes the importance of learning about the company, the industry, and the talent market. Understanding which companies are hiring for specific roles and why, and analyzing data and trends, is vital for successful talent acquisition.

Recruiters are the ones on the ground, and sometimes, hiring managers may have unrealistic expectations. They may request candidates with specific skills, based in a particular location, and with the ability to do various tasks. When we receive a job brief or discuss requirements with hiring managers, we listen to their needs, but we also act as the eyes and ears of the job market. We search for candidates with the required experience and expertise and present this information to hiring managers with facts and data. Data-driven discussions are crucial to gain their understanding and alignment.

Being a Talent Acquisition (TA) professional in today's dynamic landscape is challenging due to rapidly changing dynamics and the introduction of various AI programs. We must stay at the top of our game while representing candidates effectively to hiring managers. This requires being street-smart, a quick thinker, analytical, and capable of connecting the dots between hiring managers' needs and candidates' aspirations. Our role involves balancing the requirements of both hiring managers and candidates, ensuring that we present a comprehensive perspective that aligns everyone's interests effectively. It's a multifaceted role that requires adaptability and strategic thinking.

Lydia: There's a lot of stakeholder management involved and a lot of self-improvement happening at the same time. So, have you seen those things happening in your team as well?

Kumeresen: I would say yes, it is happening. And I expect it to be more competitive in the next few months or years, for that matter. Because it’s a war of talent right now. If you’re the best talent right now in the market, you are a hot piece of real estate, right? A lot of people will be going out to get your signature. So, we need to learn and identify hot talent in hot markets. The moment comes for us to actually speak to them and hire them, we need to move as quickly as possible. We need to ensure that we know all this, and also, employees within the organization, as well as hiring managers, need to upskill themselves. Read the news, go on LinkedIn, come up with different types of courses, and enroll in courses for them to upskill themselves for better future prospects as well.

Balancing Automation and Personalization

Lydia: We're seeing widespread adoption of AI, and talent acquisition professionals are no strangers to AI as well, especially in the past few years. So, how do you think TA professionals can benefit from AI?

Kumeresen: I would say it’s a huge boon to TA professionals because AI can actually help them to simplify or minimize the level of research and data they need to do. While I am a fan of AI, I will not fully trust the data from AI because it’s only there to guide us, but we can’t fully base AI specs on real life. So, I will use AI as a tool for me to get the data that I need, and use my expertise and also the current market trends to analyze it better. This helps me to save time, and also TA professionals as well, and to come back to the hiring manager with any particular reports or any particular updates on particular talent trends across a particular area.

AI does help us to cut time, and in recruitment because time is of the essence. If you identify a candidate and do not proceed to move as quickly as possible, there’ll be another recruiter from another company coming in and just sweeping him or her away. So yes, for me, the major boon for recruiters is basically saving time and also, accuracy-wise, I would say there is still a lot of work to do. But I will say time is of the essence. So, it helps in that way.

Lydia: And there are plenty of automation tools right now, outside and also within AI itself. So what kind of impact do you think these recruitment technologies and tools will have on talent acquisition?

Kumeresen:  Another point about AI that I'd like to share pertains to the simplification of tools and processes, especially in terms of job applications. Traditionally, when applying for a job on a career site, candidates had to manually upload their CVs, input their details, and submit certificates, which could be a time-consuming process. However, with the advent of AI, many of these tasks have been streamlined to just a few clicks, significantly reducing the effort required.

This simplification benefits both candidates and TA professionals. Candidates can now upload their information and documents with greater accuracy and in less time. For TA professionals, it means quicker reviews and assessments to determine if a candidate is a good fit. This not only saves time but also allows candidates to present themselves more efficiently and apply for multiple jobs in a shorter span.

In the past, candidates had to spend around 10 to 15 minutes uploading their details on each career site before moving on to the next. AI has changed this by enabling candidates to move faster through the application process. Additionally, candidates can receive automated notifications about the progress of their applications.

For instance, if a TA professional advances the application from pre-screening to phone screening or assessments, candidates are notified automatically. This automation streamlines the candidate management process and enhances the overall recruitment experience.

However, it's important to note that while AI can handle many aspects of the recruitment process, there may still come a time when personal communication is necessary. Despite the automation, AI helps reduce paperwork and steps, allowing for a more personalized touch in candidate interactions. The use of AI can be tailored to provide a smoother and more efficient experience for both candidates and recruiters.

Recruitment as a Relationship-Building Role

Lydia: So, what advice would you give someone starting out in talent acquisition or even in recruitment right now in today's context?

Kumeresen: Recruitment is a role ideally suited for individuals who are extroverted, enthusiastic about meeting people, and skilled at building relationships, both within and outside the office. Personally, I find myself to be a combination of introvert and extrovert, a mix that has evolved over time thanks to my career in recruitment. If you aspire to become a recruiter, you must possess a genuine interest in connecting with people, understanding their career aspirations, and effectively managing relationships across various organizational levels.

Recruitment involves connecting the dots and harmonizing the expectations of candidates and hiring managers to achieve common objectives. This role demands the ability to influence and manage stakeholders effectively. It's not just about speaking with people; it's about nurturing meaningful relationships that drive results.

Secondly, be prepared to immerse yourself in learning about your market, industry, and the professionals within it. Extensive reading, information gathering, and data research are essential for staying at the top of your game. Continual learning is the key to excellence in recruitment. Engaging with industry leaders, whether through their LinkedIn posts, videos, or social media insights, can provide valuable knowledge and insights. And lastly, stay updated on the latest AI and recruitment technologies.

The industry is evolving rapidly, with startups and new technologies simplifying processes compared to a decade ago. However, always remember that despite technological advancements, the human touch remains indispensable in recruitment. Regardless of the tools at your disposal, it's the personal connection with candidates that truly matters and sets you apart as a recruiter.

Lydia: Indeed, technology, connectivity, and staying in touch are all integral aspects of candidate care. Thank you very much, Kumer, for your time. Please share your contact details so that the audience can reach out to you if they wish to learn more or have a conversation outside of this platform.

Kumeresen: Certainly, you can reach out to me anytime. You can find me on LinkedIn by searching for my name, Kumeresen Vairavan. I'm also available on Instagram under the same name, so feel free to connect with me there as well. Additionally, I've recently launched a page on both LinkedIn and Instagram called ‘Career Inspires.’ This is a new endeavor focused on HR and recruitment, where I'll be sharing insights, thoughts, and blogs related to recruitment. I started this project about a month ago, and there's a lot of exciting content in the works. Stay tuned for what's coming next in this space!

Lydia: That's a side gig, your personal project, right?

Kumeresen: Yes, it is.

Lydia: Congratulations on starting it. Wishing you all the best with it. Thank you once again. We've had a great conversation with Kumeresen Vairavan from Philip Morris, Malaysia. Thank you for being with us, and stay tuned for more weekly episodes of All-In Recruitment.

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Bill Twinning
Talent Resources & Development Director - Charoen Pokphand Group
Manatal is the best ATS we worked with. Simplicity, efficency and the latest technologies combined make it an indispensable tool for any large-scale HR team. Since its adoption, we've seen a huge increase across all our key recruitment metrics. To summarize. it is a must-have.
Ahmed Firdaus
Director - MRI Network, Executive Search Firm
I've been using Manatal for the past couple of months and the platform is excellent, user-friendly and it has helped me a lot in my recruitment process, operation and database management. I'm very happy with their great support. Whenever I ask something they come back to me within minutes.
Dina Demajo
Senior Talent Acquisition - Manpower Group
Manpower has been using Manatal and we couldn't be happier as a team with the services this platform has provided. The application is extremely user-friendly and very well equipped with all the useful functions one would required for successful recruitment. The support team is also excellent with very fast response time.
Edmund Yeo
Human Resources Manager - Oakwood
Manatal is a sophisticated, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, and cloud-based applicant tracking system that helps companies achieve digitalization and seamless integration to Linkedin and other job boards. The team at Manatal is very supportive, helpful, prompt in their replies and we were pleased to see that the support they offer exceeded our expectations.
Maxime Ferreira
International Director - JB Hired
Manatal has been at the core of our agency's expansion. Using it has greatly improved and simplified our recruitment processes. Incredibly easy and intuitive to use, customizable to a tee, and offers top-tier live support. Our recruiters love it. A must-have for all recruitment agencies. Definitely recommend!
Ngoc-Thinh Tran
HR Manager, Talent Sourcing & Acquisition - Suntory PepsiCo Beverage
I am using Manatal for talent sourcing and it is the best platform ever. I am so impressed, the Manatal team did an excellent work. This is so much awesome, I am recommending the solution to all recruiters I know.
Bill Twinning
Talent Resources & Development Director - Charoen Pokphand Group
Manatal is the best ATS we worked with. Simplicity, efficency and the latest technologies combined make it an indispensable tool for any large-scale HR team. Since its adoption, we've seen a huge increase across all our key recruitment metrics. To summarize. it is a must-have.
Ahmed Firdaus
Director - MRINetwork, Executive Search Firm
I've been using Manatal for the past couple of months and the platform is excellent, user-friendly and it has helped me a lot in my recruitment process, operation and database management. I'm very happy with their great support. whenever I asked something they come back to me within minutes.
Dina Demajo
Senior Talent Acquisition - Manpower Group
Manpower has been using Manatal and we couldn't be happier as a team with the services this platform has provided. The application is extremely user-friendly and very well equipped with all the useful functions one would required for successful requirement. The support team is also excellent with very fast response time.
Kevin Martin
Human Resources Manager - Oakwood
Manatal is a sophisticated, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, and cloud-based applicant tracking system that helps companies achieve digitalization and seamless integration to Linkedin and other job boards. The team at Manatal is very supportive, helpful, prompt in their replies and we were pleased to see that the support they offer exceeded our expectations.
Maxime Ferreira
International Director - JB Hired
Manatal has been at the core of our agency's expansion. Using it has greatly improved and simplified our recruitment processes. Incredibly easy and intuitive to use, customizable to a tee, and offers top-tier live support. Our recruiters love it. A must-have for all recruitment agencies. Definitely recommend!
Ngoc-Thinh Tran
HR Manager, Talent Sourcing & Acquisition - Suntory PepsiCo Beverage
I am using Manatal for talent sourcing and it is the best platform ever. I am so impressed, the Manatal team did an excellent work. This is so much awesome, I am recommending the solution to all recruiters I know.

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