After spending more than a decade in the industry, I truly believe that a Recruiter must speak the language of business. We should not just talk but have conversations with the prospective candidates. Having good business acumen will certainly make a difference in the long run. Get comfortable conversing! The more comfortable you are; the more confident you sound.
You might be wondering:
- “What exactly is business acumen?”
- “I never studied business in school.”
- “I just want to make calls.”
- “How is this information or business acumen going to help me place candidates?”
- “I don’t understand business concepts and finance”
What Is Business Acumen
‘Business acumen’ is defined as understanding an organization’s financial, accounting, marketing and operational functions. Recognizing when something positive or negative (trigger event) happens within an organization, understanding who (or which departments) will be impacted and how they will be impacted is business acumen. It’s this ability to connect the dots or to see and recognize the “chain reaction” of these events.
Are Recruiters having Business Acumen?
Let us break the term down into its two component words. ‘Business’ is defined as any commercial activity in which a firm engages with its customers; whereas ‘acumen’ is defined as the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions.
That shouldn’t be too difficult.
So, why do many HR professionals struggle with it? The observations show they are mainly dealing with developing skills and knowledge for the first half of the definition. Much of the training given is only related to business operations. It is not surprising then that the second half of the definition remains elusive. Being able to make good judgments and quick decisions are, although, skills required in many other aspects of HR.
How To Use Business Acumen in Recruitment?
It starts with asking your candidates well thought out questions.
- You might start by asking about the goals they’re trying to achieve in the next 2 years.
- When they mention to you that they are having a problem or issue with “X” ask them “why do you think that problem is happening?”
- After their response, you may reply with another question such as “how is this problem impacting your career?” Or “what growth prospects are being impacted by this problem?”
By asking some simple probing questions, you can develop your business acumen and gain great insight into how your candidate thinks and what they value. From here, you can get into some additional questions such as “What have you done so far to try to fix this problem?” And “why is fixing this problem so important to you?”
Business acumen will help you understand the larger picture. It would also help you give a response that shows that you understand what they are concerned about, and show how you can help them.
Even today, whenever I get an opportunity to interview candidates, I always probe candidates by asking the very basic reason – “Why are you looking out for a change?”. Trust me! It has really worked well for me for differentiating between the serious opportunity seeker and the rest. If you think little deeper, you would realize that this also saves a lot of our energy & efforts which we normally put in sourcing, follow-ups & overall coordination; yet eventually fail to get the desired result. If the candidate’s level of interest is casual, then he/she might back out just before the joining date.
Also, over the past few years, I’ve come to realize that it’s to our advantage to tell compelling business stories to the candidates. I still remember a case when I used to recruit for one of the CMMI level 5 companies and in one of the critical positions, we were looking for someone to join our Pune office. The job required the selected candidate to fly to one of the Gulf countries within a month to set up a new team there. People were very reluctant to travel there because of perceived insecurity. I spoke to the candidate (who eventually got selected) to tell him about our relationship with the customer, how we started, how we grew and how crucial this role would be. He made me arrange several calls with different business executives in the organization that was hiring as this was a tough decision for him. Fortunately, he finally decided to join. He is still working there at a very senior level and happy with his decision.
Typically, thoughtful candidates certainly like to listen in. Clear communication will also help you to build a better image as a recruiter and as a company. People would start liking to listen to you. Business Acumen might look obvious & simple, but make it a habit. Follow it day in and day out and you certainly will add value to your team. Your boss will be able to rely on you and open new & exciting doors of opportunities for further career growth.
All the Best!!
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Dinesh Gokhale is a seasoned professional with more than a decade of diversified experience into IT recruitment along with B2B sales, marketing, artificial intelligence and lean hiring technology. He is admired for his soft-skills.
Dinesh also is an enthusiastic sportsperson, reader, traveller and a die hard foodie. In his selfless desire of giving something back to mother nature & society, he has been involved in many social initiatives. Currently, he is working in the capacity of Sr. Principal Consultant with Rezoomex.