Hung Lee has rapidly become a big name in the recruitment and HR space with his curated content platform, Recruiting Brainfood, delivering a weekly digest on all the hottest topics in the industry. He now regularly appears on the lists of top industry influencers to follow.
Hung contributed several videos to our recently launched HR Hub (if you haven’t checked them out yet - jump in!) and now we’ve been fortunate enough to grab 15 minutes out of his busy schedule to dive a little deeper into his thoughts on all things recruitment.
Tell us a bit about your current roles
I am the co-founder and CEO of a recruiting platform called Workshape.io. We match companies with software engineers, based on the sort of work that engineers want to do.
I also run Recruiting Brainfood, an online community for in-house recruiters and HR individuals.
What changes have you seen in the recruitment process in the past 10 years?
To be honest, I think we are kind of locked into a really persistent way of thinking about recruitment, which is this highly structured, sequential, unidirectional recruiting funnel!
When we think about recruitment, we think about the hiring funnel and candidate pipeline. We are chasing these ideological metaphors, about people needing to “flow” through a process. But we are increasingly beginning to understand that this model is designed for committed applicants only.
It's designed for people who have already consented to go through a rigorous assessment process, and we're finding when we’re speaking to the highly skilled and in-demand, they are quite unwilling to undergo a lengthy process with a battery of assessments, based on a job they’ve never seen.
They want different types of interactions. They want more equity in the relationship and they want to find out more about the employer and have a mutual exchange of information. Change is coming as employers will realize that the main problem isn't necessarily a talent shortage, it isn't employer branding and it isn't simply how we structure the relationship between employer and employee or future employee. We need to change the way we're thinking at a very fundamental level about how to engage these highly skilled people.
What does a successful hiring process look like to you?
I think this really has to be emerging from the company itself. One of the problems we have is the temptation to implement one universal solution. A great recruitment process in the context of one company may be entirely the wrong process for somebody else.
So the first thing companies need to do is to figure out what little things they care about, both in terms of what they want to communicate to the market and what they want to get from the market. Then they need to assemble their process around that. There's no stock answer to say, this is what “good” looks like. It has to be emergent from knowing the DNA of that company.
What do you believe will be the biggest industry trend in the next 12 months?
I think it will be a change in what we mean by the employee population. I think companies generally focus on the default setting of a permanent, full time and on-site employees. When we recruit, we have those three characteristics in mind for every single recruitment formula.
I think we're beginning to realise that this may not be what people want or what is beneficial for the business.
Name one skill or trait, if anything, you believe the HR industry currently lacks
HR, fundamentally, has a data analytics problem and I will include recruiters in this category as well. We're not typically recruiting people that are very comfortable with some of the presentation of information that is in numerical form.
To solve this we need to simply recruit more “numbers people” at the entry point into HR. We could start recruiting people from outside of typical HR disciplines into these teams to diversify our thinking. We need to see more marketing individuals, we need to see more engineers. We need a diversity of skills as well as a diversity of people.
What would be your top three personal development tips for other HR professionals?
Number one is the data point. Even though you may not become a genius, you've got big statistics so you have to work out how you understand them and how to benchmark pieces of research and be able to have challenging thinking on that.
The second point is to get better at telling stories about what HR does and what the company does as a whole. We all know that being able to tell a story is a critical way to communicate with people. This is why stories have been a persistent way of transmitting information throughout the history of humanity. We're not typically recruiting people that are good at this type of storytelling, marketing people for instance typically don't get into HR, but we need to have that!
And thirdly, I would say, networking. I think HR is in a strange position, because it’s deeply embedded in the company, with access to confidential information and responsibilities inside a company. That might make it seem inherently difficult for HR to be strong at networking because they want to preserve a lot of those types of things and honor company confidentiality. But at the same time I think this holds the job back. Those in people operations departments need to get better at internally networking within a business, as well as externally. The technical term is network value - what is the network value you have? Understanding that the wider and deeper your network, the stronger the network value they can add to your jobs.
What industry buzz word would be happy to see the back off?
Now, here's the thing with buzzwords. I think people often criticize them but often I think that’s because they want to demonstrate their superior knowledge by saying, “this is now rubbish because I know a little bit more than you.”
So I think I'm a fan of buzzwords because it just gives us a central topic to talk about. I fail to see where you can get emotionally involved in a buzzword really. Let's get rid of this peacock behavior which is often just thinly disguised egotism.
About Hung Lee
Hung is passionate about making recruitment better for people and businesses. He has done it as a broker, coach and now a product maker. As Co-founder & CEO of Workshape.io - a matching service for tech talent - he is removing the rhetoric from recruitment by converging on interest first, before unlocking the conversation second.
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