A Hire Aim

Until now, no book has ever systematically described the organizational and professional processes of recruiting and screening new employees in Israel

"Wanted: Corporate Employee Recruitment and Screening Processes in Israel," by Joshua Stauber, Turquoize Publishing House Ltd. and Pilat (Israel) Ltd., 268 pages, NIS 90

It is hard to write a book about a continually changing subject like Israel's job market. Joshua Stauber began writing "Wanted" about two years ago, when high-tech industries were spearheading a healthy employment trend in the local economy. The book's arrival at a time when Israel must contend with an economic slowdown and a serious unemployment problem does not render "Wanted" irrelevant. Even today, despite the mass layoffs, Israeli companies continue to look for new employees, people are continuing to look for work, and efficient employee recruitment and screening processes are still regarded as an important corporate management tool.

Furthermore, the book's appearance during the current recession - in which some 250,000 Israelis are jobless and the balance sheets of many companies are in the red - might, in fact, be highly relevant as companies today are trying to readopt more professional and "saner" management procedures in the area of employee recruitment and screening. At least as far as the high-tech field is concerned, gone are the days when new workers were hired by companies that seemed to be acting as if they were blindfolded: Job candidates were hired immediately following the interview (in some cases, without any interview at all), solely on the basis of their resumes, without meticulous verification of their skills, but with very tempting salary conditions.

When the high-tech industry was growing by leaps and bounds, and there was a serious demand for employees, human resource managers in the sector were forced to lower their standards with respect to the caliber of the candidates, simply to ensure that they would not be grabbed up by the competition. The speed - not necessarily the professional skills - of the employee determined the rules of the game.

Indeed, corporate employee hiring and screening activities are carried out in the country at a dizzying pace. A considerable portion of the professional know-how in this field has been amassed by former Israel Defense Forces officers who, after saying good-bye to their uniforms, have established some of the screening firms that currently operate in Israel. The creation of these firms has also given rise to the establishment of institutes specializing in preparing candidates for screening tests. These preparatory institutes, many of which do not operate in a professional manner, have flourished because of the misery of job-seekers.

Other players in the Israeli job market scene are graphologists and administrators of other forms of candidate-suitability tests, such as medical and polygraph examinations. A high percentage of job candidates undergo the recruitment-and-screening process, which, in many cases (and this is no exaggeration), has had a significant impact on their lives. Yet, before "Wanted," no book has ever systematically described the organizational and professional processes in the field of employment recruiting and screening in Israel.

No bibliography

Generally speaking, the professional literature on employee recruitment and screening is written by academicians who base their theories on research findings and related literature. The author of "Wanted," Joshua Stauber, a management and human-resources expert, has not followed this approach. He does not offer even one bibliographical source. Instead, his entire text is based on the depiction of processes that have been tested by well-known companies such as Comverse Israel and IBM in the high-tech field, as well as the Partner Communications Company and the Migdal Insurance Group. "Wanted" also contains interviews with psychologists attached to screening firms, graphologists, corporate "headhunters" (who specialize in tracking down senior managers, primarily for high-tech firms, banks and insurance companies), and personnel recruiters for Internet jobs, law firms and public relations agencies.

"Wanted" attempts to study the overt and covert facets of employee recruitment and screening processes - with an emphasis on the practical aspects. Almost half the book focuses on professional tools: For example, an entire chapter presents the legal aspects of the world of employment recruitment and screening; there is a detailed guide on how to interview job candidates; and the book includes a sample professional opinion submitted by a screening institute and examples of screening examinations.

At first glance, the book does not appear to be targeted at unemployed individuals who have despaired of ever finding work, or at persons who are holding down a job but who are interested in making a career change. Ostensibly, "Wanted" gives the impression that its target readership consists of employers or the representatives of companies who are involved in the business of recruiting new workers (human resource staff or managers who are generally not involved directly in this area but who, because they have people working under them, also participate in the recruitment and selection of new employees).

Nonetheless, sophisticated job-seekers might actually be very interested in becoming more familiar with the backyard of the organizations and companies that ask them to send in their resumes, which then test them in a variety of ways. For example, readers will learn that, in 2000, Comverse had no less than 15 full-time employee recruitment workers on its payroll who screened 4,000 resumes monthly. Readers are given the opportunity to follow the process by which Migdal selects insurance inspectors - a process that includes interviews and assessment centers. In this process, for every 1,000 applicants, only 20 are chosen.

A similar process is used at IBM in the creation of its management reserve. The book's survey of IBM and Nortel Networks Israel indicates the ways in which an international corporation is connected with and has an impact on the local branch's employee recruitment and screening procedures.

The book focuses on the link between, on the one hand, a firm's human resource professionals and marketing experts and, on the other, the public relations agency that creates the newspaper "wanted" ads and regards them as "image ads" representing the firm itself.

The Internet is given a separate - and important - chapter. The author considers the Web the ultimate employee recruitment tool. However, at this point, it should be noted that Stauber's impression of the Web's importance in employee recruitment is exaggerated and perhaps even premature. The Internet has not yet developed into a major employee recruitment tool. This statement holds true even for the high-tech firms, and is certainly true for the Israeli economy's "traditional" sectors. In the high-tech field, newspaper "wanted" ads and "word-of-mouth" recommendations are still the preferred means of employee recruitment.

Respect and attention

Each section of "Wanted" ends with dozens of suggestions for employee recruiters and screeners. Here are a few sample pointers:

l A candidate skills are important, but you must always remember that the individual's personality is a vital factor.

l Carefully consider whether the candidate's personality is suitable to your firm's organizational character and to the character of the organizational unit that would intake the candidate.

l Treat all job candidates with respect: A respectful attitude toward today's candidates will make it easier to recruit workers in the future. Thus, you should (a) make sure that candidates can find your office without any difficulty, (b) answer all their questions, and (c) ensure that they do not have to wait too long - either for the interview or for your response. Even if you are in a powerful position in the organization, do not draw attention to that fact in your interview.

l Your body language can play an important role in conveying the right impression to the candidate. Signs of impatience (tapping your fingers on the desk or frequently consulting your watch) or of boredom (yawning, sinking deep into your chair, or resting the back of your neck in your hands) create an unpleasant atmosphere and broadcast the following message to the candidate: "Thank you, but you are wasting my time and yours." You must therefore try to create an interview climate in which it is obvious that you are closely listening to what the candidate has to say. You should lean forward and look the candidate straight in the eye.

l Managers are advised to keep the data on their candidates confidential, and to see to it that correspondence with them does not fall into the wrong hands - for example, the candidate's present place of employment. Managers are also advised to stay in touch with the most suitable candidates during the entire recruitment and screening process, so as to ensure that they are not recruited by another firm. Despite the problematic image of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs' Employment Service, managers should not underestimate the value of this agency for recruiting workers, and should thus make it a point to meet periodically with the director of the relevant regional branch of that service.

l Organizations looking for new employees should carefully define their target population and should aim at that population through the various channels that reach it. For example, if an organization is looking for university students, it should turn to the university campuses. Or, if it is looking for English-speakers, it should turn to organizations of English-speaking immigrants. Or, if it is looking for teachers who have decided to leave the teaching profession, it should advertise in the publications catering to teachers. Or, if it is looking for young recruits, it should advertise in magazines that aim at that audience or on radio stations with a high percentage of young listeners. In short, organizations must be creative in their recruitment techniques.