These Malaysian companies share 5 unconventional hiring hacks that can get you talent from the most unexpected of places

Shakira Kavanagh
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What are the methods that startups have used to attract talent and fill important positions?

Talent shortage is increasing. Check the 2017 Hays Salary Guide — 96 per cent of employers in Asia reported this to be a pressing issue on their minds. Yet the demand for talent is growing. A sales report states that 42 per cent of employers are planning to increase the headcount in the coming 12 months.

Now, let’s look at another set of facts: What are the methods used to attract talent and fill these positions?

Today, 70 per cent of recruitment budgets go to traditional tactics, spent on job boards, staffing agencies and recruitment tools, states the Linkedin Global Recruitment Report. LinkedIn also reports that more and more talent specialists wish they could allocate a chunk of that budget towards employer branding.

Today we want to share 5 brilliant lessons from Malaysian companies that are already pioneering unconventional recruitment tactics and are successfully capturing the attention of Gen-Y talent.

1. Go places where no one else is looking

You searched high and low in your market, failing to find the right candidates. It’s time to look outside of the box. Fave took suggestions to “looking outside” quite literally:

“We were short of engineers and decided to look for them outside of Malaysia. We hopped on a plane to India and spent three days getting to know and assessing candidates that have applied to our positions online,” shared Audra Pakalnyte, Head of People at Fave Group.

The recruitment team opted to use the credibility of Sequoia Capital, a Fave investor, to attract initial applications.

Audra places an emphasis on the importance of getting to know your candidates face to face apart from only meeting them at interviews. Each day in India, the Fave team spent their time getting to know the candidates; they have lunches together, chat about anything, and also picked the candidates’ minds on how they would solve challenges that the Fave team was facing.

Also read: How to do startup valuation when approaching angel investors – some thoughts from the Malaysian perspective

The bold move resulted in three new hires that came back to Malaysia together with Fave recruiters. On top of that, Fave also started building a brand in a new market. The Malaysian startup is still receiving applications from friends of candidates they’ve hired or just met that day.

2. When you can’t find needed skills, teach them

Piktochart didn’t get any luck looking for full-time front-end java and ruby developers though regular job portals. At the same time, they kept receiving internship applications from fresh graduates, who simply could not qualify for a full-time position. Piktochart decided to address this gap.

Company opened six vacancies: These were full time employment positions with a competitive compensation, and all the benefits that other employees enjoyed. Anyone accepted for one of these positions would go through a six-month training with Piktochart mentors. They would have to attend classes, complete tests and get their assignments reviewed by their mentors. It was decided to call the project “Pikto Academy”.

“Educating your own developers takes time,” says Shen, Piktochart HR officer. “However, we consider this as a successful project. After 6 months, 2 out of 3 developers have successfully graduated from the Pikto Academy and joined the team.”

Also read: UI and UX designers sought out, here are 5 jobs from 101.careers, Playlab, Veneurific, Creatella, and Piktochart

Quite an unconventional move from a company, Pikto Academy generated some buzz, increased employer brand recognition and resulted in more applications from people who heard about the academy.

3. When seeking creative solutions, offer creative challenges

“If young people were to learn what it meant to take a decision in a real work environment, the best way to teach them was through experience,” shares Animesh Mukherjee, Head of HR Centre of Expertise at Digi. The CXO Apprenticeship is an unconventional management trainee program that Digi launched in 2016 to find promising young talent.

Digi used Facebook ads to spread the word about the campaign and asked candidates to submit an application video. Shortlisted candidates were offered a “Freedom challenge” for a full day at the Digi HQ, where they worked developing and prototyping a digital product for young Malaysians.

Supervised by a coach from Digi, each team had to ideate, validate, prototype and pitch a product the company could introduce to a young demographic. During that day, coaches got to observe candidates “in action” and suggested the best candidates for the next round.

For the final round before the interviews, successful candidates were sent to Digi stores, where they would help customers address real problems.

Though these steps, Digi was able to see candidates in real-work-like situations, evaluate creativity, team-work, customer orientation and other qualities. The CXO apprentice program has now been running for 2 years as it proves to bring successful management trainees to the company.

4. Meet them face to face

A career fair seems to be rather a traditional method of recruitment, especially when it comes to recruiting recent graduates with little to no working experience. Career fairs with thousands of candidates and hundreds of companies all in one gigantic multipurpose hall can be a daunting and sometimes, unfruitful adventure for both recruiters and candidates alike.

Digi, PayPal, and Shell were amongst the pioneers that decided to invest in a much smaller “custom made” event. They joined The Awesome Career Fair where selected employers meet a few hundred pre-qualified candidates. There is no rush to give away as many flyers as possible, instead, the limited number of participants gives everyone time and space to get to know each other and create lasting impression.

This event is awesome. We like it so much. I can see the enjoyment, and people don’t feel so stressed,” shares Ramyah Arasu, from Shell. “In fact, this is the first time we’ve joined this type of recruitment event and I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who were actually interested to know more about us.”

When numbers used to be a key-selling point for any career fair, today’s recruiters know that having a chance to actually speak to a candidate and make a real connection might payoff better as compared to handing out thousands of flyers. Quality is better than quantity.

5. Share your authentic culture

Corporate culture has quickly escalated to be a buzzword. There are no doubts that sharing your authentic work culture clearly helps to attract the right candidates, however, as any overused term, “company culture” tends to be pretty misunderstood.

Also read: What’s Silicon Valley’s secret sauce? Here’s what Asian entrepreneurs can learn in terms of culture

“I signed my contract with Iflix the same day I met Ashley Crick, CTO of Iflix,” shares Eyad Alama, now head of innovation at Iflix.

“What contributed to this decision? Before the conversation with Ash, I met the team: I knew this team cared about data and thinks of building to scale – that was the type of problems that were relevant to me, so I knew I would fit well into the engineering culture of Iflix. It was the company’s engineering culture that was important to me but not the office, as the latter is usually understood.”

Iflix managed to demonstrate the work culture that a future employee will be facing. Truth is, “culture” does not always means perks and colourful office, in this case decision-taking culture and team values were critical factors for the candidate to sign the job contract. As Iflix you can share your authentic culture, by introducing a potential candidate to a future team. Another option would be launching a culture page or a branding video.

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The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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