EVERYONE dreams of a perfect job, but it is elusive because it is subjective. This is partly due to the passivity of conventional recruitment, with its potential for misinterpretation.

The problem starts when candidates themselves weigh their skills, knowledge and experience. They discern and discriminate which qualities to showcase and which to mute. They then translate this information onto a piece of paper, in a way they believe will interest a potential employer.

The subjectivity is then compounded by the recruiter’s interpretation of that information. Due to the deluge of applications, the recruiters may just scan for specific keywords, which the candidates may not have used. Thus, only the candidates who used the preferred keywords are shortlisted.

The limitations of a traditional recruitment exercise do not end there. At the interview, candidates strive to impress the recruiter with their skills, knowledge and experience. The person who makes the biggest impression is the one who resonates with the recruiter most — in sentences rather than substance and in words rather than action.

So, the recruiter’s choice is largely based on the theorised abilities of the candidate while he can only imagine the working culture of the company.

Realising the shortcomings of the conventional recruitment process, companies are getting creative.

Novel recruitment methods

Some companies are establishing or enhancing their internship programmes. This makes good economic sense for both parties: employers get to assess the prospective employees’ skills on the job.

On the other hand, candidates, usually tertiary students on a semester break, will get on-the-job training and also experience the working culture at the company. L’Oreal is an example of a company that effectively employs its internship programme for such win-win scenarios.

Says Ms Tay Sue Jean, a National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate and also a marketing intern for Redken: “My internship at L’Oreal is an eye opener and I learned things that could never be taught in a classroom. I believe it will also give me an edge when I apply for a job here once I graduate.”

Adds Ms Grace Yeow, a recruitment manager at L’Oréal Singapore: “We treat our interns as we would regular staff. We give them objectives and coach them in their day-to-day work. We also ensure that there is a professional value-add to the intern’s time with us by integrating and training them where necessary. This is because we see them as future colleagues.”

Some companies also organise competitions to spot the brightest candidates. L’Oréal, for example, organises the annual L’Oréal Brandstorm competition where marketing students from all over the world compete to come up with the best marketing strategy for the company’s products while being mentored by top professionals from the company.

Says Mr Colin Lim, who won the National Championship with his team from NUS last year: “The opportunity to work on a marketing case challenge, to interact with key managers from L’Oréal and a global agency, was a huge draw for me.”

Last year alone, the company hired four management trainees through the Brandstorm competition, and Mr Lim was one of them.

Assessment tests

Recruiters are also beginning to look beyond the curriculum vitae and explore areas such as the candidates’ personalities and behavioural patterns. Popular tests includes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and its variants. Some companies have created their own personality test. L’Oréal has Reveal, which is a business game that reveals and evaluates the participants’ talent online through a tailor-made assessment system.

The assessment is executed through stories and situational exercises. Participants are gauged based on their situational judgements, time-cognitive problem-solving abilities, and a professional quiz pertaining to their chosen field of interest.

Although only one assessment unit is mandatory, participants who are interested to learn more about other units can access the educational content of other fields and take part in the related technical quizzes if they choose to do so. Once the online business game has been completed, they will receive a personalised evaluation and can send their resumé to the local recruiters.

The best participants are invited by L’Oreal’s human resources teams to a “BRevealed event”, where they spend one or two days at their local L’Oréal office to get hands-on experience with the company through team activities, exchanges with business professionals from the different business fields and meeting the recruiters.

The aim of such assessments is to help students gain a better knowledge of themselves and be more aware of their talent and potential. It also challenges students to be certain that their talent and personality match their career of choice.

The assessment also alerts students to the fact that they have more options. They are often focused on one aspect of their talent, and limit their job search as a result. Through these assessments, they may also uncover hidden talents.

With the help of these creative techniques, candidates and recruiters are now able to better reconcile their respective interpretations of a perfect job and a perfect candidate.