Friday, October 29, 2010

Being lucky requires a lot of hard work.

We very often hear business people refer to the “pain point” and that business opportunities revolve around that pain point. In 1997, the Y2K problem (or the Year 2000 problem) was fast approaching its deadline. For those too young to remember, the Y2K problem was a problem in the computer world resulting from the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits. Thousand of computer programmers were needed to solve the situation by changing the computer codes to accommodate 4 digits instead of 2 digits.

Identifying pain need not be a flash of brilliance. It was obvious that the I.T. industry would need IT staffing support to address the problem. Since the Y2K was a temporary but urgent situation, the need for IT Staff Augmentation became essential for the IT companies addressing the problem… this gave birth to the Sysgen IT Staff Augmentation business.

What started in 1997 continues to be a profitable business for Sysgen. What started with me alone being the business developer, account manager, and the recruiter has grown to 2 people doing business development, 5 people doing account management and 12 people doing recruiting. Sysgen’s a annual revenues from IT Staff Augmentation is in the neighborhood of Php 80M (USD 1.8M). Currently we have almost 200 IT Professionals deployed to different projects.

Thomas Edison once said that “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Being able to identify opportunities is the true mark of an entrepreneur. Making the best out of the opportunity is what makes you lucky… being lucky requires a lot of hard work.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not your everyday job fair...

Sysgen recently closed a new client who needed to hire 50 C++ and Java Developers within 2 weeks. The client, a leader in the mobile phone industry, is setting up a research and development centre in the Philippines that will ultimately house 1,500 IT Professionals. (Hurray for the Philippines!)

You ask: “What is so difficult about hiring 50 C++ and Java Developers within 2 weeks?”.  Well imagine moving the Himalayas to Manila. In short, we had an impossible goal ahead of us.

Of course, our first task was to manage the expectations of the client... to realistically say that 50 hires may be impossible... and that 10 may be workable. We then drew up a recruitment plan that included a “ mutant job fair.”

Typically a job fair is held in a multi-purpose hall that could accommodate thousands of people. Thousands of people can only mean long lines and numerous booths to weed through. What’s more, most job fairs are not industry specific and have not proven to be a successful tool for hiring experienced IT Professionals.

Ours was different. Ours was targeted towards a specific group... a pre-qualified group that would come for a one-day processing event from exam to hiring.

With one week to work on, we formed a recruitment team of 5 tasked to source, call, and pre-qualify hundreds of possible candidates. The objective was to have 50 confirmed pre-qualified candidates come to the event.

As expected, only 40% or 19 people showed up. Only 1 person was hired as a direct result of the “mutant job fair” ... a 5% hiring rate.

Was it a success? Or a miserable failure?

If we were to take the hiring rate of 5% alone, then it was a huge success relative to the usual 2%.  My point being, “mutant job fairs” can actually produce a good number of hires with more days to source, call, and pre-qualify. It should only be done though as part of bigger plan. Alternative channels also need to be put in place.

In the end, after implementing the rest of the recruitment plan, we were able to hire 8 people in 2 weeks.

Good job Team Sysgen!