OpenRecruiters: A Transparent and Open Recruiting Portal

April 8, 20149:54 am429 views
OpenRecruiters: A Transparent and Open Recruiting Portal
Brandon Lee, the CEO of OpenRecruiters Pte. Ltd.

Edited by Bronwen Appel

OpenRecruiters, led by Brandon Lee, intends to lead changes in the HR scene in Singapore. A graduate of Nanyang Polytechnic with a Diploma in Computer and Communications Engineering, Brandon started his first business doing video editing and analogue-to-digital video conversion. He eventually shifted to printer consumables before ending up as a recruitment consultant

A multi-talented individual, whose hobbies include cycling and playing the guitar, the 33 year old entrepreneur has an extensive background in recruitment; both as a recruitment consultant and business developer. The insights gained from these experiences led him to start OpenRecruiters, a portal for both recruitment consultancies and corporations engaged in recruitment.

What made you shift from engineering into HR?

It was a natural transition from engineering into sales for me. I generally prefer human interaction. After NS, where I served as a paramedic in the Singapore Civil Defence Force, I did my own business doing video conversion, where I converted analogue videos into digital format. Youtube didn’t exist during the time I started (2001 to 2004). I chose to exit the sector because it was a sunset industry and a lot of people were shifting to digital file formats.”

What led you to into recruitment consulting?

Funnily enough, it was due due to my then-girlfriend, who’s currently my wife. She was working as a nurse, which got me thinking. One day I was at an agency looking for a healthcare job but was told to try out as a salesperson based on my prior experience doing printer and consumable sales after after NS. I did my own business for 3 years after NS got recruited as a recruitment consultant doing hiring for the healthcare sector.”

What does it take to be a good recruitment consultant?

Always be sympathetic to your prospects. I learnt to develop that during my time in the SCDF, since I was an ambulance paramedic. You need to be be able to listen to your clients, and to be sure to understand their motivation for getting another job. You really need to look out for the job-person fit, since you don’t want them to be quitting after 3 months.

You should always be closing ethically, as that impacts your credibility as a recruiter. Your main job is to identify the needs and concerns of both employer and prospect, come up with a solution and match them, not simply just download resume’s off Monster or some other portal and forward it to an employer. I’ve seen too many recruiters do that.

You do need to look out and be cautious of what I call “professional job-hoppers”, because they want to get an increase in salary. For convenience they look to recruiters and they generally end up wasting your time and costing you credibility.”

 Why should large companies outsource their hiring to external recruiters?

In-house recruiting teams in HR departments tend to lack the depth of knowledge, expertise and networks that professional recruitment firms have. There is a general lack of skills, professional knowledge and industry exposure for specialist and executive roles in in-house HR departments. They can easily recruit for for general roles, as those positions are relatively easy to fill.

But when you’re talking about managerial and executive roles, as well as those requiring specialist knowledge, that’s when recruitment firms come in. Internal recruiters may have too many roles to fills, and quotas to cover their attrition. This applies especially when a company is expanding. There’s also the issue of conflict-of-interest. This is from working experience, when I acted as an external consultant with internal recruiters.”

What have your most memorable recruitments been?

Well, I closed one case in half a day. This was from the time I sent the resume to getting them a job offer and arranging an interview. It was probably less than 2 hours in total, since I was searching for a resume on monster.com. She was based in the same building as my firm at the time. I simply gave my client a call, linked them up and she got the job offer for being an executive secretary – effectively serving as admin support for corporate senior management. Essentially, you’re a secretary to the CEO and COO in that role.”

What inspired OpenRecruiters?

I was working with a recruitment agency which specialised in the healthcare sector. As pioneer staff, I was engaged across a broad range of areas building the company. I was doing organizational development, business strategy, hiring people and developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for internal teamwork. Work didn’t end after office hours, or even on weekends. I’d get called while traveling to work early in the morning at 6.30 am. During my time spent working with the previous company and working with other HR departments, I also discovered numerous inefficiencies with the talent acquisition process. 

For instance, HR staff often have to review multiple contracts and use multiple recruiters. The same information gets repeated unnecessarily. Another thing was there was no way for employers to monitor and track the performance of their recruiters. There is no industry standard in Singapore measuring recruiter competency; time to fill position, hiring rates, the time to interview, etc.

OpenRecruiters wants to increase the standards of the recruitment industry in Asia as a whole, so that employers will enjoy the optimal return out of their recruiting dollar while recruiters can get the best return on their time and contacts invested.”

So what does OpenRecruiter’s do precisely? What problem does your firm solve?

We consolidate recruitment agencies, contracts, administration and communication into a single platform for employers. They only have to set a common recruitment fee to be paid upon a successful placement. Most common payments are contingency model, meaning they are paid upon a successful hire. For example, in Australia they charge 10%-15% as the charge, while in Singapore we get a rate of 15%-25%, sometimes even 30%.

 Steven Pang, one of our advisors, worked in Australia for a while and is an Executive Member of SPRO (Singapore Professional Recruiting Organization). Rates are relatively low in Australia but the salaries are higher, as well as the professional standards.

 Some agencies in Singapore simply spam the resume’s they have to employers, without even doing a KYC (Know-Your-Client) analysis, for either their candidate or the employers who’ve contracted them.

So OpenRecruiters only allows specialist recruitment agencies to come on board our platform, in order to help niche recruitment agencies, some of whom cannot afford business development teams. By using technology, we help them cut out the administrative inefficiencies to save time, money and stress.

 We let employers set their terms, and see which agencies are willing to match it and take it on the contract. This makes everything straightforward, cuts to the chase and is far more efficient for both the recruiter and the employer who contracts them.”

How does it benefit recruiters?

Keeping an updated candidate database can be difficult, especially when you have 1000+ resumes in your database. Keeping updated on their availability and stage in life shortens negotiation by keeping everything transparent and open. Giving them access to more potential leads and expanding hiring opportunities streamlines the process for both recruiters and employers.

We also have a personality assessment test through the use of TestDirect, which is an online psychometric test that acts as a filter for potential candidates we assess for potential hire. We work with our partners to provide video interviews, psychometric assessment and psychological testing to ensure a good fit between candidates and jobs,

making sure there is a good fit in terms of skills and organizational culture.”

Who are your investors and advisors?

Strategia Ventures & Crystal Horse co-invested in OpenRecruiters under the iJam scheme from Media Development Authority (MDA). We’re also funding ourselves through other means.”

What do you see your development trajectory being from now till 2016?

In Asia, when it comes to employer’s minds it’s still recruitment agencies as the main channel for hiring. Increasingly, social networks are another channel for hiring candidates

but only by increasing professional standards and adding value to employers can recruitment agencies be a trusted, reliable partner. This applies especially to Singapore.

Right now we’re starting off in Singapore but we plan to expand into Malaysia, Hong Kong and especially in Myanmar, given the lack of professional and managerial talent. The local talent pool is not developed enough at this point of time.

So I see us expanding abroad, from Singapore and the Asia-Pacific to major markets like the EU, US and Japan. For the first five years, I’m determined to focus on the Asia-Pacific and looking at Japan as an objective.”

Where do you see the market in Singapore heading with current restrictions?

The recruitment sector is going to be tougher. Firms are going to increasingly specialize in niche areas and larger firms are going to branch off slowly, in order to explore different areas of revenue generation. On the whole, it will be tougher due to restrictions on hiring foreigners.”

What do you think of local talent and how can they improve?

Local talent has to be more open to different ideas, more so the staff. This is more relevant to staff born in the 1990s. They tend to demand a high salary, near their home and with perfect working hours (i.e. 9 am-5 pm) and with muiltiple benefits. There’s a mismatch of benefits and expectations between employer and employee.

Because of this local talents often miss out on opportunities. They should be open to experience, in order to expose themselves to more diverse opportunities, and to look at the potential of their job in terms of long-term career prospects. Currently, they tend to be short-sighted

They should look at the bigger picture, be strategically minded and look further afield.”

At the same time, there are two sides to this. What do you think local employers can do to improve?

Local employers need to delegate more responsibilities to employees and trust them. Don’t micromanage your employees, since it’s counter-productive in the long run. For example, some employers install security camera’s in office in order to monitor staff, often nitpicking on details, such as being 5 minutes late or going for toilet breaks. Encourage flexible working arrangements and flexible placement, since they tend to boost productivity when properly implemented.

When coming to recruitment, don’t just seek to match skills-to-skills and paper to paper. You need to look at the attitude and motivation of candidates, to ensure they align with your company mission and values as close as possible. For example, sometimes employers are lazy and simply want to hire a salesperson. They often hire salespeople for their stated background and relevant industry, without assessing their background, attitude, interpersonal skills or commitment to the organization.

Employers need to look around and see if they can grow their talent, to explore ways in which staff can mutually develop with the company and don’t just look at previous working experience or academic qualifications. They need to look beyond that.

I started from engineering and eventually moved to sales, shifting from printer consumables to recruitment consulting. So employers need to be open to the opportunities presented in personnel selection and recruitment. Skills can be taught, but values and a fit to the organizational culture cannot be as easily acquired and can’t be observed on paper.”

 Disclosure: Strategia Ventures is a principal investor in OpenRecruiters and HR in Asia.

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