Shortlister Spotlight: Meet Diana, Recruitment Associate

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At Shortlist, we love building and growing our team as much as we love building yours. In this installment of our Shortlister Spotlight series, (a Q&A series to get to know more of our team members), meet Diana Nyerere, a Recruitment Associate in our Nairobi Office.

Diana loves adventure as much as she loves her work. Get to know more about her, her inspiration, favorite cuisine and more!

Hello Diana! Tell us about what you do at Shortlist

I am a Recruitment Associate. I support companies, both SMEs and corporates, across Africa and the rest of the world in talent acquisition. My current role enables me to work with multiple social impact organisations, large corporates and startups across different geographies and industries.

How has your time at Shortlist impacted you so far?

My role has changed how I view the world. There are so many people out there with different stories about their journey and a thousand more who have done great things and have a lot to offer. It’s just a matter of understanding and identifying how they can contribute to organisations. I am now more curious to hear and read fascinating stories of professionals from around the world, and what has led to their success. You are constantly surprised to learn what one person can do in their career in a span of 10 years and how much they can achieve and impact a team!

What is your professional background, and what were you looking for in your next career step when you found Shortlist?

My background has been in analytics and research, both in the financial and real estate sectors. Before joining Shortlist, my dream was to get into a field that allowed human interaction. Don’t get me wrong – crunching numbers was fulfilling, but I yearned to interact with a more diverse and inclusive team. Surprisingly, I am now a professional recruiter with great passion in talent acquisition.

Adventure brings out my other superpowers 🙂

What’s your professional superpower?

Hehe hehe. Good one! I want to believe I am a “Strengthener”. Recruitment is fun, and working as a team makes it more fun. I find it easy and I’m at my best helping my colleagues by contributing ideas and brainstorming on better ways to achieve our goals. I understand that my team’s headache is equally my headache and together we can make any project work.

What’s your favorite Shortlist value and why?

Being a whole person. I am a workaholic and I can easily fall off at times. However, every time I look at the Shortlist values on the office wall and see this one, I am reminded that I need to take a step back. I am lucky to have friends and family who pull me away to relax and work out so that I can jumpstart my body. A healthy body equals a happy person. 🙂

What are three words you would use to describe Team Shortlist?

Fun. Innovative. Collaborative

What’s your favorite Shortlist memory?

When I closed my first project and got a hire! I was so excited, felt like I had conquered the world and that anything was possible. The best part was seeing how happy everyone in the team was. We celebrate together, as one team.

Why is the Shortlist mission important to you?

A company is as good as its people. Sourcing and placing the right professionals is vital and always the Shortlist goal. We want our clients to succeed and this is made possible through finding them world-class talent.

As you know, we like to give “high-fives” to recognize when our team members do something awesome. Now is your chance to make a public high five to a fellow Shortlister

Sarah ~  Such a good leader, listener, thinker and helper

Yvonne ~ I realized a lot about myself through this article.

And most importantly, high five to Shortlist for believing that I could grow into a career I knew nothing of and giving me this opportunity.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Travelling. We live in a very beautiful world. Some places are so peaceful and I always look forward to going away from the CBD to a quiet place in order to relax.

What’s more beautiful?

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an Engineer. I had actually applied to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering in university but changed my mind on the last day of application. No regrets though.

Tell us about someone that has inspired you

I once met a young gentleman who has built a sports company from the ground up. He is now working on franchising the company. This taught me that anything is possible if you believe. I know this sounds cliche, but trust me I have seen the company grow tremendously in a short period, and I now work with confidence and believe in my capabilities.

How is Shortlist different than other companies?

How one team is actually exercised as well as the fun activities and team members. I have never worked in an environment where there is such teamwork. A true definition of culture shock!

Touring Coastal Kenya

What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This is a must-read for anyone who is wondering whether they can achieve their dreams or not!

If you were to swap places with one person for a day, who would it be and why?

Queen Elizabeth. I have always been curious to know what royalty is all about. I mean, is it something to envy or not? Probably is though!

Anything else you want the world to know about you?

I know I have a poker face but I am very easy to talk to. Cooking is also my therapy – weird, huh? I love Indian restaurants and I plan to travel to India just for the food. I mean, have you seen their street food? Mouthwatering!

Final words?

Don’t let your pride block you from your destiny; don’t be afraid to submit to the wisdom of the leaders before you.


Did you love Diana’s experience at Shortlist? Visit our website for opportunities to be part of the Shortlist Team. If you would like help building your team, let us help you. Shortlist offers a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great teams.

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Follow these steps to improve your company’s careers page

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If an outstanding candidate visited your careers page today, would they be excited by the content they see? Your careers page is the home base for all of your recruitment activities. Make sure it accurately and enthusiastically highlights your employer brand!

Here are some steps to follow to improve the candidate experience and showcase your employer brand on your careers page. If you need to work on the basics first, check out this intro to employer branding and this post to help you define what your company offers to prospective employers.

Lay the foundation for a great user experience on your careers page

Optimise for the mobile generation

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Image credit — Indeed

It is imperative to optimise your website for mobile usage. According to a survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed, 78% of people in the US apply to jobs on their mobile devices.

If your careers page isn’t optimised for mobile, applicants may exit the site if they’re required to shift the screen, or zoom in and out continuously. Invest in creating a great user experience and you’ll keep your prospective employees engaged throughout the application.

Do not compromise on SEO

In a bid to sound relatable, your job titles should not disregard Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) guidelines. Showcasing a fun company culture should be achieved without sacrificing your website’s SEO potential. Certain SEO guidelines like not using abbreviations and ensuring a minimum word count is just as important as sharing creative and captivating content on your careers webpage.

For instance, unconventional job titles such as Chief Creative Leader or Imagination Officer sound fun and quirky, but they reduce your webpage’s reach on Google. Using the right (and perhaps more conventional) keywords can help candidates find your careers page easily.

Use filters

Make it as easy as possible for applicants to find relevant job postings. Categorisation based on location, experience level and the department would be a great place to start. The aim is to streamline the application process for the job-seeker, so it is vital to not overcomplicate the search process by using too many filters!

Take a look at Spotify’s careers pages for inspiration:

Image Credit — Spotify

Provide an explainer of the job process 

Letting a potential hire know what to expect through the application process can save you loads of emails with similar questions. Take a look at the Boston Consulting Group’s careers page, which provides tips on how to excel in an interview with their company.

Excite candidates by highlighting your employee experience on the careers page

Use videos

Videos are a great way to bring your values and office culture to life. A short video featuring a few employees sharing a unique experience they’ve had at your company and a shot of the team eating lunch could be an excellent starting point. For example, marketing giant HubSpot uses this feature on their careers page in the following manner:

Image credit — HubSpot

Add blog content

Provide engaging reading material to your applicants that goes beyond the usual website copy. For instance, your main careers page could showcase your blog posts that highlight employee experiences and company events.

Be proud of your values

In addition to relevant content and high-quality videos, a succinct slideshow displaying the core values of your company can help build your brand. We like the way that Airbnb has showcased their values and office culture with creative illustrations:

Image credit: Airbnb

Show off your workspaces

Insider pictures of a regular day at the office are a great way to showcase your employer brand. Anything from cozy work spots, your office pet to the coffee you serve could all be flaunted on your careers page.

Image credit: Airbnb

With the help of some of these tips, you will have prospective candidates excited about joining your team!

Want to get started? Our new recruitment tool, Shortlist Connect can help you create customized career pages that appeal to candidates, show off your company culture, and help you streamline your recruitment process.

Building your team? Let us help you build your employer brand.

Modernize your recruitment process with our new tool


Stay tuned for more

As part of our latest campaign on employer branding, we will be sharing actionable resources and tools like these over the next few months. To receive all of our latest tips straight to your inbox, sign up for our weekly newsletter here!

Anything specific about employer branding that you’re hoping to learn? Let us know on our social media platforms: Linked In, Twitter

kenya talent acquisition trends 2019

Talent acquisition trends 2019: Top seven in Kenya

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Shortlist surveyed 200+ talent recruiting decision-makers across Kenya to understand the top talent acquisition trends for 2019. The respondents were equally split between HR and Hiring Managers and ranged from micro organisations with less than 25 employees to large corporates with over 1000 employees.

Here are the top seven talent acquisition trends for 2019 in Kenya that the survey revealed:

Insight #1: Attracting quality talent was a key challenge for Kenyan companies in 2018

Attracting quality talent was a top challenge across most functions and organisation sizes. This was especially the case for large organisations as 63% of respondents from companies with over 500 employees cited it as a challenge.

The current job market swings heavily in favour of quality candidates, and these candidates know how in-demand they are. If organisations don’t market properly as employers, they might lose the quality talent to the competition.

Our research on Hiring in Kenya found that high performers can generate up to 7 times the annual margin of low performers and nearly twice that of medium performers. This makes hiring quality talent critical for organisational performance.

It’s time for organisations to critically assess how attractive or appealing they are to high-quality applicants. Employer branding, candidate experience and talent pipelining need to take centre stage.

The secret to attracting high-quality applicants is to differentiate oneself from other industry players, and showing top talent how joining the organisation can help them reach their career goals. Companies are increasingly required to pay more attention to their employer brand to differentiate themselves and stand out. Therefore, it was no surprise that upon investigating the challenges faced by most companies in 2018, attracting quality talent topped the list, beating out candidate sourcing and assessments among the important Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019.

Insight #2: Improving efficiency of hiring is top among Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019

Given the pace of change and the constant pressure to save costs, it is not surprising that managers across industries identified improving the efficiency of the recruitment process as top among the Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019. Improving hiring efficiency is crucial for employers as it lowers hiring costs, improves the quality of hires and reduces the time spent in the hiring process.

Our research showed that organisations receive 200 CVs on average per role advertised, with some organisations occasionally receiving as many as 5,000 CVs for each role! Time is the primary cost driver especially since interviewing takes up to 19 hours while CV screening and shortlisting take up to 18 hours per role.

Screening and shortlisting should ideally be less time-consuming and the time saved can be reallocated to other tasks requiring a more human touch. There is a need to effectively manage the high volume of applications received (mainly due to the use of online job boards) by leveraging on technology to provide effective solutions for efficient screening.

Insight #3: Companies are leveraging on technology in their recruitment

While technology has found its way into the HR ecosystem, most organisations in Kenya are not fully leveraging on technology; 67% of organisations are using technology during sourcing, and this number drops drastically to 18% during onboarding. Adoption of technology at the sourcing stage does not translate to improvements in the interview stage because of a high volume of unfiltered candidates getting to the interview stage.

Adoption of technology during the assessment and screening stages need to increase for organisations to be able to improve the efficiency of their hires. The utilisation of technology during the hiring process is most effective when used at the sourcing, screening and assessment stages, as this narrows down the number of applicants to those with the highest potential for the job, thus saving both interviewers and interviewees time.

At Shortlist, we help employers navigate the hiring process by using evidence-based digital methods that identify the most qualified candidates for the position from the vast pool of applications sent before proceeding to in-person interviews.

Insight #4: SMEs leverage on technology more in the hiring process

Our research found that SMEs leverage technology more than larger organisations. This is probably because SMEs often have limited bandwidth in their recruitment teams. They, therefore, turn to technology to make up for this deficit. In the past, the large corporates had a built-in advantage of advertising widely for roles simply because they could afford it.

There was no way that an SME could spend the kinds of money needed to use traditional advertising and spread the word in the same way that the established titans could. Hence there was a clear demarcation within the business world between the haves and have-nots.

Technology has blurred those lines to the point where it’s difficult even to see where they once existed. In particular, social media has given the opportunity to small businesses to advertise their vacancies in much the same way that business giants can.

Insight #5: Sales top the list for the most important position to fill in 2019

Nearly half of our respondents listed sales as the top position to fill in their companies this year. There could be several reasons for this. One could be the general attrition rate in sales; the voluntary turnover rate for salespeople is generally higher than for other positions. When salespeople aren’t happy in an organisation, they are more likely to leave than other employees.

Sales is a naturally stressful and performance-demanding job, so attrition will usually be higher because assessing performance for sales unlike other jobs, is in-your-face. This is also exacerbated by the fact that most employers don’t have a well-designed, mature sales process; hence performance is more dependent on employee quality.

On top of that, many companies face challenges finding the right talent for their sales teams and often end up making the wrong hire costing the company time and money. Right job fit has a massive impact on sales staff turnover as employees with ‘right fit’ have a stronger motivation and positive attitude towards their role making them more productive, effective and tend to stay longer.

Having a challenge with assessing for job fit? Read more on how we think about assessments: The Art and Science of Assessments

Insight #6: 96% of companies plan to increase their hiring volume this year

Kenyan businesses ushered in 2019 with a high sense of optimism for business growth. 96% of our survey respondents expressed the intention of increasing their rate of hiring. 52% of the respondents expect their organisations to increase their hiring volume by 20% or more!

While making more hires can be a sign of company growth, it is important for companies to remember that quality hires are the key to the growth of the business. To improve in this area, companies need to update their hiring processes constantly to attract the best candidates.

Insight #7: Hiring managers are looking for a good balance of soft and hard skills

When evaluating who they will hire in 2019, 44 % of respondents rated the candidate’s business skills, experience and job skills as very important. While business skills may get one’s foot in the door, employers are typically looking for a more balanced employee who also possesses soft skills that are not readily apparent on a CV.

Talent Acquisition Trends for 2019  – Conclusions:

Sourcing and hiring talent can be a difficult, expensive and time-consuming process. Our survey revealed that most organisations are looking to become more efficient and increase the quality of their hires. To get ahead and ensure they secure the best talent, companies need to embrace new recruitment strategies and incorporate technology in the recruitment process.

Download the complete e-book: Talent Acquisition Trends for 2019.

Want to learn more about the Kenya talent acquisition trends for 2019? Download the full report here.

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Onboarding Ideas: 3 Fun Tips for Startups and SMEs

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Great onboarding isn’t just for corporates with big budgets! Build an effective and affordable orientation program with these free and fun onboarding ideas.

Onboarding is a crucial part of recruitment, but often feels like an afterthought once you’re done with the screening, selection, and the offer process. As a super busy startup or SME, it might seem unattainable to dedicate even more team time and resources for onboarding.

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Credit: Criene Images/Twenty20

However, you may want to reconsider. In addition to making new joiners feel excited and welcomed, quality onboarding processes have been proven to increase employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, and reduce turnover and absenteeism in the long run.

How to begin? In partnership with the Shell Foundation, we created a starter guide to help you build an effective and affordable onboarding program. Here are three of our favorite fun and free onboarding ideas for you to incorporate today!

Tip #1: Create an informative and fun welcome packet to prep new joiners ahead of time

Create a packet of key information that you share with the new joiner a week ahead of their start date. It can be anywhere from a one-pager to a lengthier document, to a video, and you can update it and re-use it over the years.

Some onboarding ideas for what to include in your welcome packet:

  • Your mission and vision statements.
  • A timeline of key company milestones and fun facts about your founding story
  • An overview of your key products with images and feature descriptions
  • Case studies that demonstrate your impact on customers and/or society
  • Organizational chart with names, pictures, and titles, so they can get a head start on learning names!

For bonus points: Print out your PDF and send it to your new joiner’s house so they can flip through it more easily. Everyone loves deliveries!

Tip #2: Time your existing company events to create an engaging and busy first few weeks

Does your team already hold regularly occurring internal events? These could include all-company gatherings (like Town Halls or leadership Q&As), functional team meetings (like brainstorms or check-ins), or social events (like a monthly happy hour).

Try planning your team calendar so that these events and meetings occur during your new joiners’ first two weeks at the company. With a little bit of advance planning or rearranging (and no extra cost), you’ve beefed up your new joiner’s onboarding agenda with fun and engaging events that help them dive right into your company culture and routines.

For bonus points: Load these events into your new joiner’s calendar so, on their first day, they see lots of fun activities already planned for them.

Tip #3: Pair the new joiner with a buddy

Setting up your new joiner with a buddy gives them an automatic friend on their first day! Ask for team members to volunteer to commit 2–3 hours in the next three months to be a buddy. Ideally, the buddy is familiar enough with your organization (over 6 months tenure) that they can explain team policies and culture, and are not the new joiner’s manager. Once you’ve selected a buddy, here are some activity ideas:

  • Introduce the buddy and new joiner over email about a week before they join, giving the buddy an opportunity to welcome the new joiner and share any informal tips before their first day.
  • Set up a lunch or coffee between the buddy and new joiner on their second or third day, so they have someone to share questions and observations with after the initial deluge of information.
  • Ask the buddy to schedule a one-month and three-month check-in with the new joiner, so that they don’t feel like onboarding stops at activities of the first week!

For bonus points: Try to identify a common interest or trait between the buddy and new joiner, which can help as an ice-breaker. Make sure to go beyond the obvious (e.g., same university) to highlight that team members at your company strive to connect over shared interests and behaviors that go deeper than surface-level.

Thanks for checking out our top onboarding ideas for startups and SMEs!

Download the complete e-book:

Download our e-book Onboarding Your New Hires: A (Practical!) Starter Guide for more onboarding information, tools and templates.

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How I “Unlearned” to Recruit

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Musings from my first six months at Shortlist

As a hardcore recruiter from the recruitment consulting industry, the last six months have been a journey of unlearning what I knew (or what I assumed I knew 😉) regarding hiring, and learning the way recruitment should really happen. I switched my job a little over six months ago to join Shortlist’s Mumbai office, where tech-powered recruitment is our core business.

Shortlist envisions to help all companies build happy, high-performing teams. Our mission for the other businesses (Executive Search, HR Advisory, Training, Campus Placements, and other exciting ideas) are in sync with that of the core business — to ‘unlock professional potential’.

So how has my thinking shifted in the last six months at Shortlist?

Crunched for time? Here’s a bulleted summary of key takeaways from this article, though you will probably miss my key learnings.

– Digitizing candidate data collection is a life-saver for recruiters

– A sustainable hiring strategy is built on a structured recruitment process

– Search approach based on potential rather than pedigree is a catalyst for effective hiring

– Employer branding works like a charm

Digitizing candidate data collection is a life-saver for recruiters

At Shortlist, we create chatbot questions to collect data on candidates. This data automates prioritization and screening of job seekers. Of course, traditionally I have done this manually by going through every resume and cover letter. Like most recruiters, right after hearing, ‘Go, get them!’, I would start calling job seekers. Frustrations would go through the roof if, after all my efforts, the candidate wouldn’t be interested in the job or wasn’t looking for a change at all. My stress levels were at an all-time high, given the unimaginable man hours I was putting into it.

The most awkward and tricky information to collect (which actually matters most to employers in the Indian job market) is salary expectations and the notice period of job seekers. On most occasions, where I was not able to predict a candidate’s earnings, getting this information meant calling up a stranger and asking upfront about their earnings. Our automated chatbots get all this information upfront. Transactional stuff out of the way, I can focus on what truly matters.

Our technology allows job seekers to submit virtual interviews in the form of audio and video responses, and we also offer a proprietary personality test, which job seekers can take for free. This means personality and communication criteria can be assessed by employers before meeting the job seeker.

Key learnings: Put technology to work for you. The basic information can actually be collected and measured before the interview stage.

A sustainable hiring strategy is built on a structured recruitment process

Organizations grow. Even the best places to work on the planet prepare for attrition. Companies will always need to hire. We know this at Shortlist. And so, we work with employers as thought partners, not just for account management but to strategize the entire recruitment process, right from the birth of vacancies till successful joinings. This includes writing job descriptions for companies, setting up a bias-free search strategy, creating multimedia job description pages and competency-based assessments, and sourcing applicants.

When the right match has been found for a particular job, the first job-pitch call of a talent acquisition professional can make-or-break the deal. In my personal experience, on calls, I have struggled with which points to talk about and questions to ask. Historically, I have ended up talking to job seekers about what’s already on their resume and have sometimes been driven into extremely long calls. A typical call between a recruiter and job seeker has each of them narrating stuff off of a good resume. The only difference being, a recruiter is framing the resume content as a series of questions and the job seeker is answering in the affirmative.

The human touch of the Shortlist process has us connect with job seekers at the end of the on-platform application. Here too, we have a fixed set of validation questions that we ask everyone in the same order, but they go far beyond the resume and instead probe into motivation and fit. We condense our chats in exciting briefs shared with employers on our Talent Gallery, for each of the shortlisted job seekers.

Job seeker care (Candidate Support as we love to refer to it in the Indian context) ensures that when someone applies for a role, we are there to assist because we understand that job applications make even the best of us nervous at times. As a recruiter, I have been at the supply end to black hole job boards for some of the popular life insurance companies. I take solace in knowing the fact that all applicant tracking systems have a subscription lifespan. Serendipitously, I might just cross paths with the hiring managers to tell them about Shortlist.😊

An integral part of our process includes closures with all job seekers who have been rejected during the screening stage.

Key learnings: Think long term. Structure wins. #Candidatelove matters.

Search approach based on potential rather than pedigree is a catalyst for effective hiring

When there is no other metric to consider beyond experience, education, duration of employment and work gap, and other (irrelevant?) personal data points, companies and recruiters do not know what criteria to look for and where. This scenario is often described as the talent shortage problem of our time. Here’s our take on each of these metrics:

Experience — At Shortlist, we study career paths and have created our proprietary salary benchmarking tool. We believe that skills matter more than experience — for example, a UI/UX designer or a data analyst can often step up as a Product Manager. To create job applications that can identify candidates with the key skills, we dive into our treasure trove of functional assessments, created and curated by our product managers and instructional designers in association with industry experts and include them in our job application flows. Performance on assessments guides us in making a judgement, whether applicants have become irrelevant and might not be a right fit, even though they have the on-paper experience.

Education — No doubt premier institutional education makes a candidate a great hire. However, on-job-performance might have no correlation to educational background.

Work gap and career shift — We like job seekers whether they are currently employed or not. Trying to keep millennials engaged at work is a herculean task. We have come to accept that our forefathers were much more patient about spending decades at a single company.

Age, race — Our process doesn’t screen for age or race, nor should ANY process! We work with and prefer job seekers who approach the application process with a growth mindset and prudence.

Key learnings: There are always enough people. As a recruiter, I can level the playing field.

Employer branding works like a charm

Impersonal searches have long bugged the industry. A key role of a recruiter is to motivate job seekers to apply to a company. Prior to joining Shortlist, I believed in withholding the name of my clients during my search. Communicating my client’s brand across was difficult on call or by email. It was difficult to even prompt the reply of job seekers with a copy of their updated resume with email templates consisting only of the job description and company website.

Shortlist has gone the human resources business partner way for companies. We are committed to telling job seekers upfront about the company and the role. Our multimedia job descriptions have been able to convey the employer’s brand across; at least the essence of it. This, in turn, has generated interest even from passive job seekers. We invest time, money and efforts not only in going where job seekers are but also in taking the employer’s brand along. This means job seekers aren’t ghosted anymore with promises of having applied to an esteemed client that cannot be named.

With our proprietary database and curated talent hot lists, we are building focused talent communities that are driven to your brand as your business grows.

Key learnings: Investing in employer branding can make hiring easier on many levels.

Happy recruiting!