TBY talks to the top executives of two successful HR firms on the sector in Turkey, and the Turkish labor market.
What process do you use to assess the suitability of a candidate?
RÉMY DE CAZALET I ask all my consultants to meet at least 20 candidates a week. When we meet a candidate, we help them think about the next step in their professional careers. In the UK 80% of recruitment is outsourced. In Turkey it is only around 2% to 5%. For these reasons we have to be more focused on the client here. Companies must understand we are here to help them. After initial communication we provide consultation on their requirements. Sometimes they want a candidate with huge experience, but don’t want to pay for it. We then advise them on their options by educating them about the market. We target people who are not looking for a job through head hunting, people who are passively looking for a job through our database, and people who are actively looking through newspapers and websites in which our positions are advertised. We filter candidates through CV analysis, telephone, and face-to-face communication to produce a shortlist. Contract negotiations follow and post-hire monitoring lasts up to year. This makes sure the candidate and the client are happy. We measure our success on both of these results. Our success rate has been around 80% in Turkey.
YASİN ALTUNKAYA We apply an eight-step methodology entitled “the art of identifying talent”. During initial discussions, we advise company representatives on the areas in which they are lacking talent and present a suitable forward strategy. When the project begins, the company will brief us on its specific needs. Related to that discussion we identify the profile required together and start the search. We identify appropriate targets. Then we begin interviews and assess candidates through various stages from both their perspective and an employer’s. It takes roughly 10 to 12 weeks to place a manager.
How did you see the global economic crisis impact Turkey, and which sectors have been increasingly hiring since?
RC Turkey exited the crisis before its European neighbors and this is partly attributable to the shifting of the business focus to Asia. We have since seen the energy sector pushing a lot; retail is exploding and construction is also seeing another boom. There are a lot of retail design companies that are looking for foreign designers, and this represents a huge opportunity too.
YA We passed through 2009 quite well. We saw a 20% decrease in our business, yet in general the market decreased around 45%. Since the crisis, the finance sector has been very active. Finance-related companies are trying to find the right employees who can carry these companies forward. For the upcoming years the supply chain will be increasingly important. Also, the HR function will become increasingly popular as companies learn about the importance of their employees as assets.
What challenges exist in the Turkish HR sector in terms of finding the right person for a job?
RC I think we can find highly suitable candidates for all positions in Turkey. Turks are increasingly seeking education abroad and bringing these skills back to the country. Due to its population, Turkey can meet any kind of demand.
YA The history of the business world in Turkey goes back to the 1950s. This challenge is related to the learning curve. We still see companies struggling to understand what their real assets are. In any economy around the world, the main assets are capital, natural resources, and human resources. Turkish companies do not pay enough attention to the human resources factor. For these reasons we can often see people in the wrong jobs, as their skills have not been assessed sufficiently.
What regulation changes would you like to see in Turkish labor laws?
RC We are waiting for new laws on temporary workers, and we are in social dialogue with the government to support this issue. With our colleagues from other recruitment companies, we have tried to explain the advantage of this new regulation. Unemployment is around 15% here and we truly believe that if we can apply a solid legal framework to the temporary workforce it would reduce the unemployment rate.
YA There are gaps in the laws regulating the temporary workforce. As a board member of the Private Employment Bureau Association, we have been actively involved in lobbying and prepared a draft law that has been largely misinterpreted by the media. Our draft law was based on the German model. It will probably be passed as soon as there are increasing reforms aimed at EU harmonization. Turkey will need this law in the upcoming five years. The challenge here is to convince the media that it represents a huge opportunity for the Turkish economy.
In what ways have you assisted foreign companies in Turkey with their HR needs?
RC We recently supported H&M in coming to Turkey to open its first stores. We placed around 20 managers. We have worked in retail with French companies Decathlon, Leroy Merlin, and Peugeot. We are also working with DIA, part of the Carrefour group. Turkey is a market where it is getting more and more complicated to find suitable candidates despite the large population. It is difficult to find people with experience in multinational companies. We have to help companies find the right people from this pool, and our international and local experience is crucial in this process.
YA We don’t just do business in Turkey but also in the surrounding region. We are currently engaged in four projects in Kazakhstan, two in Russia, and in 2010 we did a project in Japan. We are a highly diverse company. We are engaged in bringing foreigners to Turkey, though this is a small operation in comparison to our activities in sending senior Turkish managers abroad.
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