Jolene Lim, Head of Talent Acquisition (TA), APAC at EPAM Systems, was shortlisted as a finalist for the In-House Recruitment Professional of the Year at the Asia Recruitment Awards 2020, Singapore.
She is responsible for supporting and enabling the growth of one of the world’s fastest growing tech companies, by designing and executing a recruiting strategy to identify top talent in the market. She is in charge of managing the various recruiting channels and establishing collaborative and influential working relationships with cross functional departments for best results in TA delivery capability. She consults with leaders to provide guidance to management on successful recruiting strategies.
When Jolene took over the helm of the Asia Pacific (APAC) TA function at EPAM Systems in 2018, the challenge was to rapidly increase new hires and manage attrition levels due to extremely strong industry competition. This meant that she had to think of new ways to source for talents, reduce dependence on external agencies and improve all communication regarding TA across the entire organisation.
Results have shown that there had been improvements across the board from her predecessors since she joined, such as:
- Remarkable increase number of hires and more job offers accepted compared to previous year
- Reduction in half of the lead time from job posting to employee onboarding
- Cost per hire dropped by more than half due to more innovative sourcing methods
- Significant drop in overall operational cost for department
- Higher levels of seniority (in terms of qualifications and experience) hired for APAC, surpassing global average score.
As a result, the general consensus among her managers and peers was that she “achieves extraordinarily considering she was the first one to exceed TA targets while making painful changes in the HR areas”, and “was able to manage budgets well so as to not fail people’s expectations in events or supports”.
In this interview, Jolene Lim shares her personal goals, key achievements and work motto.
Q In your experience, what are the top five skills that are most in demand to become a prolific recruiter?
A recruiter is an ambassador of the organisation that he or she represents. Even if we do not end up hiring the candidate, he/she must walk away with the impression that EPAM Systems is one the best companies on earth to work in, and then be able to share this message within his or her networks or social circles. To achieve this, it is important to groom a motivated and happy team of recruiters who can bring this passion and enthusiasm to their role.
Every recruiter is a marketer and salesperson, someone with strong networking skills. To be successful, the recruiter needs to clearly understand the culture of the organisation, the management style of the hiring manager and what it takes to be successful in the role.
However, while I believe we have to position the organisation/role in the best light, I do not believe in overselling or painting an inaccurate picture. Personally for instance, I do not aim to close on every single candidate I speak with. But at the very least, I find it crucial to either inspire or create a positive impact on the candidate.
I often tell recruiters not to close a candidate for the sake of meeting KPIs, but on the personal belief that the candidate would be a great fit for the role, and thereafter succeed and be happy with this new career. Imagine if the person is a sole breadwinner of the family – if we take him or her out of a role which he or she is currently comfortable and successful, and then join a new organisation but fail, this would have negative impact on their family and livelihood.
Hence, empathy and logical skills are also important.
Q What are your personal goals for this function two-three years down the line?
First, to strengthen EPAM Systems as an employer of choice for the tech industry in Asia Pacific, through a multitude of branding, field and digital marketing activities, such as referral campaigns and strengthening employee value propositions.
Second, to build an in-house centre of excellence for talent acquisition operations in Asia Pacific, by increasing specialisation and division of skill sets for individual recruiters. This means individual competencies are harnessed and maximised (for better focus and development of niche areas), while being combined to attain a multiplied, synergistic effect for the entire team.
Finally, to include an additional sourcing team for vendor management to facilitate a better workflow funnel and enable high quality senior-level recruiting and hiring across the board.
Q Who are the people you admire, or whose philosophies you respect?
I don’t have one specific person whom I admire. But I read a lot and make it a point to network as much as I can, because I believe that this world is dynamic and change is the only constant. I like to keep updated with technologies and changes in the world. I believe in continuous learning.
I really like what Gandhi said: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world”, as such I believe in leading by example.
I truly believe in grooming and nurturing my team, using Albert Einstein’s famous quote of “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” as a guiding principle. In a team setting, every team member is unique, and it is up to the leader to uncover each and every team member’s strength and provide him/her with the right role so that we can achieve great things together.
I also believe in hiring “raw diamonds” – people who are hungry and ambitious and want to succeed, training them into talents and leaders of tomorrow. I’m so heartened that many of my previous recruiters and team members are now TA leaders who are making their own impact in the industry.
Q What is your work motto that keeps you motivated and allows you to stay positive?
I do not compete with others but with myself. I believe in making a difference every day and make sure I do something today which I was unable to complete yesterday. By taking baby steps, I step out of my comfort zone and aim for improvements, big or small, on a daily basis. With every decision I make or every step I take, I would look at adding value or creating a positive impact to people or situations. It makes me happy when I have the ability to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.