Recruitment and Staffing: Trends and Challenges

  • Posted by Marina Vatav
  • September 10, 2012 7:16 PM EDT
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An interview on the Haitian labor market with Rose L. Jeudy, Founder & President of Haiti Staffing and Business Resources, a company in Haiti that offers Human Resources services.
 
Why did you think it was important to offer staffing and business resource services in Haiti?
 
Having spent most of my life abroad, I was traumatized by the job market - the lack of opportunity, the style of recruitment and staff management or lack thereof - in Haiti. After the earthquake, much focus was placed on rebuilding Haiti, and I felt that proper human resource management and equal job opportunity must play a fundamental part in rebuilding this wonderful country.
 
Human Resource management in general in Haiti is still in its infantile stages. While companies may have the proper Human Resource titles in their department filled, most of these employees, at all levels, lack the fundamental skills, academic training, and on-the-job training to really make a difference and move the workforce forward. Their functions are predominantly administrative, mostly “pushing paper.”
 
What are some of the most wanted jobs in Haiti?
 
The most wanted jobs in Haiti are within the NGO sector. Both locals and expatriates have the sense that the NGO pay scale is better, the environment is more professional, and that there is more growth opportunity than the private sector. For the locals, they feel that working for an international institution can open doors for them abroad.
 
What are some of the most wanted professionals?
Organizations are in the greatest need of middle managers. We have a big gap in this area.
 
What is HS&BR’s strongest and weakest candidate pool?
We have an outstanding qualified pool of candidates in finance, administration, operations, micro-finance, health professionals, and director levels.
 
Our weakest pools of which we are working very hard to increase are the positions that arrived in Haiti with the earthquake, such as urban planners, engineers, and other technical positions within the construction field.
 
What are some of the challenges when it comes to your staffing service?
We have come across challenges on both sides of the coin. Dealing with companies who, for the most part, have been doing their recruitment through referrals from friends and families, and not in a public way, are very hard to work with. It’s difficult to change the mindset and make them understand such a way does not provide fair and equal employment opportunity, creates the perception of nepotism, and does not do justice to the company.
 
Our challenges on the candidate front are the background checks - criminal, academic, and past employment. When you call a supervisor or appointed personnel in a human resources department for an employment check, you have to use a lot of techniques to get the truth because here in Haiti we have a culture of “see no evil, hear no evil” in fear of their lives. Very few are open to provide factual information about an employee on the first contact. I once had a candidate who not only lied about his degree, he also lied about his salary and title, and, to make matters worse, he had the stamp of the company made to issue reference letters for himself. To catch such a fraudulent act, one must dig very deep.
 
Additionally, the candidates for the most part lack confidence and are unable to conduct a satisfactory interview even after coaching. Those who have surpassed this stage don’t understand the fine line between confidence and arrogance. Our team must also spend endless hours revising and editing CVs of our candidates to make them more professional.
 
What are the latest recruitment trends in Haiti?
Yesterday it was “disaster relief.” Today its workforce augmentation, which is expanding the workforce and scaling up for capacity. Two specific industry growth areas underway are Jacmel and the north of Haiti. We’re seeing development in the Cap-Haitian airport, Labadie, the Caracol Industrial Park, the apparel industry, and in Jacmel with their focus on tourism.
 
Are there other changes taking place?
I have observed interest and willingness to solidify Human Resources and recruitment departments in Haiti. With workforce augmentation, organizations are recognizing the necessity to get organized and to recruit for and retain talent to minimize turnover and mitigate the associated costs for talent replacement.
 
Since you work closely with companies, would you say that they mostly invest in training their newly employed professionals, or that they are looking for people who match exactly their job descriptions and try to avoid spending dollars for in-company training?
Companies in Haiti for the most part have a hard time investing in their human resources. They want the top for less.
 
From the requests you've had, when it comes to management positions do companies prefer mostly local employees or those from abroad?
Companies in general in Haiti have a lack of faith in local and Haitian employees, specifically on a management level. HS&BR, as an avid supporter of local employees and equal employment opportunity, first and foremost searches for the ideal candidate locally, and, if unsuccessful locally, then we open our network to international applicants. We do keep a realistic view that some technical positions must be recruited abroad due to the lack of academic grooming in Haiti. In such a case, we work closely with the expatriates and the locals to ensure a smooth transition. We train the locals and have them understand that the expatriates are here because they have knowledge and/or skills that needs to be transferred in order for the company to function at its optimum level, and in return work with the expatriates to help them understand the culture and mindset of the local employees. We also ensure that at the end of the expatriate’s contract, the knowledge has been transferred to local staff during the course of their employment by having clear objectives, implementing shadow programs, and training plans. 
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