Professor, students propose new job-candidate fit approach in research

By: Austin Arceo, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
July 18, 2012

Indiana State University professor Kuntal Bhattacharyya once looked for the telltale signs that a recent college graduate would be a good fit for his company: a student's high grade point average meant a strong chance that the student would receive a job offer.

Yet he quickly learned that, while recent grads may have been perfectly suited to the positions they were hired for, many young employees in operations management weren't ready for a job change or promotion.

"Somehow, the job description could not spell out growth opportunities in the job!" Bhattacharyya said. "Most job descriptions, sadly, are similar."

This quandary inspired Bhattacharyya to conduct research along with ISU student Neil Clark and exchange student Xiexin Liu.

Their project, "Choosing an Entry Level Supply Chain Career: A Candidate's Dilemma, A Recruiter's Plight," analyzed this "workforce paradox" before creating "a new probabilistic, goal-based model that matches job fit by marrying employer expectations to employee capabilities and expectations," said Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management. Liu presented the group's work at the International Journal of Arts and Sciences conference in Toronto this summer, and the complete paper is due to be published in the conference's proceedings in October.

"As companies become more globalized and world gets ‘flatter,' businesses have to adapt to new practices and methodologies to account for a more diverse workforce," Clark said. "It is not practical to assume that a company can completely isolate itself from global influence, and in fact, great advantages can be gained by adopting a new perspective on doing business, especially in the human resources arena. I was excited by the prospect of viewing this globalizing process not strictly as a challenge, but as a potential shift in how we conduct business."

The research includes analyzing different situations and aspects of a job search, with each member of the research team providing a different perspective. Bhattacharyya provided the perspective of a potential employee from India, while Liu provided the perspective of a person of Chinese heritage seeking a job. Clark, a second-year MBA student from Terre Haute, drew on his experiences growing up in the Midwest.

"This shift in employment perspective carries with it a range of criteria that do not normally present themselves in the seeking and filling of job openings, not the least of which criteria is the matter of cultural fit," Clark said. "Candidates coming from various backgrounds may excel in different arenas as different upbringings and experiences shape the interests and concerns of a potential employee."

Clark and Liu struck Bhattacharyya as "research-oriented" in previous classes he taught them. He had already worked on several research projects with Clark in the past, and Liu expressed an interest in working on a research project together, the professor said.

Yet their perspective also helped shed light on contradictions about the employment rate, Bhattacharyya said.

"In this time of recession and at a low US economy and high unemployment, one line of thought among the masses is that employment of immigrants is killing the chance of local employment," he added. "The truth is that jobs stay open in many companies due to a lack of fit."

The project also had an additional element for Liu, who hopes to earn an advanced degree and work as a researcher in a university in China.

"As an undergraduate student getting the first chance to participate in a research project, I really did not think there was anything else I would care about more besides the research itself," Liu said. "I think I actually said yes even before Dr. Bhattacharyya told me what his research is about."

Bhattacharyya selected the students after they seemed receptive when he pitched his idea to a global supply chain course. In addition to the curriculum, he also planned sessions to teach students about editing resumes and preparing for interviews.

"I spent a good amount of time in my global supply chain class preparing students for a career in global supply chains," the professor said. "That preparation extends beyond traditional silos of classroom learning."

Their research could have some beneficial results. Companies that effectively match an employee to a job can "maximize the potential of the employee and potentially minimize the cost of hiring," Clark said.

"I took a particular interest in this because it is a forward-thinking concept," he added. "Many businesses are still ‘behind the curve' when it comes to utilizing their employees, and the idea of ‘matching the job to the candidate' presents some significant potential advantages to the business that can take this perspective."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/i-CL9rMNK/0/L/i-CL9rMNK-L.jpg (Submitted photo)Xiexin Liu, second from the left, poses with other attendees at the International Journal of Arts and Sciences conference in Toronto this summer. Liu, who was an exchange student at Indiana State University last year, presented "Choosing an Entry Level Supply Chain Career: A Candidate's Dilemma, A Recruiter's Plight," which was research conducted by Liu, MBA student Neil Clark and Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management.

Contact: Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor, operations management and analysis, Scott College of Business, 812-237-2118 or kuntal.bhattacharyya@indstate.edu 

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Professor Kuntal Bhattacharyya, ISU student Neil Clark and exchange student Xiexin Liu researched the project, which proposes a new way to match employee's strengths to employer's expectations. Liu presented their work at a Toronto conference this summer.

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