Recruitment Selection Process in the Nigerian Oil & Gas Sector A Case Study of Exxon Mobil Nigeria

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Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and as such offers one of the region’s most fertile areas for HR recruitment. Foreign oil and gas development faces the difficulty of a diminished skilled workforce and fewer prospects for immediate recruitment as they begin new projects and expand capacity for existing ones. The success of the industry may depend on how well companies can develop a viable long-term recruitment plan in developing nations with the current skill sets and potential in the available population.

The purpose of this study is to use Exxon Mobil as a case for examining recruitment practices in the populous developing nation for understanding human resource challenges and recognizing best practices. A review of the literature on current recruitment practices and theories was conducted to understand the broad context of tools and systems in place currently so as to better understand what options are available to recruiters in Nigeria.

From the study, it becomes clear that corporations such as Exxon Mobil have tried a mixture of traditional recruitment tactics and programs that are more tailored to the socio-economic realities in Nigeria, especially in densely populated cities.

Recommendations include increasing the visibility, awareness, and potential compensation for these jobs in order to create demand and also use data gathered from the current workforce to help mold company culture to better fit expectations and make working life more attractive for Nigerians.


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Research Title


1.2 Research Aims and Objectives

This study aims to: Evaluate and understand recruitment policies for skilled labour within the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. To do so, the author hopes to explain:

the recruitment and selection practices in the research organisation

how recruitment and selection practices affect the performance or development in Exxon Mobil Nigeria

the challenges associated with the recruitment and selection practices in Exxon Mobil Nigeria

factors that will improve recruitment and selection practices at Exxon Mobil Nigeria

1.3 Background of Mobil Producing Nigeria

Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) commenced operations in 1955 under the name Mobil Exploration Nigeria Incorporated (MENI). In December 1961, Mobil was granted Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPL) offshore present-day Akwa Ibom Slate and drilled its first oil discovery “Atal” in 1964. Today, MPN is the second largest oil producer and ranks among the lowest cost oil producers in Nigeria, challenging the China National Petroleum Company.

Crude oil production began in 1970 from the Idoho field. Three years later, the Nigerian government acquired a 35-percent interest in MPN’s operations, beginning the joint venture arrangement between MPN and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The Government’s equity interest rose to 60 per cent in 1979 with the remaining 40 per cent owned by MPN. Today, NNPC/MPN operates 92 offshore platforms and about 230 wells with a production capacity of about 600 thousand barrels a day of crude, condensate and Natural Gas Liquids (NGL). The JV covers some 800 thousand acres in shallow water offshore south-eastern Nigeria.

In April 1991 came yet another landmark, with the execution of a $900 million loan agreement with international lenders to develop and produce the giant Oso condensate field, with recoverable reserves of 869 million barrels of condensate. Following the successful completion of the project, condensate production began in December 1992.Presently, NNPC/MPN is focusing on Sustainable Development Projects aimed at promoting greater economic independence for people in the communities. Through partnerships with reputable NGOs and other organizations, the partnership is involved in capacity building, job training, micro financing of small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), healthcare and agricultural programs (

In 2012, Exxon Mobil completed a part of its strategic plan by completing an offshore structure that was “designed, procured, and constructed” all in Nigeria (Exxon Mobil). This is part of an effort to support local economies, in line with what Kramer described as “shared value” between an organisation and the population it serves, “A business needs a successful community, not only to create demand for its products but also to provide critical public assets and a supportive environment. A community needs successful businesses to provide jobs and wealth creation opportunities for its citizens” (McSweeney, 2007). The completion of a construction project that is completely locally sourced represents a commitment by the industry to promote the entire growth of the industry which Gauthier has pointed out benefits the company by keeping resources local and “creating a perception that the company is contributing to the overall health of a regional economy instead of plundering its resources” (2007).

1.4 Statement of the Problem

In order to fulfill its own corporate strategic mission and to operate within the sound business strategy of local recruitment to lower operational costs and bolster local demand (Blackford and Newcomb, 2002), Exxon Mobil will need a sustainable, comprehensive, and diverse recruitment strategy. However, those in the local human resource profession may not be sufficient to satisfy the knowledge and skills requirements for all of Exxon Mobil’s projects in Nigeria.

The company has a recruitment and screening process that is currently employed throughout all departments and in all locations where the company operates (2012 corporate citizenship). Exxon Mobil reports that an “average” of 87 percent of its workforce is indigenous in the countries of Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Russia as a result of “aggressive local recruitment efforts and world-class training and development programs” (Exxon Mobil).

Exxon Mobil, like other organisations, uses its program and training to increase the likelihood of retaining individuals who possess the right skills and abilities to be successful at their jobs (Blackford and Newcomb, 2002). As the company continues to develop its operations in country like Nigeria, the process and program for recruitment and training must reflect an understanding of the socio-economic conditions that Moore and Stuart have identified as “imperative for long-term success” in the region.

In Nigeria, recruitment and selection faces challenges of education and an appropriate set of skills within the local pool of potential applicants as well as the political and bureaucratic policies of local and state governments. Though the government is increasing its expenditures to increase economic development in both the public and private sectors (Muritala and Abayomi, 2011), the needs of multinational corporations such as Exxon Mobil have traditionally been developed in partnership and within context of a developed nation, such as the United Kingdom, as opposed to a developing nation such as Nigeria.

Getting the right people in the right place at the time doing the right job is an essential element of the recruitment and selection process for organizations. In order for the process to meet desired goals, it must be valid and measurable, with minimum adverse impact. The process must align with company goals while achieving success in developing the skills and knowledge for recruited candidates to successfully complete the functions of their jobs. Recruitment and selecting staff is expensive both in terms of time and money, and it is therefore important that the process fits the needs of the company and the group from which it recruits talent and labour.. This means that there is the need to plan strategically to cater for the short, medium and long term growth of the organization.

In Nigeria in 2011, the Labour Bureau estimated over 48.5 million people are employed in some form of economic activity (Labour Bureau). Within this group, 36,000 are employed in the extraction and refinement of fossil fuels, including petroleum and natural gas. The bulk of those engaged in some economic activity falls under the category of agriculture and animal husbandry, with roughly 14 million people engaged in this industry. Of course, the two numbers are not meaningful together except that the majority of the workforce is engaged in an industry for which technical skill, direct job experience, and education is not transferable. Exxon Mobil has a challenge, then, in finding the necessary education and skills in the local populations, especially in the poorer states in Nigeria where the numbers of people working in farming or husbandry is even more pronounced.

Compounding that problem is the low level of attendance for Nigerian youth, with roughly 60% of school-aged children attending primary and 35% attending secondary (Heubler, 2005). This results in a poorly educated and low skilled population, especially among young employees.

1.6 Research Questions

i. How does the company’s recruitment and selection practices affect the performance in Exxon Mobil Nigeria?

ii. In what way can the strategies for individual employee performance become more effective and efficient through recruitment and selection?

iii. What are the problems affecting recruitment in Exxon Mobil Nigeria?

1.7 Summary of Chapters

The study consists of five chapters. The first chapter consists of the background to the study, statement of the problem, scope of the study, objective of the study and significance of the study and lastly the organization of the study. Chapter two deals with the literature review of concepts relevant to the study and of other organisations operating in Nigeria to provide context for Exxon Mobil’s operations. Chapter three explains the methodology adopted to conduct the research was stated. The chapter on empirical analysis follows, and deals with issues such as the research design, instrument and data collection tools. Chapter five deals with data presentation, discussion, and analysis. The last chapter details the recommendations and conclusions based on the case study.




This chapter deals with the assessment of literature related to recruitment strategies and principles in general; the types of recruitment strategies employed by multinational corporations; and recruitment, training, and development of employees in Nigeria from other sectors in the economy.

2.1 The Concept of Recruitment and Selection

According to Costello (2006) recruitment is described as the set of activities and processes used to legally obtain a sufficient number of qualified people at the right place and time so that the people and the organization can select each other in their own best short and long term interests. In other words, the recruitment process provides the organization with a pool of potentially qualified job candidates from which judicious selection can be made to fill vacancies. Successful recruitment begins with proper employment planning and forecasting. In this phase of the staffing process, an organization formulates plans to fill or eliminate future job openings based on an analysis of future needs, the talent available within and outside of the organization, and the current and anticipated resources that can be expanded to attract and retain such talent (Costello, 2006).

According to Dessler (2003), research examining what skills and qualities employers value most in job applicants include skill qualification, relevant and applicable work experience, and good interpersonal skills and communication. Work experience and qualifications are measures of competence in relation to an applicant’s technical skills, whereas interpersonal skills include social intelligence, demeanour, and the ability to understand and assimilate into the office culture. An applicant’s success with job seeking is related to their ability to describe their experiences, skills and knowledge through a range of media. Thus, effective communication is an essential competency required by all job applicants. To manage a diverse workforce effectively, an organization must hire and promote the most capable candidate for a job, while being mindful of the necessity to build a workforce that is representative of the greater business community (Porter and Kramer, 2011). This may be achieved through using more appropriate and inclusive recruitment and selection strategies. Despite a recent increase in published literature discussing recruitment and selection practices, there has been little change in the types of methods used to recruit and select employees (Kelly, 2006). Better recruitment and selection strategies result in improved organizational outcomes, and the more effectively organizations recruit and select candidates, the more likely they are to hire and retain satisfied employees. In addition, the effectiveness of an organization’s selection system can influence bottom-line business outcomes, such as productivity and financial performance. Hence, investing in the development of a comprehensive and valid selection system is money well spent.

A recruitment process also measures its strengths through the strategies an organization is prepared to employ in order to identify and select the best candidates for its developing pool of human resources. Jovanovic (2004) said recruitment is a process of attracting a pool of high quality applicants so as to select the best among them. Organizations seeking recruits for base-level entry positions often require minimum qualifications and experiences. These applicants are usually recent high school or university/technical college graduates many of who have not yet made clear decisions about future careers or are contemplating engaging in advanced academic activity. At the middle levels, senior administrative, technical and junior executive positions are often filled internally. The push for scarce, high-quality talent, often recruited from external sources, has usually been at the senior executive levels. Most organizations utilize both mechanisms to effect recruitment to all levels.

Exxon Mobil has a systematic method of recruitment that focuses on aptitude testing, a skills test, oral interview recommendation, and final consideration (Exxon Mobil, 2013). Comprehensive screening processes such as this give employers a more comprehensive assessment of an employee’s ability to problem solve and interact with peers and managers (Saunders, 2003).

Another consideration is the “ethical resourcing” of talent that ensures a diverse workforce free from bias. As Saunders points out, “the goal id to attract and retain the skilled, competent, committed and motivated workforce the organisation needs” while ensuring that “equal opportunities are available to all” (2003). The role of “corporate citizen” that Exxon Mobil has adopted, especially in developing nations such as Nigeria, is tantamount to pledging ethical behaviour, especially in the development and impact on the communities where the company is doing business.

Recruitment and selection process are important practices for human resource management and are crucial in affecting organizational success (Jovanovic, 2004). Due to the fact that technology, especially information technology helps organizations be more competitive, it is natural to also consider utilizing such technology to bolster the traditional recruitment and selection process. Mobile technologies allow human resource managers to communicate more easily with a wider distribution of potential recruits, assess and manage results from aptitude tests or oral examinations or interviews, and organize and report candidate outcomes to other personnel within the organization easily.

Unfortunately, Nigeria has typical Internet connectivity for an African country, meaning the infrastructure by which to use modern information technology as part of the recruitment and selection process is diminished. Whether these ideals are implemented is another matter, as: An alternative theory of strategic human resource management is that the company is ultimately exploitative of workers, and that an organization has an obligation to use all of its resources, including human, in the most strategic and efficient way for the benefit of the company and shareholders. However, this line of thinking is out-dated, being championed by people like Gratton and Hailey (1999). That being said, practiced reality is always different from theory and intention, which is another reason why better recruitment to find a suitable employee is best—having an ideal candidate helps organizations uphold their own ideals for culture and practices.

Some focus is given to the selection of workers occurs not just to replace departing employees or add to a workforce but rather to put in place workers who can perform at a high level and demonstrate commitment (Dessler, 2000). To be a high performing organization, human resource management must be able to assist the organization to place the right person in the right job. To do so, HR recruits, selects, places, evaluates, trains and develops, compensates and works to retain employees. Businesses have developed human resource information systems that support: (i) recruitment, selection, and hiring, (ii) job placement, (iii) performance appraisals, (iv) employee benefits analysis, (v) training and development, and (vi) health, safety, and security (Mullins 1999). Dessler (2000) lists the essence of these: “build a pool of candidates for the job, have the applicants fill out application forms, utilize various selection techniques to identify viable job candidates, send one or more viable job candidates to their supervisor, have the candidate(s) go through selection interviews, and determine to which candidate(s) an offer should be made.”

2.2 The Psychology of Recruitment

Recruitment is not solely based on the employment outcomes—work being done, compensation, career potential and so on—one aspect of recruitment is influencing individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to apply for these positions (Gatewood, Field and Barrick 2011). As Aguinis (2005) notes, applied psychology has a role in recruiting individuals to work for an organization. Using social capital, such as corporate image, quality of life within the company and the caché of working within a specific industry, firms can use psychological concepts to exert some influence over the opinions and decisions a candidate makes. Collins and Clark also discuss recruitment in terms of expanding one’s social network, and theories and incentives for why people join groups is also applicable (2003). The group found that the social networks of top managers had an effect on company assets.

Miyake (2002) corroborates that that while advertising is a usual medium for posting job vacancies, applicants were recruited by word of mouth through existing employees. Besides being cheaper, social networks as a means of recruitment typically finds employees who stay longer (low voluntary turnover) and who are less likely to be dismissed (low involuntary turnover) because they often have a clearer idea of what the job involves. Miyake reviewed five studies and found that average turnover of employees recruited through traditional job advertisement was 51 per cent. The turnover for spontaneous applicants—applicants who queried the organization without a job opening—was 37 per cent, and turnover for employees who received their job through a recommendation or because of a social network was 30 per cent. One hypothesis proposed to account for this was the “better information” hypothesis—people who were suggested by other employees were better and more realistically informed about the job than those who applied through newspapers and agencies. Thus, they were in a better position to assess their own suitability (2002).

Burack, (1985) argues that recruitment sources are significantly linked to differences in employee performance, turnover, satisfaction and organizational commitment. In a survey of 201 large US companies, Burack asked respondents to rate the effectiveness of nine recruitment sources in yielding high-quality, high-performing employees. The three top ranked sources were employee referrals, college recruiting and executive search firms. These are more examples of recruitment through social networks, though a professional executive search firm relies less on social networks and more on a structured procedure. However, Burack cautions that, while these general results are useful, there is a need for greater internal analysis of the relative quality of recruits yielded by different sources. In a study assessing the recruitment of new graduates, Kersley (1997) reiterated the shared anticipation students who plan to enter professions experience, and in particular they understand and expect certain experiences and outcomes when working with recruiters. This shared “rite of passage” for students explains how recruitment is part of an organisation’s identity and an expected part of the job selection criteria. In other words, students who do not feel an organisation has a strong recruitment presence on campuses will be less likely to view those organisations favourably. The nature of students’ job search activity, the possession of relevant work experience, and exposure to employers through recruitment and selection activities may form part of the “evolving sequence of a person’s work experiences” (1997). Through job search activities and awareness of an employer through the information and experiences passed along during the recruitment phase, students gather information about organization’s goals, values, climate and work practices that help guide their ultimate decision.

Delery and Doty (1996) argued that providing students with greater awareness of employment opportunities, and equipping them with the ability to be proactive in approaching potential employers, will lead to more effective career self-management and selection decisions. Therefore, one component of successful recruitment must be promoting and inspiring a level of self-actualization and action on the part of potential recruits.

Multiple studies (Peterson, 2003) have shown that employers prefer graduates with a broader range of skills than just academic knowledge, and a greater appreciation of the mission and work of an organisation is often communicated through the information and impression communicated through the recruitment process as well as a criteria for consideration during the selection process. Using a sample of students in two traditional and one emerging profession (law, accountancy and human resource management), the study examined the relationship between career expectations and career-related pre-employment work, recruitment and selection experiences. Although most students in their final years of university training will have had some contact with potential employers, students in dedicated professional courses are likely to be provided with information about potential employment as they begin their fields of study or training. For these trade professions, career development paths are usually clearly defined and organizations looking to recruit in these fields or departments begin the outreach and informative process sooner. This is partly because of the prescribed nature of the degree and the mandatory post-degree training required. Unlike the path for recruitment in general degree courses, faculty and other departmental or field resources for students are likely to have closer ties to the organisations or likely to have more direct and practical experience with a similar organisation. The nature of this training also makes it likely that such socialization persists despite idiosyncratic events within a profession; for example, recent concerns with corporate governance within accountancy which may have adversely affected the attractiveness of the profession for students and hence may impact recruitment into the profession (Burack , 1985). Therefore, organisations that employ within a broad set of fields—for example accountants and scientists as well as technical writers.

2.3 The Selection Decision

Recruitment and selection is not without detractors and issues of inefficiency or producing bad personnel results. Gould, (1984) argues that most mistakes are caused by managers who generally give little thought to the critical nature of the decisions they are making. Employers are surprised and disappointed when an appointment fails, and often the person appointed is blamed rather than recognizing the weaknesses in the process and methodology, even the soundest of techniques and best practice (in selection) contain scope for error.

Some of this is due to the methods themselves, but the main source is the frailty of the human decision makers (Cran, 1995). Selection tools available to organizations exist along a continuum that ranges from the more traditional methods of interviews, application forms and references to the more sophisticated techniques that encapsulate biographical data, aptitude tests, assessment centres, work samples and psychological testing. Each method of selection has its advantages and disadvantages, and the degree to which a selection technique is perceived as effective and perhaps sophisticated is determined by its reliability and validity. In a comparison of personnel selection practices in seven European countries, Miyake explored the utilization of a range of established selection methods. They reported a general trend towards structured interviews in all countries and, while the general validity and acceptability of methods such as work samples, group exercises and assessment centres were widely recognized, reported usage of these methods was infrequent (2002). Thus, consistency in the use and application of the prescribed or adopted recruitment an election methods by an organisation has an effect on the overall success of the workforce and the generalised view of how successful a manager or department head is.

Clear differences in the usage frequency among several selection methods emerged from the study by Burton (2001), which reported the very high adoption of references and assessment centres in both the UK and Germany, the high, almost exclusive, frequency of graphology in France and the limited use of testing and biographical inventories amongst all respondents. In his study of recruitment and selection practices in the USA, Burton found that approximately 25 per cent of respondent organizations conducted validation studies on their selection methods. Furthermore, in a rating of various selection methods, those perceived to be above average in their ability to predict employees' job performance included work samples, references/recommendations, unstructured interviews, structured interviews and assessment centres. Cran (1995) suggests that developments in the realm of selection lend some support to those who propound the HRM thesis, where a key feature has been the increase in testing designed explicitly to assess characteristics of behaviour and attitude. He further indicates that the extent to which these more sophisticated and systematic approaches can be, and are, deployed depends to a large degree on sectorial circumstances and on the wider policy changes being pursued in employment-management policies.

2.4 Recruiting Sources/Methods

Researchers face many decisions when selecting recruitment methods. Issues to consider include the type of sample (random or convenience), cost, ease, participant time demands (e.g., total time, days of week, and time of day), and efficiency (e.g., staff hours per recruited participant) (citation). Researchers have a number of methods from which to choose, including advertising, direct mail, and telephone. Advertising can be used both to publicize a study and to recruit participants. Recruitment via advertising has the advantages of low cost and convenience, but the samples are non-random and often highly motivated, and youth may be especially hard to reach this way. Recruitment via mail is also low in cost and convenient, but youth are difficult to reach by mail and return rates tend to be low, and there is no guarantee that the person for whom the survey was intended actually completed it. Kaplan and Norton (2004) found that the number of people who refused to provide pre-employment screening information tended to be higher by telephone than in person. However, refusals over the telephone tend to be less likely than with mailed surveys (Kelly, 2006). It should be noted that telephone methods can be used not only for recruitment, but also for data collection. Recent advances in telephone survey methodology have made telephone recruitment and surveying an increasingly attractive option in many research fields (Kaplan & Norton, 2004).

In Nigeria, Fajana (2007) notes that HRM is still in early development and the country is troubled by “high labour but low talent.” Azolukwam and Perkins (2009) point out that multinational companies such as Exxon Mobil work to adapt HRM practices from the parent culture to reflect the social, economic, historical and political realities in Nigeria. Owoyemi (2011) discusses the lack of funding many companies have to help recruit and train eligible employees from the general labour force in Nigeria. A number of specific lessons can learned in HRM in Nigeria: more openness and objectivity in recruitment, strategic development of staff, flexibility in pay and adoption of progressive hiring practices including better application of equal opportunity and affirmative action.

Olofin and Folawewo (2006) study the difference sin skill and labour in Nigeria’s urban areas, finding that while there is more diversity in the skills of the population, depth or mastery of these skills is not significantly better. Recruitment, in Nigeria therefore, will likely require education and skill development and training regardless of which part of the country that organizations choose to recruit from. Sparrow, Brewster and Harris (2004) look at HRM in the context of globalization, finding that the use of local labour in developing nations allows organisations to save money on compensation but is offset by the cost of appropriate education and training and by lower employee' productivity as the employee learns the requirements and duties of the job.

Azolukwam and Perkins (2009) explain the various hybrid methods of recruitment in Nigeria across industries, including internal and external recruit assessment; the use of social networks to recommend and recruit; promotions from within the organization; a heavy reliance on external and international recruitment for highly skilled labour; and partnerships with government agencies, especially in the education and labour departments. Recruiting organizations must content with an infrastructure that is incomplete and a lack of resources. Promotions from within build motivation and a sense of commitment to the organization as skilled employees are more likely to become involved in developmental activities if they believe that these activities will lead to promotion or better compensation. Use of focus groups and pilot studies that involve the community and pre-recruitment publicity can lead to higher rates of consent (Drucker, 1999). However, recruitment and selection must mitigate and account for a number of challenges.

2.5 Challenges of Recruitment and Selection

According to Kaplan and Norton (2004), a common problem in recruitment and selection is poor HR planning or poor implementation of standard and established HR policies. For organisations that do not have strategic or resource-rich partnerships with the community or state, error in implementation rises. Rigorous HR planning translates business strategies into specific HRM policies and practices—particularly with recruitment and selection policies and practices. If the goal of HR planning is to get the right number of people with the right skills, experience and competencies in the right jobs at the right time at the right cost, then these will be the indicators and criteria for measuring success (Karrupan, 2004). Moreover, effective recruitment and selection is possible only if there is a dedicated and competent HR team (Kaplan and Norton, 2004). Detailed and robust recruitment and selection policies are important in recruiting and deploying appropriate employees at the right time. Past research shows that the competency level of HR managers has a major influence on recruitment and selection and experienced HR experts within the HR department will not only shorten vacancy duration, but also improve the quality of the applicants.

Concerning strategic implementation, the extent of recruitment and selection in developing markets can be gauged through four distinctive indicators: the timely supply of an adequately qualified workforce, effective job analysis and descriptions, effective selection, and the involvement of line managers in the recruitment and selection practices (Whitmell Associates, 2004). A key source of uncertainty in such business strategy implementation is whether there is a timely supply of adequate qualified people, and to a great extent this uncertainty involves the quality of employees. An organization can successfully eliminate this uncertainty if its recruitment and selection policies and practices are strategically integrated with business needs and the screening process reflects the business needs that are inherent in the people being recruited (Whitmell Asociates, 2004).

An effective job analysis and targeting of the right potential candidates ensures a better match between applicants and the jobs. Under qualified employees are unable to effectively perform their job requirements due to lack of knowledge and competency, while overqualified employees typically are less happy in their positions because of a lack of a challenge or underutilisation of the skills the employee has. A thorough job analysis for every job in the organisation, including job descriptions and specifications, requires appropriate selection criteria.

A range of methods, such as application forms, interviews, formal tests, references, assessment centres and official transcripts are commonly used by during the selection process as a way of indicating future performance for a job, and the methodology or standards used to assess a candidate’s potential varies for each job (Dess and Jason, 2001), and each candidate’s skill level and competency is better assessed if the managers are involved in the recruitment and selection process. Dess and Jason suggest that in business strategy implementation, the involvement of managers in the entire staffing process (i.e., drafting of job descriptions, setting selection criteria and being on the panel of recruitment) is vital for ensuring recruitment and selection to meet business needs. In other words, the line managers are the owner of the recruitment and selection process along with HR playing a facilitator role.

(Burton, 2001) notes efficiency, the employee’s autonomy to control or handle a situation, and a sense of “fairness” in the office are important issues employees are interested in and can factor into employee happiness and longevity. During the recruitment and selection process, the construction of formalized selection criteria and norms of acceptable discrimination may be seen as an attempt to enable managers to navigate between efficiency, control, and ideas of fairness and social justice (Burton, 2001). Selecting on the basis of managerial opinion is “utterly unscientific and unreliable,” and that managers are “liable to be turned this way and that by the most inconsequential of considerations” (Burton, 2001).

Where internal recruitment is the chosen method of filling vacancies, job openings can be advertised by job posting, that is, a strategy of placing notices on manual and electronic bulletin boards, in company newsletters and through office memoranda. Referrals are usually word-of-mouth advertisements that are a low-cost-per-hire way of recruiting. Internal recruitment does not always produce the number or quality of personnel needed; in such instances, the organization needs to recruit from external sources, either by encouraging walk-in applicants; advertising vacancies in newspapers, magazines and journals, and the visual and/or audio media; using employment agencies to recruit; advertising on-line via the Internet; or through job fairs and the use of college recruitment.

2.6 The Changing Context of Recruitment and Selection Decisions

Much of the recent literature on personnel management has emphasized the necessity for the recruitment and selection of employees who are committed to the goals of the organization. Recent waves of organizational restructuring have dramatically changed and, in many cases, destroyed existing employment relationships.

As traditional autocratic structures flatten and organizations utilize multidisciplinary teams to remain competitive, the need for strategic and transparent systems becomes paramount (Bingley et al, 2004). Bingley et al, (2004) suggested that, increasingly, many organizations are being transformed from structures that are built on functions and jobs, to those where focused, self-directed work teams, made up of empowered individuals with diverse backgrounds, are replacing traditional specialized workers. Cran, (1995) highlighted that firms need adaptable people who can adjust to rapidly changing customer needs and operational structures, while Burton (2001) argues that employees, and the way they work, comprise the crucial difference between successful and unsuccessful organizations. He argues that as technology increases and product life cycles shorten, the major source of competitive advantage will be the individual worker. Delery and Doty, (1996) further developed this view of the prevailing business environment and reiterated that: with the sweeping changes in today's business climate and the rise of re-engineering to meet the needs of organizations in the area of downsizing or cost diminution, (search) firms must be equipped to recruit individuals who can operate in a non-structured or “virtual” organization. Even in today's technically advanced business environment, the human factor will always be instrumental to the success of an organization.

Furthermore, Drucker, (1999) indicates that, as companies downsize, “delayer” and try to boost productivity with fewer people, those that remain are being asked to assume more tasks, roles and responsibilities. He proposes that, as this trend continues, companies will be asking fewer employees to know more, do more, change more and interact more and thus interest is increasingly focused on identifying the recruiting sources that are most likely to yield high quality employees and the selection methods that best predict future job performance. Arguments such as these have led to suggestions that the critical organizational concern today is the hiring or promoting of the best qualified people while still meeting all regulatory requirements.

Smith and Robertson (1993) argue for greater precision in recruitment and selection and caution that a company can be dragged to its knees by the weight of ineffective staff which decades of ineffectual selection methods have allowed to accumulate. Smith and Robertson, (1993) further noted that the problem of inefficiency may be as a result of a difficulty in distinguishing good practice from common practice. Should this be the case then the problem may lie less with the processes utilised and more with the traditional perception of what constitutes effective, valid recruitment and selection practices. The traditional perspective on recruitment and selection assumed a rational framework, where the largely objective qualifications of the individual were matched to the requirements of the job (Stoner and Freeman, 1992). The assumptions of the rational model imply that those making the decisions have real knowledge about the job, real knowledge about the applicants' job relevant qualifications, can objectively compare these qualifications with the job demands and select the applicant with the best match.

However, more recently, there is growing evidence to suggest that the notion of ‘fit’ as it relates to suitability has assumed heightened significance in organizational settings. Kersley et al, (1997), defines ‘fit’ as the degree to which the goals and values of the applicant match those of individuals considered successful in the organization. Kersley et al, (1997) further highlights this notion of fit as the key to job success: Think back in your career and ask yourself, of all the people you know who failed in a job and were terminated, how many of them failed because they lacked the right educational degree, the right job experience, or the right industry background? In all likelihood, most of them failed because of inadequate interpersonal skills, an inability to communicate, or because they just didn't fit in with the culture; in other words bad chemistry. More specifically, (Armstrong, 1991) identify the “organizational chameleon” as a corporate creature who embodies the perfect fit in terms of organizational demands for values, beliefs, attitudes and so forth, while advocating that an organizational analysis be carried out prior to making staffing decisions to identify the dominant values, social skills, and personality traits required of potential job applicants. Such an approach challenges the rational model of recruitment and selection and brings into focus the “form versus substance” issue. According to (Armstrong, 1991), the core of this problem is associated with the difficulties involved in distinguishing candidates who are truly qualified (i.e. substance) from those who simply construct images of qualifications and competence (i.e. form).

2.7 Recruitment and Selection Practices and Performance

Recruitment, as a human resource management function, is one of the activities that impact most critically on the performance of an organization. While it is understood and accepted that poor recruitment decisions continue to affect organizational development performance and limit goal achievement, it is best that much effort is put in the recruitment and selection practices (Randall, 1987).

Recruitment and selection also has an important role to play in ensuring worker performance and positive organizational outcomes. It is often claimed that selection of workers occurs not just to replace departing employees or add to a workforce but rather aims to put in place workers who can perform at a high level and demonstrate commitment (Ballantyne, 2009). Recruitment and selection play a pivotally important role in shaping an organization’s effectiveness and performance, if work organizations are able to acquire workers who already possess relevant knowledge, skills and aptitudes and are also able to make an accurate prediction regarding their future abilities, recruiting and selecting staff in an effective manner can both avoid undesirable costs for example those associated with high staff turnover, poor performance and dissatisfied customers and engender a mutually beneficial employment relationship characterized, wherever possible, by high commitment on both sides. Pilbeam and Corbridge, (2006) provide a useful overview of potential positive and negative aspects noting that: ‘The recruitment and selection of employees is fundamental to the functioning of an organization, and there are compelling reasons for getting it right. Inappropriate selection decisions reduce organizational effectiveness, invalidate reward and development strategies, are frequently unfair on the individual recruit and can be distressing for managers who have to deal with unsuitable employees.’ Recruiting and selection is very important for the survival of every organization but that does not end there, new recruits need to be developed and appraised from time to time in order for them to be abreast with new trends and challenges. When employees are developed it help increase their performance and help sustain the growth of organizations.

2.8 Human Resource Development

Long-term success for companies depends on recruiting people who are able to respond to and shape the challenges of the future. These are the individuals with the capacity to create competitive advantage from the opportunities presented by changing markets, with the desire to learn from customers, consumers, suppliers and colleagues, and who possess the ability to build and influence long-lasting and effective partnerships (Walker, 1990). For companies with long-term strategic development plans, especially in emerging markets, it is critical their recruitment and HR process can assess a candidate’s ability to help grow the organisation’s interests and expand upon current projects (or identify when a certain line of investigation or development may become fruitless). The choice also provides a major opportunity to communicate the values and successes of the organization—to explain why the company offers the most attractive place for a person to develop their career. Yet this competition for top talent is nothing new (Walker, 1990).

According to Peter Drucker “The most valuable asset of a 20th century company was its production equipment. The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution will be its knowledge workers and their productivity (Drucker, 1999). A great deal exists in the literature about the provision of staff development and employee training as investment for organizations. Staff development and staff training are parts of the bigger concept of human resource development (HRD). Training is just one possible way to organize and implement learning processes in organizations and not always the most effective one.

HRD encompasses the broad set of activities that improve the performance of the individual and teams, hence the organization. Training and development have come to be viewed as lifelong activity, rather than the front end acquisition of qualifications. As a result, the focus of concern has shifted from what the trainer does, to what the learner requires. The ultimate aim of the training and development process has been characterized as the creation of the learning organization, constantly reviewing its mistakes and successes and adapting its activities appropriately.

When discussing human resource development, it is imperative to keep in mind issues of workforce demographics, desirable characteristics of the workforce and the obstacles to achieving the workforce that is well prepared, motivated and strategically ready in today’s workforce.. Some of the other issues and challenges confronting human resource managers in this context include preparing for future labour needs and the inclusion of a sustainable legacy plan for recruitment and understanding the difference between filling a department’s needs as opposed to filling a job vacancy. Organizations are trying to deal with these challenges, but until recently, the focus when hiring has been more on demonstrable skills such as knowing how to use a specific piece of machinery rather than on attributes like strategic thinking, flexibility, adaptability and commitment to lifelong learning. There is a growing trend now to “hire for attributes and then train for the skills” (Whitmell Associates, 2004). The need to hire staff with abilities such as flexibility, adaptability, leadership potential and learning agility is increasingly recognized by human resource managers.

The process of bringing in such changes to workplaces is not straightforward as it affects the hiring process as well as staff development and training activities. To ensure the principles of training and development are upheld and do not conflict with company governance, all initiatives related to recruitment need to be integrated carefully. Hiring, on-boarding and orientation, communication, performance reviews, and rewards and recognition are interrelated and therefore should be linked to each other and to the training and development programs as part of building the company culture overall.

Recruitment of staff who are flexible, employ strategic thinking, allow for the development of a multitude of skills and are open and dynamic is not a simple, straightforward process because identification of individuals with these skills is not as easy as identifying more tangible and limited skills such as cataloguing, reference or IT skills. Retaining skilled people and ensuring that once hired, they are motivated and continue to enhance the skills and attributes they had when they joined the organization presents challenges for human resource managers, especially if the demand for such labour is high. It requires creation of an environment within the organization to ensure these happen—a knowledge-based organization equipped to deal with the constantly changing environment.


3.1 Overview

Nigeria is rich in petroleum and natural gas resources, creating an opportunity for increased development. Exxon Mobil has committed to sustained operation in the region and has adopted a policy of recruiting and training from the local populations. In 2012, Exxon Mobil spent $40 billion in exploration and development of new sources of petroleum. It also completed an offshore platform in Nigeria that was produced locally. Such commitment to a sustained presence requires a skilled workforce that, of course, must be part of the recruitment and screening process.

By asking several employees of Exxon Mobil Nigeria to complete surveys about the recruitment and screening process, including how employees were assessed for training for their roles, it becomes possible to analyse the experiences of employees against the stated HR policies and procedures Exxon Mobil has stated as part of its recruitment and screening. The questions ask participants to rate their understanding of and satisfaction with the recruitment process.

3.2 Research Philosophy

The purpose of this study is twofold: use primary data to measure the success of Exxon Mobil Nigeria’s stated company plan of successfully recruiting and developing talent from local communities per the company’s developed HR recruitment procedure and analyse how well Exxon Mobil is adapting its recruitment procedure to face the unique socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria in order to carry out its strategic mission of developing a sustainable presence in the country.

3.3 Research Approach

Because the literature and case studies are sparse for studying HRM in Nigeria, particularly in the field of recruitment, an inductive approach to the research topic is most appropriate. As Muritala and Abayomi (2011) point out, HRM in Nigeria has not been fully studied, and therefore little data is available to fully analyse. Thus, a deductive and more analytical approach would be hampered by a lack of data.

The survey is also an appropriate tool for the topic of recruitment because of the nature of feedback the survey produces. Van De Voorde, Paauwe Van Veldhoven (2010) discuss the “agile nature” of the survey as a tool for providing employer feedback through direct data and as part of a collection of tools aimed to increase channels of communication between employees and the management.

3.3 Sources of Data

Both primary and secondary source of data were used in conducting the research, including data from other research projects and the data released by Exxon Mobil.

3.3.1 Primary Data

For the purpose of this research work, the major source of data collection was through the use of a survey. The survey was carefully structured to simplify the terms and eliminate traces of ambiguity. According to Asika (2000), the survey is a practical way to procure different types of research information as well as the most economical way in many other situations. Where other methods are possible, they are likely to be more difficult and expensive. Survey methods are also most appropriate for researchers aimed at describing or producing data for personal experience. This is because surveys rarely involve complex manipulation of independent variables or random assignment to conditions (Asiska, 2000).

As stated above, given the scarcity of data on HRM in Nigeria, especially on recruitment, a survey allowed for the collection of information from the case study organisation directly. Policies from Exxon Mobil, including confidentiality agreements, limited the researcher’s ability to gather deeper levels of data.The questionnaire was divided in two sections; section A comprises respondents’ characteristics while section B contains the structured part of the questionnaire based on research questions and hypotheses.

3.3.2 Secondary Sources

The study also made use of secondary data in collecting information. The sources of the secondary data include books, internet search, articles, and journals among others. This helped to identify how others have defined and measured key concepts, the data sources that of others used and this helped to discover how this research project is related to other studies.

3.4 Population and Sample Size

The researcher chose employees of Exxon Mobil in Nigeria as the study population. It has an average of 1,200 employees, and 120 employees were selected and contacted for the study. This decision was based on the staff strength of the various departments and to ensure that the sampled was representative enough to draw conclusions.

3.5 Sampling Techniques

The method used in selecting the respondents is the stratified method of sampling. This sampling procedure uses extra method of representatives by first identifying some characteristics that are being researched and then using these characteristics as a basis for further random sampling of the entire population.

The researcher then proceeded to randomly select the samples from the top, middle and lower level staffs. The advantage of this method is that each respondent has equal chance of being chosen within its stratum. Based on the procedure outlined above, 120 structured questionnaires were distributed to selected staff of the organization. This was because the researcher wanted to deal with only typical cases based on the objectives of the study.

3.6 Data Collection

The researcher used questionnaire. The researcher prepared the questionnaires to be responded by the sampled employees of the organization. The questions were designed to make the purpose of the study successful after the results have been ascertained. This instrument gave expected information about the recruitment and selection procedures or practices. For the purpose of this research work, the major source of data collection was through the use of questionnaire. It formed the bulk of the sources from which information for this study was generated. The questionnaire was carefully structured to simplify the terms and eliminate traces of ambiguity.

3.7 Administration of Instruments

Copies of the questionnaire were distributed to respondents at workplaces. After some time, the researcher went back and collected the answered questionnaires. The researcher explained the questions to the respondents thoroughly after copies of the questionnaire were given them. The purpose of this was to help the respondents to understand the purpose of the research, and to do away with suspicions, partialities and also to be able to provide their independent opinions on the questionnaire items given them. To have a valid and reliable data, the researcher ensured that the questions were well formulated which allows error minimization.

3.8 Data Analysis

The data collected from the respondents was serialized, coded and analysed sequentially according to the research questions. Tables were used to present data in order to facilitate analysis. Simple percentages and frequency distribution were used while hypotheses were tested using the Chi-square analysis.From external sources, data was interpreted in context of the research objectives and analysed inductively and with a focus on comparing subjective and objective responses to the topic of recruitment.

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