Thursday, July 19, 2007

Salaries in India : Overseas Options

It is indeed a catch22 situation that I am in-as a recruiter!!

Over the last few months, I have been bombarded with questions -from a lot of prospective returning Indians-about the salaries in India..and their true worth. My economic theory of the UN's PPP theory in the past- is no longer convincing for most-who can quote references of atleast a couple of their acquaintances, who have picked up some kind of dollar equivalent salaries! Yes, I maintain there are but a limited number of such examples...more exceptions, I brushed off!

The media too loves to go gaga! Just read a sample and one wdnt know whom to really believe?

So the only resort for me was- to get back to the basics and explain to each one willing to listen..look here are my clients-these are the openings that I am working on -and an indicative range of salaries they have proposed!!

Freeze. The tables are turning!!

Coming to the point, the last few weeks I have been working some overseas assignments-for which Indian professionals were being sought!More specifically -a Director level position in a pharma company in China, a product manager in Muscat, a few insurance professionals for a leading MNC bank in Middle East -and a printing & packaging company in Dubai.

As the offers reach finalisation, the expectations of most Indians residing here - regarding the overseas offers is just mindboggling! When most of them factor the opportunity cost of going away from the Indian action, add the savings potential, my clients seem to realise that their budgets arent just enough to attract even the average performers out here.

Lest you think I am not angling for the 'right profiles', just have a look at the reality- Mr Rupee bullies Indians in the Gulf .

-Weakness of the dollar has dragged the value of Gulf currencies to which it is pegged. As a result, Indian workers' salaries are nearly 30 per cent less in terms of rupee than a year ago.

-With another 15 per cent dent due to high livings costs, the salary of an average Indian in the Gulf remains the least attractive among the Asians. (Housing rates have gone up by 30 per cent in Riyadh, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Doha, while Dubai has seen an unprecedented 50 per cent rise as demand for housing has been growing by leaps and bounds.)

And as I sat down to articulate my thoughts, here is a mail from a pal of mine..a Kelloggs alumnus asking "If I find a good role am very open to India. There is so much activity now in India that I am thinking its worth exploring options there. Here in the US its all about cost cuts and low growth....

What do you think.....thoughts ? "

Well..what do I write?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Job Search in India-poor recruiter empathy

Among the mails I recieved this week, there were these comments:

"I haven't gotten any response to my last email and am wondering if you would be able to help me. "

" I have put my resume on Monster and Naukri and do get lots of email but, surprisingly, no recruiter follows through"

"I would like to provide 1 to 2 months of notice to my current employer. So, I would need ~2 months to join in India"

"In US, typically if we do not get response to an email within x hours, or a phonecall within y hours, it is understood that the person isnt interested to deal with you"

Well, I am not trying to justify why we Indian recruiters behave the way we do. Infact, in response to one of my earlier posts I had received a lot of offline comments, and so I thought I shall share the learnings in this post.

I have just replied to one of those mails as below:

"I can surely empathise with you..your experience with me -is perhaps no different from all the other recruiters who havent got back after the initial interest.

Surely we can assist you..but I guess we will have to work on a definite time line and agenda.I guess we shd have a phonecall and take this ahead-Am travelling tomoro. So anyday -(other than Sunday) between 5pm and 10pm IST is okay for me-with a prior intimation.

From a recruiter perspective -here are the observations:

a) most of the recruiters in India work on contingency search basis..that is we get paid only if the person recommended by us-joins the company. Since your resume is already on the jobsites, the hope that I would have for success -would be pretty low. Moreover, most corporates also have access to the popular jobsites..and eventually wd deny us the payment-indicating they have your resume in their database :-)!

b)you havent indicated any date of returning to India. Perhaps you do not have any compelling reasons to come back to India-and so are waiting for an offer while still in the US. In such a case, no recruiter wd really stretch out-and spend time on your profile-when there are likely to be similar profiles already in India.

I know its a catch 22-unless you know about opportunities, and people know about your availability, how wd these interviews happen?

Here are my suggestions:

1.Instead of actually posting the resume on all popular jobsites, try out the 'alert' or 'agent' feature each of them provide. By indicating a bunch of key words, like the location, level, salary, skillsets -you can create an alert-and each time a similar job is uploaded on the site, you will get an email indicating the opportunity. You then visit the jobsite and check if it interests you-and then apply for it specifically. This way you can control the circulation of your resume too

2. Plan a India trip-for perhaps 10 working days- purely dedicated for a job search. Indicate these to the recruiters you are working with..and the companies you are applying to, and see the difference. It would also help you to line up a few interviews, and help you meet the prospective employer at their workplace..and perhaps have a first hand exp of the Indian work environment- And am sure, even if the salary ranges offered by the companies are drastically different, you can weigh them-more comfortably

Can I hear from others -who have returned to India, or those who have plans to return, fellow recruiters, both from the corporate and third party kind-on how I could address the situations better? Am I being totally self centred, and missing out on the larger picture? I shall be glad to hear your comments, feedback, views, brickbats, sure I will take it as constructive criticism and change my perspective.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Retention -best way of Attracting Talent!!?

Does media reflect the aspirations of its readers? Or is it that the readers get influenced by the media?

A classical case of the 'chicken or egg' syndrome?I find a stronger correlation between a sensational news and the trigger among professionals to look for greener pastures :-)!

Late last month there were news reports of 4 financial services experts being snapped by India Infoline at an obscene joining bonus of 11crores each!! While this stirred up a lot of envy and awe, there were quite a few pals of mine who called up to check if it was indeed a practice in the industry now!! One philisophised..these were more the exceptions!!

But when there was a report about ''sign on bonus for middle management professionals', I got a flurry of enquiries of people-wanting to know if they are being underpaid! They were quite happy in their jobs-doing well-had just got a whopping review -better than the last few years...but there was this nagging feeling-'hey! whats the market like?"

In that context, it was enlightening to read about the views from the other side of the table-the corporate!! There seems to be a lot of method behind the madness!

Infact in the last 24hours I came across two blogs-one by the legendary Marc Andreesen's. His mantra for retaining great people boils down to

-the quality of the people they're working with,
- the interestingness level of their projects, and
-whether they are learning and growing.

And so he advocates " retaining the magnets!! In a technology company, if you bear down and focus on retaining the great architects and managers, retaining everyone else -- the junior programmers, the product managers, the user interface designers, the salespeople, the sales engineers, the marketing staff, and so on -- will be much easier. "

I was more impressed by the ‘inside out ‘ approach by a fellow Hyderabadi professional- Suresh Anubolu- a person I have known for a few years-both as a third party recruiter and now, in the last few yrs-in the corporate avatar!!

In his debut effort in blogging , he reflects on the Generation Y –their characteristics, ways of attracting them, and retain their interest and attention span –with some outstanding analysis.

The concepts of creating employment value proposition, increasing ‘touchpoint situations with the company’ . fostering strong workplace relationships, ..are really worth implementing. The challenge is to ensure alignment of the environment-that ‘leverages the benefits of Generation Y-while still not alienating the rest of the workforce’!

Welcome Suresh to the world of blogging- we do hope you can spare more time than the monthly bulletin you promise !!

PS- one take away from both blogs..both the authors estimate the role of the ‘recruiter’ as paramount :)! Are you are working with the right recruiters??

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sourcing vs Selection!!

It is interesting to note the media hailing the Prime Minister of UK Mr Gordon Brown as being better than Mr Tony Blair, and the fresh air of promise that the President of France brings in Mr Nicolas Sarkozy .

In India, we have been seeing the politicisation of the President's post-even as the runup to the finalisation is getting into a crescendo. Admittedly, the welcome lady presidential candidate, has already a foot in the mouth - for an editorial to question aloud

"What is not understandable, however, is how on earth did they manage to pick out of a country of one billion people the one candidate who, as each day passes, appears more than vaguely unsuitable for the high office?"

We in India, already know the imbroglio relating to the selection of the coach -and its possible
effect on the Indian cricket team ! As you sow, so shall you reap, right?

The "sourcing strategy" is perhaps the key to all selection.

The more diverse you cast your net, and a bigger funnel will help if the process of shortlisting can be then done on merit.

But when decisions are taken -that could affect future generations, it is really disturbing! In a recent article about reservation in St Stephen's college Delhi , the views of Mr Sanjeev (Naukri) Bikhchandani's views are most telling!!

To build a great institution you need visionary leadership and great commitment at the start. Once the institution earns a reputation it naturally becomes a magnet for talent - both student and faculty. It then becomes a virtuous circle: a good college attracts good students and good teachers, and together they perform well academically and further enhance the reputation of the college; this thereby attracts even better students and teachers, and so it continues.

The college then becomes even better because it is good - a positive spiral, a snowball effect, a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly more and more great institutions in this country are falling into the hands of people who don't understand this.

Isnt it equally applicable for corporates? Why not for the Government? Is it too late to change the tarnished image of Indian Politics? Can a self made accomplished ciitizen be given a chance -and change the entry into it by inheritance??

Surely, recruitment is no rocket science...!! Shouldnt the emphasis be on sourcing AND selection??