Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Naukri CEO visits Options!!

I am still wonder struck..
Today, I had a very special visitor to my office -Mr Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the Founder & CEO of!! It took me a while -to be at home -even while being in my own office!! Perhaps it was a mixture of emotions. Awe. Admiration. Respect.
It wasn't as if I was meeting him the first time-He was too polite to admit that he remembered we had met earlier at an ERA conference where he was a sponsor. Another time at TiEcon-when he had become a successful entrepreneur-and was mentoring a bunch of guys with dreamy eyes.
Perhaps it was because one had read about him a lot. Or one closely related to the leaps he had made. He made a difference to a lot of job seekers in India. And recruiters. And yes, to many other companies wanting to scale up. I had heard stories about him from one of my earliest colleagues Aruna. Her husband Satish -studied in the same batch as Sanjeev @IIM -and so I had this personal pride of being among naukri's earliest users from almost a couple of months since its inception!!
Then there was also a time there was this feeling for a few years- that naukri was a competitor to our business !! A job site and a search consultant aren't exactly allies as one like to believe. Most of my, and of course everyone of my team's, work hours are spent 'cleaning up' a lot of junk from among the lakhs of resumes that the Naukri Resdex has- cajoling, validating candidates to accept the opportunities at our client -and finally when we do present a willing and deserving person-the client turns around to say -"we have naukri-and so this CV is in our database". :(!
Over the years, I have grown to believe that yes-we would co-exist. Job sites attract active job seekers. Ready to jump for an immediate opening. Eager to land up for the interview whenever you want. And as a recruiter, one needed to offer some of these-along with those 'hard to get passive job seekers'- to the client and offer options!! As a search consultant, I have begun to use naukri for better branding, screening out leads, help by adding the 'personalised touch' -and build enough relationships -to transcend the transactions a technological tool couldn't give!! Blogging, Linkedin, and a host of well wishers giving their 'word-of -mouth' publicity-and presto, there is space for all kinds.
Within fifteen minutes into the meeting, I guessed it was on a level playing ground that we were meeting!! We got talking about the market. While I confessed I was too marginal a player to be affected by the booms and the busts, I conceded that it had to do with my partially de-risking my business model-of late, with a few retained search assignments and arrangements with some close clients- that the impact wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Sanjeev attributed the slowdown to a bunch of factors happening in June-all of a sudden- the oil prices hitting 147USD, the inflation rate going up to 12%, the interest rates being hiked, poor monsoons,...and shared that the turnaround times for placements in the industry -from the conception to fitment- was taking much longer-and despite the increasing number of job seekers registering on his site, things aren't going to be rosy for another few months.
We spent the next hour sharing thoughts about each one's perspective -of the methods to engage active job seekers, attract more semi-passive ones, naukri's attempts to help improve recruiter productivity, competition (read other jobsites this time around ;-)!), a brief mention why he doesn't cross sell naukri to the other companies floated by him in the real estate & matrimonial domains- defensively but definitely positioning a social networking site to overcome linkedin in India, ...and yes, of course, how would Sanjeev use naukri -if he were in my shoes...
The true sales professional he was, he didn't need an invitation to demonstrate his being hands on with naukri-and showcased a new feature launched to my team, while still making mental notes about the minor glitches.
As I sit back and post this blog- isn't surprising -why naukri has become a generic name in India. The passion was evident as the CEO -went off to the next sales call!! Success is all about sticking to first principles, right??

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