Saturday, December 05, 2009

Hiring in India-the challenges

Earlier this week, I had an email from my good ole pal Jim Stroud, introducing me to Gerry Crispin, Chief Navigator, Career X Roads :

“travelling to India on Sunday for 10 days with 25 other HR leaders. The SHRM lead delegation will be studying HR practices for 10 days in 2 cities and are meeting with dozens of firms, the government and the heads of several schools. Gerry is very curious to understand what its like to recruit in India and was wondering if I knew anyone he should connect with”

Well, to me it was a double delight. Gerry Crispin is someone I have been following –courtesy his blog and twitter messages. And I recall Gautam Ghosh tweeting about the visit ! To get connected and explore learning as we interacted, seemed exciting. And more so, it gave me fodder to write this post too.

Sitting back to articulate the differences, meant getting down to the first principles. The basics. I tried covering some of the cultural context issues in a post last night. Here are some of the thoughts I shared with Gerry.

The single most difference in India-is the sheer number of huge applicants. With a country of a billion, you will be surprised that the recruitment process is unique-in a way where the luxuries of excesses force one to 'reject' candidates before one reaches the position of needing to select!!

Fortunately, companies too have been trying to play the economies of scale -and hire large numbers-and as a result, there is enormous focus is on keeping ‘cost per hire’ lower than perhaps in the west!

Lots of company have an internal recruitment department- as distinct from the HR department-and one would see the multipronged media of hiring -namely campus hiring, internal hiring, internal referrals. apart from third-party recruiters. You could be surprised that the share of third party recruiters would seldom go over one-third- as compared to the West-where it could be the other way round!!

Two other issues come to my mind

1-Among the billion people, we have about 60 million who actively use internet-and perhaps one-eighth of it adopt broadband in India

2. However we are among the fastest growing telecom markets in the world-and since that cuts thru to even the illiterate section, the opportunities are just mind-boggling. I recall reading recently that we add 12 million subscribers a month!!

Infact, I realize there is one more issue that slipped my mind then. I had sent out a bulk mailer to some of the candidates we have from the automobile manufacturers-about some job opportunities and was appalled at the very low conversion rates of interests. It wasn’t until it dawned on me –that most of the aspirants work at the shop floor-and so do not have access to internet or checking personal email as easily as their counterparts in the new economy!!

Mobiles (more than 400 million) outnumber the personal computers (PCs - slightly over 30 million) concentration in India. A big part of the population accessing internet going ahead would do so on a mobile handset and so we need to offer enriching experience to these users!!

An experiment of sending SMS to their cell phones-post the email, significantly improved the response quality and quantity!!

As 45% of the Indian population is below 25yrs of age, and their lifestyles and habits are distinctly different from the rest of us in India, there is a need to change every bit of communication to them- and be more ‘conversational' henceforth? Do we see social media recruiting more effective in India in the near future?

Do let me know your thoughts, comments, feedback-and criticism!! Have a great weekend!


Unknown said...


The point that you make about sheer numbers, and I quote from ur blog "..process is unique-in a way where the luxuries of excesses force one to 'reject' candidates before one reaches the position of needing to select!!"

Although, you have not spelled it out clearly. Your comment alludes to the possibility of the "commoditization" of the recruitment people and process. Why should this astonish anyone. Since, the IT industry has now achieved almost every quality standard and best practice imaginable. So any resume that contains the right "tags" and "keywords" will get separated from the rest.
This leads to what you call very high "rejection rates".
I wonder how the Japanese took their industry to the next level. Of course, I refer to the reverse of the problem we face in India. Toyota, Honda and Sony achieved "very high" acceptance rates to their products.
So what lessons and parallels can we draw, if any?
Their per unit cost fell after they achieved such high "acceptance rates". Is there a connection to the cost per hire question, you are asking ?

David DSouza

AK Menon said...

David, interesting point you made. I must confess though, that the context in which I mentioned 'reject' was totally different :-)!

The Indian IT industry in the past decade has been hiring "engineers' for software development/ maintenance roles -where as graduates/MCAs would hv sufficed!

Considering that most engineers anyway needed to be trained inhouse -as they included even civil, production, metallurgical streams, I strongly suspect it had to their "16yrs education' entitling them to pass thru stringent US visa regulations.