Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hiring Sentiments up!! More than meets the eye?

India’s job market is yet to recapture the highs seen in 2008, but it seems set to outdo 2009—a year when the economy slowed down—if the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for the first quarter of 2010 is any indication.

India’s adjusted net employment outlook for this quarter is 39%. The outlook is the difference between the proportion of employers who say their headcount will increase in the three months to March and those who say it will decrease, adjusted for seasonal variations.

Other reports on the survey highlight:

-This number is the highest it has been in five quarters, an indication of a return to normalcy in the job market.
- 2010 will see a mix of replacement hiring, to fill up vacant positions and hiring for new positions, signifying expansion.
- Employers in 25 out of 35 countries reported positive hiring intentions for Q1. The most optimistic employment forecasts after India were reported by employers in Brazil, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia.

Is it as hunky dory as it sounds? After all one must differentiate the 'intent' to hire-and the willingness/ability to hire, right?

Whats the ground reality? Take two of the biggest employment sectors in India that drive the frenzy.

a) IT industry: The financial results in the last 2 quarters indicate that IT companies seeing a drop in consulting income! Global majors such as Accenture and IBM, both large players in consulting, saw decline in that business, as clients deferred investments. Ditto with the revenue for 3 major Indian IT majors (TCS, Wipro and Infosys ) saw a decline in the September quarter compared with the corresponding quarter last year!!. (Recall that was before the Lehman fiasco and the subsequent events!!).

Reasons being attributed by their global customers behaviour:

-caution about launching new large programmes and instead opting for more phased and flexible approaches;
-slower pace of ongoing projects and deferment of decisions to expand work beyond current commitments.
-some pressure on pricing.

b) Telecom industry: Airtel reported a lower-than-expected profit as a brewing price war among India's mobile operators depresses margins-as Tata DoCoMo, offering per second instead of per minute billing and Reliance Communications slashed its rates. Rajesh Jain's blog captures the mood for mobile operators well!

Uninor recently had an All India launch, and that meant quite a decent number of replacement hiring in the respective companies.

However, the entry of new players and the launch of third-generation, or 3G, services are also expected to expand demand for people.

My observations as a recruiter who is waiting for the marriages to happen more often!:

1. Thickness of the Times of India Ascent -supplement is directly proportional to the hiring activity!

The good news -it was 8 pages this week-compared to the 4 pages in the recent months.It was a delight to see 4 half page colour ads.

However analysing them further, one gets into the bottom:.

Infosys-HR leaders for over 10yrs exp in talent acquisition, OD and Business partner HR team.
Virtusa (architects and solutions specialists with 5 to 15yrs exp!)
IBM( across board with 3yrs plus exp and at least 4 for SAP, testing, web development, DBMS, Application innovation services!)

2.There is increased activity...not resulting in higher offers though!

No tearing hurry as in the hey days! Our experience- while companies go thru the different rounds and rounds of hiring process of screening before and finalising the shortlist, and even negotiating the salary to be offered-there is a certain reluctance to sign on the dotted line. There is an underlying assumption that lot of talent is let us wait for a "Sachin Tendulkar' to come along, and lets be more patient :-)!

The media hype has had the job aspirants in a tizzy. Perhaps it has to do most of the professionals being shortchanged out of a decent hike in 2009-reckoning that it entitles them to a higher negotiating posture. Most of them expect up to 30% to 40% hike while changing jobs-little realising they are out pricing themselves :-)! They have no compelling reason to change at the conservative figures clients are willing to pay in the 'present market'!!

3.Strategic hiring! It is interesting to note that in the last 12 months, one has seen a range of activity from the clients in India. First, they stopped hiring. For a while, there was firing 'non performers'. A period where most companies did well to extract the best of the rest-till a recent phenomenon when companies are finally hiring for 'vacant' positions. Cautious but studied hiring.

We at Options are working on a wide variety-Finance manager(Gurgaon), techno functional consultants for infrastructure(Hyderabad), Sales Manager (Punjab), Commercial Head (Mumbai).You can have a glimpse of the 'not so confidential' positions here!! There are a couple of other CXO level positions that I am personally handling-that aren't mentioned here for obvious reasons. (RSVP [email protected]!)

I recall listening to a speech by Mr Subroto Bagchi. Frustration happens when there is a gap between ability and aspirations. Two choices to bridge it. Either increase ability. Or reduce aspiration!

Time will tell -who will blink first-the corporates wanting to hire? Or the job aspirant willing to give in!!

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