Friday, March 25, 2011

Hot jobs this week..Shift in global hiring trends?

Last week, about 110 international recruiters, the members of NPA, The Worldwide Recruiting Network’ gathered in San Diego, California for the 55th annual conference. While I missed it this year, I have the pleasure of being updated by Veronica Scrimshaw who listed out some of the major highlights gleaned from conversations over the 3 days meeting:
Business is GOOD. Recruiters from all geographies and niches report a sustained increase in hiring activity, with many seeing business activity at 2006-07 levels.

Assignments are difficult. Client expectations are high, and recruiters are receiving extremely hard-to-fill recruiting assignments after internal recruiters have tried—and failed—to source the right candidates.

The candidate shortage is worldwide. NPA's international recruiters from all four corners of the globe are reporting a dearth of exceptional candidates for their client openings.

International recruiting opportunities are increasing. NPA recruiters are receiving more international assignments as their clients build or expand operations in other countries. Skilled ex-pats continue to be in high demand as clients look for local talent as opposed to relocating foreign candidates.

Candidate loyalty to existing employers is low. Fear of making a poor job move is the only thing that makes an employee appear loyal."

Dave Nerz, President NPA chips in that there is an increasing need for locally based recruiters with international recruiting connections. "

As the world has become smaller and flatter, many companies are participating in a global economy. Not all of these companies have a history or the desire to do business with the biggest franchised & corporately held international recruiting firms. This creates a new opportunity for the nimble and connected one- or two-person international recruiting firm."

At Options, across the world in India, I do see a large part of the above happening -in consonance with the above observations made by my associates!

Right now, we are working on a bunch of exciting opportunities this week-and most of them are looking for topnotch global talent to spearhead their foray into new markets and take advantage of the emerging opportunities in India. Here a few pointers.

a) preference for professionals with international experience;

-Director level candidate for a MNC in a ground floor opportunity to establish and cultivate a Hyderabad based captive IT delivery centre to serving its IT needs across the enterprise and around the globe.

- Head for a Business School @Chennai. Ideal candidate would be someone who has an exposure to management education abroad, and has good business acumen.

b) preference for professionals prepared to cross pollinate expertise:

- A National level position based @Chennai to spearhead the concept of a promoting partnerships in the Education space-for setting up schools/colleges across the breadth of the country. The ideal person would have had a strong sales background in the consumer durable/FMCG industry -with a strong hands on operational experience across different zones-preferably with scouting alliances for franchisee development earlier!

-HR professionals with 12-15yrs exp in Talent acquisition/PMS/ Learning & Development -for a growing company in the Power sector. Positions exist at their corporate office in Hyderabad.

- For a UK based BPO in the insurance/financial services domain, based in Mumbai, we are on the lookout for Premier MBA with 2-7yrs experience in Consulting companies.Ideal person would have had prior experience in solving business problems -and have exposure to at least 2 of the 3 following areas:

1. Quality /six sigma and process improvement

2. Business transition /migration/ project management office

3. Analytics

Do you think I missing out on any other trends?

Is it that, post the attempts of 'rightsizing' of companies in the last 24months, companies are quite content allowing the present team to multitask, juggle & stretch- and manage, while still waiting for the elusive 'perfect match'? Most middle & senior managers that I have come across recently, seem to think they have been working lot more extended hours -beyond their bandwidth...and unable to spend as much time interviewing!!

I look forward to having your inputs!

BTW, for a bunch of openings with a prior proven track record in the domain, please visit our career site!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tackling the talent conundrum

The Economic Times today carries an interesting article by Dr Chandrasekhar Sripada, the VP& HR head for India and South Asia at IBM, where in he advocates that 'there is need for renewal of talent & companies must focus on training those currently rejected.'

Some of the thoughts shared by him-instigate that changes ought to be made at the organisational level as handling the deficit of talent at national level is quite a complex challenge:

-Companies need to invest in creating talent.
The industry is constantly dipping into the existing pool of talent. Can we invest in identifying prospective employees early, invest in training and refining their skills to make them employable-say by adopting ITIs, polytechnics, universities & departments in their respective areas?

- Companies need to hire for competencies, not for track record or pedigree. There is an obsession for flogging a few proven people to go around the musical chair of opportunities, instead of significantly expanding the pool ad inviting unusual suspects, and thus growing talent! If for each job we wait for the picture perfect Ivy League MBA, we will only worsen the talent deficit. Can we formally retraining of a qualified housewife to integrate her into the work stream?

- Accelerate learning and training. Just like power breakfast and power yoga, can we not inculcate power learning? Companies must infuse the training setups with capabilities of boot camp style rapid learning facilitation.

Coming from a company that has been hiring most aggressively in India for the last 4-5 years, during which it is proposed to have added almost 100,000 members, and is rumoured to be giving stocks to retain employees in 2011, I for one, take it with a pinch of salt ;)! Am reminded of the Hindi proverb "sau chuhe kha ke billy haj ko chali "(which when translated is ""After eating 100 rats, the cat goes on a pilgrimage.")!!

While one is tempted to borrow ideas from the old economy & use jargon like re-engineering, supply chain management, sourcing etc, what is often missed that we are not dealing with commodities, but with human beings -with aspirations & feelings. While some companies 'manage' their headcount intact by hiring on 'contract to hire' mode, it would be interesting to see how one addresses those who do not shape up to the quality desired. Are we going to see a market for 'seconds' a la the consumer durable industry?!!

I think there is a need for a more conscious re-look at the whole system. I for one, think that the whole demand for 'engineers' in the IT industry was driven by the body shopping companies in the late nineties-to get the H1-B visas as the US consulate insists on a 16yr education system as a pre-requisite for employment of foreign workers in speciality occupations. As a result, a whole generation of students have embraced engineering education -irrespective of whether it was mining, chemical, civil , biomedical etc, as anyway the onus was on the industry to train the 'campus trainees' in the basics of software !!

The realities today are different. Time for different strokes?

In a market where there is indeed a dearth of good talent, and a case for survival for the lesser glamorous employers, it is indeed the "Davids" who embody the spirit of growing the market -even as they battle the "Goliaths".

The example of Mr Sridhar Vembu's hiring initiatives -of 'experience based education' have been really inspiring

Here is the chronicle of another attempt -courtesy a discussion on one of the online groups of start ups over the weekend, the experiences of Mr Vijay Yalamanchili, the promoter of a tech start up Ramp Technology Hyderabad.

"In our heavy services based IT industry in India, the techies suitable for start ups are much less in percentage. Most techies from services industry are very limited in their technical exposure and used to their old ways, which does not cut it for a start up.

We need people who can work with multitude of technologies in both depth and width, can see and find solutions for a bigger problem and go-getters. These are rare and the ones available are all highly paid already. However a few of them are even smarter and know what its like to work in a start up and are willing to join a start up for an equity + some salary sacrifice.

I think these are the ones you want to hire as one of your core technical guy who can drive rest of the technical delivery. Rest of your team can be college freshers who are out of the campus and searching for a job. They are young, dynamic and willing to put extra hours and effort. They do come with their baggage of problems and investment of time and energy in grooming, but overall I've always found this model consistently working. Of a mix of 6 freshers, I find at least 2 of them turn out to somehow get passionate about their work and put their heart into what they code or test. These can become your super stars!

Lately the big companies are hiring freshers massively and their base salaries have also gone up and the freshers' are getting multiple offers and expecting higher salaries. I am also seeing the trend where they don't show up on the first day after accepting the offer. I'd still rely on the freshers though. Its a low-cost risk.

So the key I think here is being able to have at least one strong technical guy in your team who can build the rest of the team. He is definitely at a higher price in terms of salary or equity. Depending on how core technology is to your business, you might want to make the guy your partner."


I shall sign off by provoking if a better way would be to educate/counsel the students of our schools today-as well as their 'vicarious' parents (who want their children to live out their dreams!) about the various emerging career opportunities-beyond the handful of professions we were exposed to in the 70s/80s, so that each one is encouraged to 'follow his/her heart'' and look for a lifetime of 'leveraging on one's strengths' a la 'inside out' approach instead of the 'herd mentality' of 'which jobs are in demand'!!

India needs more entrepreneurship to create the jobs needed for our ever growing population, and a society that encourages 'non-conformity'.

Guess we can then use the improved technology & have a good quality 'work /life ' balance too!!

I shall look forward to your comments!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Celebrating the Indian Recruiters day!

It was on March 9th 2000 that a group of senior professionals from the recruitment industry in India met and conceived of an association that would represent the needs and aspirations of the industry as well as strive to eradicate unethical practices.

ERA today has 8 chapters and 140+ members spread across India, representing the interests of Search, Staffing and Selection firms.

The Indian Recruiters Day is a day of celebration for the recruiters of India. Over 300,000 recruiters from across the country will rejoice in the light of the acknowledgment of their efforts to the Indian economy.On this day, ERA is planning a number of activities at each of its chapter locations to bring together all the recruiters.

As I attempt to write a tribute, I experience a writer's block. The more I reflect, the more I leave unsaid.

Hence I resort to going back into the archives and digging out an old post I wrote back in June 2007 on the naukri recruiters blog- a message meant for corporate recruiters and job seekers!

Whom do you trust more- Doctor or Pharmacist?

When one is sick, one needs both- the doctor and the pharmacist, right?

The doctor would examine you, analyse the symptoms, and based on his knowledge and experience- and hypothesis, prescribe a particular line of treatment, and then, give a prescription deciding the medicine-and the dosage necessary for us to follow to retain our health.

The pharmacist-essentially is a person who stocks different brands of the medicines, and is able to quickly pull out an alternative-and assist us.

Are you wondering..."How is this relevant for a job seeker, or even a corporate recruiter? " right?

As a recruitment consultant for almost 15yrs, I am a little amazed at the way most companies (rather I must be more specific-corporate recruiters) are looking for quick fix or shortcuts while hiring!!

There is a tendency to glamorise the "pharmacist" or the "sourcer" in this case!! A recruiter who just uses 'key words' to download resumes from the various job sites- and hey presto..with a click of the button shoot off a bunch of CVs fast..seem to be valued more-and rewarded as the emphasis here is 'first to log in the resume"!!

In contrast, just imagine the value add..if a consultant actually spends time with a job seeker, evaluates the need for the change- and then educate the person about the choices- validates the interest in a particular role in a specific company..and then sends your profile to that -which is closest to your calling??

As a job seeker, whom would you want to represent your case? So what if you have posted your resume on the net?Who adds value to you more- the one who handholds you through the process..or the one who finds it (first or last is immaterial right?)

For my fellow professionals in my fraternity, here is a way forward suggested in the latest blog post by Greg Savage and so I quote verbatim on how a recruiter ought to aspire playing the role of an architect !!

I use the word ‘architect’ because it suggests designing, building, creating, managing. And these are the complex and subtle skills you will need to thrive going forward.

In recent years recruiters did no placement process architecture. What 90% of recruiters did, and still do, is pure introduction. That’s all we did. We were like organisers of a speed dating night. Throwing loosely compatible people together in an artificial environment for a short time and hoping they would fall in love!

That won’t do any more.

Those recruiters who understand that the human touch is still our primary tool in making a hire work, are those who will be most successful.

So how do we get better at ‘Placement Architecture’? There are three components to building strong hiring process, and these are skills you are going to need:

  1. Take the time required. Recruitment is a series of discrete human interactions, and great recruiters will manage, control, and influence the outcome of each of those interactions to maximise success.
  2. Listen better than ever before. Uncovering, questioning, and understanding are sadly undervalued recruiter skills that we need to hire and coach back into our business. Most recruiters do none of this. They act on the client’s word as if it is the true gospel, or they tell clients what to do without asking questions first. It sounds counter-intuitive, but great recruiters will purposely be “slow to understand”.
  3. Question everything. The biggest cause of placements falling through is people making assumptions. Recruiters taking what they are told at face value. Ask for the “why and how” of everything that does not ring true, and don’t stop asking until you get an answer.

I sign off for today -hoping that we recruiters use today to reflect on how we can improve the perception of our profession, by ensuring we reinforce at least two qualities that symbolises a true hallmark of any professional: One is the ability to work unsupervised and, two, the ability to certify the completion of one’s work.

Cheers to helping shape careers!!