Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How is the job market in India?

The more things change, the more they stay the same?

July is perhaps the time I get these queries most often in a year! And not surprisingly, these are all from NRIs from the US visiting India-timing it with the annual school vacation of their kids. Typically lasting for a fortnight, amidst the pilgrimages, and shopping for the best real estate deal in town, ( not restricted to the quick dip test & advertising to check the market rate for investments already made)- I suspect, a joint visit by the husband & wife to meet some recruiters is a must do!! For these are very well planned ahead-with a decent amount of research, (courtesy google & linked in as well as meaningful enquiries from their in-laws), requests for appointments by mail & reminders by phone. And yes of course, on the D-day they come armed with references of the surfeit of employment surveys by leading consultants/job portals...aided with an updated scorecard of 'who got what salary for which kind of role' among their acquaintances :)!

Let me try and put together some of my thoughts that I have been sharing -especially for the benefit with those whom I couldn't spend time responding!!

Notwithstanding the increasing adoption of 'paid news stories', it helps

-to try and read between the lines or (mis)quotes made by the spokespersons. And try and connect to the ground reality. Even as I key in this line, there are several campus hires (who picked up offers from the big daddies in IT industry in Nov/Dec 2010)-who are waiting for their 'joining dates' or 'place of posting'. Of course, they are being kept busy by third party agencies training them on soft skills and setting expectations..with a promise of an early placement for the best performers!!

- to study the thickness of the appointment pages in the major dailies in the recent weeks. Last week, the ASCENT wasn't even a pull out-it was hidden among the main paper itself! And a quick scan of the jobs listed in today's Opportunities page of THE Hindu-(mind it, a little over 2 pages of ads!)would indicate most jobs are from colleges, or tender like advertisements-apart from a couple of generic brand building exercise (XXXX is hiring!!). Print ads cost money-and are a better indicator of the 'real intention' to hire.

-compare the number of jobs posted by third party consultants visavis the hiring managers -on the major job portals. You can be sure most of them are refreshed jobs-as most have subscribed to an annual service for posting vacancies at significantly much lesser costs than print ads.

-to keep track of how quickly any one responds to your application online- be it a company website or otherwise !! Hey, look -we aren't even talking about the speed of the hiring process-and the commitment to decision making /the selection, right?

So then, what is happening behind the scenes?

1. Hiring has generally been lesser in the recent times. Globalisation means ' a level playing ground' everywhere! Keeping in line with America's jobless recovery, companies in India too are figuring out

a)how to do more with fewer hands!!

"The McKinsey Global Institute found that 40 percent of the 2,000 U.S. companies it recently surveyed have had positions open for six months or more because they haven’t found the right candidates to fill them."

b) Gone are the jobs where they needed just project management roles-or client facing roles. Thanks to the downturn in the last couple of years, most companies have become more efficient in attending to those 'marginal development' roles. Today, the people on demand-are those who can help the company take the quantum leap to the next orbit.

While MNCs are setting up new ODCs in India, the present trend is to get them spearheaded by some one internally-who is relocated to India- so that the 'culture & ethos' is in place and maintain the continuity and migration of work, while the other senior jobs are open for lateral hires-but with some one who already has a proven track record in setting up a similar facility in the Indian context!

c) new jobs demand "a habit of continuous learning". The increasing appreciation for digital marketing and its reach/influence -is a sure shot give away. Or in the finance domain, professionals who can raise funds from multiple sources/instruments-as the quantum of capital required is running into several hundred of crores (mostly capex unlike working capital in the earlier days of growth.)

So there is a constant analysis of 'make vs buy' even as they are in the process of interviewing talent-to arrive at the right 'mix' of people. While 'cost arbitrage' is still the primary reason for off shoring to India, there is an increasing 'demand from clients for insights into business'.

2. The cycle time to make a hire therefore, has increased. How often do we see 'walk in interviews' even for junior /entry level positions, happening around our cities? Gone are the days-where one could walk into a company in the morning, have a series of back to back meetings, and by the end of the day, leave with an offer letter ..and start thinking of joining dates/relocation to India etc. We don't see 'joining bonus' being doled out as generously as earlier..and that perhaps indicates lesser urgency to get someone aboard, right?

3. The complexity of hiring has changed! Companies are trying to experiment and are increasingly trying innovative approaches. And the role of recruiter as a postman-is likely to become extinct soon, as everyone today is either on a job portal or part of the ever growing social networking sites -that have increasingly penetrated into our personal lives, hobbies, holidays and habits!!

4. I suspect there is also a slight shift in 'whom they hire' of late. Given that most companies have tightened up screws to arrest/prevent attrition (most firms now insist on employees serving out notice periods of 2-3 months after they put in their resignation), there is an increasing tendency to hire local candidates -who can perhaps move in faster...and with the probability of staying longer and grow with the company.

( For instance those aspirants moving into Chennai-may need to cough out 10months advance rent for their residence-compared to say 3 in Hyderabad- which in itself is a deterrant considering the employee would have to account for the increased cost of living -in the salary expected-plus relocation costs- which affects the hiring costs!! Given that children education is a critical factor, employers are getting a little apprehensive of those who move in -with out their family in tow...)

I shall try and list down some of the opportunities that we at Options have been kept busy with, in recent times -so that it would give you an indication of the skills that are in demand in the Indian job market :

- a 11Bn US MNC in the medical devices is setting up a core team for their Global Engineering Services. Right now in a start up mode, they are hiring for key positions as they plan to build a team of 50 + in the next 3 months. Present roles exist in Operational Excellence, reliability engineering, and pretty soon they would hire software engineers with embedded programing skills.

- Large MNCs ramping up their shared finance centers in India. While hitherto, they were hiring plain vanilla 'general accounting' skills, there is an increasing trend to now add more complex processes. So opportunities exist in inventory costing, cash management, risk advisory, portfolio management ..at middle and senior levels- and more for people who have exposure to financial modules in ERP. Positions exist in Hyderabad, Kochi, Chennai (for those with exposure to accounting in automotive manufacturing)

- Sales & business development skills focused on large scale enterprise solutions. Companies range from those in the 50-200m USD range-wanting to scale up to enter global markets, or align with major SI players, apart from those with excellent contacts in the B2B space to trigger acceptance of value added solutions.

-IT companies are desperate for "architect' level positions-across cities. Infrastructure Architect, Sharepoint architect, SQL Database architect, Migration architect...

- Emergence of companies in lesser known cities
. Increasing action in the PE & VC space has seen companies from tier II cities being able to attract (funds) and retain better talent of late.

Psst- would you believe it, we have a client -in the stealth mode-founded by a team of Silicon Valley ecosystem-fresh after they sold their earlier venture to Salesforce.com for a princely 175m USD -and they are setting up a crack team in Coimbatore!!

Yes, hiring is happening..but I would term it more 'cherry picking'! Please do feel free to reach me out ([email protected]) so that I can appraise you about compelling roles for your profile.

Meanwhile when you do read articles like how "MNCs focus on senior Indian professionals for global roles" or that "British employers prefer immigrants /foreigners"-please do appreciate the context! For every such press note, there are others indicating countries are putting up bigger fences of visa restrictions, and companies take back work outsourced to India with a"need to better connect with their customers ".

Let us forget about the market. It is time for us to take stock and see -as individuals -how best can we transplant our knowledge, skills , networks and insights to remain relevant and ..virtually!!

PS: I think we will see a lot more LOCAL hiring GLOBALLY. And there would be room for 'international managers' internationally-only if they can add value!!

PPS: I would love your feedback as usual. We have a new widget-courtesy Insighto-right below this post- to enable me know if there is anything specific you would like to know about..on this topic! Help us help you :)!

Friday, July 01, 2011

An alert for Recruiting Professionals: Time to Change!!

I have had this uncanny feeling in the past few months that the hiring game has changed...

And as I read a recent article in ERE, it only reinforced a lot of my observations, fears and convictions. I know I will be guilty of parroting it over and over again-as I have mentioned it over several times in different blog posts..but let me say it once again. The shift from the industrial economy to the intellectual economy has been very evident, and as a result we see:

- the power of choice -shifting from the 'employer' as a provider of jobs- to the 'employee' today who calls the shots. She/he decides what to work on, where to do the same, with whom, when, why, and at what terms.

- the tenure of employment has long changed from 'lifetime' to a '2-3yrs' stint- even questioning the concept of a permanent job.

-the onus of career management /training & development is now with the individual who is strongly becoming a 'free agent'.

And given these major shifts in preferences, it is quite often difficult to fathom that a majority of recruiters- both in the corporate world & those in the industry, still hope to live by the code they had probably adopted in historic times!! In this digital age, one needs to be abreast with not just the changing power of technology-but most importantly, the influencing attention that aspirations & opinions can enable.

Move over. It is Recruitment 3.0!!

The article "A Vision for the Future of Recruitment" is a 'must read' for any CEO who wishes to attract and manage the best talent.

Here is a quick take on what the authors say:

1. Not everyone is looking for a job. How does one reach out to the 'non-active' segment -which could include the best candidates!!?

2. Everyone is a potential candidate or brand ambassador, even your customer.

3. Employment brand is pivotal to the success in talent acquisition.

4. Building communities and relationships is key for improving awareness, engagement and influencing potential employees!

Hey, doesn't this sound so much like the tenets of Marketing?

While a lot of us folks in the HR fraternity wax eloquently on the value of 'human capital' -are we even capable of putting a 'marketing cap' and 'understand the needs and desires of a customer' who could perhaps be the difference between us and our competitors??

I shall be glad to have your thoughts, as usual. Not just offline as before..but also online...It is time for us to change the way we are looking...

PS Am reachable on twitter ( @achyutmenon)