Friday, January 13, 2012

Jobs in India: Cautious Optimism!?


Over the past week or so, all the majors in the hiring sector in India- have come up with surveys -finally admitting that the hiring in the last quarter has declined-and that there is a likelyhood that things would not be too different in the coming quarter.

The Wall Street Journal blog post " Who is hiring in 2012?" probably sums up the scenario best. Others play around with data & try to look for positive indices, attributed the dip due to end of the year holiday season, while one even hints at an upbeat in India hiring as 71% companies are more active!

As a recruitment practitioner for over two decades now, I have been, in hindsight, fortunate to be part of the employment sentiments -before the liberalisation happened in early 90s in India, and have absorbed the vibrations of several different cycles of sunrise industries -going through their life cycles-helping me have a fair grip on the pulse of the job market -as one is constantly in touch with the expectations of the employer & the aspiring employees.

I feel -somewhere-as a community-we aren't ready to grow up and accept the reality. Globalisation!

At the macro level, all of our lives are being increasingly affected by the events across the globe & denting the business sentiments/confidence levels. Be it the variation in the Dollar Rupee variation, they do have an impact on the Indian economy too-and the expectations of all the stakeholders in the ecosystem- investors, businessmen, governments-and their ability to afford or even put off consumption.

Indian GDP and manufacturing growth has slowed down.
Elevated inflation levels for a prolonged duration.
High interest rates
And yes, the sudden consciousness of  the pervasion of 'corruption' has its say too. Nearer to Hyderabad, the increased attention for CBI into the nexus of politicians & businessmen ( must admit it isn't polarised to any single party-each one has its own share of skeletons in their cupboards yet to be disclosed !!) has seen drying up of any major expansion plans/new projects.

I see different reactions from different employers trying to get themselves out of this rut :

-Some have resorted to severe cost cutting

*Rightsized their employee strength over the last few quarters.
*Review the ratio of managers & those who execute.
*Stop back filling of positions that have arisen due to attrition
*Increasingly insisting on the employees to serve out the entire duration of 2/3 months -once they put in their papers-as it means better utilisation of trained talent for that stretch-as well as review the impact of the handover
*Change the hiring mix: hire a lot of entry level employees to bring down the cost

-while others have exploring avenues for growth of revenue also

*investing in alliances to leverage on collective strengths
*innovating processes and delivery
*changing customer mix
*moving into new markets
* looking for getting "More out of Less".

All this means -there is an increasing emphasis on the quality of hiring being done.

-Companies no longer resort to hiring 'tresspassers' or even the best among those immediately visible-but are willing to wait for the right person who could be a game changer!

-Cherry picking is the mantra! Companies are willing to pay extra for those 'game changers' who can 'do the extra'.

In such a scenario, it is surprising to see quite a lot of prospective hires rule themselves out-as perhaps they are outbidding themselves :

-some returning Indians expecting an expat salary while wanting a piece of the India action
-some pitching themselves at the salary that their bosses get- without having the ability to deliver as much. I think that's is a story that needs a separate blog post :)!

And all this-when as a recruiter, I am seeing more applicants than ever before..for most positions I am soliciting for.

Would you believe it..I got over a few hundred respondents to a "Centre Director' role that I advertised for...even though the spec was very clear & the client is looking for the proverbial 'needle in the haystack'!!

Cautious Optimism : is it an oxymoron ? Or mere euphemism? I shall be glad to have your views...


2 comments:

GR Reddy - Husys - HR for SME said...

Cautious Growth seems to be the mantra of Industry now. To many changes and too little to play in terms of cost efficiency. Where Hiring is a cost but required as its Oxygen for growth. We don't want to go back whatsoever be the reasons.. Hence, Cautious Optimism prevails.

GR - Husys said...

Cautious Growth seems to be the mantra of Industry now. To many changes and too little to play in terms of cost efficiency. Where Hiring is a cost but required as its Oxygen for growth. We don't want to go back whatsoever be the reasons.. Hence, Cautious Optimism prevails.