Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Job market. Layoffs, Firing.. Hakuna Matata

Last night as we were driving back after a get-together, a family friend asked me- "hey, with all these firing and layoff news-how is it affecting you."?
Well, my instant smart answer was " When the jobs boom happened, it didn't affect me so the bust too would not really matter.he he"!
But I could sense from the tone, that others in the car were also wanting a serious response. So, I rallied around saying how as Executive Search firms in the hiring solutions business, our job was to help companies hire the talent they couldn't find themselves. And so while thousands were being hired every month, most companies didn't need to be dependent on external bandwidth. And that the present layoffs-the media goes ga ga daily over, is an overreaction. Companies, in order to grow faster, right size from time to time, and occasionally remove the 'dead wood' to remain cost effective. It is indeed sad that most may not have upgraded their skills or paid too much heed to add value, as their salaries had multiplied over the past decade. Most being replaced in India -are perhaps in the middle management levels, ie 20-30lacs salary level who make way for 2 or 3 junior folks, employed at 6-8lacs, aided with technology..for a higher ROI.
And so, companies will continue to need extraordinary talent or game-changers-and so, even in a recession, Specialist recruiters are more in demand..as they have access or can influence some star performers- who can 'raise the bar' for any employer.
To simply say “Hakuna Matata” or in more colloquial terms, “no worries,” when a problem comes your way is equivalent to saying, “ I am actually very worried but I am too scared/lazy/ambivalent/insert-other-negative-adjective-about-not-being-proactive to do anything about it.”
As I woke up this morning, I reflected-was I being too casual? Or flippant? Hence this rather long post to think aloud.
(As a person who began his corporate career in 1984 in India when the biggest employers were Banks and Govt PSUs and people worked until their retirement. I became a recruiter in 1992, by choice, in hindsight the best time as Liberalisation happened, & have been 'helping others find their calling'. Over time, the internet happened, email was born, job portals became popular, and job hopping as opportunities opened up. y2k. Onsite employment. Dotcom bust. 9/11. Offshoring...life goes on, with globalisation affecting our daily lives increasingly...)
Well, I must admit, I have been proactive as a recruiter, and here are somethings that I have been doing to reinvent the way I work, and add value to my stakeholders
-I have been an early adopter of social media, which has now become the de facto window to my world. It has helped me constantly upgrading my skills, listening to podcasts/webinars of a diverse set of subject matter experts, and learn, share and compare notes with a large network.
- I have invested in myself -by subscribing, being certified, and use the state-of-art tools to keep in sync with the technological solutions to the different disruptions happening all around us. Have personally spent a fortune trying out a bevvy of products that are launched -paid and freemiums- that leverage on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (MI)..and be sensitive to the analytics/trends.
-Networking with several different specialists in Recruitment, be it among the 470+ partners of NPA, the Worldwide Recruiting Network, but also investing in building a platform of affiliates, courtesy BNI, the world's largest Referral Network, that has been at the forefront of changing the way Business is being done globally by being part of "power teams" that help in influencing their customers by improved collaboration.
That has helped me add value to my customers- who seek hiring solutions- be it permanent hire, or temporary staffing, or Interim Management. And of course value added services like recruitment audit for small companies ( with lesser than 100 employees who do not have the luxury of having an internal senior HR professional), improve their hiring efficiency ( eg a no brainer idea like training an interview panel on what to look for..), use social media for hiring to attract the 'not so obvious' prospects, based on the stage of their lifecycle of growth !
You see, my mandates are in the business of finding 'people for jobs'.And yes, as a spin-off, in Outplacement, in the event of companies in the unfortunate situation of having to let go their valued employees.
Consequently, 'finding jobs for people', I have been able to focus on a making a difference to a few -who believe in my insights, by offering them a 'prepaid career coaching service'- namely AskMenon.com
"What? You mean I have to pay you, and not be assured of a job? No other recruiter does that!"
Fortunately, I try to use an analogy which is easier to relate..that of the doctors.
In a world where one can google for any information, and we can easily self-medicate, with access to pharmacies in every lane, we still go to doctors..right? And pay them for their insights for their consulting -with no assurance of a cure?
And so, AskMenon.com has a feature that allows one to schedule a call -a la outpatient consulting. And some offline packages -a la inpatient treatment, depending on the complexity of the need( with varied emphasis on critiquing resume/Linkedin profile and brainstorming!), say
-job search
-career growth
-leadership
Well, the extended networks have given me the luxury of being privy to global opportunities, leveraging the goodwill of over 1300 recruiters216k business owners across 65 countries willing to open up their relationships, -all at arm's length or a click away!
We are in the midst of a decade -a VUCA world- that has been changing faster than ever. Luck is what happens when Preparation Meets Opportunity.
And we need all the help -to keep ourselves sane, productive, and relevant! I am open to learning more from you. Thanks for staying with me on this journey. Do feel free to reach me offline. How can I help YOU?
Psst, The best jobs don't always go to the best. Often it happens to the right person at the right place and the right time. Stay connected!!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Jobs in India-Between Euphoria & Gloom

Rupee at 64. Sensex over 30k. Nifty over 9300. It is all happening.
One cannot but reflect .....but where are the jobs in India?
Information technology companies no longer seem the growth engines of the service sector. E-commerce start-ups are seeing big erosion in valuation and investors are marking them down in their portfolios.
The media is going ga-ga with the slightest of speculation, as surveys portray the sentiments being low. There is a surely a wait & watch approach as most companies are not yet sure how the policies, for eg due to US immigration and Brexit, are likely to pan out.
Contrary to what most people think, the Indian startup ecosystem is robust and kicking. Trak.in does a brilliant job of taking inventory of all the deals that are announced, and it is apparent that while month on month, 2017 is perhaps less impressive than 2016, it is significantly better than before!
Mature companies like HUL and Cognizant are shedding skin, while Amazon and CapGemini are investing in the future needs by skilling/re-skilling! Perhaps it is also that part of the year where companies are more conscious of their hiring needs & try to be relevant to the market demands, apart from staying competitive, and leveraging performance appraisals as rewards to retain the dear. ( And let go, those who have not been able to shape up to the stringent demands.)
The market corrections were due anyway. After we are all in the midst of perhaps the most dynamic of times (VUCA is the new normal?). And considering that companies tinker with their recruitment tactics, it is only a matter of time when the healthy growth of companies will drive the economy for the right reasons.
Personally, I see that while most entry-level jobs have vanished (it had got to a point where, well almost all, trespassers in any campus were being hired), the bulk of hiring is now happening in the 3-8yrs level of experience. Interestingly, with not much decline in the mid-senior & senior level hiring. Of course the companies are now more discerning about whom they hire. In a market where most high performing employees get 10-15% annual hikes, those looking for greener pastures elsewhere are being wooed by double the hike, most employers are now willing to pay a premium for those who deserve.
One thing for sure, as a ringside observer, the good days are coming.
My thoughts are validated by a Deutsche Bank report that predicts that  India is set for a flood of new jobs driven by increased Government spending in the next two years as the next General Elections are due in 2019 & appease voters!
By the way, the Michael Page survey report is a good resource that backs the data with some precise salary information in India across functions like Finance, Legal, HR, Procurement % Supply Chain, and Sales & Marketing across some key industries.
Please feel free to reach out privately to [email protected] to understand what are the skills in demand, as companies are mostly hiring for replacement roles by creating new roles, and for those who possess not just local but also international experience.

And yes, should you want a personalised one-one chat, and compare notes, the best way is to schedule an appointment, courtesy a paid session!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Random reflections on visas, jobs, skills

You pick up any paper, and there is a huge media speculation of job losses, and impending doom due to the visa restrictions.
Not just USA, but we see reports how UK (ref Brexit), Singapore, and this week, even Australia and Singapore seem to have upped the ante'! And passionate counter statements from IT companies in India, how they are not taking away jobs but are actually net creators of more jobs, and how they
- have invested billions of dollars in setting up facilities in the US, directly employ about 100,000 US citizens and support jobs for three times as many Americans
-Over the last four years, job creation by Indian IT companies in the US grew 10% annually compared to a 1.7% cent overall job growth in that country.
According to online job posting data compiled by the US-based The Conference Board, in March this year, computer and mathematical science ads increased from 16,900 to 524,800. The supply/demand rate was 0.26: that is, there are four advertised openings for every job-seeker. In other words, even when companies want to hire locally, there aren’t enough skilled IT professional in the US to take them up.
What one forgets -is post the 2008 subprime crisis, and due to technology, automation and AI etc, a lot of jobs have simply vanished- and a totally new set of job skills are in demand. The World Economic Forum has brought out a series of surveys and reports on the Future of Jobs. And one would be prudent to look ahead, and plan. And be prepared for the changing demands of the VUCA times.
There is a huge notion that host nations are tightening their immigration policies only hint at 'locals first'. Because the locals are displaced because their jobs are poached by foreign companies winning contracts via lower bids and thus replaced by citizens from abroad. On the contrary, host nations acknowledge the need of local skills shortage and hence are willing to pay equal to or higher than locals salary, if no local talent is available. 
What we are seeing happening globally is countries once again restoring the good faith in hiring. As an active member of an international recruitment network with over 470 partners across 41 countries, we are privy to the stringent demands that our clientele for the hot skills, and it is apparent that it is the fittest who will survive!
I think the need of the hour is changing the perception of the Indian knowledge worker and focus be on discerning the demand of the new skills, and strategizing on leveraging the supply of the best & brightest on short term without the labour bondage & no wage discrimination.  After all, in a world where technology and finance capitals are becoming level playing ground, it is the quality of the human capital that is going to differentiate between the winners and the rest.
In this hype, one gets a feeling that nations & policy makers are in a time warp. For if one were to simply look at the last decade- there have been so many disruptions that have happened -the world has changed!
And even in the tech world, and internet specifically, the GAFA (Google Apple Facebook Amazon) have been given a big run by the NATU (Netflix, Airbnb, Tesla Uber) innovations. All businesses that have grown despite regulation or bureaucracy!
So why all the hue and cry for visas & curbs?
We might just be better off re-thinking about the concepts of work, jobs and leisure? Time to take charge of one's own life :)!?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

10th anniversary of Recruiting in India - Revisiting a video produced by Jim Stroud

It is exactly 10years to the date that I wrote a blog post after Jim Stroud had featured me on his Recruiting podcast!

Recruiting in India- Jim Stroud & Achyut Menon . It is uncanny that it was just last Sunday, that I discovered the video after 5 years I had saved it 'privately' on Youtube..and had been trying all kind of boolean searches to unearth it from the internet!!

It was courtesy an introduction by my blogging guru Gautam Ghosh  , as Jim visited Hyderabad, and wanted to kill time -and so we had a free wheeling discussion, to compare notes about everything under the sun-as we recorded a 20 minute video-a first one for both of us.

Well this is what I felt in March 2007

In hindsight, I came back from the meeting -almost like a kid returning from a magic show-excited to implement all that I have learnt, and unearth with ease, a dot net project manager here, a C++ guru there, a VLSI design engineer from the depths of a conference, etc..and have since spent a few hours searching!! Well, searching is a euphemistic expression, for I am yet to see the fraction of the results that seem to emerge when Jim was weaving thru the internet :-)!!

I still feel the same with Jim Stroud as he has moved on to become one of the most influential sourcers on the planet, constantly evangelising the best practices-and predicting a more magical world ahead of us.

In hindsight, as Thomas Friedman educated us, the world changed forever in 2007. Am I glad I have been able to reinvent myself, just to stay relevant??

I have since become a hiring consultant, helping companies find talent they cannot find themselves, as we are in the midst of the most happening decade in the history! From a person specialising in hiring returning Indians, I have expanded my network-(yes, I did join NPAWorldwide in 2007!!) -and now have over 470 partners across 41 countries helping our respective network find the right local talent globally!

In world that is inundated with information, next month, I would have completed 5yrs, honing my networking skills with the BNI, the world's largest referral network, with an extended trusted reach of  over 210,000 members across 65 countries, helping create a better impact to more lives, changing the way the world does business!

Personally, I have also embarked on a consulting gig AskMenon, to help give customised advisory to small clients and individuals a ringside view of the changing expectations of careers.

Are we prepared enough-is anybodys guess. With global events like Brexit, Oil crash, and changing attitudes to migration of talent, most countries are becoming 'anti-globalisation'?

I for one, think while technology and finance are level playing grounds for all -the quality of the human capital is going to make the difference between the winners and the rest.

What are your thoughts ? Do feel free to share your impressions, observations, and how do we equip ourselves for #futureofwork


PS Jim also did a cartoon on the Indian software professionals penchant for cricket!! Did you know IPL too happened only in 2008?? Probably some of us were born a couple of decades too early to make a career in cricket??
cartoon for me -based on his knowledge of th

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Learn to Earn -Wealth Talk

"Discipline decides Destiny". Unquote.
Last evening, I was fortunate to attend an Investment Education Seminar. About 200 of us in the room, were enthralled by some invaluable insights on Wealth Creation. The three speakers sensitised us to several home truths, any demystified myths that have been handed over through generations, that need review in the present context.
Some of the takeaways I had-
-Investments ought to be measured not merely by the 'interest' rate but by keeping an eye on the returns (that beats inflation and taxation).
-Wealth creation is distinct from financial planning, cash management and (goal based) investments, as often one is prone to be confused.
-And yes, it is best left to professionals who are in the best position to advise you based on the specific individual needs/ability, be it risk, returns on a short term or for a long term. Every year, there are several new products being launched that cater to different asset classes.
Several examples were shared. It didn't matter how little you earned -but it did matter how early one started. And how beneficial some instruments are, comparatively to others, helpful to stretch the 'delta' earning. There is indeed an opportunity cost-that is underlying in any investment decision, which often as individuals we get numbed to.
But what dawned on me- was that how most do not consider Careers as an essential option for wealth creation! It is just as much as a financial asset for most professionals, and while there are "wealth managers" or "private bankers" to help manage one's portfolio of investments, we do not come across as many "Career managers"!
More so, in the VUCA times that we are, where business models get obsolete overnight, large business groups become extinct, and yes, a large number of Fortune 100 companies are 'new age' businesses-less than 15yrs of existence, that perhaps are part of an ecosystem, where valuation and M&As drive business decisions.
The younger generation is more sensitive to 'work-life' balance, participate in more 'marathons' than perhaps the Baby Boomer generation. And I am sure as lifetime employment is passe, the onus of managing one's career is now very much in each individuals responsibility. There is room for more innovation in planning & managing one's career.
Job tenures are shorter. Skills in demand change fast. Salaries are no longer linear with the number of years of experience. Layoffs are increasingly common as one is likely to have over a dozen jobs in a lifetime.
Yes, we are in more control of our career, compared to most other financial assets we invest in. Seriously. Are we? Whose life is it anyway?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Candidate shortage to continue

#NPAWorldwide Global Placement update : Candidate shortage to continue!
Early signs are that hiring will remain solid in 2017. With the candidate shortage expected to continue for a number of years, recruiters can expect that salaries will grow. Candidates will entertain multiple offers. Recruiters will become more valuable as employers cannot find the right talent for their most critical roles.
  • Salaries below US $40,000 annually dropped by more than 60%. This mirrors what we are seeing and hearing from others as the talent pool continues to shrink.
  • At the same time, we experienced 125% growth in salaries between US $60,000 – $70,000 per year.
  • There was modest growth for salaries at the next two segments, $70K – $80K and $80K-$90K, and then another huge shift (125% increase) in salaries between $90K – $100K per year.
Any bells ringing? Wish to know more about global opportunities? Feel free to reach out on [email protected], or schedule a personal call with me. There is a possibility that a client overseas is looking for someone like YOU!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Learning how to pay it forward

I am inspired by a post I read that teaches people a great lesson about reaching out and making someone else’s day.
And when I was invited to share my experiences, courtesy Jobsforher mission, to reverse India's female brain drain and bring women BACK TO WORK, I was tempted to check with those in my network to chip in with some opinions related to
- the challenges that are most likely to come up, when a woman wishes to return to a career, after a break?
-and what needs to be done, to make the transition smooth?
Over the past couple of decades, I have been fortunate to have a ringside view of the 'changing expectations' from both sides..the hiring manager and the job aspirants- and must confess I am yet to figure out who is more anxious!
Amongst the crowdsourced thoughts I could collate, three were outstanding.
Radhika had a candid observation:"bias is a habit... it is an underlying belief. the only thing that stands between women successfully returning to a career is Bias! (The way forward)  has to be a top-down approach from the board. Senior women ( in age and position) bring to table a wealth of experience and wisdom, they are great team players and committed - and need a dedicated resource to run this initiative as a project."
Dr Susanta Misra shared his insights with a dedicated blog post, that the 'in-between career status' highlighted some of the advantages, and a checklist of 10 points..on what to do, and a handful of 'don'ts'. A #mustread for all of us whose career is a permanent beta.
Geetha, a voluntary Jobsforher ambassador, had a bunch of pointed questions that are often on the top of the mind for most aspirants, that she often is subject to.
1. How do I land a job - with such a long/short career gap?
2. Do I need to get trained in something? If yes, what and from where?
3. My gap seems to be projected more than my experience! How do I convince?
4. They say I am over experienced for a lower profile and prefer the ones without gaps for the one's I am perfectly eligible otherwise! How do I tackle this?
5. Does a change in CV land me the job I am looking for?
6. Are there options for volunteering? Do they pay? Should I take it up while I search for the right job?
7. Do internships (Paid / Unpaid) help? If they do, how?
8. Can I get an option to work from home? It gets tricky when they add, in the same field I have been working! 
9. Should I accept an offer where I have to join as a junior / get a lesser pay?
10. I have good experience in one field which does not offer the flexibility or want me to travel extensively for example. Can I look for a change of career instead of compromising on my priorities? 
11. Flexibility is a must. But does it come without compromising on the pay or role?
12. Should I take up freelancing? But will it help me in a career that I ultimately want to land?
It helps to understand that these aren't entirely gender-related too. More things have changed in the last 10 yrs..and faster than any 10yr period. Careers ladders are passe'. It resembles a Lattice now-with distributed work locations, virtual colleagues and different time zones.
Well, Seth Godin says "We're not pawns if we choose not to be."
I know I do not have the right answers. Do you
PS. Please share your thoughts, experiences and ideas on how we can make a better tomorrow!