Friday, February 22, 2008

Who is hiring in India?

The general feeling I get from fellow professionals from the fraternity is that there has been a slow down in hiring -and one is subjected to many theories. But if one were to do a cursory surfing exercise on the net you see a lot of action likely to happen.
The Business Line has a section exclusively for the topic "Who is hiring" . One can see that hiring plans are across industries- IT, marketing/retailing, banking/financial services, agriculture, airlines, consulting, hotels, pharmaceuticals, real estate & construction, road transport, shipping, textiles, and even Government /PSU's .
Just see a few samples in the last fortnight:
- Computer Science Corporation to double its headcount from 16500 to 33000 in the next 2yrs-thru organic and inorganic growth. There is a mention of CSC hiring only 10% from campuses-so the rest are lateral hires!
-Capgemini hints at expanding headcount from present 17000 to 40000 by 2010. Could look at acquistions to meet growth aspirations.
-British Telecom to hire 6000 for advisory services to enable Indian companies to scale up the value chain by providing professional services to meet all communications strategy, planning, design, infrastructure, networking, security, applications and training needs of a business.
-Deloitte is turning its attention from offshoring to the growing Indian market and expects to grow its strength from 8000 to over 20000 "beyond 2010"!

What does it mean?

-The rules are changing. If earlier companies were chasing numbers, now they are looking for quality. Gone are the days when one joked about hiring tresspassers! Companies have started investing in hiring systems and background check is increasingly becoming a mandatory practice.
-With acquisitions becoming the easier option, there is definitely going to be a lot of due diligence done in the evaluation of a company's human capital. There are rumours that some companies are for sale. We can already see that some MNCs are occasionally laying off 'small numbers' every month, in a bid not to attract too much media attention. Recruiters are aware of the insecure employees- who despite being good performers - are 'sitting ducks' in the industry!
- Earlier this week, I had a project manager of a global Indian services company -who has been abroad in US and UK for the last decade, airing his thoughts. . If earlier the MNC banking giant (client) accepted any software programmer recommended , in the last 2 years the MNC had set its own offshoring centre in India -and discovered that it could attract a better talent for the dollar rate they were paying all the while!! The client has clearly raised the bar!
-Companies are adopting the 'horses for courses' adage. As a part of NPA, The Worldwide Recruiting Network, I have been privy to global recruiters looking for executives with international experience! While returning Indians are in demand, companies are also looking at expats -who have a substantial India experience. For instance, courtesy my Singapore based associate, we now have mandates for professionals of Singapore/Malaysian nationalities -with experience in handling projects in the Indian infrastructure scene. (anyone with over a year's local experience is in great demand!!)
There is something more than meets the eye, right? I look forward to hearing from others who can see things I am missing out...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hiring Hiccups

It is a feeling I have never been able to get grips on!
We have grown up getting adjusted to a lot of power cuts in our city. Looking back, it has been intriguing. Anytime the current went off, there was general despair-whatever we did came to a standstill, and at most times, even set us behind! Almost the first thing we did, however, was quickly go out to the balcony, and look at the neighbourhood. Believe me- if they too did not have power, one could feel an overwhelming sense of relief ! Funnily though, looking back, one really did'nt mind the inconvenience as badly :-)!!

Offer dropouts and power cuts are similar!! In a booming and developing economy, there are lots of companies chasing good talent- candidates have multiple offers. Companies make offers. As recruitment consultants, we do come across a fair amount of our candidates, backing off at the last moment..and there's mayhem. We learn to move on:-)!

In a way, when I saw a pressnote "Rising Job refusals " quoting my associate Gauri Sarin, it was with a sense of dé·jà vu. Just a quick gist of the article:
"The trend of candidates declining new job offers comes even as firms are increasingly becoming flexible in terms of salary structures and fitment. The last two quarters have seen the number of candidates declining offers almost double"

Now back to the power cut.Over time, I have tried to rationalise it. Perhaps it was the comfort of a feeling that there is nothing really wrong in our house. It could be a power outage. Perhaps some transformer has tripped. May be it was the heavy rains, and the local authorities have put off the supply for a shortwhile. Or even a major shutdown. But the general feeling- aha-if it effects a large section of people, you can be sure someone is attending to it..and yes, it is at best a short term transitionary discomfort! Some of the more affluent got invertors. And the rest of us got back to our regular duties, doing other chores that one can do without waiting for the power to come back.

So, what does the HR fraternity do with this hiring hiccup? Do we accept it as life and get along? Do we start having back ups? Can the 'benches' in the IT industry parlance be sustained in this era of subprime crisis and dwindling margins? Or do we unto others as others do unto us? Am I being optimistic in hoping that someone somewhere is attending to the anamoly?

On a personal note though, I think it boils down to decision making and transparency. In a maturing market where the power is slowly shifting to the 'jobseeker', it is essential for us to educate our colleagues that "time" is the most critical aspect. I have nothing against people dropping offers- it is just that, more often than not, the decision is not communicated at an appropriate time to the stakeholders.

Even the decision not to make a decision -is one! Life is all about options! There is never enough resources to arrive at the perfect call. There is a need to bite the bullet. And have the gut to stand by it-but yes, do inform others -well in advance!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Career planning -need for a paradigm shift?

I cant but hope the news item is only speculative!!
Most of the people in my generation would have given their right arm to be part of "HLL' !! The seventies and eighties saw the creme' joining Hindustan Lever as management trainees- and the career paths were legendary. The marketing blue eyed boys, weaved their way from field sales to brand management-after stints in market research & promotion- and created new product launches-some got the plum international assignments...
To see this article in the morning newspaper Hindustan Unilever to slash jobs is really distressing!!
But anyone with their eyes open -saw it coming. Can we call any single "Indian brand" launched from the stable in the last decade? Any memorable ad jingle in the recent past?
The article very aptly chronicles the transition...since the days India liberalised ;
- In the late nineties, HLL (as it was known then) faced an unexpected growth slowdown in its key markets of home and personal care and foods. This resulted in a situation where the company was unable to provide ample growth opportunities for its managers.
- the company decided to focus on 30 brands from its stable of 120 brands accentuated the problem of too many managers and too few sought-after jobs.
- Today, in the new Unilever system, a tighter integration with the parent has meant that the local entity is now seen as an activation centre, which means executing brand plans formulated outside India rather than on setting the more sought-after brand development and innovation agenda. "In several ways, HUL has almost just become a branch office for Unilever” .
The student in me is reminded me of the hey days of the Big Blue IBM, Xerox, and others whose relevance seemed to fade away with the changing needs of the world.
Are there any learnings for us? It is a cliche-that change is the only constant.
I for one, would advocate to anyone starting off their careers, or planning their next change-"it is what you do that matters -and really not so important where you do it"!! You are known by the contribution to the role/company -and so, it is very essential to be aware of the learning/growth opportunities each opportunity provides.
Maybe in the old economy-it was a safe bet to join the biggies-and be assured of the secure job and perhaps the company to chart out a decent career path for you. Today, in the intellectual economy, it is upto us, the individuals, to play a proactive role in choosing the right platform to learn/contribute. The brightest would be better off joining 'todays lesser known Davids'-and doing strategic initiatives than doing 'maintenance' or 'marginal roles' in the larger "Goliaths' where for a major part, you are lucky to be executing some tactics locally planned.
For the HR fraternity, it is more than apparent that we choose the 'horses for courses' approach. In any company, not all jobs are "developmental"in nature. So should not we be mentioning it to the job aspirants accordingly, while hiring? Else, we are only postponing the 'imminent attrition' once the smarter ones realise the lack of challenging roles to stretch!
Some of the larger Indian business groups have a very good system in place- to identify top performers -and put them on a fast track for plum positions in middle management and groom them for 'department head' positions. And then a couple of years later, further finetune the outstanding & consistent ones among them- for 'leadership positions'- and perhaps even kick start new SBU's, and keep in sync with the changing eco-system.
One needs to be re-inventing oneself -to stay ahead of the curve. I shall be glad to hear from all of you..