Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reflections of the NPA -International Partners Panel

It was a privilege for me to be part of an international panel of recruiters- last week at Sydney at the NPA Asia Pac conference-which had about 130 delegates. Amidst a large Aussie audience, we were a handful -representing Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and India- trying to articulate how the job markets in each of the regions differed and operated.

It was very interesting to note the subtle differences ;

-The professional fees in Japan was the highest @25% of the base pay of the selected employee, while Australia had an average of about 20%. The Asians were more conservative and the rates across Hongkong, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand-hovered at various shades between 15-20% -while India, for reasons I had stated in an earlier blog-was a trifle lower. It was very important for a fraternity that believes in transparency, integrity, and collaboration while making split referrals- to set expectations for their respective partners!

-My own theory is that the above has a bearing on the life cycle of the economy that the nation is going thru. In a more mature economy-where most of the hiring happens as a part of replacement - either a retirement or an employee leaving -the professional fees are higher. In a growing country like India-a lot of hiring happens as turnkey assignments-and obviously with the large numbers, there is an element of cost control-and relatively lower fees!

- Various notes were exchanged in terms of the relative demands of professionals -and the potential traffic or mobility one could expect- by export of manpower from the lesser developed nations!

I was fortunate, that when it came to portray India, I could resort to some hard facts-which were irrefutable-and perhaps may help change, in future, quite a few perceptions of the apparently poor image of Indian talent down under.

-Over the years- the best of Indian talent has migrated to the West, and so it was a bit of an eye opener for most-when the Indian software or technical prowess was evident in the high percentage of Indian techies in NASA, Microsoft, Intel-as well as the large number of Indian start ups in the silicon valley.

-But as I reflect the reactions over the rest of the conference, what caught most people's attention was the sheer population figures of India- which at 1.4 billion-was 70 times the Australian population- or the fact that every year, Indian population grew by one Australia!! Or
the fact that President Bush blames Indian Middle class -was a market that was about 17 times Australia- and the reason for a large number of Fortune 500 firms were showing interest in the consumption!!
-But I guess there could be a larger looming number of Baby boomers retiring over the next 10yrs-that could create a vacuum of over a large number of middle and senior managers across the world- while the Asian population has a large potential for filling in international positions -in challenging times.
Yes, there is going to be a large scale global migration of talent-and especially so for all those with international experience- and multinational exposure!! It is time that HR managers and recruiters started honing their skills to attract and retain topnotch talent-from across geographies!! Are we all ready?

Stop press: I notice that as of today -this blog has been visited One hundred thousand times during the last 20 months of its existence!! I must thank Gautam Ghosh for helping me on this journey-and a whole lot of well wishers-who both online and offline, have been my inspiration as I embarked on this exercise. As I look back, it has helped me personally and professionally, as it has improved my reading -kept me abreast !!

The Web 2.0 works!! Blogging and the linked in profile- has significantly contributed to an increasing readership, better quality of candidates seeking more inputs from me!!Yes, the google-ability has also attracted interest of international recruiters and prospective clients-and I suspect- it has also an interesting by product- increased professional fees and some exclusive retained search assignments in the last 8-9 months.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hiring in India..the challenges and opportunities

I am excited to be attending my second conference at NPA conference ( Asia Pac region)in Sydney. Following soon after my last month's Nashville experience, I am looking forward to renewing ties with some of the Asian partners whom I met then-while also making moves to progress on some of the action plans we had embarked on.

In the recent past, there has been a lot of 'traffic' between the Asia Pac regions- with quite a few countries emerging as front runners in attracting talent, and I am hoping to learn from my partners -understand the major trends in some of these markets-and see how best we can adapt to the changes happening.

I am also delighted to be part of the spotlight-for a brief while!! I shall be sharing the dais with 4 other international partners-from among Philippines, Korea, Hongkong, as we share our experiences in hiring in our respective countries- to a bunch of associates from Australia and New Zealand.

Over the last few days, I have been trying to speak to as many experts as possible- HR Heads of MNCs -who have been hiring globally-and especially so in the Asia Pac, get a feel of what they think are the challenges specific to India. Here are some of the insights!!

- India has been on a high growth model-and so the execution models are different!! The volumes of hiring, and the modus operandi is an unique 'source mix' relevant to India.

  • entry level almost accounts for 10-40% of the hiring in most industries. While campus hiring is in bulk, the walk-in are novel way to ramp up numbers over the weekends. I recall a company in Mumbai even resorting to 'a mobile bus carrying interview panel' to reach potential candidates at their bus stop :-)!!
  • while the contingency hiring model has increased over the past few years, they still aren't as popular in India. There is a sense of lesser respect for 'contractual' employees as of now, and with a large number of MNC employers in the fray, most aspirants would prefer a 'permanent ' hire on most days!
  • Experienced hiring is a mechanism where most corporates are focused on-to keep the cost of hiring in control. Most companies in India have a strong 'staffing department' -and so, most companies hire about 60 to 70 % of their hires -directly or thru internal referrals. ie only 30-40% of hires happen thru recruitment firms (abroad the figure could go up to 60%!)
  • Leadership hiring is perhaps an area of concern for most Indian corporates- especially as they seem to be looking for organic and inorganic growth at rates historically unmatched-as there isn’t enough pipeline of senior management talent available within the company. Here the demand has been primarily for persons of international experience- like returning Indians and expats. And this sector is typically an area where executive search consultants have had a significance role to play with.
  • Yes- the percentage of offer to joinee ratio seen in India presently..is very unique with most good candidates walking around with multiple offers –and being wooed at different stages by competition –and even counter offers by present employers as part of exit interviews!!The areas where things could change in future?

-With the increased war for talent, will the Indian hiring stop looking at a proven track record/penchant for domain expertise, and start hiring professionals with cross competencies? Some one who can transplant competencies across industries?
- With the plethora of colleges churning out generations of engineers –who are not as employable as the industry wants, are we going to see more finishing schools? There is a big chunk of freshers who aren’t ready to be absorbed- but with a short term ‘polish’ can perhaps be converted into ‘Just in time inventory’?
-Companies would have to implement ‘talent management systems’ and use technology to manage not just resumes –as of now, but also candidates, offer management, and on board management.
Well, as they say, when the going gets tough..the tough get going! Exciting times are in store for recruiters-as they gear up and adapt new skills to add value to their stakeholders.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Senior Management hiring-not just executive courtship!

I have always found Alok Mittal's posts very insightful for all aspiring entrepreneurs and businessmen. In a rejoinder post recruiting tips to the Business Week's refresher of hiring interviewing to win, he has triggered off a series of comments by adding a few pointers for 'start ups'

Both the articles are a must read!(I am refraining from editting or summarising from either of the articles-as every word is very critical -and both the writers have articulated the wooing process!)

As a recruiter, I have the following comments

-At different life stages of a company's growth-different personalities are needed.
In the initial stages, one needs a person to think systems-amidst chaos and ambiguity. Not to mention the lack of adequate resources. It takes a different person to execute and scale up. So, hiring the best would mean a euphemism at best. One of my mandates from an American midsized company wanted an 'immigrant with fire-in-the-belly ' apart from all the desirable's of international business management experience-as the second generation were 'born with a silver spoon' and just didn't have the extra drive to take the company to the next level!!

-Look beyond the halo! Start ups need people with complimentary skills-as one cannot have the luxury of 'not doing it right every time'. People from diverse backgrounds -who can defer gratification-are tougher to find and so it is essential to look at the personal value of add of the prospect- In one case, one of my clients preferred a candidate-who was the middle child among the three children his parents had had-as this breed is more likely to be compatible in all situations!!
-It is all about chemistry! While it is essential to get 'top performers' on the team- it takes a different culture to make them all work out of their skin each time. I can't resist alluding to the IPL cricket carnival happening right now-and most followers of the game would not have imagined Shane Warne led Rajasthan Royals to be heading the table at any time-and would have been shocked to admit the star studded Deccan Chargers and Royal Challenge teams from Hyderabad and Bangalore!

And lastly-but not the least- the onboarding process is just as critical for the new hire. Even in this age -where employees have a choice, most employers seem to think that once a candidate has accepted an offer-there is no need to woo him/her!! We constantly hear of lot of stories of new entrants -having to wait for getting the cubicle or laptop or visiting cards- for a few days -despite the HR team and the hiring manager being conscious of the date of joining for weeks :-)!
Don't we all want new entrants to 'hit the ground while running' ...?? Can we pre-empt attrition even as we fine tune our hiring processes??