The road not taken

Sunday, May 28, 2017


WYSIWYG, right? Let's take a handful of media tidbits we see just in the last 48hrs.

'Software firms in India have good hiring plans, jobs meltdown is a media myth'

'Layoffs are good for IT industry in the long term’

In contrast, we also have been advised some mantras that could help resolve the situation, if only the HR were to reimagine in a new world, and the onus could be that of an organisation ( see how AT&T chooses to respond), or by the nation. (Singapore's SkillFuture program for job seekers, trainers and employers).
As a person who has been a ringside observer -of the demand and supply side for the last three decades, I would like to attribute some of the above staffing problems are the result of hiring the wrong people, to begin with. 
I endorse the statement made by Hayes Drumwright in a recent presentation. "Most often, the people closest to the problem know how to solve it. And it is career limiting for them to tell you."
It is a catch 22 situation for a recruiter!
Let me explain taking a couple of pointers that need to be reflected on-especially the current practices that prevail in the Indian IT industry:
1) The 'typical' annual increment for the best performers is about 12-15% ( and of course subject to the company/division performance/market conditions). And if one were to job hop, the company hiring would entice one by paying a 25-30% hike. Are we not penalising good performers, and encouraging them to look for greener pastures elsewhere?
Ironically, instead, companies try to shut the door by enforcing a notice period of 2-3 months that the employee has to service before joining the new employer. In reality, the incumbent now has all the free time to shop around with new suitors, (for a better hike), before even the present employer can conjure up a juicy counter offer!
2) Now over to the demand side. To replace the deserting employee, the hiring manager is in a tearing hurry to get the new person boarded asap, and so doesn't have the luxury of identifying, wooing and attracting a 'passive job seeker'-and so there is a huge demand for those immediately available ( read, hmm..unemployed?), or those 'serving out notice period', thereby encouraging mercenary attitudes -and compromising competency!
Perhaps the learning from this could be - Hire slow. Fire Fast?
For that, there is a need for more emphasis on the quality of hire. It is perhaps easy to keep track of metrics like time to hire, cost per hire, and turnaround times..( the comfort zone of most Talent Acquisition professionals). How about reckoning the opportunity cost of hire? Facebook perhaps lost $3Billion in not making Brian Acton a hire!!
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that getting to the truth of matters is hard, and often incredibly uncomfortable.
Look no further than the author who was known for 'fantasies'-there could be some thoughts for us adults to reflect too.
"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair "- CS Lewis

Job market. Layoffs, Firing..? Hakuna Matata!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Credit : The LionKing 1994

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.
And so, see it really doesn't matter. What, me worry?
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!!

Jobs in India-Between Euphoria & Gloom

Friday, May 5, 2017

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.

You may schedule a personalised one-one counselling session, albeit paid, and benefit!