Business Today

Big game hunting

Manasi Mithel        Print Edition: Aug 19, 2012

Despite just five years of experience behind him at career portal Naukri.com, software architect Anurag Godika got two job offers simultaneously. The first was from a Delhi-based start-up he will not name, which wanted him as Director of Engineering. The other was from travel portal Expedia.co.in which he accepted, getting a 40 per cent salary hike in the bargain. "Both offered me similar salaries, but I felt I could make a bigger difference at Expedia," he says.

Anand K, who began working only 18 months ago, also got a 40 per cent raise when he recently quit footwear portal BeStylish.com to join AllSchoolStuff.com - which sells every kind of school-related product online - as an Assistant Manager. Harsh Rawat, who also joined AllSchoolStuff. com as Category Manager, quitting online retail store HomeShop 18, got a 35 per cent hike. "I got the offer in February and decided to shift," he says.

Talent poaching is a common enough phenomenon across the globe, especially in sunrise sectors, but in India's fledgling ecommerce industry it has acquired pandemic proportions. There is limited talent available - more so, of the tried and tested kind - and the plethora of ecommerce companies that have mushroomed all want as much of it as they can get. "Companies want to hire from competitors," says Ashutosh Khanna, Director, WalkWater Talent Advisors, a Bangalore-based recruitment firm which draws 25 to 30 per cent of its revenues from its ecommerce clients. "They all draw from a limited pool of people who have a background of dealing with the B2C (business-to-consumer) model."

Prateek Srivastava, Manager, Technology Practice, Elixir Consulting, a recruitment solutions provider, feels the churning is due to the sector's rapid growth in this country. "In India, ecommerce is on an upswing, witnessing 40 to 45 per cent growth while the world over it is growing at just five to seven per cent annually," he says.

FROM THE MAG: How companies are finding new ways to snap up talent

There are not enough qualified people available. "The supply and demand right now is unequal," says Purva Misra, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, MakeMyTrip.com. Naturally those with the right expertise are making hay. Every job change means much more money for the employee (see Sweet Temptation) and the additional income does not wholly reflect in his monthly salary cheque. "Shifting jobs gives a person the opportunity to create wealth through stocks options, retention bonuses and at times part-ownership too," Srivastava adds.

Many feel this is a temporary phenomenon which will die out in due course. "There is great demand. A lot of venture capital is also flowing into the sector. So poaching is bound to happen," says Peyush Bansal, Founder and CEO, LensKart.com, which sells eyewear online.

He, however, also points to a pitfall of hiring indiscriminately. "This way we end up hiring a great deal of unnecessary talent." Alongside unnecessary talent, is talent that does not measure up. It is difficult to estimate how much a company bleeds when a hire fails to adequately perform the function he has been hired for, but Ronesh Puri, Managing Director, Executive Access, a recruitment firm, puts the loss at 26 times the candidate's compensation bracket.

But already some ecommerce companies are setting themselves limits. LensKart, for instance, has strict rules against poaching. Candidates are employed only if they have not changed jobs frequently in the recent past, and are not offered more than a 15 to 20 per cent hike over their existing salary.

Quote

In India, ecommerce is witnessing 40 to 45 per cent growth, while the world over it is growing at just five to seven per cent annually"

Prateek Srivastava

Manager

On Elixir Consulting
LensKart employees get a cash incentive of Rs 10,000 for internal referrals that fill vacancies - but only if the person chosen stays with the company for at least three months. Again, HealthKart.com will never make outrageous offers to lure people away from other firms, no matter how qualified or talented they are. "We have a band beyond which we do not pay a candidate," says Prashant Tandon, its Cofounder and CEO. It offers a 20 per cent hike to new hires.

Others have taken steps to guard their own flock. Snapdeal.com, for instance, has company policies which discourage employees who have resigned from joining another ecommerce company for a period of six months to two years after leaving. MakeMyTrip has verbal and written agreements against poaching with 30 other organisations.

Venture capital firms are also playing a key role in curbing poaching and excessive job-hopping. Since most ecommerce outfits are VC funded, the latter can tighten the screws. "They ensure that there is no poaching from one another at least from among the companies each one is funding," says MakeMyTrip's Misra. She is not unduly worried, however, about the frequent comings and goings. "In times to come the talent pool will expand," she says.

"Education will get more Internet and ecommerce oriented, and there will also be infusion of talent from outside the country." But till that happens companies will fret, while job hoppers have a field day.

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