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Rebound too early?

The jobs are back. Will hiring gain momentum in 2010?

Saumya Bhattacharya | Print Edition: January 10, 2010

In the first two weeks of December 2009, Korn/Ferry International had 10 mandates to fill CEO and VP level positions in industrial sectors across India. In the preceding six months, this number was a measly two. "We are seeing consistently positive signs in several sectors," says Deepak Gupta, Country Head and Managing Director, Korn/Ferry International.

A year ago, the job market in India, like in the rest of the world, sank as economies went into a tailspin. Hiring came to a grinding halt across sectors in the first two quarters of the 2009 calendar year as economic uncertainty gripped India Inc. By the third quarter, though, companies had started looking at acquiring talent selectively as cautious optimism returned. At the close of the year, the expression to hire is translating into real numbers.

Isn't this enthusiasm a bit too early in the day, though? Says Pratik Kumar, Executive Vice President, HR, Wipro: "Based on all indications, jobs seem to be back. You can clearly see more activity happening compared to a quarter or two ago." Though he has no numbers to share, Wipro has plans to hire, visit campuses, and bring experienced hands on board. "It would be different, had you asked me this question six months ago," he says.

At the moment, the growth in hiring is being driven by industrial sectors. Life sciences and healthcare, too, have gained momentum and telecom has been doing good. Technology is also bouncing back. However, retail and financial services are yet to show any sign of uptick. According to Gautam Chainani, Chief People Officer, Aditya Birla Financial Services Group, sustainable job creation in banking and financial services is still six months away. "The pick-up will happen first in sub-sectors—retail broking and commodity firms, wealth management and privilege banking, and insurance," he forecasts.

Sure, hiring is poised to gain momentum, but has India Inc. recovered sufficiently to sustain the job creation? HR experts such as N.S. Rajan, Partner and Head, Human Capital, Ernst and Young, point out that while it might take some time for the economy to revive itself to its heydays, job creation would necessarily be an outcome of holding back during recessionary periods.

"Smarter organisations would have equipped themselves by tightening their belts, and on the people front, they would have reworked their organisation structure to enhance performance-oriented systems," he says. Such companies are now in a position to create new jobs to seize opportunities that beckon.

WATCH OUT FOR IN 2010

  • An overall salary growth of 5 to 7 per cent.
  • Telecom, healthcare and consumer goods expected to see 9 to 15 per cent increase.
  • Overall increase to range from 3 to 9 per cent in other sectors.
  • Increased focus on performancelinked rewards.

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