A good job of hiring

The long winter of retrenchment and pay cuts might be drawing to a close.

Priya Kapoor        Print Edition: September 2009

There will always be demand for skilled people,” says Padma R. Ravichandar, managing director of Mercer India, a global HR consultancy, when asked if the bleak economic scenario would lead to a tougher job market. This is, no doubt, good news. Better still, the job market itself might be easing a bit. Retrenchments, salary cuts and hiring freezes might not vanish overnight, but there are definite signs of improvement.

No, this is not undue optimism; job indices and surveys are also pointing to the fact. The Naukri.com job index moved up 8.1% in June, compared with -1.33% in May. Similarly, the TeamLease net employment index for the quarter ended September stands at 46 points—up 22 points from the previous quarter.

How To Stay Relevant In The Current Job Market
Learn to adapt: You may be assigned new roles according to the changing dynamics; adapt to change.
Work harder: The pressure to perform is definitely much higher. Be willing to take on more responsibilities.
Opportunity: A lay-off is an opportunity to get specialised and sharper skills.
Don’t burn your bridges: If you are a hard worker, the firm that fired you may consider hiring you once the business improves.
Be realistic: Aggressive compensation benefits have certainly come down.

Sunil Goel, professional leader, GlobalHunt India, a Delhi-based executive search firm, says that during the downturn, “most organisations were apprehensive and didn’t hire. However, in the past two-three months, we have been seeing green shoots.” Concurs Kris Lakshmikanth, founder CEO & managing director, Head Hunters India: “The period from October 2008 to June 2009 was particularly bleak for the job market, but since July there has been an improvement.”

It might be too soon to classify it as a revival, but it’s definitely a move away from the doom and gloom of a couple of months ago. Surbhi Mathur-Gandhi, general manager, TeamLease, says, “We have seen a significant jump in hiring in the IT, telecom, pharma and healthcare sectors. Also, the banking and financial services sectors, which have borne the brunt of the slump for the past two years, are moving into positive territory. We expect this trend to become consistent towards the end of the year.”

Goel adds that sectors such as real estate, retail and consumer durables are also hiring, largely because “some deferred projects are being executed now and also because of new reforms and easing of government policies”. Infrastructure, BPO and education are other sectors seeing a renewed hiring interest. According to the Labour Bureau’s quarterly report on employment trends, non-export units in the manufacturing and services sectors added some 35,000 workers to their payrolls in the April-June quarter.

Industry experts say hiring is taking place across levels, but insiders like Mathur-Gandhi add that while hiring at junior levels won’t stop, it will be lower than the earlier 40-60% of the total hiring.

What does this mean in terms of compensation? According to experts, pay is linked to a candidate’s niche skills and experience. Even better, experts anticipate healthy hikes in the next appraisal cycle. “This year, some companies deferred their appraisal cycle from March-April to July-September. They may consider the half-yearly growth in their business while doling out increments. It will still take some time for companies to move out of the red completely. However, there will definitely be good appraisals,” says Mathur-Gandhi.

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