This is one piece of information you could be waiting for a long time now: At long last, the job market in India is showing signs of recovery.
According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released earlier this fortnight, Indian companies are expected have a net employment outlook of 39% in the first quarter of 2010.
According to the survey, done in the last month of every quarter, India’s figures are the highest among the 35 countries listed. The survey, which covered 71,000 employers globally, says Indian companies are the most optimistic in the world.
A total of 5,109 Indian companies were surveyed for the study and 38% said they would hire more people in the next few months. Only 2% of the respondents projected a decrease in hiring in the same period. Industry watchers credit the brisk hiring outlook to the buoyant Indian economy that is expected to grow at 7% in 2009-10, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE).
The Manpower report estimates the highest increase in hiring to happen in the services sector where a 47% headcount increase is expected. “New telecom operators, too, will hire significantly as they roll out their networks, in addition to other growth sectors such as banking, insurance and financial services as well as the IT (information technology),” says Ajit Isaac, chief executive officer, Ikya Human Capital Solutions, a Bangalore-based HR consultancy firm.
In spite of this buoyant news, human resource consultants are already pointing to a subtle shift in hiring patterns compared with the boom years (2007). “Companies are now cautious as they are coming off a period of depressed growth. They are looking for the right person for the right job,” says Sarjeev Sethi, founder-director, People Connect, a New Delhi-based executive search firm.
Experts say it is all about fine-tuning your approach to job search in a market which is only going to get more competitive. “Plus, this is the time to cultivate attributes such as perseverance, hard work and staying current in your area of interest through training or internships. These qualities will raise your employability quotient,” says Hema Ravichandar, strategic human resources (HR) adviser.
Let’s take a look at a few things to keep in mind to give you that extra edge among the vast pool of job seekers.
Salary vs job satisfaction
A word of caution from experts: The vacancies when they come up need not necessarily be the most lucrative ones. “If you are in the market, focus on looking for jobs in your area of interest (not higher remuneration alone),” says Ravichandar.
Experts caution against a job change simply for the sake of a salary hike. “Do not ask for a 30% hike for every change in job,” says Isaac. A typical increase in compensation for new hires in the coming months is expected to be in the range of 15-25% of existing salary. “Only in exceptional cases where a person is hired for specific skill set, the increase can be between 35-40%,” says Sethi.
More power to your resume
Most companies have stringent referral checks, particularly in an environment where the pool includes those who have lost jobs to downsizing. Recruiters will distinguish between those who lost a job due to downsizing in the organization — which is not viewed as a negative as they accept downsizing as a natural part of a recession—and those on account of non-performance. A gap in the CV on the grounds of non-performance is worrisome. “When the economy is coming off a downturn, employers are aware that candidates might have gaps in their resume. This in itself is not a disincentive, but unexplained gaps are a worry,” says Sudeesh Venkatesh, head HR, Tesco HSC, a Bangalore-based ITeS firm.
Figures in percentage indicate the net employment outlook in these sectors. Source: Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Q1, 2010
It is prudent to be completely transparent in drafting a resume. “Erroneous details will be picked up sooner rather than later, damaging your career irrevocably,” says Ravichandar.
If you intend to be a job seeker in the next few months, get a professional to update your CV. Recruiters are looking for candidates who have skill sets that set them apart. All experts say it is important for the CV to reflect either projects done, roles played, or even responsibilities shouldered to differentiate a potential candidate in the talent pool. “Recruiters are also looking for lateral hires who can come in and start delivering right away. There is no time to teach or grapple in a new role,” says Sethi. The bottom line: Structure your CV in such a way that all your capabilities are immediately evident.
Establish your digital footprint
In a situation where employers have a problem of plenty, many look for middle and senior management-level candidates on online business networking portals. “Candidates on job portals are active job seekers. But, increasingly, employers looking to attract talent, tend to look for them on business networking portals,” says Venkatesh. In the coming quarters, he expects a significant increase in the number of lateral hires through this medium.
For instance, Bangalore-based business networking portal Toostep.com has recorded a surge in hiring activity from information technology, biotechnology and banking sectors. “People with about 10 years of work experience use our site as a business networking tool, which also opens up new job opportunities,” says Manav Gupta, its co-founder. Toostep.com has varied platforms for recruitment firms and it helps professionals from specific industries network both cross industry and also on dedicated sites for their industry.
As more professional networking moves online, serious candidates on the lookout for new opportunities must consciously be active on these sites, not just register on these and forget about it.
Do your homework
The impression you make during a job interview goes a long way in influencing your interviewer’s mind. That is why, experts say, it is essential when you go for an interaction, you should have done your homework. “As employers become cautious in judging new hires, it is important to create the right impression by being well-informed about the company and its area of operations,” says Sethi.
Being up to date with happenings within the industry sector of your choice will make you more relevant to a prospective employer. “The importance of being well-networked both online and offline is only set to increase in the months ahead,” says Gupta. Informal networks that clue you into new developments, he says, are an important aspect of the preparation for a new job search.
It is all about enhancing your marketability in an environment that only promises to be more cutting-edge in the months to come.
Manpower Inc, the Milwaukee-based HR consulting firm, releases ‘Global Employment Outlook Survey’ every quarter with country-specific studies that includes India. The study benchmark, called the net employment outlook (NEO), captures the percentage of companies anticipating total employment to go up against those who expect it to decline.
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