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IT recruitment sector: strategies for tough times

Views 1 Views    Comments 0 Comments    Share Share    Posted 30-07-2009  
The IT recruitment sector in India, which has only treaded the growth path for the last many years, has had to suddenly deal with the many challenges of reduced hiring by their client organizations. With business hitting an all-time low, the recruitment companies have had to formulate strategies of their own to sustain themselves during these tough times. With the market gradually opening up, the industry can look back on these times as a phase of great learning, which is necessary to evolve and mature.

Recruitment companies whose clientele have been focused mostly in the US and Europe have had the most difficult time. Many small recruitment firms have had to shut shop while the larger players have to resort to severe cost-cutting measures, including rationalization of manpower, to survive the times. With the days of mass hiring over, Kris Lakshmikanth, Managing Director, The Head Hunters India, disclosed his strategy, “We have moved into recruitment for leadership/niche positions for which there is still demand. Further, we have developed new clients to take the slack from existing clients. As a result, our revenues from the IT vertical have been flat/marginally positive compared to the previous year.” This apart, the company is also looking at other geographies for specialist recruitments, for instance China, Japan, the Far East and Europe.

Other organizations like HR Anexi have become cautious about their spendings—from telephone bills to travel expenses. “However, we made amends and did not cut it off completely. We believe that no matter what the situation is, employee satisfaction should never be compromised,” stated Ashish Arora, Managing Director, HR Anexi. At e2e People Practices, the key strategy was exploiting every opportunity to re-shape the competition and engaging every employee in the process. “All the employees were a part of the quest to keep the business healthy in hard times,” said Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, Director, e2e People Practices.

Interesting trends : The phenomenal growth witnessed in the last five years had brought about a lot practices in the recruitment scenario which needed to be corrected, and the changes have done exactly that. Attrition levels have slowed down and the methodology of benching candidates is being questioned. “Both of these are very positive—it shows a continued growth in maturity of thought process for recruitment,” said Roop Bhumbra, Country Manager, Hays Specialist Recruitment.

Campus recruitment is still going on and so is specialist recruitment. “At the more specialist roles that we deal with at Hays, we are still seeing a recruitment drive in IT in these specialist roles, particularly software and development roles. Our clients are being forward thinking and are asking us to support recruitment for more effective managers who can steer the companies that they are working to a stronger platform,” averred Bhumbra.

Though IT jobs in many industries and the financial sector have been affected, there are a few sectors which offer many job opportunities. “Despite the slowdown, IT remains one of the 25 fastest growing industries. Companies over the next decade will continue to install sophisticated computer networks, set up Internet and intranet sites and engage in e-commerce. This should all lead to the continued employment expansion as indicated, even in a downturn economy,” stated Vishal Chhiber, HR Head, Kelly Services India. He concedes that there is more responsibility on the hiring firms to search, screen and identify the right talent for organizations, out of a larger pool of eligible talent. Psychometric testing, behavioral interviews, assessment centers are being more commonly used for assessing the talent.

A tough job

The recruitment company acts as a mediator between the client organization and the candidate—while the former wants the best candidate the latter aspires for the best offer. Matching expectations of both is a tough job that they have to play, particularly in times like these when the gap becomes bigger.

Lakshmikanth acknowledged that a recruitment company’s job has become tougher. “The client has a lower budgeted CTC for a position, the candidates have higher expectations. We have to match both. The candidates, in particular, have to be counseled to take, if required, a cut in compensation with the new employer in exchange for job stability, etc.,” he pointed out.

A mediator needs to ensure that the selected candidate fits into the role and contributes to the success of the organization. In return, the organization needs to ensure that the talent employed is within its mission and values. “Finding the perfect match is a task, however, potential candidates do contribute by aligning their work to suit an organization,” added Arora.

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