Monday, October 20, 2008

How to avoid getting laid off

During difficult times like these, layoffs become commonplace. Companies layoff people not only to improve their chances of survival, but also because there is no significant backlash to layoffs at these times.

So, as an employee, what should you do to remain employed?

To start with, work as hard as you can.
No only does this help keep your company afloat, it also makes you a more valuable resource.

Stay where you are.
In many companies, the first people to get laid off are the people who have joined recently. If you have been with a company for a long time, now is not the time to switch, no matter how good the new offer may be.

Don't even look for a new job while still employed.
During these uncertain times, it is tempting to line up a backup plan, just in case. However, there can be unhelpful side effects. For example, if you post your resume on some job site and your current employer comes to know, then when it is time to make the layoff list, they will add your name to it - after all, you were planning to leave anyway, right?

Don't, not even for a moment, think that the thin privacy blanket provided by most online job sites will be sufficient to hide you from your current employer. Employers are a lot smarter than you think and there are a couple of simple methods to find out about your presence on popular jobs sites like naukri, monster and others.
Remember, your resume will not be seen only if your company uses its account to search the database. If your company uses somebody else's account, you will be seen. For example,
1. Many top employers use multiple recruiters to help in acquiring candidates. It is easy for an employer to ask one of the recruiters to check on a regular basis for "All employees from currently updating their resume". The recruiter would be more than happy to oblige.
2. Company HRs are a close-knit group and very often exchange job site account information so that they can see who among their employees is active seeking employment elsewhere.

So, if the job site provides a "complete stealth" mode, continue. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to not touch your profile on job sites, or even delete your account, if possible.

If there is talk of voluntary pay cuts, be ready to volunteer.
Some companies take this route, though it is usually a pre-cursor to layoffs. The best thing to do is to be open to this idea as the chances are pay-cuts and layoffs are in all probability inevitable anyway.

If you are currently unemployed, grab any opportunity that comes along.
This is not the time to be choosy. Some of the opportunities, especially with startups, may be more lucrative in the long run. Interesting times require interesting action.

In summary, if you wish to stay employed, just hunker down and let the current crisis pass.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lessons from a dung beetle!

Thought I'd make a "light" video response to Sequoia's 56 slider and other VCs' pronouncements(here, here, here, and here) of impending doom.

I believe that the rules of the game have not changed. The same principles that the dung beetle follows hold good for all of us - in good times and bad times.

1. Work hard
2. Persevere
3. Be innovative
4. Put up a good fight, and
5. Build something of value.


Here's wishing success to all start-ups. May y'all succeed.

If you can't see the video, follow this link: http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=0oQCyBAixEc

Monday, October 13, 2008

A long life or a swift death

As a start-up founder, I have been keenly following the recent comments and reactions from various quarters including
this from Ron Conway, this from Sequoia, this from Calacanis, and this.

Sounds like crunch-time folks. I don't know about you, but if a long life or a swift death are my only options, I am real glad. Much better than having the additional option of a long lingering death. So if you are a startup like us, be happy that your options have been narrowed down for you.

Now, ask yourself this simple question:
No funding, low valuation, no quick exit - am I ready?

If you believe you are catering to a necessity, have a clear revenue model, and are willing to work passionately to make it happen, your answer should be a resounding YES. Don't worry about what the doom-merchants are saying. Believe that you are in the right place at the right time.

If your answer is NO - find out the shortest route towards a YES. If you can't, cut your losses and make it quick. Closing one door opens another. Who knows - your next avatar may have the right answer.

We may have interesting times thrust on us, but the choices are always ours.

I am choosing a long life. What about you?

Friday, October 10, 2008

JobsByRef.com is in private beta

I don't know if I blogged about it here already. I don't mind repeating it, though :)
JobsByRef.com is now in private beta. Check it out at www.jobsbyref.com. 70% of the site is ready, though members cannot still apply to jobs or view available job postings. Duh! I know.

But we are almost there. Hopefully, we'll get there before too many people affected by the tanking market are pushed to take desperate measures.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Respondent management

During the y2k boom time and then again soon after the dot-com bust, every job opening we advertised resulted in literally thousands of responses. I remember once, we had advertised for a VC++ software engineer with 5 years of experience in Hindu's wednesday morning opportunities column. It was only a 3 inch ad. When I reached office at 8:30 AM that morning, our mail box was flooded with over 8000 resumes - all within 2 hrs of publication! By the end of that day, we had received well over 20,000 resumes. Of course, most of the resumes we scanned had no relevance to the job opening we had advertised. If there had been a valid candidate in that pile of resumes, we failed to find it, though I must confess that after having read about a hundred of the received resumes, I gave it up as a bad job.

When I think of the financial and market situation today, and when I read articles like this, I cannot but fear that we may be in for another round of resume overload. Are we prepared for it this time?

How are we going to track responses from multiple sources?
How are we going to separate the grain from the chaff (the 10% good candidates from the 90% of irrelevant respondents)?
How are we going to identify the promising ones out of the 10% of the respondents that are relevant.

The companies that have answers to these questions will be able to attract, find and employ the good candidates who become available in times like these. The others will miss the boat (again) because they will not be able to find the right applicants from among the 1000s of applicants.

At JobsByRef.com, we are launching an intuitive online respondent management system, so that you don't have to read through 1000s of resumes to find the right candidates. No matter where you advertise, be it online on job sites, on in traditional media such as newspapers and journals, we will let you keep track of the responses and provide you with advanced match-scores and analysis options so that you can zoom on to the right candidates everytime.

If you are an employer, you can register here if you are interested in our respondent management system. We will get back to you as soon as we launch (Mid-Q4 2008). Early registrants will get our free introductory 3 month offer.