Monday, December 21, 2009

Exploring the underbelly of the recruitment space in India

I recently attended the 4th ERA Convention at Chennai. It was a well-organized half-day affair jam packed with speakers and panel discussions. What was really heartening to see, as an outsider, was the frank and open exchange of views between industry leaders and HR heads on the one side, and CEOs of recruitment firms on the other.

I could easily see that there was little love lost between the two sides. While the results of their business together was clearly not satisfactory to either side, there was however, clear agreement that recruitment firms were an absolute necessity for most companies and that the two parties need to sit down and find ways to work together in a more meaningful and predictable manner.

Easier said than done, because the entire recruitment system, especially here in India is broken in more places than you can shake all your fingers and toes at!

Over the next few posts, I am going to explore the underbelly of the recruitment system where recruitment firms, employers and the candidates dance to different tunes that only they can hear. Today, we will start with how, in the last 20 years (since the advent of the IT boom), people have become more and more commoditized and how this is creating problems for all the parties concerned.

People, in the eyes of most organizations, are merely commodities. Most companies in India, for the bulk of their recruitment are looking for mindless borgs that are cheap and can do their work to a reasonable extent. This is especially true at low to middle levels across industries such as IT, ITES and retail where body count:size of the company as goats:An Arab's status.

With that being the case, recruitment agencies are forced to behave like body shippers rather than talent scouts, thereby leading to recruiters providing low quality resumes like food at an all-you-can-eat for a dollar ninety-nine buffet. Which of course, naturally p*sses off the companies.

Additionally, many of the people thus recruited in bulk have very little by way of career growth (what does a call agent become with experience? What does a retail shop floor attendent become after a few years?), and hence show very little loyalty and constantly jump ship for meagre hikes. This again creates a lot of angst in companies who promptly blame the recruiter for selecting substandard people.

Needless to say, people are also getting a raw deal in all this, with recruiters overselling the job opportunity and employers not explaining clearly enough the actual job description. Plus the fact that many of these people are moving from rural into urban areas means that they feel they have no choice but to accept any job that comes their way.

All adding up to a lose-lose-lose situation. And nothing that can be readily rectified until fundamental attitudes change.

1 comment:

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