When I came to India in the first quarter of 2008, the economy was still pretty much in full swing as I set about building my team of superstars. As I interviewed candidate after candidate a few things started to irk me, such as their belief that by changing jobs it could net them a 100% to 300% pay rise.
There seemed to be a belief that pay was related to experience, not expertise. When an SEO analyst said they had 3 years of experience, it usually meant that they had been pressing CTRL-C CTRL-V for 3 years and never took it upon themselves to learn anything new. Yet because they had been copying and pasting for 3 years, they felt that they deserved 3 times the pay of a fresher.
Err, no, it doesn’t work like that.
Another peeve that I had was when I went through a resume and found a person had as many as 6 jobs in 4 years (I honestly kid you not!) and when pressed on this it was for ‘career growth’. It’s fairly normal to read a resume where a person has lasted 12 months or less in each company before moving on.
Here’s a top tip for y’all: An employer wants to see commitment from the candidate. Changing companies every 6 months sets off nuclear alarm bells that says this person isn’t worth an interview, by the time you’ve offered them a job, they’ve already applied to the next one.
My understanding of career growth is that you progress in seniority if you change jobs. Apparently not in India. When asked why they wanted to change jobs, invariably it was for ‘career growth’, when told that they would have the same designation as they’ve got now, this would rarely be a problem – so where’s the career growth?
The HR guys tell me that I got off lightly with candidates. Such was the need for programmers during the boom times, the candidates would play companies against each other and say “well company X is offering me 4 lakhs (400,000 to my uneducated friends!), how much can you offer me?” And an offer is made and they go to the next company and say “company X is offering 4 lakhs, company Y is offering 6 lakhs, how much do you want to pay me?” And so we had the situation where candidates were putting themselves up for auction.
Fortunately Agriya refused to partake in this, if any candidate tried to auction themselves, our (err, that is, Agriya) interest was immediately suspended.
So, what is the situation now?
It really brought it home to me how rough it is out there the other day when I was interviewing two candidates from the same company.
They had both come in looking for a job. The company they were working for had not paid any salaries for the last two months – yet the employees still went to work on the hope that they could get paid.
When it came to asking about expected salaries, we have turned a corner, there were no requests for 1.5x – 2x their current earnings, they reply came back meekly… “whatever the company wants”. Unfortunately the candidates, despite having four years “experience” didn’t have any more expertise than I would expect from a fresher who’s been at the company for 6 months.
Another top tip: Employers are looking for expertise and passion, not just experience! I read a great article today where a gaming company hired a real estate agent to help develop their new game because he was a passionate gamer and ‘modded’ dozens of games out of personal interest. Give me passion over experience anyday!
So, back on topic how hard is the global economy hitting India?
Well, of course it’s having an effect. The smaller IT companies are folding left right and centre (my writing is Americanized [note the ‘z’] now that the English spelling of ‘centre’ just looks plain wrong), the larger multi-national IT companies are shedding staff – up to 10% of the workforce in some cases, freezing their fresher intake programmes and in some cases imposing compulsory salary reductions as they look to adapt and survive.
One of my friends owns a consumer computer chain store throughout Chennai and he says it’s the toughest he’s seen it as the geeky IT crowd who make up the bulk of his clientele dries up.
Still, India has a very strong domestic economy – 1.1bn people still need to be fed, move from A-B, get clothed, socialize, have spectacularly over the top weddings, be entertained and live.
So while the West is mired in recession, shrinking economies and the looming face of deflation looking more and more likely, India’s annual growth forecast has been cut from 8% to a ‘paltry’ 5%. The West has sneezed, India has the sniffles, but it hasn’t caught the cold – yet.