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Head hunting: industry overview

india Updated: Mar 27, 2008 18:32 IST
Venetia D'Souza
Venetia D'Souza
Hindustan Times
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Prakash kewalramani is a busy man. Over the past few months, the president of the Executive Recruiters' Association has been spearheading the compilation of statistical data for tracking mergers in the corporate world, setting up a recognised post-graduate degree programme in recruitment in various top-notch management institutes and organising country-wide industry meets. What makes Kewalramani's job particularly challenging is the Rs 10,000-crore recruitment sector's rapid growth over the past 10 years: from a handful of unorganised agencies to 25,000 registered companies across the country.

Currently, the industry comprises three primary focus areas: search, selection and staffing. Search covers senior management recruitment alone, where the recruiter is paid 33 per cent of a candidate's annual salary. The selection segment focuses on middle-management hires. But the largest growth, 40 to 45 per cent a year, is happening in the staffing segment. The mammoth staffing company, the 70,000-member strong Teamlease Services, gets approximately 9,000 people a month on its payroll and then supplies them to companies on a contract basis. The retail, IT-enabled services and hospitality sectors are this segment's largest clients.

"Earlier, all you needed was a box of CVs and a telephone to run a recruitment agency," said Kewalramani. "Today, with foreign players like Addeco and Manpower having entered the market and Indian mult-national companies like Chennai-headquartered Ma Foi Management Consultants merging with 6.85-billion-euro Dutch staffing company Vedior N V, it's becoming a sector to reckon with."

The globalisation of the industry is coupled with an infusion of competition, so that jobs that once largely consisted of leafing through stacks of bio-datas or CVs posted on the Internet have become now a hot new options, with opportunities for specialising in specific areas, more overseas recruitment, searches through social network sites on the Internet.

Increasing demand in niche areas has created the need for individuals with domain-specific experience and expertise. Over the past year, HR firm Ma Foi Management Consultants has taken on a 12-member team to focus on recruitment for various airport functions. The highly skilled team will work towards zeroing in on maintenance, repair and overhaul managers for new airports being constructed across the country. "These individuals have specific knowledge about the structural and upkeep specifications for various aircraft models and, are hence able to find the right person for the job," said E Balaji, chief operating officer of Ma Foi.

But that's just a glimpse of the excitement in store for the industry's young recruits. Social networking websites like Facebook, LinkdIn, Orkut and Ryze are the new hunting ground for mandates (industry jargon for candidates). Over the past year, 15 per cent of Teamlease Services' monthly hires have been from sites like Yahoo Groups, alumni networks, Ryze and Orkut. The company has put together a four-member team to work on this passive search. "The person you hire for a job may be qualified but might lack enthusiasm," said Rajesh A R, vice president, TeamLease Services. "This is a loss to the company. But through his posts on networking sites you learn about some of his inherent abilities without actively seeking them out."

To meet the growing competition, headhunters are now churning out fresh recruitment processes, like EmmayHR's new 'find-yourself-a-job-over-coffee' format. The company's one-month-old Career Café, modelled on the coffee-shop culture, has candidates walking into a coffee shop set-up and discussing prospects with the recruiter over a steaming cuppa. "The surroundings immediately put the candidate at ease and there is no time wasted as they are interacting directly with a consultant," said Vivek Kapoor, associate director, marketing, EmmayHR Services Limited.

With one million new jobs expected to be created in the organised sector over the next year, as per the Ma Foi's Employment Survey 2008, the head hunter's challenges, and opportunities, will only increase.