The cherry on the icing; 'right pedigree' for a job | business | Hindustan Times
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The cherry on the icing; 'right pedigree' for a job

In the image-conscious world, degree alone isn't enough for a job. The right 'pedigree' also counts when firms hire candidates, reports Rahat Bano.

business Updated: Jan 03, 2006 18:53 IST

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, the worth of an employee should be in his domain knowledge. Well, not always. In the image-conscious world, that coveted degree alone isn't enough for a job. In addition to performance in semester exams and aptitude tests, you also require the 'right pedigree' for a job.

MNCs, for example, list a range of yardsticks - from college, institute and school brand to the size of the company you last worked with, and family background - to handpick contenders, say HR consultants.

Anjani Kumar, Branch Manager, Ascent Consulting Group, reveals another condition laid down by companies, especially in the IT industry. According to him, companies want the applicants' spouse to also be working. "This is to see that the person is not too involved in his family and is available 24X7."

Concurs Nidhi Charan, Vice-President of recruitment firm, The Questers, "There is definitely a demarcation. Clients tell us to look at these factors. Some have very stringent company policies such as they won't take in candidates (except engineers) from government institutes." She cites the case of a new MNC in India, which wants "almonds for the price of peanuts". "It has a conservative budget but wants candidates from the best institutes."

Says Sangeeta Sabharwal, CEO, Ma Foi Global Search Services Limited, "Cultural fit is also a key criteria for hiring, which is established through multiple rounds of meetings with candidates and key executives of the company."

Informs Charan, "In a technical field like engineering, the requirement is expected to be domain-oriented but now companies are scouting for people who have a nice personality rather than those with technical expertise. Indeed, 70-80 per cent of industries, in a cross-section of sectors, look at the personality, regardless of whether the job involves admin, production or customer care." She surmises, "The reason probably is that the person carries the nameplate of the company with him."

Agrees Pratap Singh, MD of manpower agency, Keerat Group, "At one stage, (particularly for the appointment of senior executives), family background does matter." Adds Kumar, "Big companies want to know a candidate's social status, whether the father is working or not, if yes where, at what level. Two of my friends were BEs from Regional Engineering College, Bangalore, and studied at the same management institute in Ghaziabad. Both had the same capabilities. But the father of one of them was Director in PWD, Kolkata, whereas the other's was a mid-level functionary and a labour union leader in a company. Both my friends gave interviews at a consumer durable firm in Noida. The first one was selected whereas the second wasn't."

Explains Charan, "We ask about the family also to know a person's value systems. If a person is from a business family, he will have a different perspective to somebody from the service class." The information is also scanned to gauge an aspirant's motivation as well as integrity, say HR consultants.

On a different note, TK Pandey, Director of consultancy firm, Machwan Communication and Research, informs, "Nowadays, it is more trying to find the perfect fit for the job rather than taking candidates who have high quality backgrounds." Yet, he says, "Pedigreed candidates are always sought after because it is assumed that if someone has performed in the past, he would certainly carry forward the good work. This is, however, not always true. For, shortly after joining a new job, candidates have been disillusioned due to certain culture shocks inherent in that organisation. They may sometimes find it difficult to perform and quit in haste."

Those in small-sized companies and aspiring to join a big organisation also face higher stakes. Say Shuphra Nayyar, Senior Executive, Resourcing, Synergy Consultants, "CMM 3 and CMM 5 level companies want candidates from large organisations only." The assumption is that the individual won't be able to handle the work pressure in a big business house, contend HR professionals. And, in small-sized units, an employee's "exposure" is supposedly limited, they add.

However, an unfashionable profile need not be really a millstone around a candidate's neck. Concedes Pandey, "Other than domain knowledge and core competence, top employers look for people with good backgrounds in terms of institutions and previous companies. But there are certain employers like LG where promotions do happen from the ranks and for that they look for good performers rather than people with good backgrounds."

Companies might show some flexibility if they can't find the desired candidate from a private institute, or if the skills-sets they want are rare in the market. Also, at times, a suitable candidate from a lower-tier institute might be lucky if the demanding company needs to fill the post immediately, say HR consultants. But for that they "pressurise" stubborn clients to consider job seekers, who are highly competent but are from second-rung institutes, assert consultants. Points out Nayyar, "In the IT sector, 90 per cent of the employers don't want to take diploma-holders. They want only BEs or B Techs. We have to convince clients by emphasising the good work experience or projects handled by a diploma-holder." Says Sabharwal, "In our experience, so long as the potential candidate for a key position has demonstrated success in (his or her) previous role, he or she need not come from a top institute."