Small-town shining: Recruiters such
as EXL Service are increasingly looking at small-town recruits
for big-city jobs
recruiting used to be defined by sitting tight at a desk and waiting
for job applications to pour in. Soon, laziness will be about looking
no further than the metropolitan limits of the big city. Competitive
recruiters are already venturing farther afield-into small-town
India-in their search for talent. And this, mind you, is for big
How come? The old assumption of talent necessarily
migrating to the metros may no longer be valid. Small towns have
a lot of job-worthy people out there, and not all of them are rushing
to Mumbai, Bangalore or Delhi to grab themselves their dream careers.
They are staying just where they are. Would they move if needed?
Yes, they would. But for that, recruiters must get to them and make
Hicksville No Longer
Big towns, of course, have been a steady source
of talent for many years now. Pondicherry, Amritsar, Dehradun, Vishakapatnam,
Agra, Bareilly-their onetime inhabitants can be found in every metro
today. The interesting part is the growing number of towns that
are becoming hunting grounds for recruiters. Mirzapur, Asansol,
Aligarh, Chandanagar, Shimoga, Nellore, Thrissur, Satara, Ongole,
Rohtak...it's a long list.
Leading the way in employing small-town folk
for big city jobs is the services sector, usual suspect it-enabled
services, financial services, telecom or insurance.
Much of the actual legwork, and there is plenty
of that to be done, is being done by the recruitment firms that
are under constant pressure from clients to fulfil their growing
staffing requirements within tight budgets.
Ma Foi, for example, has been on something
of a small-town binge, of late, having opened recruitment offices
in 35 places. It claims to be issuing over 2,000 appointment letters
a month, a major jump from the past.
Staffing Solutions, another firm that specialises
in 'flexi-staffing' (a form of temporary assignment staffing), meanwhile,
is taking on some 500 people every month via a recruitment machine
that has a presence in some 139 towns. "Definitely, there is
more recruitment happening in small towns than in metros,"
says Abhinav Dhawan, President, Staffing Solutions.
small-town recruits are more eager to perform well, expect less
remuneration and don't job-hop often
It's easy to see why recruiters are so pleased
with their small-town recruits. By and large, they are eager to
perform well, expect less by way of remuneration and do not hop
jobs as frequently as their big-city brethren. In all, they tend
to be remarkably dedicated to their jobs. Moreover, they often bring
local insights that help their companies better aim their services
and products at the burgeoning small-town market. As for the 'awareness
gap', as it was once politely called, the recruits are doing their
own bit to prove the caricatures wrong. Mortified by the thought
of being outclassed by their big city counterparts, many small-town
youngsters have turned into avid internet surfers and manic readers
of magazines, books and much else.
If there's a message of competitiveness that
had to go out, small-town India sure seems to be getting it.
Big Numbers To Come
This is just the start of a trend that could
attain gargantuan proportions in the years ahead, especially if
other sectors of the economy get into the act as well. It helps
that job seekers are more and more open to the idea of criss-crossing
the country for a job. And criss-crossing means literally that,
in many cases. People in Jammu, located far in the north, for example,
are particularly keen on jobs in Bangalore, pretty much deep south
on the Indian map. People in Mangalore, a good catchment area for
paramedics and doctors, are happy to go overseas.
People in Pondicherry, meanwhile, tend to be
more cosmopolitan than many of their big-city counterparts-thanks
to the diversity of its populace, according to E. Balaji, Executive
Director, Ma Foi. In a sense, this is the sort of advantage that
Jamshedpur, Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh also boast, of being recent
settlements of people drawn in specially for professional jobs,
rather than traditional habitations.
There's no denying that small-town recruitment
takes a lot of effort. Just filtering the applications can be something.
"We have no shortage of people applying, but we have to interview
many more people to recruit for our targets than we do at metros,"
says Balaji. If it takes 100 candidates to pick five people in a
metro, by his estimate, it probably takes 175 people for the same
in a small town.
But the talent exists. It just has to be hunted
out. Once the effort is made, the rewards make it more than worth
it, say recruiters. Overall, the numbers are swelling so fast that
Ma Foi is doubling its monthly recruitment target to 4,000 over
the next four months. And nobody thinks that's unrealistic. "If
you think small towns can be saturated faster, the opportunities
are still huge," says Dhawan.
So, the next time the late night internet surfer,
sitting in the obscurity of Malerkotla, is urged by his parents
to haul himself to Delhi for a job hunt, he could well tell them
to 'chill' without guilt. If he's worth a big-city job, it will
come to him. Talent is always sought after.
|Penguin's Hemali Sodhi: A mind for fine
you can't resist the printed word, make a vocation out of it by
becoming a book publicist. Your role would be to promote new and
upcoming books by arousing the interest of both the media and general
reader. The job involves getting books reviewed and authors interviewed,
apart from all the tricks that marketers use-from staging events
to designing promotional material. "At a higher level, responsibilites
would include building relationships with business partners and
strategising promotional activities as well," says Hemali Sodhi,
Senior Manager (Marketing and Publicity), Penguin Books India. So
if you are a humanities or English graduate, have the communication
and creative skills needed to get across effectively, and "an abiding
interest in books", as Zamir Ansari, GM (Sales and Marketing), HarperCollins
India puts it, try this career option.
I am a 25-year-old mechanical engineer from a tier-two college in
a small town. Since the past two years, I have been taking various
examinations for PSU jobs and for higher studies as well, but have
not been able to clear any of them, except the MAT examination in
which I scored 631.5. Given this score, which colleges should I
apply to so that I can ensure a good placement after I graduate?
Also, I feel my communication skills are not up to the mark, and
I get very nervous at interviews and group discussions (GDs). What
should I do?
You could apply to any of the second-rung management colleges in
Mumbai with your score. Since you have not mentioned whether you
have work experience of any kind, I am assuming you are a fresher.
So to improve your chances of getting through to a good b-school,
you will have to work hard on your communication skills. Attend
coaching classes for interviews and group discussions. Alternatively,
you could round up some friends and practice gds. You could even
ask an experienced professional to take mock interviews. And if
none of the above help, you could approach a communication specialist.
I am 26 years old and visually handicapped.
The problem started when I was in class VIII and consequently I
had to discontinue my studies on the doctor's advice. However, I
went ahead and completed a certificate course in vocal and instrumental
music. A couple of years back, I rejoined school and completed my
10+2 from the National Open School. At present, I am pursuing my
graduation. I have also done a course in computers and can work
effortlessly in MS Office and on the internet. What kind of jobs
and sectors should I target?
You seem to have capabilities to leverage.
You could either target an administrative role involving the use
of the computers or a job where you could help enter data and draft
documents. Since you've learnt music, I assume you have a good voice
and could, therefore, look at call centre jobs. Jobs like that of
a receptionist or a front office executive should also be open to
you. Aim for positions where you can grow and add skills over a
period of time, and then move up from there.
I am a 28-year-old commerce graduate with
an MBA in marketing. I have been working with a leading plastics
manufacturing company as a senior marketing officer for the last
couple of years. However, of late, I have started feeling that I
am not being able to grow in my career and that I should go in for
further education. Could you suggest some courses that I could opt
for to maximise my chances of growth in my area of work?
Your dilemma is a bit ambiguous. You have not
stated the reason for feeling the way you do about your growth prospects.
If you feel you need to rise up in the hierarchy and your current
company isn't offering you the opportunity, you might want to consider
a change of job or even industry, that is, move to a high-growth
sector. If you think you are falling short of certain skill sets,
you should go ahead and evaluate those and choose your further education
accordingly. There are many function-specific courses-you could
attend any of the workshops and seminars that are conducted by b-schools
and other institutes and opt for admission to the course that suits
I am a 22-year-old commerce graduate and
am planning to do an MBA. However, due to financial and other constraints,
I will not be able to pursue a regular MBA and am, therefore, thinking
about opting for a correspondence course in management. I want to
know whether there are good opportunities for people who've done
their MBA through correspondence. Which colleges in the country
are considered good for their distance-learning MBA programmes?
Frankly, for a serious, long-term and high-growth
career, a distance learning programme is not enough. Even though
it adds a qualification to your resume, it does not compete with
a full-fledged MBA. Instead, you could apply for a loan to do a
full-time MBA. The other option is to work for a few years and save
enough money to do an MBA later on. Since you will be putting in
effort for a distance-learning programme, you may as well put it
towards an MBA programme that will have a better long-term impact.
Don't use financial problems as an excuse for not getting the right
Answers to your career concerns are contributed
by Tarun Sheth (Senior Consultant) and Shilpa Sheth (Managing
Partner, US practice) of HR firm, Shilputsi Consultants. Write to
Help,Tarun! c/o Business Today, Videocon Tower, Fifth Floor, E-1,
Jhandewalan Extn., New Delhi-110055.
Jobs you can get straight
out of high school.
|Starting young: There isn't
a dearth of jobs for bright 10+2s
school, it's college. it could also be a job, actually, with so
many industries willing to recruit people with no bigger qualification
than a higher secondary school certificate. The retail industry,
for example, could generate close to 2,00,000 jobs for undergrads.
Other recruiters include Business Process Outsourcing firms, telemarketing,
hospitality and market research firms.
All have glowing reports of the competence
they encounter. "Undergrads are recruited as investigators
in the field division for their persistence and keen attitude,"
says Anupama Suneja, GM, Synovate India, a market research firm.
Agrees Shikha Upadhyay, hr Head at Orion Dialog, a telemarketing
company: "Of our total strength of 1,500, undergraduates make
up 60 per cent, are more enthusiastic, and work very well."
Among BPO units, ICICI OneSource also has tributes to pay these
Many school leavers, meanwhile, have taken
to direct selling for networks such as Amway (minimum age limit:
18 years). "The low start-up cost and the huge potential this
sector has, makes it a choice for many 10+2 school leavers,"
says an Amway distributor. A huge opportunity, points out Arvind
Singhal, Chairman, KSA Technopak, would be at the shopfloor or in
logistics (at the operational level) in the textile industry, once
the quota regime vanishes in 2005.
Why some IIT grads
are joining PSEs.
|Target public sector: Jobs
long ignored find favour
you think 'IIT engineer', you think of a Silicon Valley geek to
whom 'enterprise' means something born in a garage, not government
office. Ironically, graduates of India's famous technology institutes
are rediscovering careers at India's public sector enterprises (PSEs).
"Almost 40 students applied to join us last year from the IITs,
and we took several of them," boasts S.K. Jain, Director (Human
Resources), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited.
What's attracting them? According to Professor
N.S. Rathi, Faculty-in-charge (Placement Cell), IIT-Mumbai, "PSEs
are a great place for engineers to work if they want a good work-life
balance. Students who are more keen on hard cash choose the private
company route, but even though PSEs do not pay that much, the perks
and job security of a PSE are unmatched. There has definitely been
a perceptible change in the way students look at PSEs."