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Getting that Dream Job - K.S. Kumar, EVP-Human Capital, Fullerton India
Getting that Dream Job - K.S. Kumar, EVP-Human Capital, Fullerton India
Posted Date:16-08-2010 Courtesy:

1:What is your opinion of growth of Indian Job market since year 2000? Do you think that Industry is somehow affected due to current recession?

Kumar: If you look back from 2000, Indian job market is improving year on year. Campuses & Placements have become more and more competitive. Across the industry, across all the campuses there was continuous desire to improve. The only down side of that was that some colleges & campuses were considered much successful by placement records and not by the quality of education. (e.g.: if you get 100% placement you are a better educational institute than institute having 98% of placements) Though the people from other institute might have been better through the overall terms of standard and selection process.
 



I think the recession has shaken that because of lot of campuses which till the recession time had 100 % placements with the whole batch equally placed, I think this thing has created lot of attitude and ego among the fresh job seekers. I have seen many of them in 2004-2005, students behaving badly in the placement session, walking to the pre-placement talk in Jeans and t-shirts in some colleges and at the same time you find contrast in some other colleges where every single person is in uniform like particularly in Pune colleges, you will find the Men in Suits and Women in Saris & they are formally groomed for a pre-placement talk and at the other extreme where people come in casually in between, so you get used to see that mix.

I think the recession has separated suited men from the boys because during this period even the top 10 institutes have also struggled on placements so recession is a kind of wakeup call in last year and you know we welcome this wake-up call because in bad times if a company is coming to a campus, it means that the campus has a long term values and strong relationship with the employers and I thing that this is something that is very important to make each campus feel how to make the company bring into the campus year on year.

Also the kind of starting job that are offered because you also have companies that differentiate that I ll give my better jobs to these campuses, the next set of job to these campuses & give really frontline sales kind of job to the third set of campuses which actually don t need MBAs and differences in qualification. They are just going there because they are finding people who are better educated and some more cheaper.
 

The last year I know is a big Jude because large number of companies didn t go to any campus & if they went they just hired 1 or 2 % of what they use to hire. I think what that will do is a big reality in terms of expectations of the salary, expectations of first job. And will temper some of the ego and attitude issues of the campus and at the same time for employers will much more be cautious that the students will be must more particular about what will they choose. If earlier they would choose the company on the basis of higher the salary, better the company. I think today students should choose the company that offers longer term stability and investment because the last thing a student want to do is to get employed and get the offer letter and then we find the withdrawal before the joining. And this time we find that people have been laid off even before they started working. And they would like to go to the companies that would last through the recession. So I think this is the testing time for even the Employers.

2) How is availability of resource in market & what are the challenges that you face while recruiting fresher/first job seekers?

Kumar: Availability is a big challenge, because if you look at how the connectivity between the campuses and the employers, The top tier institute always have a connecting relationship but the next set of campuses quiet often, I believe depend up on like somebody from the HR department and the business team have visited that campus before otherwise from year to year the relationship with companies could change. I think there are lot of upcoming colleges which have hard working students who struggled through for whom it was a good break and who have the right attitude but their campuses are not in the convenient cities, who may not get the morning flight & evening flight like TAPai Manipal institute who has always suffered because it was inconvenient going there. XLRI Jamshedpur also suffered because of the same reason of inconvenience. So therefore one for the physical availability , second if you have no availability to interact with the campus with regular placements, you can never form an opinion and therefore providing better access to the institutes within the country will allow you to choose.
 

 

I ll give you an example from my previous job, when we were hiring a large number of MBA students we just looked at the thought of just taking city of Mumbai, Chennai and there were 10 to 15 institutes we wanted to go to, we always find that we went to one campus and may be rejected everybody and then went to the next campus and hired 10 students and then we went to the next campus and said that we have already hired 10 so we need 2 more and the we found that there were six people who were far better than the 10 we hired from the earlier institute, because we went in order of placement date so then we changed the procedure & then we went to the company placement date and invited all the campuses to the same placement date into a venue, had a written test & selected irrespective of campuses. If I look at that idea of Rangrut.com, the availability to choose the best candidate across institutes rather than choosing some numbers from an institute, it makes a big difference to employers. 



3) So if I ask you about the three patterns of campus placements: Campus, Off campus and Open. Which one would you choose and when? 

Kumar: See an Open campus is for companies to put it very intensive because if you have everything comes in space of one or two months you need to go for pre placement talks, handle all the applications, & then go again for selections. In Pre- Placement talk, as an employee you want to make good impression on the people you hire or not, you want to send senior people who can present well. You need to make a good presentation that is updated and making the same presentation from the employer side and repeating that presentation 15 times is extremely boring. It is difficult to call most senior people two or three times in the campus because sometimes the interviews may start from the morning and end in the mid night & it s extremely tiring and in terms of time and availability so open campus is also a huge challenge in terms of Employers resources also. 

The Open Campus I feel allows companies to use their resources better in one or two days.
Off campus route I would say is usually a last route. 

4) What do you think about the employability in broader terms? How would you define it for an Indian student or a First Job seeker?

Kumar: I think most campuses have done a very poor job of creating employability, they have created many educational institutions and have became degree channel and encourage people to mug up and get better marks by structured method of like these are the possible questions and these are the possible answers. I think the attention towards the real problems and also about what s happening in the market is not related to what they are studying and so that s completely missing. So every Employer ends up giving training and teaching them all over again just for their practical knowledge. E.g. In financial services we ll teach employees like what are the basic banking process, how does an EMI works, what is collection, post dated checks, electronic clearing, so many of these things we find students are not aware of. 

 

What the students are studying is quiet different than what is happening practically. Particularly about the graduate college I think the employability is very low, basic maturity skills and grooming is missing, people don t get career counseling. They are not able to decide, what are the options in career they may have so they take a choice of whatever that comes available. So I think much better career counseling, selection procedures, practical knowledge will help people to become much more employable. 



5) Few of the Best employers train fresher after recruitment. So what do you think, should be the content of training? Should it be only specific to domain in which they are supposed to work in future?

Kumar: Let s consider the field of banking, see ideally the domain training as we consider is the basic banking which is required, however there are company specific training, as they have specific policies and second more important thing is that how you align people with the culture of the company, to the values, rules and procedures & what is expected out of the employees, how they will be appraised? How they will be treated? So there are company policies, company philosophy & the specific product policies & practices for which the company obviously still need to train.

E.g. we have seen people who have come out of campuses and who are not sure about the difference between the Cheque & the Draft, why would something be a DD & why would something be a Cheque. Some basic practical icon like how does a Cheque get cleared in the banking system. People need to know what reserve bank of India is for. What is monitory policy?

So I think campuses have to focus on giving people generic & in depth over view about the domain and the company can give the training of the basic parts of the domain they have inducted in the company policies.

6) Can you tell us what are the selection criteria in your organization and what should be the basic criteria which should be followed by all the employers before they hire anybody typically a first job seeker?

Kumar: For first job seeker what s most important is that the person should have a good ability to learn. If you are really looking for somebody who need to join at an entry level but expected to grow much faster in terms of ranks because of a basic higher potential, ability to learn, to lead because you want people sometime who become supervisor in lower time & go through the organization and obviously with basic academic qualification because academic qualification percentages is so far as a filter so ultimately it s more about the ability to learn, ability to lead & right attitude. So in my mind these are the differentiator- Will he learn what I need to teach, fully adapt the environment & can I see this person two, three years after leading a team of 2 to 4 people. Those are the questions those are more important because if he don t answer those three questions, I don t need the toper of the batch.

7) Kumar, If we look 20 years back, how did you get your first job and prepared for it?

Kumar: I need to go back 21 years, when I had summer training so that s where it started because I did my summer training from the company I Joined, I left a good impression on summer training so I got selected with them & the quality of Hindustan Lever is that for first Job seeker they ensure to assign a high quality project, a senior mentor to monitor you during the project. I remember those days when we actually had a Diary where we used to write almost every week the summary of what you have done and what you have learnt and then hand it to a senior person & if he or she felt your project is not good enough, he ll speak to the mentor and make sure that you get a good project.

They paid a huge attention to even a summer trainees. They made you do a presentation at the end of the project in front of all the seniors, where you can make another impression & finally in m case I had an On-Campus, where in my case they told me that i don t need to go to the preliminary process and directly go to the final process i.e. the final interview and they by-passed all the steps which my other class mates have undergone. 

But I know that time I was very much nervous, we used to really work extremely hard, like before we reach to a project we would have done all our research, studied what all is related to the project. I think now everything is different, people are not taking summer training seriously. It was a much more rigorous but all over a much more humble. 



8) How would you hire people as a summer trainee in the next one year?
Kumar: See last year we experimented with fresh graduates & we had about 500 in a batch across the country and we placed them at various locations across the country because our monthly hiring numbers are about 500. So this number of hiring is something that we can absorb. Our bigger challenge has been to ensure that they get a good attention, because in our company people are placed in branches so therefore if 1 or 2 people are placed in each branch, it s different than having them altogether as a trainee and sending them fully trained. What we did is send them to a branch and then give them branch wise training and then bring them back altogether is something that we need to modify to improve. Anyway between 350 to 500 could be the number we can look for trainees.

9) What is your advice to fresher an what they need to do to get the best job of their dream?
Kumar: The advice would be:
a) To go beyond their books
b) To try & connect to what they study and what practically is happening in the market .the world outside, in the economy
c) They should be well aware of how to apply their skills in which they are well rather than answering the questions in the same way as they are in the text books.
d) They need to focus on application skills
e) A large focus should also be on Communication, not necessarily talking about English, it s just the ability to focus their ideas and just be able to express them
f) A real and longer summer training or a stint of field work
g) And Ultimately an Ability to learn, ability to lead & correct attitude. 

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