Chennai Journal
Sunday, November 19, 2006
No Shows
It's common knowledge that there's a shortage of skilled talent in India, especially in the IT industry. Companies like Infosys, Satyam and Wipro, not to mention hundreds of smaller companies, add thousands of jobs each year, but at the other end, the supply is drying up. Every year, Indian universities graduate only about 200,000 employable engineers. According to some estimates, the IT industry hires over 80% of these graduates, with not much left over for other sectors. Those already in the workforce have their pick of jobs, and can "trade up" for assignments that will ensure a U.S. "on site" experience or other perqs. Sometimes, people come in with other job offers, and are obviously just "shopping" to get the best deal.

With the supply and demand situation so skewed, recruiting does sometimes resemble sales more than traditional hiring. Whether done internally or outsourced, recruiters use terms like "prospecting", "warm and hot leads" and "closing". Increasingly, even "closing" (the person accepts and signs an offer letter, agreeing to join an organization) is no longer a guarantee that he or she will actually show up on Day One. Just like airlines and hotels, IT employers may have to "overbook" to ensure enough acceptances to fill their job openings. Of late, this means not only accounting for offer turndowns, but also for a certain percentage of people who accept offers and then just never turn up for work.

I don't know if this happens in other countries with a hot job market. (I'm told that it DOESN'T happen in China-- turnover and attraction are challenges there, as well, but once a person commits to work for an organization, they show up.) The other day we had a guy who failed to show, and when the HR team went to contact him, his cell phone was disconnected as was his house phone. He did respond to an e-mail however--it turned out that he had moved to the U.S. and was starting work for another leading multinational.

But some employers are starting to rebel, as this story illustrates: a candidate came in for an interview. After a while, he laid two other job offers on the table and told the hiring manager that if he could offer 2,000 RS per month more than the best of his offers, he would be willing to join The hiring manager concluded the interview, and then told the the guy that he wasn't selected---the manager was looking for someone who would work for him, not the other way around.

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