The Career of Careermaking

24 05 2008

If there exists any single industry whose growth curve perfectly mimics the job growth curve of any economy, it has to be the recruitment industry. Over the last few years, this industry in India has been witnessing significant intellectual capital formation along with rapid financial growth. If we just look at the search and selection (placement) segments, the market size is about Rs.8 billion, growing at 30% p.a.. Add another Rs.7 billion. to account for recruitments through jobsites and print advertisements.


While the selection sector is highly fragmented (over 4000 placement firms operate in India), the search sector has no more than a dozen players. Typically, an exclusive mandate to fill up a top management slot in a large company is called a search assignment. Selection assignments, on the other hand, are for less exalted positions. Unlike, selection, which depends on a process of elimination to arrive at the right candidate, search is about zeroing on the right candidate and get him or her to come on board. Many use the expression – headhunting – I must say, loosely – to describe this process.


If India were to achieve its ambition of becoming global economic superpower,

it is impossible to overstate the need for a professionally mature recruitment industry. Akin to the stock market, this industry facilitates allocation and relocation of resources

(in this case, human), rewarding the efficient and punishing the inefficient. As an intermediary, it unlocks the true value of an individual and aids the better managed organizations to aggregate better talents. As India is competing globally for market share, India Inc’s fight for talent share too is getting fiercer. The premium on human capital has never been higher.


Like any other industry going through a dizzying phase, the challenge facing the recruitment industry is its dearth of quality professionals. It takes a lot to assume responsibility for fulfilling a candidate’s ambition, on the one hand and a client’s human resource requirement, on the other. An eye for spotting talent, ability to draw out people,  indefatigable emotional stamina, high level of  comfort in dealing with ambivalence and uncertainties, the power of persuasion, domain knowledge in at least one industry sector and the capacity to stay  focused amidst a deluge of data and distractions make for a top recruiter. If this list appears daunting, let me make it a tad simpler. If you think you have an intuitive ability to navigate the subterranean terrains of the human mind and if you are curious about everything in life, this is the profession for you.


Now, is the reward part. Recruitment industry pays rather well. It doesn’t have a choice. People create all the wealth here. And they demand their due share. Typically, fresh management graduates are hired as research associates for about Rs.200000 to 250000 p.a. 20 to 25% growth in salary per year is commonplace. If you make it to the level of a partner in a reputed firm, you will take home Rs.4 to 5 million p.a. That doesn’t even include the incentives, which can go up to 30% of the bill value of the placements executed by you. 


However, for many, the real reward of this profession lies in the opportunity to get ushered into the minds of the best and the brightest of corporate India and receive otherwise hard- to- access insights. Likewise, gaining intimate knowledge of the corporate leaders’ visions and values, while partnering with them in hiring head honchos, can be an inspirational high. Add to that, the scope for acquiring a helicopter view of the business dynamics of various industries – courtesy both clients and candidates – you will never have worry about boredom in the office.


Beyond all these rewards, there lies something else. If a career in law is finally about one’s commitment to justice, a career in the recruitment industry is about fulfillment. Fulfilling someone else’s dream, fulfilling someone else’s potential, fulfilling someone else’s business vision. In this profession, your fulfillment lies in helping others attain their fulfillment.


 – Rajib Sarkar.





3 responses

26 05 2008
Venkat Subramaniam

A very interesting thought “Fulfillment in the recruitment industry, lies in helping others attain their fulfillment”

For any organization, fulfillment of employees is their biggest challenge.

(If I make take the liberty of deviating a bit)For a performer, be it in the field of sports, or in the field of music , theatre or movies, fulfillment is almost direct. It could be partly intrinsic, coming from the ‘high of performing’ and it could be extrinsic, coming from the reaction and appreciation of the audience.
The highs and lows of their career are event based, and more importantly well defined. Of course, there are exceptions in each of these areas where a few of them are able to transcend the ‘hunger’ for external appreciation. Some of these exceptions go on to become legends and some pass off into anonymity (but it hardly matters to them, as they are driven intrinsically).

Coming back to employees in an organisational context, this aspect of fulfillment is not very direct in most cases, and this is true especially for larger organizations where a large number of employees are involved in a small part of a large context.
It is true that extraordinary situations and projects which have a great sense of purpose bring out the extraordinary qualities of seemingly ordinary people.

It is a challenge for leaders at all levels within an organization to make employees identify with the ‘purpose’ in the context of the job they are doing. Most organizations (many of the public sectors in India) inspite of the ‘great puposes’ they serve do not put enough effort to make employees identify with the purpose.

If the purpose is really great it breaks the boundaries of departments and functions within the organization, and it also goes beyond revenue, bottomline and salaries. One of the examples, being Amul, where Dr. Kurien and his team had created this vision of touching the lives of the people in the villages.
However, it is not easy for a company like ITC to set up such a vision when it comes to selling cigarettes. Salaries and perks can make up for this fulfillment to a certain extent, but after sometime money that comes easy, starts manifesting in terms of diversions that could be detrimental.

What does fulfillment really mean to a man/woman who during their professional lives play multiple roles (father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister,professional/employee, friend)? The meaning of ‘fulfillment’ gets further obfuscated because a man draws most of his ‘identity’ from his standing in his professional role, and the irony is that there is a certain period of time in his life (between 35 and 50) when the demand to perform all the above mentioned roles are at their peak, especially in the Indian context. For a career woman in India, it is even more complicated.

Integration of these mutiple roles within a single human being, calls for an intrinsic model of fulfillment which goes beyond the individual roles. Easier said than done!!

As we have firms and consultants that facilitate risk profiling of individuals, as a part of an individual’s investment strategy, we require recruitment consultants who can prepare ‘fulfillment profiles’ on the basis of the multiple roles that a candidate is expected to play, rather than just profiling them on the basis of their professional role and capabilities.

27 05 2008
Rajib Sarkar

Venkat’s comments have evoked a few thoughts in my mind.

Seeking fulfillment, be in one’s career or life in general, is as much an inescapable aspect of being a human as it is to seek meaning in the jobs that we do and the lives that we live.

As Sigmund Freud said, we define ourselves predominantly by two of our own constructs – love and work.

One can not find fulfillment in any work if he or she can’t find himself or herself in that work. That means our values, beliefs and aspirations must find a home in the workplace, if we were to attain enduring professional fulfillment, not just fleeting moments of satisfaction.

Today’s corporate organizations as collective entities are constantly engaged in the process of manufacuring a common purpose and grappling with the resultant complexities. Unfortunately, their way of collective reflection, almost invariably, is found to be awfully inadequate to address such a profound existential issue.

Individuals too are consciously or unconsciously trying to resolve various conflicts arising out of the multitude of roles they’re supposed to play in the society. Sri Aurbindo in his doctrine of Integral Yoga has offered a way of haromonizing our disparate urges into one goal.

The bottomline is that our quest for fulfillment (collectively through various groupings that we belong to and individually through constructing a philosophy of our own) has to confront the question of purpose.

Purpose is not intrinsic to any job or any company or any industry. Purpose is what we bring to any job. Not the other way around.

A truly great HR Consultant is one who has the visionary ability to see in what kind of the environment (economic, cultural, political and spiritual) the seed of any individual’s quest to find himself or herself can grow into a tree of self-fulfillment.

It is another matter that finding such a mentor cum guide is a very tall order.

28 05 2008

It may be utopian to look for fulfillment in a job. An employer creates job to fulfill his dreams not for the employee. He sets up a business to fulfill his purpose of life. That’s why every organization will ask us to align our goals with the organization goal. How can I fulfill my purpose of life which is aligned with someone else’s goal? Is that logically possible? Vision, Mission statements are framed by the employer (not through general polling). A job can fill the pocket full and with that money we try to fulfill some of our wish list or goals. The quest for the purpose of life has nothing to do with recruitment firms or employment which all of us know very well. Job is definitely a vehicle to earn money, may be the safest one, and let us accept it without being too philosophical .

The challenge for any organization is to find the right people for the right job and most of the time that is done based on the present performance of the people which leads to problem in future. Ideally it is important to assess the potential than the performance. The performance of the best auto-rickshaw driver may be pathetic if promoted to fly aircraft. Similarly the potential of the best pilot cannot be assessed through his performance while driving auto-rickshaw. Unfortunately, this simple rule is not followed always and best performing auto drivers are promoted to fly aircrafts which demands completely different attitude and skill. The process of assessing potential is a time consuming activity and can only be done through close monitoring over few years. It would be difficult for a recruitment firm to do so as they are in a highly competitive market and need to meet their numbers on a very short notice. The basic goal of a recruitment firm (like any other business) is to make money on a continuous basis . In that process goals (or quest for purpose of life) of some people will be fulfilled and for majorities will not. Let them not deviate from their basic goal for the fancy ones.

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