When designations exceed experience level
Neha Singh Verma, TimesJobs.com

Recruiters say though designations do not matter much as long as candidates are flexible, there is always a mismatch between what is expected and what is available

  It will not be an exaggeration to say that new-age companies, especially e-commerce startups, have changed the face of talent war in the country. No more it is about matching a designation with candidates’ experience. Typically, higher the years of experience, higher is the designation. But these growing ventures have changed this norm. But how will this affect a professional’s long-term career path and what are challenges for recruiters?

Speaking to TimesJobs, Praveen Diwan, managing partner, Antal International, said, “Since the atmosphere in e-commerce companies is dynamic — they look for young people who have a hunger to grow fast and have high energy. The highest experience levels in these companies is between 12-15 years and we have seen in our experience with these companies that people at this experience levels are given high designations ranging from a director to vice president to even a CTO/COO, which is unheard of in a traditional company — be it a regular brick-and-mortar or even an IT company. Some companies are using this as a means to get good talent in their organisation by luring them with fancy designations,” he said.

However, Sunil Goel, managing director, GlobalHunt, has a different perspective. He says designation and grade and levels do not matter much as long as individuals are flexible. “So it is always been considered that large organisations have specific models of the designations and roles where as in the startups, it is very dynamic.” “It has also been seen that functionally, roles keep changing in startups where people keeps moving from one job to another — people move from sales to HR and marketing. But in larger setups, people remain stuck at same functional areas,” he said. 

Are big designations good or bad?

So how do we assess it if is good or bad for one’s career to accept designations higher than their experience in startups? Will this put a person’s career at risk in large organizations?

The answer is subjective. Goel links it to the acceptance of entrepreneurs in larger setups. He says that earlier, there was lesser acceptance for entrepreneurs joining the industry back but of late, this has changed and companies have started accepting entrepreneurs. Smaller startups may not have defined designations but in large e-commerce setups, there are designations as per industry. It depends upon what set of the company and what level the person is joining.

The challenge for recruiters

According to Diwan, there is a challenge attached to hiring candidates with less experience for higher designations.

“The challenge that we face is that at such experience levels, candidates are not mature enough to hold those competencies which are needed for senior levels and there is always a mismatch between what is expected and what is available,” he said.

“A reality check of this situation will be done when people from the consumer internet companies start moving back to traditional companies. It remains to be seen how these people are accepted in those organizations and whether these so-called older companies will be able to provide competing designations to people coming from new-age companies,” he said.

Diwan shared an example to highlight this trend.

“In our experience, we have placed people at VP and AVP levels with experience levels between 10-12 years. The requirement from the company was that they need people at these levels with experience of not more than 13 years. This is also a trend which is being observed with these companies where they specify their highest experience levels they can have for a specific designation. In another instance, a fast-growing consumer internet company has given us a mandate to hire a director of engineering between experience levels of 7-12 years.”

All in all, instead of designation, the scope of the work should match the professional’s expertise. Organizations should be more focused on fitment while individuals should focus on the scope of role and the responsibilities that come with it.