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A new breed of startups is redefining recruitment in India

Rahul Raj 6:52 pm on Jun 26, 2015

 Finding the right job is as difficult as finding the right candidate for the job. People are struggling and so are the companies. There appears to be a gap between the aspirations of a candidate and the expectations of a company. The struggle is directly proportional to the gap – something the existing recruitment infrastructure in the country can’t seem to fix. Many young entrepreneurs, having personally faced this struggle on entering the job market, have taken up the challenge to fix this issue. This might be one of the reasons why so many online recruitment startups have sprung up in India.

“It is but natural to see a mushrooming of online recruitment startups that claim to reduce the gap between candidates and potential employers. There are just two to three credible online players in the country, so the scope is immense in a country where 12 million people are entering the job market every year,” says Francis Padamadan, the country director for Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group (OCG) in India.

At the root of problem is how job portals are so unsuited to the task. “Recruitment, especially technical recruitment, is a raging problem today,” says Sachin Gupta, the co-founder and CEO of HackerEarth. “Traditional solutions like job portals do not provide quality talent and a lot of new companies, which lack a proper recruiting process, are often clueless on how to recruit. A lot of people can relate to this problem and are coming up with innovative solutions – and hence so many startups in recruitment.”

“The traditional model is not yielding the desired outcome,” adds Prashant Koirala, the co-founder of Venturesity. “We are possibly witnessing one of the biggest inflection points in the talent market – types of companies being built, shift in workforce demographic, and working environment. It calls for a more transparent and engaging model and we are addressing the market.”

Startups feel the pain as they grow

Sourcing the right talent for startups is a particular problem area. Startups require candidates with not just skills and qualifications, but the right attitude and mindset. They require candidates who are self-driven and are ready to take up new responsibilities every day and not just be a stickler for job descriptions.

“Discovering the right talent for startups using conventional job sites is not quite efficient, where résumés have to be manually filtered. A number of startups in this space are solving the problem of hiring by easing the discovery of right talent and reducing the applicants to shortlisted candidates ratio,” says Shanti Mohan, the co-founder and CEO of LetsVenture.

“Recruitment is a growing space in a country where 30 to 50 percent of employees are considering change. Average attrition is also in excess of 10 to 15 percent amongst large employers. The opportunity is huge to provide platforms to find this change. We see more talent embracing the online space to connect with potential employers and to increase the chances of getting hired,” states Padamadan.

“What needs to be seen is how sustainable and effective these platforms are on the long run,” he adds.

The recruitment market in India has barely witnessed any changes in decades. These online recruitment startups see this as a window of disruptive market opportunity and aim to seize it.

According to Koirala, the last disruption that happened in the Indian recruitment market was 18 years ago when Naukri was started back in 1997. Then the global recruitment market witnessed a big shake-up 13 years ago when LinkedIn was started.

“There is a disruptive market opportunity in this space that young and nimble recruitment startups like ours can seize. The market demands better solutions,” Koirala claims.

Sandeep Mishra, digital marketing manager, i2india, also believes that there is disruptive market opportunity in the recruitment space and young recruitment startups are well-equipped to grab this opportunity.

“The Indian economy is going through rapid changes creating jobs requiring highly specialized skillsets. By disrupting the market, billion-dollar companies are being built based on new technologies. For these new-age companies, speed and the right execution of their business ideas translates into success. Developing the right team with the right skill sets at the right time is key for scaling and growing the business. “This is where the specialized online recruitment startups are playing an important role – aggregating specialized skillsets at one place, which increases the reach of companies and saves a lot of time in finding candidates,” says Mishra.

The stand against the titans

The Indian search and recruitment market is valued at US$800 million, with staffing agencies, job boards, and company HR departments occupying a major chunk of it. Among these existing traditional players, the online recruitment startups have to strive hard to carve their niche.

The new wave of specialist recruitment startups are more discoverable online to the right kind of audience, which makes the process of seeking and connecting to the right companies easy for candidates – and vise-versa. “So, in terms of targeting and value proposition, the new-gen online recruitment startups are in better sync with the market needs,” says Mishra.

Padamadan believes that there’s room for everyone. He says that between 2011 and 2013, India’s workforce increased from 393.1 million to 397.4 million, and millions keep adding to the workforce every year. Candidates have their own preferences when choosing a platform they are comfortable with. “The diverse and vast labor market that we currently see in India offers enough and more room to accommodate new entrants with different business models and different ways of engaging with talent. India can easily absorb many such startups, if they are specialized and offer a niche to the growing, diverse talent. But eventually they will get consolidated.”

Some experts believe these startups still have a long way to go before they could take on existing players. Sunil Goel, the managing director of GlobalHunt, which is a prominent Indian executive search and HR company, is of the opinion that although these startups have the right online tools to handle the complexities of hiring, they are not well equipped to deal with the core human resource issues, which are usually dealt with offline.

Goel says that most of the online recruitment startups offer only a single feature component of the whole hiring process; none of them have the complete set of features to handle issues regarding manpower planning or the on-boarding processes. “Online tools work largely as an information management system, giving the employers and the job-seekers a wider choice to assess and select each other. But the relevant skills, cultural compatibility, and even human behavior assessments goes beyond the control of the online tools.”