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New job offer? Some dos and don'ts
Urmila Rao, Outlook Money | March 08, 2007
The phone rings. The voice on the other end says: "We would like to make you an offer to join our company." Most of India's corporate workforce has been through this routine -- many times.
It is a far cry from the situation even a couple of years ago, when it was not easy even for a jobseeker with multiple degrees clipped to his resume to land a good offer. Today, companies are chasing even middling performers with lucrative packages and a promise of career growth. And the days when one was wedded to a job, in sickness or health? They are gone.
As the story of economic prosperity gets scripted in India, outfits old and new are expanding rapidly. It's party time out there. But, as many companies are learning the hard way, a party lasts only as long as there are people.
Sectors such as retail, aviation, pharma, telecom and real estate, which are in the thick of the boom, are facing severe shortage of skilled manpower. Supply is way behind demand. As a result, companies are ending up hiring people from older companies. That, in turn, is creating its own demand. Little wonder, then, that anybody worth his salt is walking around with two or three job offers at a time.
Delhi-based computer engineer Pooja Rajan, 26, joined her latest company, an infotech firm, just six months back. With three years of experience under her belt, she has been sought out by two Bangalore-based companies with plush offers. "Changing jobs is not a big deal any more," says Purvi Seth, vice-president of Shilputsi, an HR consulting firm.
There are scores of white-collar professionals like Rajan, who too are are switching jobs in quick succession. The attrition rates in new economy sectors are hovering at 30 per cent mark. Even in the old economy sectors, the turnover rates are alarmingly close to 20 per cent.
"There is simply a shortage of good quality manpower," says Sanjit Banerjee, director of Gurgaon-based HR firm Eminence Consulting.
The offers are so enticing that even the most laid back of people could be driven up the wall worrying whether to stay or move. Should you plod on in the same company, or risk being labelled a rolling stone? And if you pass up that plum job, will you regret it forever? Should you trust a rival company because it is paying 40 per cent more, or lay your bet your career on your current organisation?
How to evaluate an offer
In a scenario where jobs are flying thick and fast, how do you decide which one's for you? Don't jump on an offer just because it exists, caution HR experts. "Before you decide to take up a job, think what you would like your next job to be and whether this one will lead you to it," says Dony Kuriakose, director, EDGE Executive Search.
Growth potential. One of the parameters of evaluating an offer is to see if you are being stretched in your areas of capability. If your current role responsibility doesn't give you scope for growth, then staying would mean eroding your own market value.
"It's like committing professional hara-kiri," says Shwetabh Jha of consultancy firm Gallup. "Look at an offer with a holistic perspective and see what it has to offer in terms of challenge, learning, growth and future employability."
Renumeration. Some professionals have seen their pay increase five-fold. That would not have happened if they had stuck to the same company. But how important is the remuneration aspect while appraising an offer?
"A differential of up to 15 per cent is not cause for concern if the other factors are positive," says Kuriakose. "Anything greater than this merits analysis and, perhaps, even a dialogue with your HR department."
Surely, in a buoyant market where 30 per cent hike with the job change comes without asking, you may not lose sleep over a 15-per-cent-raise, but what if you are offered a jaw-dropping 50 per cent escalation?
Career wise. If your career aspirations are met within the current organisation by way of lateral moves, then the traditional linear growth can be given a sack. Pallavi joined Radio Mirchi, a Delhi-based FM radio station, in 2003 as a radio jockey (RJ). In the last three years, many offers claiming to be financially and creatively more stimulating, have crossed her way.
She, however, looked for growth prospects within the organisation and was not disappointed. "From being an RJ, I have been promoted to being the producer of the morning show. It is a challenging role," says Pallavi.
Companies have begun to understand the need of encouraging lateral movements. "Such a growth move paves a path for fresh and creative thinking and prevents an employee from stagnating," says Pranab Barua, CEO, Trinethra Super Retail.
An offer that gives you scope of growth in terms of new responsibilities and introduces you to new areas of work, coupled with compensation at par with the industry, is worth considering.
A strategy that companies often adopt to lure an employee is to offer fetching salaries. The plan works most of the times. But there is a flipside to this. "Companies are forgetting to consider value-for-money-based hiring and are paying high compensation just to get people on board," says the vice-president of a leading Mumbai-based HR consultancy.
Also, frequent change in jobs or sectors doesn't give you time enough to get in-depth knowledge of your field, and consequently grow into a leader. The threat of not having enough leaders, is very real. "We have already started roping in expats to run our businesses," says Jha.
When to move
The job market is in throes of development and the underlying current is if you miss the opportunity now, the bus may not stop by again. But opines Seth of Shilputsi, "There is no ideal time for change." Which means, you shouldn't be worrying about the transient character of the current market.
True, the present phase is offering an unprecedented exposure to gain experience across multiple sectors while getting impressive salaries in their realm of operation. But the change should not be time-driven, rather, points out Seth, "Consider moving if your offer maps your career goals, objectives and aspirations. Also you should see what avenues are open for you in the long term".
The fear of missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity takes a beating, as Kuriakose suggests, "if the candidate focuses on his skills and ensures that they are upgraded all the time, he will always be in the boom cycle". Mull over the reason and not the time of your move. It's worth moving if the new role adds value to the experience.
The value-add can be brought about by seeking out a different industry or by taking up a bigger role. "You can also get it by being more enterprising. The key criteria should be to build your leadership track record and any role that allows it to happen," says an HR expert.
How long should you stay
If constant job-change, say one in every four years, sounds like a death knell for your career then what level of consistency should one aim at? "Stay in a job as long it makes career-sense. Use learning plus earning benchmark to evaluate the need for change," says Kuriakose.
Roasie Ahluwalia, 35, was with Delhi-based PR firm Perfect Relations for 11 years before moving to becoming General Manager, Corporate Communications, with Genesis Colors (which owns the Satya Paul brand). Talking about what many would consider a marathon stint, she says, "It's all about fixing your own levels of satisfaction. You should know what you want and not what is expected from you." She adds, "I didn't see a reason as to why I should follow the trend of job-hopping."
Says Jha, "Employees need to be given the kind of exposure which gives them the width and depth of experience." Stay in a job as long as "you have something qualitative to add to your resum� as you update it every six months," says Kuriakose. "On the earning front, keep abreast of salary trends to ensure that you are not underpaid by industry standards," he adds.
How does HR see resum�s
Do HR departments hold a wet blanket view on the lack of stability? Or are jumps seen as experience in diverse fields? A patchy resum� mostly doesn't find favour with the HR department.
Says Barua of Trinethra: "A jumping resume does not speak accolades in terms of stability and dedication in a job." Adds Kishore Velankar, vice-president, Human Capital Management, Integreon, a Knowledge and Legal Process Outsourcing firm, "Stability index is extremely important because when a person is hired, a huge investment is made in him or her with reference to money, time, energy."
However, if you possess special skill sets, the HR departments are more tolerant of the constant moves. Prashant Sumanth, deputy general manager of Mumbai-based real estate company Kalpa-Taru, says, "If the candidate possess a critical skill we may want to give his jumping resum� a shot."
Sanjay Singh, HR vice-president, Whirlpool India Limited, says, "Change also reflects and talks about adaptability. Instead of downright rejecting a patchy resum�, we see why the changes took place." Also, a lot of leapfrogging is taking place because across-the-sector moves are gaining acceptance. The bottomline is -- frequent moves are acceptable as long they are backed by proper justifications.
Interestingly, whether you are a jumping jack or a steady player, the offers don't stop coming. Companies too haven't cut down on their poaching spree.
Says Jha: "Right now organisations are going after whosoever they can get. But tomorrow, when the course correction happens, and organisations get more picky about who they want to hire, they will look at how an individual has added value to himself."
This flux in the job market is likely to remain for a couple of years, maintain HR experts. Don't let the glare of job offers blind you from seeing the bigger picture. And, more importantly, look within to find out what you want from yourself, now and in the future.