'It could take 12 months or more for hiring to get back on track.'
'New opportunities would come up and there will be demand for skillsets that can help dealing with the current situation.'
The employment scenario in the country, already looking worrisome, has been completely shattered by the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown.
The forced economic inactivity has affected the cash flow of the corporate sector, which has led companies big and small to trimming their workforce, introducing paycuts, and renegotiating the terms of employment, etc.
Campus recruitments have been badly affected, with recruiters withdrawing offer letters in many instances.
Trying to fix things in however small a way is Talentrackr Technologies, a recruitment company founded in 2009. The Pune firm recently launched a platform online to connect those who have been laid off in the pandemic with prospective employers.
'Our platform is exclusively built for people who have lost their jobs,' Talentrackr Technologies co-founder and CEO Charan Pal Singh told the media. 'And we have requested our clients to give preference to people who got laid off due to the pandemic, and consider them over candidates who applied for lateral job change.'
The platform was developed in-house and is designed for candidates to register themselves on it with minimal data entry and get connected to prospective employers.
"Multiple organisations have reached out to us and wanted to partner with us in this initiative and are willing to give preference to candidates who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic," Charan Pal Singh, below, tells A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com.
What made you take this initiative for professionals who have lost their jobs in the coronavirus pandemic?
Talentracker is into HR and recruitment software and our recruitment platform is being used by many organisations in India. We have been contributing in this space for over a decade now.
The trend we have noticed is that hiring is on freeze in most of the organisations and many are working on ways to either reduce their headcount or exploring pay cuts.
Unemployment has already spiked in India and further job cuts can have a rippling effect on the economy.
In such a scenario where COVID-19 striking the world suddenly has resulted in heavy job losses, we wanted to contribute in the fight against the pandemic and help those people who lost their jobs due to economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.
Since we already have the platform and infrastructure that can be used with minor modifications, we decided to use it to help people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, by connecting them with prospective employers in our network and at the same time provide a platform for other prospective employers outside our network to register on the platform and find useful candidates who have lost their jobs and can join immediately.
But are companies hiring given the bleak scenario?
In our discussions with various employers, we noticed that there is a hiring freeze in most of the organisations.
However, some are trying to utilise this opportunity to hire fresh talent with skillsets that would be useful in this scenario. Some larger organisations are trying to fill critical positions.
Multiple organisations have reached out to us and wanted to partner with us in this initiative and are willing to give preference to candidates who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
We also hope that as countries start lifting the lockdown, our efforts can yield seamless intake of suitable talent.
What are the sectors where you are seeing hires? Is there any sector where fresh hires are not affected?
According to our research and discussions with various employers in industries we believe that sectors like healthcare, online gaming and entertainment, digital education, e-commerce and online delivery services may hire despite a gloomy hiring outlook.
However, these are not the only sectors looking for new hires, companies in consumer tech, business software, financial services, consumer goods and educational technologies are also searching for the right talent.
What is the kind of skill sets these openings require? Are these openings at the entry level, or middle level?
Most of the companies are hiring at entry and mid-level and looking for skills like data scientist, technical hiring, engineers across sectors, sales and marketing.
Many companies are adapting to gig workers and floating jobs for the gig workforce as well.
What is the impact on wages do you find in the current situation? Wage cuts are rampant, yes, but are companies also scaling down salaries for hires?
Top companies in India are assuring employees that they will be taken care of financially while the lockdown continues or even if it gets extended and there will not be any pay cuts or layoffs.
However, the pressure is mounting due to reduced cash flows and extended lockdown and as a result of this, companies are exploring the option of scaling down salaries of new hires as well.
What has been the response from employers to your new platform to hire retrenched workers?
So far around 50 big and small employers have shown interest. The list also includes some large corporates who are exploring the idea of partnering with us in this initiative.
How many dismissed employees have you managed to find jobs so far?
At present close to 600 plus profiles within 4 days are registered with us and this number is increasing rapidly. Registered candidates already being processed with multiple organisations.
It is still early days, as we have just launched the portal.
Employers are taking more time to process the profiles as more due diligence is required in this scenario. Some are waiting to see what measures government would bring in to tackle the economic slowdown.
We are suggesting candidates to be patient and upskill themselves during this time. We are also planning some Webinars for candidates by inviting senior HR leaders from various industries as guest speakers.
We are hoping that the conversion rate will pick up in the coming months.
Do you have an estimate of the number of workers laid off across sectors?
According to data published by CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy), India's unemployment rate surged to 27.11 per cent in April from 6.74% in March 2020.
As per some media reports, the number of people who have lost their jobs till now across sectors could be around 122 million.
Would you call this the worst crisis to hit employment ever in India?
Yes, we do believe that it could the worst crisis to hit employment ever in India.
The government has issued a directive to companies not to lay off employees and not to pare down salaries. Are companies listening?
While many companies are trying adhere to the government's appeal, most of the startups and mid-size organisations are struggling as their clients, big or small, are not processing payments on time and scrapping existing projects to cut down on their operational cost.
In some cases, employers have stopped paying salaries, though not removed anyone. In such cases some of the employees themselves are leaving the companies.
Employee salaries and rentals for workspace are the major costs for these organisations and hence they are trying to cut down on both.
Some are also seeking legal opinion to deal with this situation as their cash flows have almost dried up and investors are hesitant to invest more money.
We believe layoffs can only be delayed for some time, however it cannot be avoided.
When do you see the employment scene picking up in India again?
It could take 12 months or more for hiring to get back on track.
New opportunities would come up and there will be demand for skillsets that can help dealing with the current situation.
What will be your advice to fresh graduates passing out this summer, who will be faced with this unimaginable crisis?
Our advice to freshers would be to network aggressively by reaching out to people, develop relevant and trending skills, take up remote freelance jobs or internships, upgrade themselves, and most importantly keep their morale up and concentrate on learning rather than earnings in this situation.