The state of career networks in India (and the pain of finding a right job)

Around 10 weeks ago, I started an experiment to assess the state of affairs of the online career portal market in India. More than that I was experimenting to get the state of affairs for ‘getting a job using online career portal’ in India.

The objective of the experiment was to assess a few things viz. (a) whether a candidate gets connected to the right job (b) are the recruiters or the companies contacting the candidate with right job openings (c) Guesstimate the missing workflow & technology pieces around matching / follow up, etc. (d) get a general pulse of the career portals around usability, experience, bugs, design, quirks, etc. (for private consumption)

I started by:

1. Creating a brand new Gmail account

2. Updated my old resume (excluded the current experience at Morpheus)

3. Created new accounts on a few popular career portals (not gonna name them here).

3. Uploaded the resume and made it searchable / visible– Tried to complete the profile as much as possible, except activating my SMS (one portal nagged every time I logged in to allow them to send me SMS!)

Fast forward to today and man it sucks! Most of the career portals are living the dot-com dream. However, I’m not going to do any comment on their usability, workflow and various issues/bugs I have found.

The moment I activated my resume, spam was the first one to get into my inbox — In various forms, including spam from management institutes & colleges which wanted me to do an executive course or two.Β  There were a few direct phone calls of recruiters who were really interested in hiring me, whereas most of the recruiters used a standard template asking the current CTC, notice period and never actually bothering to read my resume!

Here is the analysis of the contact points (email & phone calls):Inbound touchpoints

In the total 10 weeks, I got around 130 readable emails and 7 phone calls. The good part was that largely, the recruiters who called actually bothered to read the resume and were interested in hiring rather than shooting emails to complete a bean count. Around 10-15 emails per day is not all that bad, but what I found that a majority of the recruiters never read the resume. Here’s another graph which tells more (click on the image to see hi-res version):

Content analysis

The analysis of charts & the emails tells a few things:

1. The recruiters, especially the agencies outsourced to hire people for “consulting” gigs, do not even bother to read the resume. They want people for their software factories using plain vanilla keyword search

2. Extending to the above thought — I presume (haven’t seen the recruiter interface of any of the career portal) that there are no matching tools being used

3. A large number of recruiters fire & forget — There were certain instances where I responded to the email asking them to send more information, but went unanswered. Infact, a recruiter who called me for a VP role at a larger company never followed up with a job description of that position.

4. The number of job openings which actually matched what I wanted was around 6. This is because the right tools are missing.

5. I also felt that recruiters use the career portals as pure lead gen ignoring the fact that the resume has more data then the discussion with the candidates back and forth.

6. Even if you are the CEO of Google and mention Java in a project which you worked on 15 years ago, you may still get an offer to get hired for a Sr. Java Engineer position.

7. Recruiters seldom personalize the emails — Just BCC everybody and their dog who had Java in their resume.

There are other fine nuggets which I’ve kept it with me and revolve around quirky issues with specific portals. Recruiters are definitely the culprits, but my fingers are pointing towards the career portals who lack proper tools and are monetizing heavily for the lack of viable “branded” alternatives.

I think there is a lot of room for brand new, green field innovation in the hiring / career segment in India. Do you have ideas? I have some.

Publicly apologizing to a few recruiters who are good friends and nice guys, they were surprised when I posted my resume on these sites without calling them first. Now you know. Yeah, I would call you back when I’m looking for a change πŸ™‚

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  • Interesting stuff dude! Tumne to sabke kapde hi utaar diye! πŸ˜‰

    • indus

      Ha ha! Aaag laga do-koi to taktwar mashal lekar bhagega πŸ™‚

  • Adi

    So basically online career portals suck. I read in one of Paul Graham's essays long ago that most services suck big time, and a “delta” improvement is a very good reason to start up in that service. πŸ™‚

    • indus

      Yup. Dunno why innovation is not flowing to do a better *kri or *nster. A lot of us look for jobs all the time..where are the entrepreneurs? and why are they do doing another tweeter / news aggregator?

    • Adi

      I know about some good sites like codemunch (http://www.codemunch.com) who're trying here, but I think established job portals have too big a headstart and recognition for any new player to make a dent in the market. Plus some portals are backed by biggest media houses.

    • indus

      Big “validated” brands with muscle — If the upstarts are better, are people on them?

    • Kiran Duganapalli

      Hi Dhruv,
      Its t most impressive post seen from many days. everyone expereice this and no matter what they can’t do anything with it. it’s only t job portals who can add value to both employer and job seeker.
      to say, we are coming up with a job portal and we think your inputs can add value to it. how can we differentiate with this biggies?

      Kiran Kumar

    • Kiran Duganapalli

      Hi Indus,
      Its t most impressive post seen from many days. everyone expereice this and no matter what they can’t do anything with it. it’s only t job portals who can add value to both employer and job seeker.
      to say, we are coming up with a job portal and we think your inputs can add value to it. how can we differentiate with this biggies?

      Kiran Kumar

  • Nice post, Indus. What you say possibly is the experience of most job seekers. However, having worked in a major career site for a long time, I can say that the recruiters could definitely do a better job of using the tools available to them. You will know why I say this when you get on to the other side and subscribe to one of the job sites as a recruiter. Job sites have evolved over a period of time and my conviction is that if one spends time (and not do carpet bombing which is what a lot of recruiters end up doing) on the tools, the recruiters can be far more efficient and the job seekers much happier.

    • indus

      Dhruv:

      Thanks for reading. Do you think the portals have matured in terms of their offering for matching / workflow / filtering of resumes / pre-hiring assessment and such? If so, then is training the missing link? or the economics of finding the perfect candidate is not aligned and they just go with finding a candidate whose resume has right keywords?

    • I guess we will have to see why the ideal matching doesn't happen. The tools work on the GIGO principle – most of the job sites work on “Upload your resume” feature (because like all of us, they too have a need to show impressive resume growth and uploading the resume is easy from a jobseeker's perspective) whereas the ideal resume is one that is constructed as against uploaded.

      With a constructed resume, one would be able to capture all the nuances of a job seeker's experience and needless to say, the recruiter tool can be made to search this resume to the point. But the conflict point for all job sites would be that if you offer only 'construct a resume' option to the job seekers, most would walk away because 'it's too much work'. It's a classic mindset – 'I want it easy' – whether from a job seeker's point of view or from the recruiter's.

      IMHO, if the input is broad-based (upload a resume – thus, nuances of career highlights not captured in fields), the search would also have to be based on broad parameters such as keywords.

    • indus

      There is another path of constructing a structured resume from free flowing text. There are tools available to do that — One of the job portal actually uses that as well. Plugging technology without keeping the needs of the customer in mind does not help as well.

  • Good analysis.

  • Nitin

    Excellent survey! I will take the liberty to add a few points from the recruiter's perspective since I used that interface when running my startup.

    The tools on the recruiter side are less than mature – for instance, there was no easy way to run a 'campaign' i.e. setup a search, send mailers, monitor response rates and manage the interested candidate set's life cycle (get more info to qualify, setup interviews, comp negotiations, log their results etc.).

    This is easily a CRM system and these portals are far-far (!!) away from a Salesforce or a Zoho like ability and don't take the user towards a good process at all.

    • indus

      Nitin,

      Interesting idea about the campaign part — my mind is racing at 100mph after reading your comment.

    • if only i had money, and a strong tech guy, your mind would stop by my website (in future)

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  • Great post Indus. I fully concur with the above findings. As an employer, we have to deal with fake resumes, sucky job portals and then the slew of spam they send back. This time we hired a recruiting agency and asked them to fill up our open positions.

  • You didn't want to name the job portals? They're mentioned in the blog tags! Ha!

    • indus

      Good find. But they are for spamming the SERPs with their keywords with this post πŸ™‚

  • Fareed Jawad

    This is really intersting and a good analysis of my frustrating experiences. I am a payment guy and work on Payment Switches too – so guess what I get about 70% job announcements from recruiters for LAN networking !! And all the usual suspects are just that – suspects in low tech and non-cognitive analysis πŸ™‚ good article and investigation Indus…

    • indus

      Very true, Fareed.

  • Raxit

    interestingly 5 yr of Java Exp = 1 yr of Java Exp 5 times πŸ™‚

    this is the reason why linkedin job is increasing. They are social and having good fit. Interestingly job portals have tried to make social feel by spamming a lot to new social job portal, but did not worked well.

  • intresting post.. And just today I gave a five hours KT to my team about how to improve the portals which can be converted into more useful data.

    Well, I am curious to share/listen your ideas too.. Which might help us to refine our thoughts.. And come up with real efficient mechanism and possibly “cool” in a staged manner..

    Thanks

    Vishnu

  • amitkmishra

    Indus and all other fellow gentlemen who took time and comment on this,

    I work with one job portal and have worked with almost recruiters across the globe while the international operations for it. The basic funda which lacks everywhere is investment of time and energy in the right away in doing right searches. There are many tools available to recruiters which can help them shortlist incoming responses + registered users across sites.

    The fact many of us in India have a bad experience while job hunting is the fact most of the recruiters do not think about the candidate perspective as the number of candidates are high so it doesn't matter if 50 candidates from the 500 candidates contacted through mail are not relevant(numbers may be more depending on profiles). We have a large population to support every vacant job opening so recruiters can comfortably send mails to all matching the keyword and get 25-30 relevant resumes reverted to them.

    So my suggestion is to put some relevant keywords matching your profile once you register with any job site or else try to contact companies directly through their career page or use sites like linkedin to contact relevant recruiters or HR managers in esteemed organisation in your industry.

    I am sure there are ways to get hired,its just about using the right strategy to get the right job.

    • indus

      Recruiters lack the basic understanding that a guy who has worked on a particular thing 10 years ago and now has moved onto from programming to project management is not a match. As a candidate I like mentioning my favorite projects of yester years and the recruiters get sucked into it. Maybe the candidates need to change, don't mention any project / keywords which you do not want a job in .. but then it brings other sets of issues.

    • well c'mon now Indus, all recruiters do not lack basic understand, a lot do i agree, but not all. πŸ™‚

  • Arjun

    If i am not wrong Morpheus is incubating a job service portal: Sutra HR …. Is this an effort to promote them?

    • indus

      Actually, this _may_ be a prologue to another HR venture we may incubate in next 6 months. Sutra HR is a big boy and well known in startup hiring circles and dont need a promo here…I would have mentioned them by name if such was the case.

  • Sudhir

    I observed one more point during my job switch. Sometimes, their e-mail would start with line “We are not able to reach on your mobile” I don't know if this their way to save phone costs.

    • indus

      Tactic.

  • Lalit

    Portals well they do their bit to the mess (which I think is general nuance of doing a copy paste from the western counterparts.) But I personally feel that majority of blame goes to
    1.Recruiters :- For not doing their job. Getting low cost recruiters who can't speak English and are doing a carpet bombing approach to recruting. Try putting your resume on a M#$%^r UK or M$%^&r US, you may get much fewer answers but those will be from people who have read your resume and are genuinely adding value to their parent company by checking with you if you are still hands on Java and interested working on since you last worked on it 3 years back.
    2. The candidates themselves :- I had put up many job postings in past for example let's say my posting says 3-4 years with Excellent Embedded skills and Attitude to work in a startup. >50% of the resumes I receive in response are completely not suitable cause either they have too less exp (freshers mostly) or People with Java 2 EE experience (completely un related). So, IMHO, the whole ecosystem is built around our favorite Mantra “chalta hai”. Just improving the job portals will not solve the pain it may actually disappoint or alienate candidates and recruiters from them.

    • indus

      @guglanisam & I joke about this all the time that replace the resume with a property listing or the property listing with a matrimony listing and the existing portals would still make a lot of money without innovation.

      100% agree that our “chalta hai” is the culprit and our attitude to get succumbed to the size of incumbents.

      Whereas if we look at the valley, the moment Zynga crossed $10m in revenues 100s of companies started chasing them to take their market share away, and they are not even school going age.

  • Siji John

    cool one…! surely will open a few eyes πŸ™‚

  • Hi Indus,

    A very seminal post which succinctly articulates the state of online recruiting today. Most of us would agree that the biggest problem here is too much available information. Without a good search engine, one simply gets lost in all the information. unfortunately, today's search engines are still inefficient, delivering mismatched information and requiring complex search string knowledge to use effectively.

    While there is no technology by which people can be reduced to and represented by a text based document or form, I surmise among the solutions to the talent sourcing challenge lies in the the ability of people to truly understand the positions being sourced for, an awareness and appreciation of the intrinsic limitations of human capital data, and the ability to employ sound search/data mining tactics and strategies to go beyond these limitations and leverage human capital data to find all of the best candidates, both directly and indirectly.
    Evolution of semantic search technologies may hold the answer to effective talent mining in the future

    • indus

      Pradeep:

      Thanks for reading. A few fingers can also point to our acceptance of mediocrity attitude, rather, there is no better way to do it attitude. The customer accepts it, the vendor does not know better and the ecosystem works on this perfect balance of status quo.

      I agree to your points that technology and trained human capital can solve this problem. A lot of evolution has happened or is happening, but we (as Indians) don't push the envelope to be torch bearers of innovation, instead copy what's second best “out there” and server it on a aggressively marketed platter.

    • Indus,

      i couldn't agree more with you on this and your post is but symptomatic of a greater malaise which plagues our approaches to talent management. In my own professional experience as a talent acquisition strategist, this is to do with a talent mind-set that is rooted in a set of assumptions and empirical evidence that is misleading and only serves to maintain the status quo. In addition to these unconscious models and decision-making preferences there is a huge 'knowing-doing gap' caused in the main by an over-reliance on organizational memory to guide decisions and actions. What matters is what individuals do, not the context or the system in which they do it, and this by far is one of the biggest challenges which search engines in the myriad career portals face- their inability to understand the 'context' of the search. It is this context that determines if the word 'well' refers to a 'bucket' as in, “Draw water from the well” or a 'person', as in, 'is she not feeling well?”. Majority of the current responses to the 'talent war' have been driven by a scarcity of mind and action, a tactical outlook and the 'current state of the career portals' only underscore this abject approach. Hopefully we would move to a more creative, generative approach to 'talent solutions' , where the language,substance and innovation can provide an evolutionary and inclusive paradigm to attract, develop and retain talent- closer home in India as also globally..

      Ps: some of my views here are adapted from my own blog post on the 'talent conundrum', and a interesting article I read sometime back on the 'semantic search for recruiting' by talentspring..

    • indus

      It indeed is a talent conundrum. Resume databases are prolly the 1st step towards “talent automation”. Shall wait and see what other startups come out with.

  • Is it the 'free for all' option for corporates & jobseekers responsible for the chaos? http://bit.ly/recruitment-malaise

  • Great article Thank

    you so much!

  • Niraj

    What is the market size? I have something that make it easier.

    For my internal job spam filtering I use google predict and have trained a model to categorize the emails into the buckets as you classified.

    Maybe there is an opportunity to sell to the agents to fine tune their responses to the resume submissions.

    contact me at http://blog.gandalf-lab.com twitter @webscaleguy

    • indus

      Can it be converted into a webservice which people can subscribe to & pay you per API call?

  • “Even if you were a Google CEO with JAVA as a keyword …” hahaha .. fell off my chair laughing. In-fact, my wifey who is into credit control (because of her MBA in finance) keeps getting JAVA programmer jobs because she did her Bachelors in computer applications! All these job portals suck bigtime – they have no focus on solving the real problem.
    Nice read Indus.

    • indus

      Yeah. Good space to watch and some problems to solve for the desi ecosystem!

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  • Pradeepin2

    I felt the best way to land in proper job is
    1)Do a research on the companies, then upload the resume directly in their site
    2)Use Linked In (http://linkedin.com) effectively
    3)Never Use job Portals.
    4)Never Go through the Consultants

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  • So true.. the Career Networks suck big time in India.. and the Career Consultants with a paid account do not even care to go through the resume..Β 

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  • Fresher Jobs

    The state of career networks in India is good blog, Find good career jobs in india. here jobs in india

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