Archive for July, 2010

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

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

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.  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 🙂

Poor customer service in India: Will Social Media solve the problem?

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Customer service in India? Hardly go together.  Pick up a company and there is huge amount of anger flowing in the social media channels. Let’s look at Airtel, arguably they provide one of the best customer service in India. Here is one angry customer tweeting about his bad experience:

Airtel angry customer

This is just a small sample of the overall dissatisfaction around poor customer service. Go to and try some popular names.

All the anger goes un-noticed (at least for now) as companies hardly follow up and close the loop. Even if the companies are active in social media, their presence is just a charade, as in this example:

Tata Indicom bad customer service

In the above conversation, Tata Indicom (using @tataphotonplus) regularly talks to customers and asks them to send an email / call their customer service, which probably starts a separate thread in their CRM. Probably, they do not even have the tools to research the issue. I can guess that it’s being managed by a marketer.

On the other side, young companies like Cleartrip are doing a much better job. They take some time but put some effort in resolving the issue. Recently I found a bug on cleartrip’s site related to how they calculate dates for a railway booking. It took me 5-6 high pitch hollers before cleartrip acknowledged the bug (I haven’t seen my lost money yet as they booked me on a wrong date!)

Cleartrip Railway booking bug

The anger being spewed on the web is nothing new–There have been scores of websites, forums who aggregate the data centrally and nothing happens unless the companies have presence. Very few such forums have a model to engage with the customer. Tripadvisor does it a bit; Getsatisfaction was built on the same premise. However, the fragmented open channels provided by twitter and other social media streams allows companies to tap in easily.

The technology to connect the social media dots with the regular CRM is also coming together and most of the vendors have now started offering ways to complete the customer service loop.  The company can keep a customer happy if they are able to connect it’s customer id & the twitter username of it’s customer. There are a lot of initiatives for a separate Social CRM, but an existing CRM would work best if it’s connected to the social channels where customers are present rather than reinventing.

On the flip side, I see that it is a good start. The customer service in the above case is most probably being done via the marketing channels. And when a marketer gets a negative feedback about the brand/service, it gets escalated. Not every company is on the social channel, especially the government run companies who have a history of checkered customer service.

Companies provide good customer service when they have the fear of god in their mind; fear of losing the customer or lawsuits taking the company down. However in India, where there are few laws to “really” protect the customer nor the companies fear about losing a customer or two–The only way companies get attentive is when they fear that a large number of people would read about other people’s bad experience and the dilution of the brand.

Good thing that people have a vent and companies have started noticing and the new channel is able to connect them publicly with the footprints left all over.

Your 1st venture? Are you waiting for the right idea/team/conditions?

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

In the 5th grade of my Hindi class, I learned this:

जिन खोजा तिन पाइया, गहरे पानी पैठ

जौ बौरां डूबन डरा, रहा किनारे बैठ

It’s a popular saying recited by many and written originally by the famous Indian poet, Kabir. My own translation reads:

Unless you jump, the oysters are found deep.

Continue to wait on the sidelines, busy counting sheep.

Entrepreneurship is risk free, as Sameer wrote in a popular post a while ago. No point waiting for the right idea or the right time, or the right set of market conditions. The ideal time is for analysts to conjure the future which already exists in an entrepreneur’s eyes. Bike rusting on the shore Unless you write a manuscript and revise it multiple times and get rejected by at least 5 publishers–how can you write one of India’s best-selling book? Unless 20 VCs label your ideas as stupid, how can the 21st get it funded?

Unless you take the plunge, you would never know, what you are doing is right. Planning is required–Accumulating a small buffer to support your personal life is a good idea. But, being a wannabe entrepreneur forever kills your self-esteem slowly.

A lot of entrepreneurs wait for the right team, right set of market conditions and getting validated by the investors before starting them. If you are an ecommerce upstart in India, would you start right now and run a few experiments or wait until the big guys have already muscled into the market.

Team is you, when you start; people follow you when you have jumped. Unless you put your everything into chopping block, no body else would. Product is what you create the demand for, idea is the seed, consumers often do not know what they want. Of course, market conditions are never right. If it were right, you’ll have to worry about competition rather than creating products.

Unless you fail in your first venture, how would you do the second one which may turn out be OK and then the third one which may turn out be a success. You don’t have to give it much of a thought if this is your 1st venture. You learn from the mistakes and plan better in the next one. For this one, you just have one option–Jump and try collecting the oysters, at least you’ll find fish.

The pic is of a bicycle rusting on a sea shore.