IT and technology companiesare taking longer to fill corner room vacancies.Senior management positions are taking up to 6-8 months to be filled, a sign that business is slowing down and managements are not in a hurry to fill vacancies. In good times, vacancies get filled in 2-3 months.
The long gestation is also indicative of growing wariness among senior execs to switch jobs, a phenomenon visible in times of economic slowdown. People see their current employers, where they would have worked for a while and built relationships, as safer places to be. This also means companies that are looking to fill positions have fewer candidates on offer.
C K Guruprasad, search consultant for the technology practice at global executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles India, says companies need business justification for filling up senior-level positions. “The fragile economic scenario has forced companies to delay closures. Some vacancies have extended beyond six months,” he says.
Vikram Chhachhi, executive VP at global search firm DHR International, echoes that:”Companies are being more prudent in the current economic scenario. There is no frenzy to fill positions.”
Vacancies for director level positions (senior VP roles) in Dell, Microsoft and Oracle in India are said to have been open for a fairly long time, which in the normal course would have been closed in less than 4 months. However, hiring for senior execs is seen to be relatively brisk for technologies like cloud, analytics and mobility, the hot new areas where a lot of attention is now focused.
“The quarter-on-quarter numbers have not been healthy and there is pressure on companies to cut costs. They would rather focus on expanding their margins than adding to costs,” says Prasad Medury, partner at executive search firm Amrop India. He adds that companies are also more frequently revisiting earlier assumptions about the kind of person they need, making changes when the search process was underway, thus delaying the process.
This is perhaps reflective of the growing uncertainties that businesses today face. A sector analyst said that an Indian IT company that was looking out for a global vertical business head suddenly changed the specs, restricting the job to North America, when the candidates’ list was presented to the client.
Priya Chetty-Rajagopal , vice-president at executive search firm Stanton Chase International, says there’s also temptation now to look within. “Companies are pushing up talent available within the company to occupy executive roles rather than look at lateral hires. They, however, benchmark internal candidates with others who have been short-listed .” Lateral hires are invariably more expensive than internal candidates.
Rekha Murthy, senior partner – technology and telecom practice at executive search firm Transearch India, says that for some positions, the search takes longer because there isn’t enough talent available in the country. “Companies often want candidates for leadership roles to demonstrate business acumen and hands-on technology experience. That may not be easy to find,” she says.