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Job freeze casts a chill again

Kalpana Pathak & M Saraswathy  |  Mumbai 

is not flashing the pink slip yet, but multitasking is the buzzword.

If a job change is on your mind, it’s better to hold on for the time being. Thanks to the slowing economy, is wary of recruiting additional numbers. Though say pink slips are still way off, there is a near consensus on a slowdown in the recruitment process.

“I think a job freeze is back. Though have not begun laying off people, they are definitely recruiting less people. Some have selected candidates, but are not giving them the job offers,” says Sangeeta Lala, vice-president, TeamLease Staffing Solutions.

Head hunters say telecom, real estate, and financial services, information technology and aviation are sectors where managements have already applied the brakes on hiring.

“In the sector, it’s investment banking, retail broking and institutional equity that have been impacted. While many companies have laid off employees, there are talks of another round of layoffs. Broadly, the short-term outlook is bleak,” said Supreet Singh, CEO, Altor Executive Search.

That’s understandable, as cash volumes for brokerages have dropped over a third in the last one year. While has shut down, Alchemy has closed its institutional equity business. Some more are set to follow suit. But elsewhere, it’s more of a job freeze than job cuts. Vivek Nath, India MD of Towers Watson India, an HR firm, says unlike 2008, companies are looking at multitasking by existing employees, instead of pink slips.

“A one-size fits all, across the board salary reduction or layoffs are not the immediate reaction this time around. Retaining key talent is crucial. The focus is on optimisation,” he says.

HR service providers say companies like Infosys Technologies, Wipro, and IBM have also decided to slow hiring down. “gives a mandate of hiring around 40,000 people, but this year the number is restricted to only 25,000. Similarly, has revised its hiring numbers downwards,” said the CEO of a head hunting firm. While said in an email it did not provide information on its hiring strategies, Infosys said, “The company has not reduced its hiring.

We continue to be on track to hire 45,000 people this year, of which about 25,000 had been hired as on September 30, 2011.”

According to data from Ma Foi Randstad, while the July-September quarter of 2010 saw 20,200 job opportunities in the and financial industry, the estimated requirement for the same period in 2011 was 14,800. In the sector, while there were 48,200 jobs on offer in July-September 2010, the number has come down by 30,700 for July-September 2011.

E Balaji, CEO of MaFoi Randstad, says, “Most companies are cautious in the hiring process as there is a pressure on their margins. There is an 8-10 per cent slowdown in hiring and in sectors linked to European markets, like asset management and broking, a pause in hiring can be seen.”

“A few engineering and companies finalised people for mid- and senior-level posts. However, they did not give them the final job offers, giving various excuses. MF Global's bankruptcy and subsequent laying off of people was another disaster that happened because they did not plan their strategies properly," said the vice-president of a recruitment firm on the condition of anonymity.

FMGC and manufacturing companies however, are the ones where jobs are available. “I don't think there is a slowdown in the FMCG and retail sectors. We have hired four expats in the last two months and many other players in the industry are also hiring,” said Sanjay Jog, chief people officer, Future Group.

“There is a sector-specific slowdown in recruitment. BFSI and have gone down, while infrastructure and natural resource companies are doing very well. Because of the buzz in the market, companies are thinking twice before taking a decision. Though there is no panic, people are in wait and watch mode," said Ganesh Shermon, partner and country head of people and change practice, KPMG Advisory Services.

First Published: Wed, November 23 2011. 00:42 IST