For how long will your job stay?

I know this a scary question but let us face it for once. I have been doing an analytic study on this for a long time and telling it to many people from our IT sector. Better we understand this now or it will be too late.

I have already stated one very important point in my previous blog post that “IT professionals” constitute 85% of the IT community. (Not taking into consideration the entrepreneurs/business promoters for the time being). The majority of our daily work (technology services or business services) is done by these IT Professionals. The “work” is given to us (India) primarily because of low cost arbitrage. That does not denote work only comes to India because of fairly low cost. The skilled resources (IT professionals) are affordable that is the primary reason why work comes here. This is a true fact and let us accepts it.

For a company there are two kind of costs:

  • a) cost of resource
  • b) other costs – infrastructure cost, various kinds of taxes etc.

Cost of resource is the primarily cost factor (80%) and if it increases work may not come to India. And this alarming trend has already started. A time may come when you (IT professionals) have skill sets but no job is there in the market.

So what are the solutions?

My recommendations are divided into two parts:

a)      For the employees –

    1. A Fresher, who is new to the industry, must not worry about salary (as long as they are at par with the market). I keep hearing fresh graduates saying, they are not interested to join an SME because “they pay lesser”.
    2. Do not keep asking for a salary hike.
    3. Speak with your employer and do some extra work and earn money. I am not telling you to do freelancing (hidden manner) by stealing company clients. What I am suggesting you to do is, “go and teach few students, who need you as mentors”. I know some developers who are teaching students after work or during the week ends. They are earning well and have stopped asking for salary hike.
    4. A visible problem with the IT professionals – they keep changing jobs and hopping from one company to another. I have asked few of them the reason for this and they have told me “we change jobs because of career growth and for security”.  I ask them “how do you define career growth? Do you think salary hike is equivalent to career growth?” Most of the times I do not get any specific answers from them. And as far as security is concerned I tell them “No one is secured. A company is not God” and I even tell them “Your Company will not take away your job; you will lose it because of market forces”.

To the employees: Remember one thing, the more you change your jobs just for a rise in salary, the more you are increasing your “price”. A day might come when your job will be given to someone else in some other country even after you have the skill set.

  1. An important piece of advice for the students – higher education is not for everyone. I have seen many engineering graduates, who are unable to find work through campus recruitment, start applying for B-Schools. They simply do a blunder. I am not saying this because I have anything against management studies. Think of this situation, which is sadly a reality. An engineer spends almost 2-3 lakhs for his engineering course, then goes for management studies and there he spends another 4-5 lakhs. (Just imagine the state of the parents). So after passing out from a B-school 90% of the candidates are “qualified” but cannot be afforded by 80% of companies just because the candidate’s salary expectation is way higher now.

So my appeal to the students community – after passing out if you do not have a particular skill set then instead of doing some higher studies go for the following

  1. go to an institute and learn a particular skill set (PHP/SEO Content Writing/Ruby of Rails etc)
  2. go work in an SME or a start-up and learn the skills
  3. Find mentors from the IT Community who can help, teach and guide you.

b)      For the employers  –

  1. My appeal to the SMEs and start-ups is that do not expect that best students will join your company. Rather take normal students (with basic education) and train them up (increase your training & development costs). The more qualified candidates you take, your resource cost will go up. And from the very beginning “do not expect them to stay with you for lifelong.”
  2. The start-ups need to be more professional and organized so that students can join your company to learn. I have asked many students why they do not prefer to join a start-up (companies with less than 3 years into operation) and they reply “start-ups are not professionals”.
  3. Go to various districts and recruit students from those areas. ( Follow ZOHO’s model)
  4. My appeal to the companies who are into training business – keep the price of courses as low as possible ( without compromising on the quality) so that a student after completing his graduation can afford to pursue the course. (80% do not go for any course after graduation due to affordability issue).
  5. Another important point: Do not move to some other location just because the other location is more posh, they organize tech events etc. Think like a business man. Move to a place where your resource cost does not go up. Remember work comes to you as long you have a team (human resource) who can be afforded. Think smart, think inclusive.

There is a huge opportunity in the IT business. The total IT, global and domestic, addressable market by 2020 would be USD   1.5 – 1.6 trillion. The question (concern) is “can you (companies) tap this market”? Or “will your (IT professionals) jobs move to some other locations”? 

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Background check – Why many entrepreneurs will fail?

I know “failure is pillar of success” but let us for a moment analyse why many entrepreneurs or start-ups will fail. You will get to read many blog posts as “Why start-ups fail” but let us go to the fundamentals and find the root cause of the problem.

Note: When I say start-ups and entrepreneurs, I mean IT start-ups/IT entrepreneurs with a team strength of 0-10 people.

If you do a dissection of a typical IT company there are 3 major parts each of which can be further sub-divided.

1. Business Promoters/Business Development Heads – their designation may vary from company to company.

2. Support – Finance Personnel, HR Personnel, Facilities Personnel.

3. IT professionals – Developers, Designers, Testers – (primarily)

The trend has been found that 60-70% of the IT start-up entrepreneurs are from last the segment – IT Professionals. Lets dive deeper into this:

Situations:

1)      IT Professionals just hop from one company to another. Life becomes monotonous. They start thinking that they know everything after staying in the industry for just about 4-5 years and then they move out to start their own IT Start-up. In many cases, they move out stealing client base from their previous companies. Sometimes these IT professionals move out because “they had a fight with the management.”

2)       IT Professionals stay in an IT organization say for about 10-12 years or may be even more and then they feel it is time for them to do something good for the society. So they move out to start their own start-up, without even understanding the “business”.

3)      Another trend which is seen recently is that students are discarding their education and getting straight into building start-ups. When asked why have you discontinued your studies? They reply “look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates”. In some cases students with poor marks cannot get into IT companies and end up starting their own venture. Many start calling themselves “Next Gen-Entrepreneurs.” Even they will fail because 80% of them do freelancing projects and freelancing is not entrepreneurship.

The initial 1-2 years is exciting for these so called entrepreneurs but slowly the problem creeps in – financial issues (because they do not understand business), human resource related issues (cannot recruit people nor can they retain them), marketing/sales (majority are “technical” and have never done sales/marketing in the past), operational issues (output affects).

Advices:

  1. Think a number of times before you start your venture. Journey ahead is not easy.
  2. Knowing technology does not mean you can start a business. Give more weight age on business. After all technology is just a tool.
  3. Think who will work for you before starting anything new.
  4. Motivate students to work in start-ups first, which is the need of the hour rather than telling them blindly “go start your venture”.
  5. Do not build something or start something just because you like it (just to satisfy your creative urge).  Indentify the need first.

What can you do? I am a B.Tech.!!

How many of you have heard of people (especially students) saying, “I am a B.Tech (or M.Tech)” when you have asked them what can you do? I have heard this “n” number of times especially in this industry (IT).

If you ask your cook “what can you do?”  He will say “I can cook food for you” and then he may get into his specialization – North Indian, South Indian etc.

If you ask a driver the same question “what can you do?”  He will reply, “I know driving” and then he will talk about his area of specialization – 3 wheeler, 4 wheeler, 6 wheeler etc.

If you ask a plumber the same question “what can you do?” He will reply I know to “fix the leaks” of the tap.

When I ask any candidate fresh out of college (sometimes even experienced IT Professionals) “what can you do?  He/she will reply “I AM A B.TECH.” But what can you do? The same answer “I AM A B.TECH.”

I am not making fun of anyone but trust me this is a serious problem.

When do we move from “qualification” to “skill set”? When will the time come when students, fresh out of college, will approach IT companies saying “I know programming in PHP, and I can build a particular solution for you in 72 hours”? When will the time come when students will start saying, “I want to work in a small medium company and learn a particular skill set”?

Some suggestions to the student community:

  1. Mention you skill set rather than qualification when someone asks you “what can you do?”
  2. Before visiting any company with your CV, write on a piece of paper 5 points – why that company should recruit you?
  3. Do not increase your “price” – remember you are just a new product without any brand value, just launched in the market. No one will buy you if your rate is high unless you have a particular skill set.