Job reliability – join Indian corporates

Sometimes events far away can have consequences in the most unexpected places. As the aftershocks of the tsunami that hit Wall Street on September 15th, 2008 reach Indian shores, the effects are showing. With Lehman declaring bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch being acquired by Bank of America, there is a question that now bothers many multinational company (MNC) employees in India – are their jobs secure?

MNCs, especially the US ones, do not retain employees because of goodwill, or for loyalty or humanitarian reasons like many Indian corporates do. And often the Indian employees are the last ones to know about the major decisions. Booz Allen Hamilton decided to exit India after the CEO had spent six years building market share. The firm had other priorities at that time. Headquarters decided to exit emerging markets as a matter of strategy. It was not a good decision.

No longer is working in an Indian corporate considered a B class job, a sign that you weren’t able to make it to the big league. And no one can vouch for it more than Future Group CEO who has lured talent from companies like Goldman Sachs, Coke and Hindustan Unilever. In the recent past, the company has seen a huge increase in the number of applications from MNC employees. Today one can confidently say that if an Indian firm wants to hire an individual, there is a very good chance that he will end up joining them.

The shift is being witnessed more at middle and senior levels rather than entry level positions. Entry level employees still aspire for a MNC name on their CV for the bragging rights. At the entry levels and in b-schools, people are still star-struck by the idea of working in an MNC, and only about 20% will actually turn down an offer from an MNC to join an Indian company.

But the trend shifts in the middle management, where employees realise that their jobs are not big enough or that they need to turn to HQ or regional headquarters for every approval and that’s where the Indian companies score with a much better value proposition. Indian companies provide a very good growth platform. Also they provide an independent platform to drive strategy.

The MNCs will continue to attract talent, especially those looking for a big brand and global exposure. But some words of advice for people looking for advice before joining MNCs. VP-HR, Coca-Cola India points to a three-fold caveat that job-seekers must exercise nowadays while hunting for that cushy position in an MNC: The applicant must look for a company with a strong business model; there should be a certain heritage to the company, and it should have the proven tensility to withstand the rough and tumble of the markets; lastly, the applicant needs to look for places where the field he is applying for is strong enough.

Meanwhile, Lehman-Merrill’s disappearing act will continue to reverberate in India for some time. Head hunting firm Accord, received the first call for help on a global offsite and their phone has not stopped ringing since.

There is not much the reputed HR consultants can do apart from being there and advising them, after all there are only limited number of jobs available. But still headhunters continue to be flooded by calls from the jittery i-bankers who are getting cold feet as the credit meltdown shows no sign of letting up and more firms appear to be on the brink.