The Trouble With Width
An Introduction - I Am Unique, Like So Many Others
After 30 years in business and consulting, I am looking to settle down and have been looking for permanent employment in senior roles with well-funded startups (which would include more established companies launching new products or brands, or entering new markets) or larger founder-owner-led companies.
From the body of my work (my profile is available on LinkedIn), you will see that my profile is both wide and deep in experience.
In the course of my career, I have not just done many things, I have done them in many different verticals, and approached them from many different angles.
For example, I have redesigned fire extinguishers and also helped a leading newspaper figure out their online strategy; I have set up disruptive real estate models from scratch and also created 5 hours per day of free time for the owner of a marquee brand to learn golf; I have launch marketed a Rs.120 Crore luxury housing project in Dehradun as also a prepaid Rs.10 public WiFi in Hyderabad; I have helped register an Asset Reconstruction Company at the RBI and also managed a flying school training pilots in advanced jet flying; and of course, I have sold jams and run trans-national enterprises as I lived & conducted business in 3 continents.
What all of this does is allows me a unique perspective into the business requirements of a brand because I can view it from angles generally unavailable to lifetime career professionals.
Now, while this makes me singularly distinctive in what value I bring to the table, it also makes it extremely difficult to find an appointment that does justice to both, my social, intellectual, and creative capital earned over 3 decades, and to the needs of the brand employing my services for the amount of money they'd be putting on the table.
The funny thing is: I am not alone. I myself know at least 3 others who have done so many interesting things in their lives, some of them quite well, that it is indeed shocking they are struggling to find buyers for their talent and experience.
Defining The Problem - No More Robots
So, what is the problem? It is this: the current recruitment model is not built for people like me.
No one writes a JD or releases a mandate for my profile. No one really knows where to fit me or use me. At the same time, many businesses need my services but do not know I exist or am available.
Here's the interesting point though: With the advent of the startup ecology in India, many people like me, with an entrepreneurial bent of mind and a huge and varied experience of businesses behind them are not just available for engagement, but also are needed by more and more brands and enterprises as they find themselves attempting to navigate the choppy waters of uncertainty and constant pivoting, the regular cycles of feast and famine, and the intensely competitive environment they must operate in from day one, even as they keep having to balance their journey on a tightrope between investors, employees, vendors, customers, media, and the regulatory agencies while they fight for survival on a daily basis.
And I believe that the recruitment agencies are missing this huge opportunity to target senior and more experienced people like me, especially those that have not had the regular career path as they have been used to for the more usual positions. Instead of being confused as to whether an operations role would suit me more or a marcom one, whether I'd be a better fit in a sales role or perhaps in training, they ought to see the larger picture of approaching the entire market requirement differently. They could, in today's environment (especially in today's environment) find half a dozen places for me to contribute within their little black books. But they don't. They sit and mope that I am either overqualified or underqualified, that I am either too old or too young, that I am too intimidating and too unassuming, all at the same time!
The truth is that they have no clue how businesses in today's economy engage and use (human) resources. They are still stuck in the last century where finding a job was a straight-line process to be employed sparsely or at least infrequently over one's lifetime, and even when doing so, sticking to one's silo that travelled all the way back to one's education, degree, certifications, training, and previous jobs, with zero lateral learnings, side businesses, detours, unusual experiences, or passion thrown into the mix. At all.
For the employee, it meant leveraging all the linear experiences, from college to the current job, to fetch a 10-30% increment in CTC and perhaps a better designation (maybe some foreign travel etc). For the recruiter, it meant 8.33-25% of the CTC as fees, depending on the seniority of the position placed. It involved CVs and LinkedIn profiles, JDs and KRAs, recommendations and referrals, previous salary slips and awards won, interviews and psychometric tests, and eventually, induction, training, and release. It was not an employment market. It was an assembly line. For robots. But to be fair, that was also the time when robots were needed. Not literally. But close enough.
Things are, as we all know, not the same now. But the recruitment process, including the players (the usual suspects: the employees and the recruiters, whether internal or external) are playing the same game as they have been for ages, with very slight tweaks. As if it is they who define the game, not the other way around (where the game clearly defines them), and if only they pretended that all was well, it will be business as usual.
#PushAsk: I may have a hypothesis or two about the probable solutions. Can you think of any?
And when I say, "Solution", I do not just mean about my specific conundrum of being able to find a suitably exciting and fair-paying permanent employment for myself, but in general for the industry. How must the recruiting market re-invent itself to be able to extract (for itself and for its corporate clients) value from all the width of talent available around today when it is designed around depth? Do you think the recruiters alone can change anything without the employers themselves embracing this revolution in the availability of skills, talent, and experience? Where do you think the solutions should start at? Who do you think needs to take the first step.
P.S: What brought about this post? This (though it is only obliquely related to the subject, it planted the germ of the idea...and of course, my own completely frustrating hunt for permanent employment):