BENGALURU: If you’re looking to join a startup, you would be well advised to scour social media networks and work on brushing up your areas of specialization, both of which would help you stand a good chance of being hired.
The environment for startups changed drastically this year with consolidation, and even shutdown of operations for some. Now, recognizing that the scenario has changed and the initial euphoria around startups is losing its luster, other new-age companies such as BlueStone, Voonik, ShopClues, BankBazaar, and Craftsvilla are reworking their hiring strategies to continue to get quality talent.
More targeted hiring, a greater focus on quality of hires and a preference for lateral recruits with specialised skills are just a few of the practices being followed.
Bengaluru-based fashion startup Voonik is reducing the number of hires made at campuses and is instead preferring to hire those with at least 2-5 years of experience.
“The sentiment around startups has changed a great deal, and mid-sized players like us are well-poised to hire good talent. Lateral hires work well for us because they settle into the role much quicker than freshers,” said Sujayath Ali, co-founder of Voonik. The company is also offering Esops to employees to make up for pay cuts, a strategy they say is especially effective since it is difficult to match inflated compensation levels.
It’s no longer the ‘in’ thing to work at a startup, said Mervyn Raphael, managing director of global human resource management consulting firm People Business. “With funding no longer as generous as it used to be, startups are realizing that it’s prudent to evaluate openings and requirements and hire accordingly, rather than ramping up for the sake of it,” he said.
Jewellery portal BlueStone is doing just that, making its hiring processes more stringent. “We’re doing very focused hiring, and are more concerned about getting the right talent rather than meeting numbers. Our interview processes now have a lot more levels to them, and we’re also sure to judge whether candidates would be a good culture-fit within our organisation,” Atul Mohan, head of HR at the Ratan Tata-backed startup, told ET.
Interviews now typically go on for hours, and those with strong analytical skills and a specialization in design or technology are preferred, said Mohan.
“People are much more wary about jumping on the startup bandwagon than they were even six months back. This means the funnel for talent is narrowing and consequently startups have a harder job now — to convince people to join them,” said People Business’s Raphael.
For instance, at e-commerce firm ShopClues, the number of resumes coming in has dropped, but HR head Babu Vittal isn’t concerned. “It’s a good thing, because we get to cherry-pick talent and we know that the resumes coming in will be quality ones. Job-seekers are aware of how the industry is doing so they don’t ask for abnormal compensations,” Vittal said.
The Delhi-based unicon is focusing heavily on referrals through social media, and targeting the hiring approach through specialised portals like Quora.
Post-demonetization, fintech startups have found themselves in a sweet spot, finding themselves a point of focus not just for investors but also potential job-seekers. While most startups are taking a conservative approach to hiring, fintech firms are looking to make the most of India’s cashless revolution by hiring the best talent available. BankBazaar, for instance, is actively hiring people from the traditional BFSI sector, those who can bring their experience and help to create something new.
“Lately, we have started using psychological tools to judge whether interviewees have competencies two levels above the role they are interviewing for. This not only helps us see whether someone might be a long-term fit, it also offers them the opportunity to grow with us,” said Sriram Vaidhyanathan, chief human resource officer.
At online ethnic store Craftsvilla, candidates interviewing for key positions are now being asked to send case studies on how they would approach a particular problem. This helps the company identify those who are really keen and gives an insight into their thought process, said Manish Kalra, chief business officer.
“Our biggest concern is that any new employee must be comfortable in the role and company culture. We even ask candidates to come and spend time with the team in office, meet peers and managers, which starts to build a comfort factor,” Kalra said.
Companies such as Flipkart, CarDekho, Grofers, and Hopscotch withdrawing campus offers also left a bitter taste in the mouth for many premier institutes. ShopClues’ Vittal said some corrections need to be made.
“It’s important for the startup ecosystem to repair relations with campuses. This is definitely something we all need to make amends for in the next few months to ensure we continue to get the cream of fresh talent from institutes,” he said.