Every year, thousands of people move from India’s villages and towns to its cities looking for employment opportunities. They pack their bags and bid their families goodbye with no idea how their life will shape up in a city which is already crowded with people competing for every job opportunity. On the other hand, there are companies that fall short of manpower because they struggle to find the right match. When the supply is huge, why do companies still struggle to fill lower end white collar and skilled blue collar vacancies?
This is exactly the question Pallav Sinha, Founder and CEO of Mera Job, asked himself. “I moved to India in 2008 and soon realised the challenge of hiring good resources. I knew from my past experience in building teams that there was plenty of talent available in the country but it missed the employer’s attention due to lack of right exposure,” shares Pallav. He saw that no one was focusing on the mass recruitment segment and decided to tap this enormous potential and Mera Job was founded in 2012.
Mera Job is a hybrid talent acquisition startup that strikes a balance between offline and online hiring. It offers a marketplace for lower end white collar jobs like telemarketing and sales executives, receptionist etc. and even skilled blue collar workers like drivers and delivery boys. How is it different from similar players in the market? Mera Job has a unique pre-screening process for jobseekers where they verify and match the skill set of the candidate with the employer’s requirement. Jobseekers have an option to either get pre-screened online or call the tele-recruitment centre to go through the quick test.
The company plans to rely on its technology platform to gather unique data about registered candidates to analyse future behaviour. “Once we know (through our data analysis) that a candidate is not looking for say a banking job and would prefer a company located in Ghaziabad we make a note of these preferences. We don’t send a job recommendation to the candidate that doesn’t match his liking. This not only saves the jobseeker’s time but also helps employers screen candidate without arranging a telephonic or personal interview,” explains Girish.
Pallav, 51, co-founded Fullerton securities (now Dunia Finance) before Mera Job. He met his Co-founders Girish Phansalkar and Raman Thiagarajan at McKinsey, where the two were consulting Pallav on a project at Fullerton. “I never thought that I would become an entrepreneur. I still feel that I might be the oldest in the startup lot in the country,” giggles Pallav with the enthusiasm of a 23 year old. Girish, in his self-assured and pragmatic style, shares the story of the bonding the founding team shares. “Pallav, is the ‘ideas man’ in the team. He has vast understanding of consumer markets and Raman brings in high problem solving ability with global experience. I am a techie with years of technology and operational experience," says the IIM-A and IIT-B alumnus.
The initial idea of Mera Job was to make a repository of around two million profiles which can be accessed by employers through a subscription. But the team soon realised that with this model they would only burn resources in achieving scale without connecting with the employers. They quickly pivoted and designed a systematic pre-screening process. They will soon be launching their mobile app. During the discussion Pallav shared a very interesting trivia which changed my assumption about this market. As many as 80 per cent of jobseekers in the mass market own a smart phone. When they come to the city they do not have a social circle hence they buy a smart phone which is their only source of entertainment.
With a team of 70 people, 400,000 jobseekers, and operations in 12 cities, Mera Job raised its initial investment of $ 3 million from private investors and is looking for a series A funding by end of this year. Their current revenues come from B2B transactions and all services for jobseekers are free. “We feel that skill development of the jobseekers will become our focus in the coming months. We have sealed a partnership with NSDC and plan to add counselling and language training to our services portfolio,” adds Pallav. However, sourcing right candidates at the right time stays their biggest challenge. Like any other businesses, managing efficiency throughout the value chain is critical to their operation.
Pallav feels that the work pressure you feel as an entrepreneur is a positive one as it helps you and your company evolve. Girish however fears failure for a reason “I had an unsuccessful business before Mera Job. At that time failure did not matter much because I was bootstrapping. It was my own money at stake. Now I dread failure because my investors’ money and employees’ careers are at stake.”
The recruitment market in India is worth about $800 million and is growing at 20 per cent annually, according to data by Matrix partners. We are seeing a second wave of online hiring firms post the Naukri, Monster era. The new entrants in the market are targeting specific problems that exist in acquiring talent at different levels.
The Indian startup ecosystem itself is predicted to create 300,000 new jobs in the next few years. The recruiters however still struggle with piles of unsuitable resumes, long recruitment cycles and fleeting employee loyalties. Ensuring retention of selected candidates in the lower end job segment (also read Baba Jobs) is even more challenging as a hike of even a few thousand rupees leads to attrition.
Companies like Mera Job have to fight against the legends of the online hiring industry and find inventive ways of partnering with offline consultants who serve as industry insiders. But with clear focus and 40 years of collective core team experience, Mera Job has already bagged clients like HDFC Bank, Yatra, Britannia and JLL.