In the time of coronavirus, hiring managers are looking for these skillsets

By Thimmaya Poojary & Vishal Krishna|26th May 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has given a severe jolt to the recruitment industry, but hiring continues. A few sectors such as edtech, content, and fintech are seeing an upward swing, led by specific skill sets.
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Global online retailer Amazon recently announced it had opened up 50,000 seasonal roles in its India operations, with temporary jobs in the areas of fulfilment centres, delivery network, and part-time job contractors.


This came as welcome news to the beleaguered startup ecosystem and fraught job market where - in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic - hiring seems to be frozen and pink slips are the norm.


The spread of the novel coronavirus has bought the entire world to a grinding halt, with big and small businesses taking a severe beating.


Hiring


The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in a report titled ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work, called the coronavirus pandemic “the worst global crisis since World War II”. The crisis is expected to wipe out 195 million full-time jobs, or 6.7 percent of working hours, globally in the second quarter of this year, ILO said.


Leading names of the Indian startup ecosystem, including Ola, Swiggy, Zomato, and Curefit, have announced that they are taking "the very painful decision" of laying off employees. Many smaller startups, often in growth stage, are also following suit in a bid to cut costs.


But, even as coronavirus roils the Indian job market, a few sectors are seeing an increase in hiring. These include healthcare, finance, technology, and consumer goods firms.


Deepak Agrawal, Co-founder of TurboHire, a Hyderabad-based artificial intelligence-powered HR startup, strongly believes that jobs are available in the market and it is a “question of matching the right skills with the correct organisation”.

Which sectors are hiring?

The coronavirus pandemic may have derailed hiring across sectors such as hospitality, travel, airlines, retail, and auto, but a few sectors seem to be immune. Edtech and content and media have recorded very fast growth, with their user base surpassing expectations.


TurboHire’s analysis has revealed that the sectors that are still hiring include biotech and biomedical, essential logistics, cybersecurity, food and beverages, cloud technologies, educational content, entertainment content and distribution, collaboration tools etc.


Companies like Dream11, Hike, Nobroker and Khatabook have announced plans to hire.


Dream Sports, a leading tech company that houses brands like Dream11, FanCode, and DreamX, plans to hire over 250 employees this year. It has already hired around 80 employees since January. Similarly, Better.com, a US-based home ownership platform, has announced plans to hire an additional 300 positions in Gurugram in the next quarter.


Meero, a Paris-headquartered AI-driven startup focused on the photography segment, is keen to hire to people from companies such as Zomato, Uber Eats, and Airbnb for its India operations.


Sumit Jasoria, Managing Director – India, Meero, says, “We took in around nine interns from IIMs and are looking to hire more people as we expand our operations.” Meero India has around 80-plus people.


Meero India's confidence stems from the fact that it is the regional centre for the company’s Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. It is focused on two segments – food delivery and real estate. The food delivery segment has generated good demand, especially from the APAC region but not so much from India.


The founder of a Bengaluru-based cloud startup that merged with a leading technology company, brings to light a different problem amid the pandemic: how to retain the best employees.


“Some of our best employees who possess good skillsets are being offered very attractive packages by large technology companies. It becomes very difficult to retain them as we cannot match their salaries,” he says, seeking anonymity.



The skills in demand now

The spread of coronavirus has led to very rapid shifts when it comes to work. Work from home and video conferencing have become commonplace, and seem to be here to stay.


A similar scenario is playing out in recruitment industry.


Kamal Karanth, Co-founder of Xpheno, a specialist staffing startup, says, “We tracked the top tech skills for 2020 when we closed December 2019. Comparing with data now, overall job openings across these skills have dropped only by under 10 percent despite coronavirus. There has been a redistribution of demand across skills, showing an operational alignment of skills needed by enterprises.”


Xpheno’s analysis shows the highest demand for tech skills in the current scenario is for specialists in areas like cybersecurity and data visualisation.


Artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data, and blockchain, which were the buzzwords when the year began, seem to have taken a back seat.


However, hiring experts say it is also important to match these particular skillsets to the right companies.

The network effect

Deepak says TurboHire’s talent network brings jobs from various sectors on a single uncluttered platform, which is accessible to recruiters and candidates. The platform has around 5,000 candidates, with 35-plus companies already hiring for over 80 jobs.


The jobs are mainly mid-level positions, in technology and non-technology sectors. The AI-based platform has ensured faster outcomes, with some candidates getting selected in four days, Deepak adds.


However, despite the ray of sunshine amid the clouds, experts caution that there will be no hiring spree as almost every organisation is assessing the current environment and the way ahead. It will probably take some more time before recruitment momentum picks up.


According to Sumit, Meero India expects to continue to hiring in the near future and the momentum is likely to increase if some sort of normalcy returns in India.


“If you look at the tech hiring landscape, we used to see close to 1.8 to two lakh openings at any given time during the peak pre-COVID times. We still see about 1.7 lakh openings in tech even now," Kamal says. “There has been a change in skills that are getting hired. Once the laptop supply chain is restored, hiring in tech would be corrected by more than 75 percent.”


(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

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