Permanent Jobs Shrivelling, Contract Staffing increasing

By Chetan Indap, Founder & CEO,

Chetan has over 20 yrs exp within the IT Services industry. With a BE in Electronics from Mumbai University and MDP from IIM Calcutta, Chetan has several industry certifications including QAI Auditor, Six Sigma, Certificates in Capital Markets Analysis & Risk Management in Consumer Banking. Chetan has rich experience in IT Contracting in countries like US, UK and the India. He has worked with companies like HCL Ltd, Mahindra-British Telecom (now Tech-Mahindra), Birlasoft and L&T Infotech.

Jobs seems to the be the major buzz word today; right from my driver wanting a job for his wife, who recently finished her Bcom, to Mukesh Ambani, who says that retaining talent (and not letting his key employees search for another job) is his biggest concern..Interestingly even Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers, and having his last name as Jobs, has had to face this issue multiple times. He was thrown out by his own company management and was out of job for many years. Thats the power of the word Job.

But is the power of Jobs real in todays world? Today you start looking for a job among the maze of job advertisement promising you the universe...One Ad said come and work for a bank without working for a bank - what it means is become a telecaller and you get an opportunity to say "Good morning sir, I am calling from Kumpaisewala Bank Ltd". The predicament of which job to really consider reminds me of the TV ad where the guy is hanging on a cliff saying "Aare kaun se rassi pakdu (echo)?".

Lets say you do find one that you feel is right, then there is this 80% chance you will get a nasty boss..(reminds me of the "Hari Sadu" Ad) who could turn out to be Hitler, Arrogant, Rascal, or Idiot...or all of the above...Lets say you did get a good job, a good boss...but then you realized that now you have to travel from Vasai to Worli (or Noida to Gurgaon, or Dumloor to Electronic City etc) and back everyday!! First the share a rickshaw, then the bus, then the train, then share a taxi, then reverse ironed shirt, then Deodorant sweat spray etc etc.."Well all this is fine man, atleast I get the money"...thats only in the first year, next year your frustration starts on the fact why I get so little salary compared to others? or why didnt I get that promotion etc. Assuming you get lucky and get that raise, but hey, you are doing the same thing that you did last summer (10 years of experience or 1 year experience 10 times)!" I am really sick of the cut & paste or modifying the same excel macros..So the list goes on and on. The moral of the story I am driving at it is whether doing a Job is worth it at all?

Two management book authors that created a lasting impression on me were Robert Kayasaki and Guy Kawasaki (only one from Japanese origin). If you have read Roberts book Rich Dad, Poor Dad,he writes about the advise that two dads gave him when he was a child...Poor Dad saying - get good grades, get a good job and retire from the same job..the Rich dad says- get good knowledge, get good experience and get into business! Even our own Aamir Khan said in 3 Idiots "Kaabliat par dhyan do Kamayabi par nahi"...Guy Kawasaki quotes in his book that "If you are crazy enough to think you can change the world, then you are probably the most likely to do it".

Ill explain why the above two books have anything to do with getting Jobs? The interpretation is thus; a. think of alternative to getting a job and b. dare to do things differently. My suggested solution for a&b above is Try becoming/working as an Independent Contractor versus becoming a Permanent Employee...Why bhai? Kyu?

Contracting in India is on a rapid growth path. The reasons are two fold; from Employer perspective and Employee perspective. Let me detail it out:

Employer Perspective: Companies are now realizing that it is best to learn from the western economies and start adopting a variable cost model even for human resources (Cloud computing is anyway making the hardware and software costs variable). This means that rather than hiring a full-time employee (FTE), lets get an individual contractor, who will work in a defined area, for a specified period of time and at a slightly premium cost. By converting the cost from fixed to variable, companies are able to realize better profits. Further permanent job market has become extremely unpredictable and by enforcing notice periods of 2 and 3 months, companies are not able to hire on just-in-time basis anymore. But the work is piling on and the customers are expecting their work done yesterday (actually a month before yesterday)! Third, since as technology is advancing, the projects are getting smaller, so companies need specialists skills for a shorter duration of time. With Contract staffing they have an option to use the specialist only for the required duration or take on permanent basis if the there is repeatability of work.

Employee Perspective: There is a gradual shift in mindset towards employment, especially from younger generation. We keep reading that most of the IIM pass-outs want to pursue entrepreneurship rather than joining a multi-zero based salary offering Investment Banking firm...I know of many cool-techie-dudes who want to do projects on eLance/ and earn $$ without having to buy a formal pair of trouser; shorts will do...strictly no shaving until the next date..

Interestingly even the mid to senior level folks are exploring Contracting option seriously. The benefit of choosing the type of work, duration of engagement and at expected charges is seeming to be an attractive. With Contracting (self-employed), there is huge opportunity to save/manage their own taxes and getting maximum money in-hand. Some are preferring to work on part-time basis where it could be 3 days a week or 10 hours a week or 10 days a month etc. This way they have an opportunity to pursue their hobbies (watch TV mostly!) or take up another assignment.

So to sum up the above, permanent jobs are likely to shrivel and will give birth to Contract staffing. It is my personal vision that a decade from now, there will be no Employees, only Entrepreneurs, providing services to each other on Contract basis.

I have personally worked as an Independent Consultant for over 7 years in my professional life and they have been some of the most fulfilling years. Amongst the many experiences that inspired me to become independent, the most inspiring was the one below:

I had a chance meeting with a young Chef in Sweden. We met on a train and he was still wearing his White Chefs dress. I initiated a talk with him about which restaurant he worked. He was one of those absolutely friendly, warm person, who enthusiastically welcomed my intrusion and reciprocated my approach. It was interesting to find out that he worked for 3 different restaurants in Sweden all at one time. Probably doing breakfast at one and lunch & dinner somewhere else. So he was an Independent Chef and took assignments based on his time availability. Later he also mentioned that he only worked 6 months in a year and the rest of the 6 months, he travelled across the globe for high altitude treks. He had visited Ladakh in India; had spent 2 months camping and did Khardungla (18000 feet) pass on his bicycle!!

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