MUMBAI: A senior-level candidate was recently offered a lead position at a reputed consulting firm. The offer was accepted but the candidate was forced to serve a full three-month notice period, during which, he continued to scout for other opportunities. Around a week before the joining date, the candidate had landed a better opportunity, and this gave him a reason good enough to decline the first offer.

Organisations are strictly adhering to the rule of long notice periods. This, recruitment agencies say, is not only hindering the process of hiring but is also fuelling counter-offers. Companies are increasingly investing in the learning and development of people, which is why losing a candidate and hiring a new one has become a costly affair. Earlier, such notice periods were “bought out” by the company making a hiring pitch when in urgent need for a candidate. Recruitment firms said companies are not keen on accepting such offers.

Joseph Devasia, the India MD of global executive recruitment organisation Antal International, which has lost out on a few opportunities of placing senior-level candidates due to such policies, puts the blame on rigid notice period requirements. “Long notice periods dissuade the candidate from leaving immediately and helps the company to buy time to find the candidate a better role internally. By the end of three months, the company manages to retain the employee with a counter-offer,” said Devasia.

At a consumer products company, a candidate was serving a notice period of three months. After two and a half months, the company offered the candidate a new role and the candidate decided to stay back. “It became difficult to woo the candidate back into the job market,” said Devasia.

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Given that there is always reluctance on the part of companies to relieve good employees, EMA Partners regional managing partner (Asia) K Sudarshan said it is vital that the candidate is kept engaged throughout the hiring process. “It is important to understand the factors pushing the candidate for the need to change. If it is mere compensation, the candidate can easily be swayed either ways. One needs to ensure the candidate is committed to the opportunity at every step. It can become embarrassing if a candidate has been taken through the final stage of meeting the chairman or, in the case of an MNC, taken to the parent’s headquarters, and then he gets retained with a counter-offer,” said Sudarshan.

“Recently, a counter-offer was made to a candidate who was being hired by a financial services company. The hiring company then matched the counter-offer and the candidate came on board,” said Sudarshan. “There is a correlation between the instances of counter-offers and the sentiment in CXO hiring. Looking at the current scenario, it’s certainly a good market,” he added. Some business ecosystems are developed in such a way that turnaround time, service delivery effectiveness and pricing are critical. GlobalHunt MD Sunil Goel said, “It is important for the organisation to retain the resources for the project or hold them till the time it can smoothly get transited to other employees without impact on customer delivery.”

In the west, notice periods are limited to a month and, in certain functions, they let the individual go the same day. Earlier, companies were flexible in India and allowed the candidate to go well before three months. With dearth of good talent, they have become rigid on this count.

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