2 weeks. Those 14 days are the most significant days I ever lived, since I turned 21. It was a fine evening of the 12th September 2006 when Shirin called me up on my land line to check if I was looking for a job. I called her back late at night & was surprised that she sounded as cheerful as she would have on a beautiful sunny morning. Maybe that’s what the profession demands.
She scheduled an interview for me the next morning. 13th of September, the day of the interview. I knew, just like every other day that I wasn’t going to get this job, yet I just wanted to give the interview to see how I fair. This is, according to me, the most sadistic method of self analysis, which I came to know after I started working as a Recruiter. That day was exceptionally good. It was the first time a Recruiting Consulting firm had actually contacted me & called me for an interview for the post of IT recruiter. Since I had a degree in IT, everyone thought I would understand the business a bit faster than the non-IT IT recruiters. Well, so be it. I went for the interview & it actually went well. I left the office with an offer letter. I was told to join from Monday. 18th of September.
I was warned, “don’t take up a job, you have a goal to achieve, CAT, entrance tests, full – time MBA, don’t take up a job, you wont find time to practice, no time to read, don’t take up a job”. I was hunting for a job since April 2006. Sadly the only people interested in hiring me were the people I honestly despise. Premier IT companies who are so busy in outsourcing software & pushing their stock price up while getting rapid upgrades on their CMM levels & yet forgetting the most important fact, innovation in technology. I honestly don’t want to end up writing code for IT giants who are sourcing technology solutions to B grade accountancy firms sitting far away across 4 seas who don’t even know what a “tool tip” is. “Is it the sharp edge of the hammer?” I won’t wonder if they ask. I might be exaggerating, which probably I am. But I honestly believe that these minds “can” be put to build new Microsoft’s, new Google’s. But that’s just me.
On the 18th of September 2006 I assumed the trainee position of an IT recruiter. I got a cubicle & a terminal of my own. I had a desk mate & a team leader acting as the immediate boss. The account manager, who acted as my team lead & my team mate taught me the basics of the trade. I was like a child lost at a supermarket. I was totally oblivious of the fact that it was my first ever day on a real job. It looked very serious & gloomy inspite of the bright colored walls & a smiling CEO. The people seemed normal. Perpetually glued to the job sites, they looked like probing machines hunting for desirable talent for other companies. My job was specifically related to IT recruitment. In all sense of the words, helping IT giants tap the right candidates as future employees & persuading them to go for the client interview. Here we aren’t talking about freshers, but of candidates who have experience in the industry & have a considerable amount of know how of the technology they are working on. This job involved a very distinctive style of pitching, which I had experienced when other recruiting consultants used to call me up regarding job opportunities. Now I was on the giving end.
My first ever call was a disaster. I forgot what I had planned to say & my tone was way too rude for the candidate to even answer my straight questions. I almost believed that I am going to suck at this job. I was over expecting from myself, just like every single time. Being my first day, I had to face that little amount of office banter, where they tried to enforce some ragging on me. Little did they know that I had just gotten out of the most deadly rag fest of my life. My three years in college as a BSc IT graduate. I took it surprisingly well & I wasn’t offended when they told me to dance & do 20 pushups wearing a tie. Which I never did, but that’s a different story. The people seemed amazingly normal. My first impression: they know when to be professional & when to have fun. I liked that. It’s far better than those IT jobs, I thought.
My ultimate plan was to take up a job sometime in May 2006 & start working as well as keep preparing for my entrance tests. The second part of the plan went amazingly well except of the first part, it never materialized. I never got a job opportunity from non – IT companies. This one shot that I got happened so late that I hardly could focus on my studies when I got home. I never had the patience for working more than 8 hours a day & then going home to find myself studying again. It was stressful. I couldn’t manage to leave any math problem without a calculation error. That pissed me off. Over a week’s time, I realized that if I continue to work, I will have to say good bye to those semi good B-Schools that I can atleast hope to aim at. This thought terrified me. Sitting at home again for another year was simply “unacceptable”. I didn’t have time to read. No time to even read the newspaper daily. But I still hung on to test my limits of performance.
I finally started getting a hang of things. I started to understand what the recruiting industry is all about. How a company’s manpower requirement is converted to effective staffing with the help of these parallel HR entities. I realized how difficult the competition is when the profiles that you source to the companies are already sent by some other consultant. It’s a fast paced chase for getting the right people for the right job. It’s a mutual understanding between the candidates appearing for the interviews & the recruiters, they benefit from each other’s well being. Sometimes they get better opportunities than they even dreamt of; sometimes they end up disappointed & don’t accept the company offers. The “drop outs” as they are so called, cause a considerable amount of wastage of valuable man hours for the recruiters as well as the interview panel. This job is the closest I will ever get to having first hand experience of human nature across India. How knowledge sometimes manages to corrupt your brain filling it with a sense of over blown respect for oneself & how sometimes very normal people with the help of their knowledge climb the ladders in their respective jobs to defeat the MBA pay packages with the help of just one average degree, & ofcourse some considerable amount of industry experience. This is my anthropology class in the context of IT. This is my window to knowing people better. This my chance to understand one arm of the HR scene across the corporate world.
It managed to stun me when I saw the volume of people these IT companies recruited. There are too many people abroad in need of sophisticated computerized solutions for their businesses to streamline their processes & reap more profits. What’s better than having the work done at less than half the price? Outsourcing is the new law of the land. To focus on your core competencies & leaving the irrelevant detail for someone else, is the mantra. It works wonderfully well. The whole beauty of the situation is that it has managed to create so much employment in a developing country like India that one in every 10 parents want their kids to be in the software industry. With super fast growth opportunities & ever so easy switching, it is a huge pond that helps you fish for that killer opportunity that you always wanted. With the heavily bloated job portals & sharp search mechanisms, these recruiting firms manage to make loads of profits. Also it helps the country’s economy in a considerable way.
I had to make a choice. Either study or to work. I wasn’t able to focus on my job well. A day without reading atleast 10 pages makes me suffocate. It’s like a chain smoker losing his pack of cigarettes with no cigarette shop in a 10 mile radius. I had to make the choice soon before it caused more damage to my primary goal. Sunny was right, Sunil was right, my gut feeling was right. Should have listened to all of them, just this time, to avoid this harsh decision. One fine Wednesday morning, 2 weeks after the interview, I decided to quit.
First job is like first love. It’s very hard to get, it’s extremely difficult to get over it & teaches you the ground realities with exquisite detail. My reason to quit, I want more room to study. My lesson from this job, the importance of social networking & the most important & the most ignored, “TIME IS MONEY, STOP BURNING IT”. It was an extremely hard decision to take in just 2 weeks on the job. Very few people respect & expect honesty & the same thing happened. Most of my colleagues thought that I got a better opportunity someplace else. They still might be thinking that I will join some bigger banner for some more exclusive experience & better money. There is no way I can convince them otherwise & I really don’t care if they don’t want to believe. It’s a personal & natural choice & even I will think the same if I were in their boots.
In these 2 weeks, I worked shoulder to shoulder with immense dedication & focus, with extremely sharp people who knew what they were doing. With a boss who never yelled & always managed to smile even in the tightest moments when all the teams were worked up with their interview drives. I learnt the importance of time management & a good night’s sleep. I realized how much I love reading & how it affects me when I am deprived from reading. I met new people, new minds, with a different set of ideals than that I had ever encountered. Different ambitions & different approaches, yet with the same diligence. This was my bite of the whole working world. I realized how difficult it is to reach a work place to earn that day’s pay, traveling in public transport & getting free body massages early in the morning. I suddenly developed an immense amount of respect for the whole generation of fathers providing for their kids with relentless efforts, just to see them do something different & better than they did. After all a very old adage reads, “The miner works hard so that his son can be a builder, the builder works hard so that his son can be an architect, the architect works hard so that his son can be a painter”.
I dedicate this blog post to my first job, the crowd, the smiling bosses, the incredible experience & to the numerous candidates I spoke to & to the IT industry for generating such an opportunity.
Song for the moment: U2 - Vertigo