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Sunday, December 06, 2009

PSU recruitment drives need bigtime reforms

A secure job in a public sector company has come back as preferred option for many, courtesy recent recession. Several Govt of India undertaking enterprises-banks and other mega establishments ran recruitments drives recently to fill in a several thousand openings. SBI, ONGC,BHEL, ISRO, Syndicate Bank and Corporation Bank were just a few who got massive response for their recruitment drives, with lakhs of application received for these jobs, more than 100 aspirants for every post.

While managing such a massive number of job aspirants is a tough task, I personally feel that the recruitment process adopted by these companies need a big time reform. This post lists a few observations and suggestions in this aspect.

1. 6-9months of process time: Most of the PSU recruitment drives span over a timeframe of 6-9 months or even more, from announcement of recruitment drive till candidate reporting to work. In my opinion, any reasonably talented individual will find a decent job in private sector in much shorter time and PSUs will loose on talent if they take so much time. it works for them because there’s enough unemployment in our country because of which they’ll have enough aspirants on waitlist, but quality of resources will suffer. This timeframe can be reduced by adopting technology aggressively, decentralizing selection process and opting for direct campus recruitments.

2. Expensive application fees: While most of the private firms take recruitment as an investment and do not charge job aspirants, PSUs comfortably charge Rs 300 to Rs 500 or more per application. Additionally candidate will spend another 100 Rs in bank fees, postage, printouts and photocopying. There is a concession or even complete waiver for SC/ST candidates, but none to economically poor candidates. If a job aspirant wishes to apply for 5-6 PSUs per month, it takes 2000-3000Rs, which is a significant amount for a middleclass family.

3 No communication will be entertained: After charging several hundred rupees, most of the PSUs follow a strict policy that they wont entertain any communication from aspirants. I feel they should provide a helpline, because there’ll be genuine cases where candidate might not have received hall tickets/interview letters due to postal delays, communication address might have changed or many such possibilities because of which he/she may have to communicate. Poor communications, zero accountability and liability seems to symbolize PSUs

4 Age old process: All PSUs claim to have gone online. But when it comes to recruitments, their online-ness is limited to allowing candidates download application forms. After that it is the same age old process of 1990s- fill the application form, print it, affix photographs, printout the challan, go to bank, make payment, photocopy certificates and other documents, affix everything and mail it by ordinary post to some PO Box address in Mumbai or Delhi and then pray for best. No acknowledgement, no reference number to trace things, no one to contact to…

What can be done?

1 Process from Application submission to receiving written test hall ticket can be made online-this can bring down time from few months to a week. (Offline mode can still be retained for those who prefer it, as most of rural India doesn't have proper internet access yet)

2 Have a vision plan to conduct online tests. (We all know the trouble IIM aspirants went through in recent CAT online exams, so it is little early to expect all PSUs to do their recruitment exams online, but they should have a vision at least)

3 Fulfil a part of openings by campus recruitments. Campus recruitments will be far cheaper.

4 Decentralize recruitments to let regional offices take care of recruitments in their regions-I feel this can speed up the process.

5 Have a helpline for applicants to call into and a process in place to handle typical queries and requests

6 Avoid asking for dozens of documents (like copies of marks cards etc) along with application. Since originals can be checked at the time of joining, most of the aspirants are unlikely to lie. Just get the marks in initial application-this will save lots of effort as well as reduce paper usage.

7. Keep application form fee to nil or bare minimum. High fees shouldn’t discourage a talented aspirant from applying.

8 Use technology and process improvement to bring down recruitment time from 9months+ to 2-3 months max.

Disclaimer: Above are generalized observations. There could be minor differences in selection process of one co to other. Personal opinion only.

Hadn’t written a serious post like this in recent post. Feel free to share your thoughts.

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