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Downturn prompts techies to do their homework

  How to plug into the right company?

Read information on company's web site at least twice

Read news reports on companies in financial dailies

Subscribe to technology journals to stay abreast of industry developments.

Mine search engines for information on the company

Familiarise yourself with the company's financials for the last three years

Ask questions on company goals and vision during the interview.

Network with friends to glean more about the company

T's gut-wrenching roller coaster ride has had a sobering impact on techies. Prior to the Nasdaq hammering, that bottomed out fortunes the tech sector, indiscriminate hiring by IT companies inflated techies' stocks to artificially high levels. The powerful brew of six figure salaries, e-sops, flexi-working hours and fancy designations offered by every company was too heady to resist and job switching skills enjoyed a higher premium than technology expertise. With the continuing downward spiral that forced companies to become cost conscious and triggered mass layoffs, values such as security consigned to the footnotes of tech history are back with a bang.

In a tough economy, as companies lay greater emphasis on domain expertise and become increasingly discriminating about new hires, IT professionals are also using the time to reflect on what they want from their careers and work places. In a market, where tech's best and biggest blue-eyed brands have laid off employees, techies are turning market savvy and shooting awfully tough questions on the company's credentials and its ability to survive in the long term. Security, stability and longevity are no longer uncool values to pursue. According to an Info-World survey the number of candidates who value job security rose from 43 per cent in 2000 to 47 per cent in 2001. In India, according to Nasscom, attrition rates have stabilised to 4 per cent. Commenting on the trend Ganesh, HR Manager at Winciti says: "The one question on techies' minds is whether the job will help him in the long run. Techies are increasingly asking questions on projects where their skills will be deployed, the company background and at times even questions about experience and ability of founders to lead the company."

Also, the economy's most in-demand workforce's appetite for big bucks has been quenched by the downturn. The financial gyrations of the past years have led to the painful awakening that high salaries do not equal job security or long-term stability. For techies, who have been at the frontline of recession, the organisation's sole USP now is a reliable and stable technology and work environment. In start contrast to the dotcom heyday, compensation discussions are now an afterthought rather than the defining moment of negotiations with hiring managers. Rajashree, HR Executive Neo-IT confirms: "There is a trend to settle for a lower pay or designation, if techies are convinced of the work." "Compensation concerns have been upstaged by the vision of the company, its technology areas and long-term goals. Normally, people are seeking information on stability," says Sanjeev Rao, HR Executive at Ishoni Networks.

Techies are fast waking up to the fact that technology skills are the only reliable weapon that will prevent then from being another statistic on the downtrend victim list. In an era, where HR managers are laying strong emphasis on specific domain expertise, techies want to work in technology environments which will help them in the long-term . As a corollary, the increasing trend to work on high-end technology platforms, improve skills and enhance domain expertise has diminished lure for big service companies in India. Says an engineer at Accelerated Networks "Names such as Infosys and Wipro are no longer powerful enough, it's the work that matters." The weariness is natural, considering that over the past few months, a large number of service companies in India have stealthily and gradually downsized staff. Techies, hence, perefer product companies, even start-ups, with solid technology environment and convincing goals to service companies, where work is determined by the nature of projects these companies bag. Says Sanjeev, "Today, it's easier to hire and convince people to join the company, as the quality of our work is good."

Plugging into a company with the right credentials is, however, not easy. Merely quizzing hiring managers on company's long-term goals is not a foolproof method of reaching a final conclusion on company stability. To counter the absolute lack of job security, techies need to become market savvy. For instance, techies must learn to read and analyse company's quarterly performance. Quarterly results of most companies are available on their web site. Past news reports on companies can yield a wealth of data on a company. Subscription to tech journals is another good source to learn about industry standards and measure a company's strengths against them. The tech crash has left techies bruised but definitely wiser. Techies are smartening up to the fact that the onus of planing their careers rests with them. In the coming months, companies will have to get accustomed to the fact that their most famous line "will you last beyond six months" has now been stolen by techies.

 

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