Career Center - New Career Options

Recession free professions

Some professions and skill sets like sales and marketing, are indispensable to businesses, irrespective of the mood of the job market

Akash Roy Saigal dreams with eyes wide open. That helps him target his professional goals realistically. A decade ago, when the 33-year old entered the job market as a sales professional, he aimed to reach at a leadership level. Consistent performance and dedicated work brought the Delhi-based dreamer to the position of a sales manager at a premium hotel, Crowne Plaza Today, by age 30. But aigal's plans ran into rough weather with the dismal unfolding of the global economic downturn.

Saigal, however, pursued his goal relentlessly, armed with the requisite credentials and skill sets. In February, Saigal got a call from a hospitality major based in Gurgaon NCR. Before long, he was hired as director, sales and marketing by Radisson Suites, a five-star hotel. In the unprecedented scenario of the current economic meltdown, where lay-offs are being tallied in millions, businesses are cutting costs drastically and employees are ungrudgingly taking salary cuts, Saigal's career move and the accompanying promotion and salary hike seems like an exceptional case. Not quite, feels Sunil Goel, Director, GlobalHunt India, a Delhi-based recruiting firm. "Businesses are still hiring, but now they are only looking for skilled and competent people," says Goel.

Ashok Reddy, managing director, TeamLease Services echoes the sentiment. "Companies have become more realistic in hiring in comparison to the earlier exuberant plans," he says. "Hiring, where it is happening, is across functions of sales, engineering, support functions and blue collar services," he adds.

A Careers360-GfK Mode survey result indicated that some of the professions are indispensable, irrespective of the mood of the job market.These include sales and marketing, engineering, logistics, training, doctors, Accountants and researchers amongst others.

 The survey findings concluded that professionals who are in these functional areas are presently the most sought after and will continue to hold sway in the coming years."In the next five years, these professionals will be in demand," says Kalyanmoy Chatterjee, CEO, GfK Mode.

Sectors that are recruiting and will.....
In an emerging economy, each sector holds vast potential for growth. The survey established that sectors like pharmaceuticals, IT/ITeS, FMCG, education and infrastructure, among others, are scaling up on the growth curve and are recruiting (See Table: Emerging Sectors). Industry experts agree. The information technology sector, which suffered a setback in 2008, is expected to look up this year. According to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), the Indian IT-BPO industry will see sustainable growth over the next two years. "IT sector will see steady growth of 20% in the near future," says Goel. A recent forecast of Pharmexcil, the apex body of pharma exporters, says that the pharmaceutical industry is also expected to grow at 20%. In the interim budget, the government proposed to increase expenditure in various infrastructure schemes. It provided for a 72% increase in spending, from Rs 6,866 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 11,842 crore in 2009-10, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. It also proposed to increase the outlay for Bharat Nirman programme by Rs 40,900 crore for 2009-10. Approvals are in for 37 new projects worth Rs 70,000 crore.

While the infrastructure sector continues to make news, the pharmaceutical and health care sectors are in the spotlight too. A lot of private investment is pouring in, but the firms don't have enough high quality talent, maintains Anil Sachdeva, founder-director, School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL), Gurgaon. According to the Planning Commission report of 2008, India has a shortage of six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and two lakh dental surgeons, apart from a large number of paramedical staff. Health management services also need a professional overhaul, with a customer-service oriented qualified workforce, which has been non-existent so far.

As the sectors grow, the demand for professionals to drive the growth will also be on the rise. "Engineers across all functions like civil, mechanical, automation, chemical as well as industrial will be back in demand," says Kanika Vaswani, associate director, Elixir Web Solutions, a Delhi-based recruitment firm. Infrastructure and the oil and gas industries will hire engineers across all verticals, she maintains. "But the demand for engineers will dip in sectors which are not performing well, like real estate," she adds.

Mumbai-based Akshay Sharma joined Casby Logistics this February, after a five-month stint with a retail chain. "The company ran into financial trouble and so I had to look for options, floating his resume around, he got a call from Casby Logistics. "While recession has affected the job market, at the same time, if you know your job well, opportunities are available," says the national manager, Transport and Integrated Logistics divison.

The $364-billion retail industry, though, will not gallop at the earlier projected figure of 30%, but will continue to evolve. Retailer's Association of India, an apex body of retailers, envisages a 15% growth for organised retail, in which supply chain management or logistical function is the backbone. 


 
Professions Holding Stedy and Gaining ground 
The survey results threw up other professions which are increasingly gaining ground in today's organisational setup: analysts, auditors, media professionals, researchers and soft skills trainer. According to V Suresh, national sales head, Naukri.com, business analysts are now sought after. "Earlier companies used to rely on the experience of employees for taking informed decisions. Now they are hiring business analysts separately," he says.
Financial analyst is a key profile in a dynamic business environment, requiring market driven inputs for optimum decisionmaking. "With international financial markets and commercial dealings becoming more and more sophisticated, the demand for financial analysts is on the rise," agrees Sudip Bandyopadhyay, director and CEO, Reliance Money. 
So far the focus has been on hard skills, however, the spotlight is shifting to training in soft skills like behaviour, thinking and communication. "Traditional skills fed by schools are not aligned to the requirement of businesses of today. Therefore, we see a lot of organisations getting their workforce trained in soft skills," says Vivek Madhukar, sales head, TimesJob.com.
 
In the coming years, the demand for soft skills trainers will only multiply, believes Bangalore-based Sangeeta Basu. The trainer, who has been the profession for the last 17 years is witnessing a swift rise in the number of enrolments. Basu runs 10 programmes and conducts workshops in various cities. "Our firm, Little Extra, has workshops on leadership skills, reading and writing skills, relationships, thinking and communication skills, among others," says the 42-year-old. "The demand for soft skills will never dwindle," she claims. 
As per analysts, the other areas which bear potential for growth are green technologies, alternate energy, mass transportation and education. "There will be a need for researchers and customer relationship managers. The upcoming financial sector will need non-traditional brokerage houses who give personalised services," says Sachdeva. The massive increase in the number of educational institutes foretells an acute shortage of educators.

 
Delhi-based researcher Manish Kumar Srivastava got onboard The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in August 2008, almost at the same that the employment scenario started deteriorating in India. But backed by a Masters in Economics and a MPhil in Science Policy on his resume, the 29-year-old took no time to land up at TERI. Emphasising the role of researcher, he says, "They help companies arrive at well-informed, meaningful and appropriate conclusions."
 
Find a firm footing
That the slowdown is a careers360_cmsorary hitch is a reality. That we have entered into an era of mergers, acquisitions and diversification is a reality. That businesses are hiring professionals adept at cross-functional skills is also a reality. And equally real is the fact that re-skilling is a phenomena that can't be wished away.
 
"The workforce needs to re-skill every two-three years in order to survive in the job market," says V Suresh of Naukri. com. Acquiring new skill sets continually ensures that professionals don't fall out of favour, regardless of the whim of the market. Adding one new competency every year and stepping up the level of proficiency in one existing competency would be a wise move. Re-skilling and multi-tasking helps one retain market value, besides ensuring that troubled times are least damaging for one's career, say experts.  

 Multi-taskers are the toast of present organisational set-ups, especially in a business environment that is reeling under the financial crisis. "One should be able to multitask, ensure his visibility in the organisation and bring in revenues," says E Balaji, CEO, Ma Foi Management Consultants. Sachdeva endorses the revenue aspect. "This is the time to multi-task, to be ready to move from one function area to sales to get business for your organisation," he says.
 
While the need for developing multiple proficiencies can't be overlooked, it is imperative that the employee is self driven towards this. And it must be done with proper counseling and training, maintain experts. "To grow, an individual should be willing", says Suresh. "One must continue to enhance skill sets the case for strongest-resume-wins will increase as competition intensifies," adds Naresh Malhan, managing director, Manpower India.
Employers will continue to hire for the positions they deem critical to their business operations. For corporates, this is the ideal time to scout for the best talent and to retain the finest. Whichever profession you choose, remember that in the coming months, many employers around the globe will make do with the people they have, finding ways to arrest the cost with cautious hiring. So work on your credentials, step up your proficiency and get cherrypicked.