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Hop-[p]-ing-for-the-best!
Imran Shahnawaz
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Job-hopping as an issue has been at the center stage in the volatile IT industry. Increased opportunities and rocketing pay has added to trouble and the trend of job-hopping has reached alarming proportions, causing problems for both the consultants and the industry.

High attrition rates are seen not only in junior levels but also in middle and senior levels. The trend of no-shows or quitting the company within a few months of joining has become very frequent and everyone complaints and yet have no suggestion.

Two years ago, Sanjit Singh Saluja stepped into the IT industry through Wipro, Mumbai, as a software programmer. The stint lasted for six months and Saluja jumped to Hyderabad based TNS India, where he now holds the position of Team Lead. “I believe my market value has gone up, so why not to cash in on it,” says Saluja proudly.

According to consultants, reasons for job-hops vary depending on the position (junior, mid and senior level) that one holds. Junior level software professionals swap jobs mainly for monetary benefits. Technology and non-software work are other reasons why they jump. Mid level professionals, who most experts say are a confused lot, switch jobs either because they work for small companies or are responsible for executing low-end work. Money is a third priority for them. For senior level professionals money is not a dominant factor. They are keen on the type of work and technology they handle.

The perceptions of turnover amongst software professionals and HR mangers differ substantially. HR professionals believe that people at all the three levels switch due to seven reasons-money, onsite opportunities, higher studies, shortage of people, technology, peer pressure and personal reasons. A research conducted by Dr. Nandkishore Rathi, a former professor of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and now with Oracle India, shows that there is a significant perception gap between what HR professionals think and what software professionals feel regarding reasons for someone to leave a job. [See illustration]

“People switch jobs not only for higher salary, but because they realize that this is not the work they really want to do,” says Vasu Subbiah, Head of Product and Partner Engineering Group, NetApp India Development Center who switched seven jobs before NetApp happened. Now the question is whether to continue in the same job and complain about it or make a change for the better? “In some cases you are going to make this change happen for yourself and in some cases others are going to make it for you,” claims Subbiah. So as it works both ways, choose the way that can be termed as a smart job hop. Before deciding to hop, one should make sure the move is seen as a long-term career strategy and should be able to defend the move later to the new employer. But one should ensure it adds value rather than portraying an image of a fickle-minded wanderer, suggests Nelson Cordeiro, Director of the consultancy firm, iPeople.

One reason for high dissatisfaction with the current job is the availability of large number of exciting job opportunities in other organizations. Rathi’s research shows that software professionals show lower level of satisfaction in large sized high maturity companies. On the other hand, smaller companies and start-up firms give employees a high level of satisfaction.

Despite the opportunities around, a section of people in the IT industry believes one can get extensive experience and move up the career ladder only by staying with one company for long. Narendra Vaze, Director, Asia, Business Intelligence Services, Intel India feels, “If you are new in a company then you won’t get responsibilities to make an impact at the early part of your career.” Generally, the management and people in an organization take time to develop trust and to understand the credibility of what one can accomplish. Once this barrier is crossed only then the employees will bag opportunities to prove their strengths. “But if one switches jobs within a period of one year then I don’t think they are contributing enough,” feels Cordeiro.

However that was not the situation earlier when people stayed with one company for long. They were loyal to the company and in-turn the company showed its loyalty towards them. Was that their loyalty? No. According to Madan Padaki, Co-Founder and Director of MeritTrac, a Bangalore based skill assessment company, loyalty was one among the other factors; it was more about lack of opportunities, risk factors and fear. If loyalty means non-performance, sticking to one company and giving attendance then “I think loyalty was enforced on them,” Padaki quips.

A report by U.S. based consultancy firm Crawford states that if a techie of the current generation wants to become a senior executive, he needs to perform 10 different jobs to acquire the necessary skills. Agreeing with the report, Basant Rajan, Director, Storage Foundation, Symantec India says, “Techies can make significant contributions to the company if they change their job role every two years instead of jobs. This makes their skill sets potable to climb the corporate ladder.” Techies note: Change in job role takes you up the ladder not change in job
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