Missing Ingredient in Indian Employability: Matching Job Skills and Preference with Job Description


Employers’ Elegy:

I wanted to hire,

The candidate I desired

Million CVs I got to see,

But none that fitted to a “T”.

Yes, indeed that is the plight of employers wishing to hire, especially in the mass recruitment segment. The entire recruitment process has, if anything, become more inefficient, even as more jobseekers join the Indian workforce. That’s because somewhat paradoxically, this problem is only exacerbated by adding more candidates to the recruitment funnel. Hence it’s a problem that begs a disruptive solution.

Most employers have a well-defined Job Description (JD) for the specific role for which they intend to hire. And yet almost all employers would express their dissatisfaction with the level of “fit” achieved between this JD and the candidates that they interview as part of the shortlist and perhaps even those they eventually have to hire.

So, is the culprit the quality of candidates available?

According to a study on Skill Development in India conducted by NSDC, nearly 12-13 million people join the workforce every year. The workforce will continue to grow adding over 10 million annually and, by 2020, one in three people of working age across the globe will be an Indian. But that euphoria in our famed demographic dividend dampens quickly when you see other studies which conclude that 40-50% of India’s graduates are not employable in any sector of the economy.

Undeniably, the lack of focus on employability in our education system is a major issue, especially as it applies to the base level, where a majority of the jobseekers pursue their dreams of finding a fulfilling vocation. At, as we conduct in-depth pre-screening of jobseekers for the low wage jobs, it is evident that basic numeracy, problem solving, communication and computing skills are often lacking and hence are the biggest barriers to jobseekers in this segment finding suitable employment.

A part of the solution therefore entails the introduction of strong aspects of “learning by doing” and soft skills in education curriculums. The proposed amendment to the Apprenticeship Act is quite obviously a step in the right direction.

Looking beyond the usual suspects

As an Employment Marketplace targeting mass recruiters and low wage earners, our experience has clearly indicated that placing the blame solely at the doorstep of the education system or the quality of candidates does not fully explain the challenge of finding the right fit candidates vs. the needs of employers and JDs. Several roles that employers hire for in this segment require very basic skills. Moreover, most employers are also willing to train candidates who have the right basics and willingness to learn. Hence, lack of skills and the ‘unemployability’ of Indian youth is only a part of the story.

Traditional models of recruitment also throw up challenges, which lead to this inefficient matching:

  • A few candidates who have the ability to make CVs or post profiles on job portals are pursued with vigour, while several other deserving candidates who have a lower ability to signal their presence to employers are missed out e.g. those in tier 3-4 towns.  The traditional models are hence skewed in favor of accessible candidates. This creates the illusion of a greater paucity of suitable matches than there really is.
  • The process and cost of verification of candidates in the mass recruitment segment tends to be complex and high. Addressing this issue requires a process of high engagement with jobseekers and curating profiles, rather like a “credit bureau”. This, we believe, is the best approach for jobseekers who display highly transient characteristics, manifested in quick job changes and high attrition.
  • CVs are not discriminating while hiring for jobs such as field sales, call centers, customer service, data entry, delivery staff etc. Resumes fail to capture skills, preferences, intent to join, as well as past behavior of jobseekers, which are all critical selection variables for hiring in this segment. The traditional “classified” approach of listing a job and attracting as many applications as possible is counter-productive. What is required is pre-screening to identify the more “suitable” and “interested” candidates.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves”

Recruiting is a business that needs to change fast since the traditional models of hiring are ill-equipped to manage large scale recruiting at the bottom of the pyramid. The advent and proliferation of mobile phones, digital marketing, social media and data analytics, is throwing up more efficient ways for match-making between jobseekers and jobs. Traditional recruitment models are increasingly failing to identify the right candidates and also tend to focus on a few more accessible and privileged jobseekers.

So, while the education system needs to change to improve the employability of jobseekers, so do recruiting processes.

At MeraJob we believe that tracking and curating profiles, using data on behavioral patterns, preferences and skills, and employing a recruitment model that combines judgement with data can be a much better predictor and tool for finding the candidates that match the requirements of the employers.

With such an approach it has been possible to even identify training interventions specific to jobseekers. Emergence of various niche businesses across the areas of skill assessment, credentials verification and RPO offer opportunities to collaborate and provide a better solution to this challenge of matching jobseekers and job roles. At the heart of this solution is an approach that requires tracking and capturing information relevant to a jobseeker’s profile, rather than capturing a snapshot through a CV, and using this data to provide better pre-screening for employers.

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