US-based In­dian Pros Dial Home for Jobs

Recruitment firms wit­ness a surge in queries af­ter US Pres­i­dent’s ‘Buy Amer­i­canHire Amer­i­can’ pledge

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit -

Prachi Verma Dad­hwal & Sreer­adha D Basu

New Delhi | Mum­bai: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion pledge to ‘Buy Amer­i­canhire Amer­i­can’ has stoked in­ter­est in jobs back home from over­seas In­di­ans, who are in­creas­ingly reach­ing out to man­power con­sul­tants in the coun­try to ex­plore equiv­a­lent op­tions.

Recruitment firms led by BTI Con­sul­tants, RGF Ex­ec­u­tive Search, Transearch, The Head Hunters, and An­tal In­ter­na­tional have re­ported dou­bling of queries from US-based In­dian pro­fes­sion­als over the past few weeks as the Repub­li­can winner to the White House race de­clares his pol­icy stance af­ter the Jan­uary 20 in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Ner­vous­ness has also gripped In­dian com­pa­nies that have a sig­nif­i­cant US em­ployee base: Hunt for In­dian tal­ent in the US are now join­ing the swelling list of can­celled man­dates.

Kris Lak­sh­mikanth, chief ex­ec­u­tive of The Head Hunters (In­dia), says he has got some 30 calls un­til now from tech­nol­ogy pro­fes­sion­als ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties back in In­dia, com­pared with prac­ti­cally no queries un­til just a cou­ple of months ago. “This num­ber is likely to in­crease even more in the com­ing days,” says Lak­sh­mikanth.

Most of the queries, he says, are at the level of project man­agers and above — peo­ple who have com­pleted three years in the US (af­ter which one gets an H-1B visa ex­ten­sion) or about the six-year pe­riod — and are un­sure about whether they will get an ex­ten­sion of their visa or, al­ter­na­tively, a green card.

Lak­sh­mikanth cites the in­stance of a per­son who re­cently re­turned af­ter his visa-ten­ure ended, and is un­sure about his re­turn. “He still has a house there bought on mort­gage, but is be­ing forced to look at op­por­tu­ni­ties here,” says Lak­sh­mikanth.

Joseph Deva­sia, MD at An­tal In­ter­na­tional In­dia, says in the past 2-3 weeks, the num­ber of qu- eries seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in In­dia has tre­bled. “Peo­ple are test­ing the wa­ters to gauge what awaits them at home in case some­thing goes wrong. Most of these peo­ple are at the $80,000-150,000 salary bracket,” says Deva­sia.

Other lead­ing search firms such as Korn/Ferry and Hei­drick & Strug­gles say search man­dates are in a wait-and-watch mode. They, how­ever, say that Trump’s stance will im­pact the over­all hir­ing sen­ti­ments across all In­dian com­pa­nies in the US.

For RGF, half a dozen searches have come to a halt af­ter the Trump in­au­gu­ra­tion. “Com­pa­nies are not sure about the dy­nam­ics of the US mar­ket. At least, 30% of job searches in the US have been im­pacted as a re­sult,” R Suresh, MD at RGF Ex­ec­u­tive Search, told ET.

One of RGF’s clients, a bil­lion-dol­lar In­dian IT com­pany that was look­ing to hire a pres­i­dent for its out­sourc­ing ac­tiv­i­ties has tem­po­rar­ily called off its search. An­other of its clients, an In­dian pharma com­pany, is hold­ing on to its hir­ing de­ci­sions.

“The ex­o­dus from In­dia will def­i­nitely stop. Hir­ing of In­di­ans in the US will slow down at least for a year,” said Arun Das Ma­ha­p­a­tra, part­ner in-charge of Hei­drick & Strug­gles in In­dia.

“There is def­i­nitely an air of un­cer­tainty across all com­pa­nies that have some kind of con­nect with the US. It is a wor­ri­some time for play­ers in the space of IT, pharma and bank­ing, but this may last only up to a year or so as cost pres­sures will force com­pa­nies to even­tu­ally look at In­dia,” said Ki­ran Karnik, chair­man of CII Na­tional Com­mit­tee on Telecom and Broad­band. While Korn/Ferry In­ter­na­tional man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for In­dia, Navnit Singh, calls it the wait and watch phase, Transearch (In­dia Of­fice) man­ag­ing part­ner Uday Chawla de­scribes the Trump im­pact as “pro­cras­ti­na­tion of de­ci­sions” in all sec­tors, lead­ing to an in­crease in the cy­cle-time for searches. “We see the cy­cle-time for search man­dates go­ing up eas­ily to at least three months, up from a month,” said Chawla.

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