Fittest of the Survival

20 03 2007

The title for this rant is from a resume [pronounced “reh-sue-may”, not “reh-sume”] I got of a guy who claimed to have, and I quote, “excellent communication skills”. What had me banging my head against my desk is that this particular gem was in the section “Personal Strengths”, which funnily enough was located on the last page of this particular person’s resume. Now, normally, you’d find this sort of stuff right on Page 1 in big bold letters. Anyways, by the time I’d come to this line I’d already been through the contortionist exercise of rotating his resume 540 degrees to try and figure just what this guy was trying to say. And I gave up once I saw this.

“Fittest of the Survival”??? Did this guy even have a clue as to what the hell he was talking about? I figured out that he was trying to say “Survival of the Fittest” ala Darwin, but what the heck does that even mean? Having thought about it now [a lot], I think I can understand what this chap was trying to convey but the concept is so abstract that its difficult to explain it to another person concisely.

As I see it, my goal in reading any resume is to identify the person’s technical competency and to get an idea of how the person communicates ideas and information in writing. I am not interested in, nor am I supposed to be, considering the metaphysical concepts that arise as I read a resume. I want to be done in 5 minutes. What I find depressing is that this sort of idiocy is just the tip of the iceberg when you’re dealing with the IT field in India today.

In the past 2 months, I must have gone over at least 400 resumes and interviewed around a 100 people in person. And I’ve found maybe 1 or 2 candidates who I’d call as good finds. I’ve seen people who claim to have 2,3, even 4 years of experience, who can’t answer questions on fundamental concepts in the very technologies they are supposed to be experts in. Out of morbid curiosity, I had a couple of freshers take the same test I give to these “experienced” candidates. And guess what? Yeah, you guessed it. They did better than the experienced guys. Which means I am better of taking in raw recruits than experienced people, and training them as I need.

While I’m laughing my way to the bank, this situation also highlights a major problem with the quality of the people who work in IT today. Maybe its because I’m in Chennai and its not really considered a glamorous place to work, but how can businesses scale their activities quickly if the “talent pool” they have to dip into is so bad that the people are not really employable? How can they run efficiently if they have to invest in training “experienced” people all the time? In a word, they don’t have a choice. Whether they like it or not, and usually they do not, they have to run a training program constantly to prepare candidates for live projects.

I must say that I am now starting to appreciate why companies like Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc. invest so much in training people and having so many people on staff, even if they don’t fully utilize them. I always thought that it was a cheap trick to increase billing to unsuspecting foreign clients. But I realize its more than just that [Although the billing aspect is a major plus of the situation]. You just can’t take for granted the quality of candidates who walk through your doors, so you have to fix that by giving them the training in skills you require them to have. And, with the current skill shortage, its better to have some people on standby to deploy when you need them, rather than trying to hunt around for people once you realize, “Oh! I have a need.” That’s ok for the big guys. They can absorb that cost. How can the little guys manage?

I don’t think they have a choice. They have to constantly run a candidate review like the big guns, which is a drain on resources. Also, they have to go to great lengths to hold onto their best people, lest they get headhunted away to a bigger firm, a bigger name. Every day, you are fighting for survival, and the only way you can really survive is to grow and grow, until you are big enough with a reputation to match to attract the better candidates. It really is “Survival of the Fittest”.

Note: I’ll stop here for now. I admit that this rant meanders across a few topics and could do with a bit more explanation, but I’ll shortly start delving deeper into some of the issues I’ve highlighted here. Stay tuned…

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5 responses

27 03 2007
Lilian

all very valid points. but i like “fittest of the survival”…you know, fittest of those who survive the indian education system!!

27 03 2007
Divs

HA! i can almost hear you rant..

27 03 2007
Ashwin

lilian, plenty of people survive the indian education system… its whether they are any good once they come out that’s my beef… when i tell people of the success of india, i say that India is a much more impressive case than China simply because India is booming despite government policies, while china is due to govt policies.. i may have to amend that include “India is also booming despite its education system…” 🙂

7 04 2007
Fundamentally Lacking « chronicallysane

[…] produced on average by universities in India today. This is a follow-up to my previous post “Fittest of the Survival“. [Those of you who don’t know the article in question, shame on you for not being avid […]

18 01 2008
Fundamentally Lacking — vetti.in

[…] practical training], train these freshers. Going back to the point I made in my other article, Fittest of the Survival, its all very good for big companies but where do the small companies stand? They can’t […]

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