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Just Shoot Me

Bala, 28, Gordon Gekko in the making, pseudo-intellectual, cynic, bibliophile, obsessive compulsive ranter...

of interviews and expected salaries....

April 17, 2007

I interviewed someone for a job today. No correct that - I helped a friend to interview someone for a job today. The friend in question is opening a regional branch in Madurai for a medium-sized Indian brokerage firm and is interviewing people for positions of Dealer and back office workers. The woman we were interviewing today was appearing for a position as a dealer (the person who feeds in orders at a trading terminal). She is currently working in the same position in one of India's largest brokerage firms. The first question we asked her was this - how much you are getting paid now and how much do you expect as salary?. This girl gives her current salary (6000 Rs) and without hesitation names a figure 3 times the current salary (18000 Rs) as her expected pay. And she went on to emphasize - nothing less than that would do. We were quite taken aback with her calm assurance. And it made me realize how much bloated Indian financial services industry - particularly the brokerage business - is.

18000 Rs in Madurai is a huge deal. The cost of living is very very low in Madurai. Here is a candidate with two years of experience demanding 18000 rs for an almost data entry job. The rapid and reckless expansion of the major brokerage houses for the past three years and the rush to open up offices in every small town in the country has led to a scarcity of trained man power and inflated salaries. And the attrition rate rivals the BPOs here. With the recent bull run in equity markets flagging and the consolidation phase setting in, there is bound to be a violent shakeout in this business. With reliable broadband (or what passes for broadband) connections increasing in small and medium towns, the need for physical offices and terminals has started decreasing already. Why pay someone called a "dealer" while the client can feed his orders into a computer from his home?. Add to this scenario, the cut throat pricing Reliance Money has brought. With Anil Ambani in the ring (with his deep pockets) the golden run of the brokerage houses is bound to end very soon. The days when a commerce grad with couple of years experience could demand (brazenly) outrageous sums for a dealer job are going to end.

This brings back the memories of a girl i interviewed for TCS a couple of years back. She was technically brilliant, had the relevant experience as a programmer and was articulate. I should say she was much more knowledgeable than me and my co-interviewer in several aspects of J2EE. The interview become a good two way dialogue regarding technical issues and we were highly impressed with her. We decided to clear her for the tech interview and decided to pass her on to the HR portion of the interview. I was watching her fill up her HR interview questionnaire and was shell shocked to see her write 6500 Rs against the expected salary. Here was an engineer with two years of j2ee programming experience who writes down a four figure amount as expected salary?. I asked her how did she arrive at that amount?. And she says that is my pay now and so i am writing it down. Apparently she worked in a small software firm in Kochi, which took on sub contracted projects and employed her for peanuts!!.

So the question is how much does one say one expects as pay without sounding like a naive simpleton or a total ass?

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posted by Bala, 8:02 PM

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