MUMBAI: Telecom companies in India are once again into big-ticket hiring, suggesting that the green shoots of stability are emerging in a sector that shed over 100,000 jobs in the past year alone.
Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm have put out mandates to recruit executives locally and overseas for salaries of as much as Rs 2 crore, search firms said, adding that they are also looking to fill middle-level positions.
Search firm EMA Partners has mandates for an Internet of Things (IoT) product lead who will be paid about Rs 2 crore, a business head of IoT whose salary will be upward of Rs 1 crore, and a content head with a salary of between Rs 80 lakh and Rs 1 crore. The Head Hunters India has been asked to hire an expat as a chief digital officer, with a Rs 1 crore-plus salary.
“After a year, there are mandates in the crore-plus category in the sector,” said A Ramachandran, senior partner at EMA Partners. “Hiring for these profiles in the telecom sector is also interesting because earlier these kind of job rolescame from technology companies.”
This growth in demand after more than 16 months of a hiring freeze marks a likely reversal for the sector. The major impact of consolidation in the industry – which shrank to three companies from an eight-operator market – has been on the workforce, which lost about 1 lakh employees – or about a third of the total – in the past year.
Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Jio are the only private operators, and, according to industry experts, despite pressure on revenue, the worst is behind them. The three telcos did not respond to ET’s queries.
Recently created Vodafone Idea, the market leader, is in an integration phase and has frozen all hiring – shedding duplicate roles aggressively – amid the need to rationalise costs and realise the synergy benefits.
Kris Lakshmikanth, founder of The Head Hunters India, will be looking to woo Indians working in media and consumer firms overseas and will sell the job on the growth story of Digital India.
While the hiring is not as strong as it was a few years ago, search firms such as Transearch India said that two months ago, they received mandates for CEO hiring in a broadband service provider and senior management positions for one operator. Salaries in this case are upward of Rs 1 crore and for the post of CEO in the broadband company, it can go up to Rs 3 crore.
“Some of the mandates are for replacement hiring and not necessarily new positions,” said Atul Vohra, managing partner for Transearch India.
According to some recruiters, hiring has also picked up in middle-management and there, too, telcos are willing to get people from abroad in new-age technologies.
“The weariness and the confusion is slowly ebbing in the telecom sector,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, cofounder of TeamLease Services. “Technical director, data team leader, team leader – installation, network security administrators are few upcoming jobs.”
She added that the protectionist policy in the US is helping recruitment firms tap into the pool of talent, many of whom are willing to return to India. However, some said it’s still early days for a stable revival in hiring.
“Give the sector at least couple of quarters more to stabilise and then, if demand for talent comes in, then they will be in the new-age technology space like machine-to-machine communication, IoT and AI,” said a middle-management recruiter who did not want to be identified.