For more than a year, Karthick A, 25, held the same job as a front office manager at a bus travel company in Chennai. At first, when he was learning the ropes, it seemed interesting but he soon got bored and started looking for a new job, and more importantly, a salary higher than 9,000 a month.
Two weeks ago, he came across an ad for a blue-collar job portal and on a whim, signed up, saying he wanted to work in sales. This week, he landed a sales job at a small chemicals manufacturing company in the city. "My friends say there's more growth in a sales job. So I'm giving it a shot," he says.
A number of startups are linking low-skilled job seekers with employers, bringing a semblance of formality to a largely unorganized sector that depended on word-of-mouth.
Job seekers create a profile and employers, who create a list of positions they are hiring for, are matched by the startup's software. It's faster than going through an old-world hiring agency to find entry-level sales staff, drivers, BPO employees, nurses or maids, and neither job seeker nor employer has to pay the mandatory one-month salary as commission to the agency .
Karthick, for instance, is thrilled to find that his new employer, Suganj Eco Chemicals, will provide him performance-based incentives. V Ganesh, co-founder of Suganj, says Karthick is his fourth hire from the Babajob platform. Earlier, Ganesh used to place newspaper advertisements or go to consultants and agencies to find staff but rarely found the right candidates.
"I decided to try my luck online about five months ago. It's so much more professional. You pay them, they run a campaign for 15 days and meticulously work towards finishing the task," says Ganesh.
Staying lean with tech
Basic registration and searches are free but for a few thousand rupees, the online platforms provide data-driven matching and other hiring services. Technology helps the companies stay lean even when they have lakhs of users on the platform. Job aspirants are filtered by parameters such as experience, location, salary, and languages known. The biggest clients are small and medium businesses and the demand is for sales people, delivery boys, mechanics with ITI diplomas, drivers, office boys and cashiers. Industry estimates put the demand for blue-collar and entry-level white-collar jobs at 20 crore a year, and the market at $15 billion.
"The average age of an Indian is 28 -that's the face of a workforce that is rapidly moving from the countryside to the cities. The blue-collar job search space is waiting to explode and the corporates are increasingly looking at online platforms for scale and speed," says Rutvik Doshi, partner at Inventus Capital Partners, which has invested in Aasaanjobs.
The country's smartphone revolution has enabled the change. Babajob, founded in 2007, has 70 lakh profiles of job seekers and 50,000 employers on its site. Online classifieds platform Quikr has 60 lakh profiles on its jobs vertical, which it launched early last year.
"The last two years have been transformative with many people choosing to search for a job online first," says Sean Blagsvedt, CEO and founder of Babajob
While funding to Indian startups has been tapering off, the blue collar job portals say they are generating sufficient cash to be on safe ground.
Pranay Chulet, founder and CEO of Quikr, expects his jobs vertical to turn profitable this year. "QuikrJobs will start supporting our growth investments in other verticals," Chulet says.
Doshi of Inventus says, "There is not much competition as there are no big players in the offline world. It is similar to the well-established Naukri model (a profitable online white collar job firm) and a cash-generating platform."
The companies' biggest challenge is to on-board a workforce that still is not familiar with the online medium and not comfortable with English. "We don't always understand their needs. Most job seekers contact the local consultant or ask their friends to tip them off," says Abhishek Srivastava, who started Kickstart Jobs with Samriddhi Malhotra last year.
After spending six months trying to create a platform, they changed their strategy after realising that the only way to connect to the job seekers was to reach them through their community. So they brought on board 500 autorickshaw and cab drivers, who help them arrange almost 3,000 interviews every month for aspirants. The company, which is operational in Delhi-NCR, has 150 customers.The roles range from housekeeping to security guards with salaries ranging from 8,000 to 18,000.
Aasaanjobs, which has over 900 customers, has tied up with multiple consulting companies, which market the platform and send candidates to them. Aasaanjobs' app lets the job aspirant view all job listings. Once an employer and job seeker are matched using an algorithm, Aasaanjobs schedules interviews for the candidates. The Mumbai-based company, started by Dinesh Goel in November 2013, offers more than 125 roles, with delivery personnel being the most popular due to the many e-commerce and hyper-local companies that have come up recently .
"Mumbai has approximately 2.8 million temporary staffing workers but only 500,000 are on the books of the top six staffing companies. So there is a massive opportunity for technology penetration," says Goel, who previously worked at Deutsche Bank as an analyst.
Chulet of Quikr says drawing people to the jobs vertical is a way to build a base of customers who will later use Quikr for other products and services. "We are building bridges between India and Bharat.It is a great acquisition channel for us, applicants of blue collar jobs buy used goods in our other verticals."
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