Senior talent chooses job security above fat pay or startup experience

Source | Sreeradha Basu | ET Bureau 

A veteran in the consumer goods industry recently got an offer to join an ecommerce major at a top position. He rejected it summarily.

Another executive who was identified by a startup to hire as its corporate affairs head suddenly got cold feet. In his case, the company in question had very recently raised funds and was doing well, but that didn’t provide the security he wanted. “Startups are unstable,” he told the recruiter mandated to carry out the search.

What were the hottest CXO jobs until a few months ago are now increasingly getting the cold shoulder from potential employees, as startups, notably in the showpiece ecommerce segment, wade into an uncertain environment.

Funds have become hard to come by for homegrown companies and valuations have shrunk, even as the competitive intensity in the markets they operate in refused to ebb with deep-pocketed foreign rivals continuing to bankroll their Indian operations. Layoffs and management upheavals have become fairly common.

Top executive search firms such as Transearch, Longhouse Consulting, RGF Executive Search and Antal International said they were finding it tough to convince candidates to sign up for CXO roles in ecommerce companies and other startups. In recent months they have recorded up to a 50 per cent increase in offer rejections. Even when a candidate is ready to join, it is taking longer to close the process.

“When times are good, everyone wants to jump in. When things slow down, the music stops,” said Sandeep Murthy, partner at venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures.

For senior talent, job security has become far more important than the excitement of working at a new-age company offering a fat pay packet along with generous stock options, which though come embedded with great risks.

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