Forget the Roaring 20s. The year 2020 will have the dubious distinction of being mentioned in tandem with the 1930s. The economic downturn that has unfolded is arguably the worst since the Great Depression, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

In this bleak setting, Aseem Marwaha is an outlier. After a brief blip, his 2020 is not just back on track, it’s going great. Marwaha is the director of Solutioning and Strategic Initiatives at eLitmus Evaluation Pvt Ltd, a 15-year-old assessment and recruitment company based in Bengaluru. The company assesses nearly 1.2 million potential recruits every year for clients. 

Though the recruitment business was down during March and April—the first phase of India’s nationwide lockdown—things have picked up now. So much so that Marwaha is charging a 25-30% premium for hires. He’s also expecting eLitmus to meet its target of 30-40% annual revenue growth. The business will likely clock its highest annual revenue. 

Instahyre, a Delhi-based recruitment platform has a similar story. Business for the firm, which has around 20-odd employees, was down in the dumps in late March and April. July, though, was its best month ever, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Aditya Rajgarhia tells The Ken. Instahyre saw the highest number of clients signing up for its platform—50% more than its previous highest month pre-Covid, according to Rajgarhia.

The success of both eLitmus and Instahyre should give one pause. Hirings aren’t grabbing headlines. Quite the opposite. Nearly 19 million 19 million CMIE Salaried job losses Read more  salaried jobs have been lost since April 2020, including five million jobs in July alone, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a business intelligence agency. That’s more than a fifth of India’s total salaried workforce. 

Some of India’s biggest employers are already feeling the burn. Take India’s largest staffing firm, Bengaluru-based Quess Corp, for instance. The company employs some 300,000 people—from receptionists to call centre employees—across 2,000 clients nationwide. It interviews close to a million people every year for these positions. Quess saw a 20% decline in revenue in the quarter ended June 2020. Quess’ rival, Adecco India, also saw revenue fall by 39% for the same quarter. Adecco India is the Indian arm of Switzerland-based The Adecco Group, one of the world’s largest temporary staffing companies.

Adecco India and the Indian arms of other multinational recruitment companies The Ken spoke to did not cut salaries or lay off employees. But several India-based staffing firms told The Ken they had to do both. All of these businesses—both foreign and local—had to put their own recruitment on hold. 

AUTHOR

Shreedhar Manek

Based in Bangalore, Shreedhar is a Staff Writer for The Ken. He writes on technology, education, human resources and urban mobility. He has a BTech in Computer Science and an MS in Urban Sociology from IIIT Hyderabad.

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