Robert Kennedy, associate professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, has joined the Board of Directors of JobsAhead.com. In this capacity, he is expected to provide the JobsAhead.com brass "strategic inputs to tackle the myriad problems of the turbulent dotcom world". Says Puneet Dalmia, CEO, JobsAhead, "We would draw upon his learning on Internet strategy, and his experience would expedite the growth of not only JobsAhead but also the industry."
On his part, Professor Kennedy seemed happy with his association with JobsAhead. "It is one of the most progressive organisations that I have come across. This is the beginning of a fruitful relationship." The relationship seems like a perfect fit with Kennedy's extensive knowledge on emerging markets (as reflected in a series of publications on it) that would provide the much-needed "international perspective" in the time of global businesses.
However, the question that assumes importance is the ability of JobsAhead to thrive in an increasingly competitive scenario. With international players like Monster.com and StepStone entering the domestic market and the existing players Naukri.com and JobStreet.com snapping at it heels, how does it secure the 50 per cent market share that it currently enjoys?
An aggressive Alok Mittal, COO, JobsAhead, seems to have the solution to protect the company's position. "India is our home ground and not just another market as viewed by international players. We will not only protect but also enhance our market share by offering innovative recruitment technology solutions backed by world-class service delivery." In this endeavour to make the customer comfortable, JobsAhead has launched 'Symphony', a web-based Hiring Management System. Mittal hopes a competitive pricing of Rs 30,000 per user license will encourage HR managers to embrace this new tool to streamline their recruitment functions and reduce costs.
The still elusive cash breakeven point also may not be too far as JobsAhead targets the last quarter of 2001 to achieve this milestone. The Chrysalis Capital-funded company has been one of the few dotcoms to be able to raise a third round of funding, ensuring a total investment of Rs 33 crore from its inception in 2000. A strong financial backing supported by an experienced management team ensured that it weathered the dotcom bust - though not without scratches. It has had to scrap its plans of expanding beyond the Indian shores.
On the flip side, the IT slowdown lead to a spurt in its subscription-based services like Right Resume (which teaches job-seekers the art of resume writing) and Resume Blaster (wherein the portal mails the resume to 800 placement consultants), which experienced a 120 per cent increase in the last six months. "All in all, the slowdown has not been bad for the online recruitment business," avers Mittal.
A change in the composition of companies availing of its services and the coming on board of more non-IT companies seems like another silver lining. The earlier break up of job postings was slanted in favour of IT companies (the ratio of IT to non-IT postings was 80:20). Now, the non-IT postings constitute 45 per cent of the total openings. Much of its success can be attributed to its off-line marketing efforts.
In conjunction with its advertising agency EuroRSCG, JobsAhead now plans to focus on activities like direct marketing and event sponsorships rather than mass media. The Fast Track series of career fairs in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have also increased its frequency with special editions of the fair being planned in other parts of the country.
With lots going for it - a major share of a market growing at 200 per cent, new products, wider acceptance of online recruitment and a high brand recall - will JobsAhead be the frontrunner of the online recruiting business in the near future? We will just have to wait and see...
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