Flexible working has emerged as a top priority: LinkedIn's Ankit Vengurlekar

LinkedIn's managing editor Ankit Vengurlekar
LinkedIn's managing editor Ankit Vengurlekar.

Professional networking site LinkedIn has come out with a list of 15 fast-growing job sectors over the past five years. LinkedIn's managing editor Ankit Vengurlekar tells Malayala Manorama in an interview that the recruitment scenario is gaining momentum after a lull imposed by Covid. Vengurlekar talks about how recruitments registered a massive growth of 94 per cent since last October when pandemic-related curbs began to ease in the country.

What is the message of this year's 'LinkedIn Jobs on the rise-India' report? Your take on its findings?
At the start of the year, professionals around the world are trying to determine what the new world of work looks like for them. The pandemic has motivated people to rethink their careers and look for new job opportunities to meet their renewed purpose and priorities in life — and it is evident that the Great Reshuffle has become a reality in India, and that it is a job-seeker’s market today.

In this evolving labour market, there is no better time for us to launch a ‘Jobs Bootcamp’ and the Jobs on the Rise list to point to professionals the fastest-growing jobs in the market today. Through the Jobs Bootcamp week, we want to arm professionals with data, insights and career tips from experts on how to navigate the journey of their professionals. To put together this year’s ‘Jobs on the Rise India list’, LinkedIn looked at their platform data to identify job titles experiencing the highest growth rates from January 2017 through July 2021. To be ranked, a job title was required to witness consistent growth across our membership base, as well as to have grown to a meaningful size by 2021. Affiliate Marketing Specialist, Site Reliability Engineer, Molecular Biologist, Wellness Specialist, and User Experience Researcher are the top 5 fastest-growing jobs in India. Our Jobs on the Rise list shows that the demand for tech-savvy talent is growing hotter across the IT, healthcare, and business development sectors.

What are the patterns you are currently seeing in hiring in India? Is there a decrease/increase from pre-pandemic times?
As restrictions across the country eased up, hiring in October to December 2021 was 94% higher in comparison to the same period in pre-Covid times in 2019. However, there remain risks to the recovery given the emergence of the Omicron variant.

According to our Labour Market Update in October 2021, hiring in India is recovering. It is up 133 per cent vs Oct 2019. There was a deepening hiring dip in April 2021, corresponding to the second wave of COVID-19 cases in India, but since then, it has been recovering steadily. As large sectors such as IT, manufacturing, and hardware begin to ramp up hiring after a year of freezes, we are hopeful that hiring will continue to grow.

What are the issues the companies faced during the pandemic period about hiring?
Currently, companies and talent professionals are under immense pressure from the burgeoning demand for flexibility. In fact, topline findings from LinkedIn India’s Future of Work B2B survey conducted in October 2021 show that 80 per cent of business leaders in India feel pressured to offer greater flexibility since COVID-19. As a result, leaders in India have hired specialists to design stronger workplace policies, to re-evaluate everything from L&D opportunities to performance reviews and career progression through a new lens.

The demand for hybrid work has also been on a rise with 9 in 10 business leaders in India having offered or are planning to offer job sharing possibilities, while 78 per cent have already offered or are planning to allow employees to work from a different country.

The ongoing remote reality has made it easier for companies to hire professionals with more distinct backgrounds and diversified skillsets today. Flexible working has emerged as a top priority in the new world of work, and business leaders see this as an opportunity to hire more diverse talent and improve business performance.

What all new hiring patterns and trends we will be seeing post-pandemic, especially about remote work?
Company culture is having a watershed moment. It is being reshaped by the pandemic, the acceleration of automation, the rise of millennials and Gen Z in the workforce, and the Great Reshuffle. Employees are demanding — and quite often getting — more freedom to work where and when they want and more attention to their well-being. Companies are rethinking their models and traditional ways of working to adapt to the new world of work. People want to work for companies that care about them as human beings, and companies know they must adapt or will lose out on talent.

As per LinkedIn’s latest Global Talent Trends 2022, we’ve identified the top areas professionally undergoing immense change.

1) Flexibility: When looking for new roles in the new year, the majority of professionals in India said flexible working arrangements will be a top priority. Some jobs, of course, can’t be done remotely. However, flexibility is still the key. Companies are offering job shares, different shifts, compressed workweeks, and other forms of flexible scheduling to make sure onsite employees can also shape work around their personal lives. For example, we’ve noticed an 83 per cent increase in job posts mentioning “flexibility”, on the platform, since 2019.

2) Wellbeing: Companies everywhere are discovering that their own well-being is inextricably linked to their employees’ well-being — mental, physical, emotional, and financial. Promoting well-being means offering employees much more than even health insurance and yoga classes. Today, well-being starts with care and compassion. Companies are prioritizing time off and they’re adopting new strategies to encourage employees to check out and recharge. For example, there has been a 73 per cent increase in company posts mentioning “wellbeing”, on the platform, since 2019.

3) The Great Reshuffle: The pandemic has spurred employees to prioritize their well-being and to seek more agency about where — and when — they work. Workers are changing jobs, hoping for something more — more purpose, more flexibility, more empathy. The challenge for recruiters then is to help preserve and evolve their own organization’s culture while hiring at scale. For example, LinkedIn has noticed a 67 per cent engagement boost when platform posts mention culture.

Over the next year, we can expect to see more companies make a shift to skills-based hiring where companies assess candidates on their skills and future potential, not just their formal qualifications and previous direct experience. Our data show 51 per cent of India’s Gen Z professionals want companies to take a more skills-based approach towards hiring. This can help them to recruit more diverse talent and offer a level-playing field for job seekers from non-traditional backgrounds.

What are the tips you can give to the freshers in this pandemic time?
Amid such dynamic times, freshers are riddled with finding the best possible ways to not just upgrade their skill sets, but also land the right opportunities. But with simple career hacks, networking, self-skilling and self-assessments, young aspirants can beat these odds and develop the right skills to become more employable today.

Here are five easy tips for young professionals to find a job:
Keep your profile updated:
Your LinkedIn profile today is your CV, and candidates must keep their social profiles, like LinkedIn, updated at all times; as employers are always looking for roles to fill through social media platforms.

Your network is your net worth: Networking is not just about building relations with new professionals but it also serves as a channel to create long-term relationships for personal and professional growth. Use your LinkedIn profile to reach out to leads, and strike up relevant conversations in your feed. One’s ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships can be the most important asset in one's portfolio.

Showcase your soft skills: Amid the pandemic, it has become increasingly important for working professionals to brush up and actively exercise their soft skills in the workplace. LinkedIn’s Career Aspirations Gen Z India survey found that among those who are learning, 60 per cent Gen Z Indians are more likely to opt for soft skills. Furthermore, LinkedIn’s added platform features such as Cover Story, also lets users personalise their first “hello,” so they may engage authentically with the audience and recruiters.

Signal to recruiters and employers that you are open to work: The Open-To Work feature allows you to indicate to the community of members on LinkedIn that you’re open to work and to make yourself more discoverable by hiring managers. Our data state that more than 8 million members have chosen to add an Open to Work photo frame to their profile.

Use LinkedIn’s Skills Assessment tool: Skills-first hiring is the most relevant trend to come out of the pandemic; today companies and recruiters want to see more of a candidate’s skills, and not just their educational qualifications. On LinkedIn, you can use the Skills Assessment feature where members can showcase their proficiency for hard skills and earn a badge that gets added to their LinkedIn profile.

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