Does a barber lose business during a depression? He may, if his clients are losing hair. But, by and large, barbers dont have to take a haircut even in the worst of times.
Like hairdressing, there are certain professions that are immune to downturns. Some do very well. The sin trade always receives a boost as people have to find avenues to vent their frustrations. Doctors and psychiatrists do better; the high-fliers still have the money to pay their shrinks.
There are a whole lot of professions which do not necessarily do better, but are not affected by any economic slowdown, says Mumbai-based HR consultant D. Singh. Government jobs are an excellent example. Look at the public sector. In India, people are losing jobs all over the place. The babus are getting sharp pay hikes — because of the implementation of the Pay Commission recommendations — and arrears.
Marty Nemko, author of Cool Careers for Dummies, has this to say about the US environment: The private sector will shrink as a percentage of gross domestic product. For many workers, private sector employment will be less desirable than government work, because companies will tighten their belts further to respond to ever increasing global competition.
Is that equally true of India? At a certain level, the answer is yes. A clerk in a government job in India is even more sure of his continued employment than his counterpart in the West. And, as the private sector sheds jobs, government employment will increase in percentage terms, though the rise may be statistically insignificant.
Safe jobs are becoming more attractive, though they may pay less. Bankers are deserting foreign and private sector outfits to take up positions in downmarket public sector banks. They may earn much less, but there is no pink slip around the corner.
All this is old hat; HR consultants and columnists have made much of this aspect. Whats new is that some of them have begun studying job offers and specialisations at top B-schools. This, they contend, is a leading indicator of the shape of the economy. The underlying assumption is that one should have faith in the collective wisdom of B-school students and the companies that offer them jobs.
In the US, there is a clear move away from investment banking and finance; it will take years for Wall Street to recover its former glory. Marketing is holding its own. Whats coming alive are courses designed for jobs in non-profit organisations and developmental institutions.
In India, the scene is sharply different. Yes, there is a trend towards entrepreneurship. Yes, some top recruiters of yesterday are no longer active; they may not exist. But look at some of the highlights of Placement 2008, according to CoolAvenues, a popular MBA website:
At the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, despite the grim situation in the international financial markets, a total of 113 (approximately 44 per cent) students out of a batch of 255 opted for the financial sector.
At IIM Bangalore, 37 per cent of the batch chose consulting in the final placements.
At IIM Calcutta, 34 per cent of the batch opted for jobs in the financial sector.
At IIM Lucknow, the stand-out achievement was the number of investment banks that participated, marking IIM-L as a recruitment hub for investment banks, brokerage houses and trading firms.
At IIM Kozhikode, the banking and financial services sector remained a strong favourite and saw a significant jump in activity with 36 per cent of the batch being offered plum roles at top corporations.
At IIM Indore, banking and financial services, being a hot favourite, clearly stole the show accounting for nearly half of the accepted offers.
In 2007, a Teamlease-MBA Universe survey on Indian MBA students career aspirations found that 33 per cent wanted to go for investment banking, 31 per cent for management consultancy and 14 per cent for fast moving consumer goods. Banking seems to have done even better in 2008.
Who says therell be a long slowdown in India, asks Singh. The cream of the MBA pack certainly doesnt think so.
Careers and sectors that continue to thrive in hard times
Old age caregivers
*Based on findings in the US
Source: 13 hot jobs in hard times, kiplinger.com