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10 myths & facts about working in the Indian IT industry

By Anurag Verma
Last updated on: October 27, 2005 16:05 IST
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India's booming information technology industry already hires more than a million employees and the numbers are set to grow manifold over the years.

Yet, the Indian IT sector, which has brought India on the global map (far removed from the West's perception of India being the land of diseases, poverty and snake charmers), is still grappling with the issue of high-end and low-end jobs and seeking out ways to go up the value chain.

Here are the 10 myths and facts about IT industry that you must know.

Myth #1: Company A has offered more salary than Company B, so it is better than Company B.

Fact: A bigger salary does not always mean better job-satisfaction. Big companies (with good cash flows) can afford to give more salaries than other relatively mid-sized or small companies or start-ups.

Also some companies outsource loss-making units or less revenue-generating product and maintenance work to India to cut costs, so job satisfaction for someone more interested in work content than the money is going to feel low.

For start-ups and small companies, salaries might not be very good, but they might offer stock options or bonus to compensate for this. Also work content in these companies might be better than big companies.

Some venture capitalists in the United States, when looking to fund start-ups, have begun to ask those companies whether they have an India-specific plan. Since these companies work on new/innovative products, work content is likely to be good.

Myth #2: Let me join Company A. If I don't like it, I will leave it and find a better job elsewhere.

Fact: Unless you are very clear about your goals and ambition you will keep changing jobs time and again. The best thing is to decide what you want to do quite early on in your career.

However, this seems a daunting task. This is true for someone with less than 3-4 years' experience and has no idea about the industry and what one wants to do. In addition, most of the companies hiring from campuses do not decide in advance what project the selected candidates will be working on. Later on, when works get assigned it does not match one's ambitions.

Also, most institutes/colleges put restriction on the number of job offers one can accept, so the selection of companies is not by choice. However, if you have joined a company that works on specific areas that are not to your liking then it is best to look out for another.

It is quite difficult for the company to find something that is specific to your interest, as it is beyond its scope. However, for you next job search, you should clearly indicate to your prospective employer that you are looking to work in a specific area (it is advisable to specialise in one domain/work area) and whether the company does that kind of work and you can be involved in that work.

Do not put off asking this after joining as it would be too late by then. It is best to give multiple interviews and decide on the one that best matches your aspirations. Don't let salary be the lone criterion when you make your decision.

Myth #3: Infotech work is more of 'a routine job.' No high-end work gets done in India.

Fact:This might be true in many cases, but the opportunities to work on challenging and complex projects is increasing in India. Currently, very few companies (rough estimate: 10-15%) in India are doing this. If you are the brainy type, seek out such companies. Using the best brain to do routine jobs can lead to job-dissatisfaction soon.

Also, most companies that launch their operations in India tend to give easy assignments in the beginning and you might feel that the job content is quite simple. But the important part is that is once you finish the project to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, the overseas management becomes confident in offshoring more complex work.

If the management is not convinced, then you will continue to do the daily chore. So, the bottomline is that if your team delivers quality product on time, you will get good work in the future.

Myth #4: Only product companies do exciting work.

Fact: The fact is that the typical work content in product companies involves a mix of routine and challenging tasks. In product companies, delivering a quality product is of great importance and as a result a typical product release involves multiple rigorous testing and bug-fixing phase.

This is a typically mundane and repetitive task and not always interesting. But it is important to understand that this is a critical task from company's perspective, as nobody would want to deliver a buggy product in the market and lose customer confidence.

So you cannot just focus on design and coding, and ignore testing and bug-fixing. Not only this, you should be flexible enough to work in any area whether you like it or not. You get both exciting and non-exciting work in the long run.

Myth #5: The Indian IT industry cannot offer the kind of job requirement I am looking for.

Fact: It requires a lot of effort to select the company of your liking. With so many companies setting up shop in India, this has made things even more difficult. Don't follow the principle 'my friend is working there, so I should follow him/her.' The requirement of your friend might be different from yours and you should seek companies that meet your requirement.

For experienced people, it is best to go through recruiters and indicate your exact requirement to them. If the recruiter is good, he will shortlist the companies that meet your expectations. If you find that the recruiter is not going by your interests, look for another recruiter.

Myth #6: I received a mail from a placement service saying that the job openings it has matches my profile.

Fact: Most of the recruiters/placement services send bulk mail to all and sundry. They do not scan resumes properly and just match keyword(s). Personally, I have received mails from recruiters, who say that my profile matches the job they have on offer, but if I look at the opening it does not match at all.

It is best to clear this with the recruiter before you agree to appear for an interview. This saves you the embarrassment of being on the ground that your profile/experience does not match the job profile.

Most companies rely heavily on recruiters for non-fresher openings and if they do not filter the candidate correctly, then most likely HR will not filter it either and call you for an interview!

Myth #7: Working abroad is better than working in Indian companies.

Fact: This might not be always true. If you are going to work as a consultant in the US, you might land up a worse job than what you were doing in India. With the IT doom of 2000 there is a very small pool of highly qualified professionals available in the US and they normally get better jobs than Indian consultants do.

Typically, in product companies, consultants are hired to do less critical work or work that can be done easily. If your expectation is to do high-end work, you will have to wait longer to do it. It is a much better option to obtain a master's degree from top-rated university in the US to bag better jobs.

Product companies usually hire the best brains from these universities to do the challenging work for them. Also the biggest advantage of working overseas is that you get to work with the best brains and learn a lot from them. It typically takes 4-5 years of overseas experience to get a good understanding of the overall execution of software products.

Myth #8: Management ladder is a much better option than technical ladder.

Fact: If you are the kind who loves to be technical, look for an organisation that encourages career growth for core technical work and pays salary at par with management salary for the same zone.

The demand for senior technical and senior architect professionals will grow as more high-end, specialised work gets done in India. Some companies have both managers and architects in the same project.

The manager takes care of the people and project execution, while the architect takes care of all technical aspect of the project. For complex and large projects, it is not possible for the manager to wear, both, the technical and the managerial hats, and hence the need to hire architects to take care of all technical aspects.

If you find the employer saying that you will be doing 20 per cent management and 80 per cent technical work, treat the statement with caution. Most likely it might turn out to be the other way around!

Myth #9: I am working abroad. If I relocate and work in India I won't get the same job satisfaction.

Fact: This is no longer true. The nature of the jobs done in India is as good as that in the US or other countries. The only difference is that the products that are futuristic in nature are not so prevalent in the Indian IT industry. In addition, career growth in India is much better -- and faster -- than overseas.

Myth #10: My satisfaction with the Indian IT industry is not in my hands.

Fact: As stated in the facts to the above myths, you yourself are solely responsible for job satisfaction. You have to research well when making a career plan and ensure you are at the right place.

The author is a software architect working for a product company in Bangalore. He has more than 10 years of software experience working mostly in product-based companies in India and the US. The views expressed here are personal and should not be construed as an industry view.

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