Monday, April 27, 2009

Outsourcing Without Terror

The Central Industrial Security Force Act (CISF) has been active, on paper at least, since 1968. The Act provided cover against terrorist attacks mainly to central government installations and public sector undertakings.  Of note, the CISF  covers public monuments, including ‘samadhis’, which does raise a question of how come the long dead-and-gone are of more value than the living, particularly since despite active lobbying by the private sector the Act had so far not provided cover to any private sector undertakings or joint ventures. 

However, post 26/11 the concerns of the private sector fuelled by global anxieties about security issues relating to business with India, reached a crescendo, ultimately resulting in the amendment to the CISF Act in February 2009.  This amendment extended CISF cover to establishments in the private sector, where threat perceptions were adjudged to be the highest, by Indian intelligence agencies.

The IT sector is the first to be allowed such cover.   Strangely, the hospitality industry, read 5-star hotels, which was the target of 26/11, has not been granted CISF cover as yet, despite repeated terror threats even after 26/11.

The CISF security net comes at a steep price.  It is provided on a full cost-reimbursement basis.  However, to the multinational corporations which are raking in profits in dollars and pounds, this is not an issue.  They are prepared to pay the price, if only to let their foreign clients sleep easy.

The security cover provided includes paramilitary personnel, commandoes trained to strike and fire at terrorists, and to prevent and retaliate in case of terrorist attacks.  CISF also provides consultancy services, in fire and security.  Data protection however, is not its field.  Nor will the security personnel under CISF perform the services performed by your regular security guards.  Companies will have to continue to hire their regular security staff for that.

The giants-Infosys, Wipro and Reliance are the winners in the scramble for CISF cover.  They can well afford it.  What about the smaller fry?  Should someone be thinking in terms of training and arming and maintaining private security forces to provide cover to smaller establishments? 

The question of course remains as to how effective any form of security cover could be when faced with an attack like the 26/11 one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



THINK:  Your resume is YOU.  When a prospective employer reads your resume, he/she is looking at what you are.  Your resume should present a picture of you.

UPDATED RESUME:  If you have been hopping in and out of jobs or working on different projects for brief periods, maintain a diary of the projects you worked on and keep your resume updated on these.  If you have worked on new or different software, or learned a different skill, make notes and remember to update your resume with those.

NEVER LIE.   A single lie, even a white one, will doom your prospects.

KEEP IT CONCISE:  No more than one or two pages.

MAKE IT TARGETED:   Don’t send the same resume for different job-types.  Target your resume to the job.  If you are technically qualified as well as a good writer and are applying for the post of copywriter which requires mainly writing skills, emphasize your writing skills and achievements, mentioning tech qualifications briefly.  Conversely, while applying for a technical job, emphasize those skills and experience mentioning writing prowess as an additional skill.

DON’T TRY TO BE CREATIVE:  A creative resume is one written in an informal style.  This can be arresting and interesting, but unless you are applying for a creative post, refrain from doing it.  You might come across as being unprofessional.


MAKE IT CHRONOLOGICAL:  Begin with the latest qualification or job and move backwards.  If you have a degree that presupposes having an earlier degree, you need only mention the latter one.  For example, a B.A. cannot be had in India without the qualification of an HSC.  So if you are a B.A., you need only list B.A., unless you scored really high in the HSC results, in which case this deserves a special mention.  Again, if you went to a really prestigious school/college, mention this in your resume, since like it or not, a good school makes a difference in terms of communications and attitude.  If you do not happen to have attended any well known institution, just mention your academic qualifications, the university you got them from, and leave it at that.

GAPS IN JOBS:  When listing jobs you have held, mention the period for each job.  If there is a break in jobs, state the reason for the break e. g., study break, a break to have a baby; look after a parent, etc.  If your job graph shows a gap because you were unemployed then you could just mention the year in which you worked at a job for e.g., if you worked for six months in the year 2006 and were unemployed the rest of the year, just put: “2006: Worked as research assistant to Dr. Dubey at Pune University.”

If you are questioned, tell the truth.

LONG TIME -ONE JOB: If you have been at a single job for a long time mention the promotions you received at that job and the various job functions you performed.  This helps remove the idea of being stagnated in a job.  For e.g., 1985 to 1997:  Legal assistant to Advocate Seth.  Filing, keeping accounts, drafting sale deeds, conveyance, court appearances.

LISTING SPECIAL AWARDS:  Mention awards and scholarships received separately; but do remember that your employer is not interested in the prize you won for winning the tennis match in Grade 10, or the prize you won in the chess tournament held on Company Day.  Any pro bono work, affiliation with NGOs, voluntary work should be mentioned.

LISTING HOBBIES:  Unless you have some really unusual hobby like digital art, photography, designing, or bartending, do not list hobbies.  If you are requested to list them, be truthful and don’t try to impress by saying things like coin collection, when all the coins you have are the ones that went out of circulation a couple of years back.

PERSONAL INFORMATION OR SALARY HISTORY:  Never, except on specific request.


SIT ON IT: Don’t send it off at once.  Read it again the next day or in a couple of days.  You will find it needs editing and additions.  Also get someone else’s feedback on it.

BRIEF COVER LETTER: Address the cover letter directly to the person who is offering you the job.  If you do not know the name, find out; if not, address it to the position, for e.g.: The Personnel Manager, Dublin & Co.

MAIL IT:  If you are sending off your resume by e-mail to several different companies, do not lump names of all the companies together, in the address column.  That’s really stupid.  Send to each addressee separately.

Do write in if you have queries.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Freshers' Future

Posting in a long while.  Sincere apologies and a promise to post every fortnight. 

Last week while at college I was asked what was the scene like in LPOs.  Well, cost cutting seems to be the name of the game these days.  Rightly so.  Whether you are, or are not affected by the recession, or the situation in the US, this is not a time to be insular.  It is rather a time to work together to overcome the financial crisis.

The future of legal outsourcing has been discussed threadbare.  Everyone seems to agree that it is going to go places despite the recession in the US.  Personally I feel that this may not be so in the very near future at least. 

But the bottom line in business is profits and while a firm could decide NOT to offshore work where the anticipated profits are small and thus be seen to be patriotic, where larger profits are involved, the work will be offshored, immaterial of considerations of political correctness. 

The affect this side of the pond will be that small projects may not be offshored but the bigger ones certainly will.  Similarly the smaller legal firms abroad would decide to offshore work simply because they cannot afford not to.  They need to make profits in order to survive.

It is very true that the most affected by the state of the economy, are freshers.  Every company even those with bigger projects on hand, is preferring to recruit on a temporary basis and not face the hassle of handing out yearly packages.  Go with the flow.  Take what comes and be sure to keep note of where you worked and what you worked on.  Some day soon, all this work experience on your resume is going to look good.

Another concern expressed was that of US and UK lawyers being employed in Indian LPOs.  I really do not think the figures would be significant enough to affect the professional prospects of Indian lawyers.  However, even if they are, I think if you are going to go global, you have to be ready to face the competition. 

I repeat and repeat, polish your language and communication skills.  This is your Achilles heel. 

Next week’s post:  On Resumes and References.