Optical/IP Networks

Optical Recruitment Gets Real

With nearly 130,000 people losing their jobs as companies like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) slash staff to reduce costs, recruitment professionals say the optical networking employment landscape has changed 180 degrees, clearly shifting the balance of power back to the companies.

Once upon a time, typical job candidates could expect signing bonuses, large equity stakes in the company, and relocation packages. Some top candidates even demanded sports cars and trips to the Caribbean as incentives (see Recruitment Packages Balloon). But those days are long gone, say recruiters and human resource executives.

“People were really getting silly things,” says Craig Millard, president of The Millard Group, an executive search firm. “All it took was for a few companies to offer something outlandish and then that became expected. But those things just aren’t happening anymore.”

Clearly the market is tough for job seekers. In the Light Work poll, The Job Hunt, 93 percent of the 440 people responding say that it is harder to find a job now than it was six months ago.

Companies looking to beef up mid-level staffers have reaped the biggest rewards in this shakeout. Last August Novalux Inc., a privately held optical component startup, was lucky to find two qualified candidates per position, says Donna Ferris, director of human resources. Today, she says, a typical job opening will attract 10 to 20 qualified candidates.

“Things are significantly different now than they were a year ago,” she says. “We’re finding a lot of really good, qualified people for almost every position.”

Tellium Inc. (Nasdaq: TELM), which makes an optical switch, says it’s also seen a twofold increase in the number of resumes it now receives. The influx has allowed the company to be much more selective in the people it hires.

“I’m pretty much hand-picking candidates now,” says Darlene Corrubia, director of staffing at Tellium. “We’re able to find people with the exact requirements we need."

And as the number of qualified candidates increases, their expectations have decreased. Specifically, bonuses and relocation packages have decreased dramatically, say human resource representatives. Tellium's Corrubia says candidates are less likely to ask for large signing bonuses and are instead more interested in the stability of the company. And Novalux’s Ferris says that she no longer has to go outside of Silicon Valley to find qualified candidates, greatly reducing the need for her company to pay high relocation costs.

Attitudes about signing bonuses and other perks aren’t the only things that have changed. Instead of demanding a 10 to 15 percent increase in salary, people are more likely to accept an offer for the same amount that they are currently making, says Corrubia. Their attitudes surrounding options have also changed. Job candidates are looking for salary and fewer options in their packages.

According to research collected by Christian & Timbers, a recruiting firm that specializes in executive-level searches, CEOs going to a typical startup might ask for about $250,000 to $325,000 in salary, a 50 percent cash bonus, and a 3 percent to 7 percent stake in the company. When the market was at its height, CEOs were taking $200,000 a year in salary with an equity stake of as much as 9 percent.

“There is definitely a de-emphasis on the overall value of equity and a re-emphasis on reasonable cash compensation,” says Paul Unger, managing director of telecom and technology practice for Christian & Timbers. "It was an unrealistic bubble that many people got caught up in. Anytime someone tells you the old rules don’t apply in the new economy, run.”

While companies have regained some negotiating control, there are still key positions that are difficult to fill. Engineers specializing in hardware or packaging processes are still key. And at the executive level, companies are much more focused on finding a chief operating officer who can bring the company to profitability.

“Eighteen months ago the focus was on finding a big name CEO to raise capital and take the company public,” says Unger. “Today, companies are looking for a COO that can implement a plan, bring a product to market and get the company to profitability.”

- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
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sarathys 12/4/2012 | 11:49:41 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real Hi,

We have excellent openings in a MNC who are setting up an off-shore development center at Bangalore for
their client in USA . This project will go for 3+ years (Minimum)

They need

1. OAM&P - 6+ years exp in telecom domain

2 Call Processing (telecom, embedded development, ROTS) - 6+ yrs exp

3 QA automation - 6+ yrs exp experience in managing QA related projects with atleast 3 + yrs exp of demonstrated telephony and/or protocol testing and development expertise in the following areas:
* Oamp application (alarm, maintenance, services) on Telephony switching platform (Class4/5)
* Signaling: SS7, Mf, Tr08, Gr303/PRI/ISDN
* Telecommunications T1, DCS, OC3, FTHA
* Development background is a plus with various test equipment used in the telecom

All the positions will be based at Bangalore.
If you meet any of the above and willing to relocate to Bangalore ,please forward your CV to [email protected]

Those who have applied earlier need not apply again..


rolafn 12/4/2012 | 7:58:43 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real Being a recruiter myself I think this article is dead on. People have been spending a lot more time on the market and relocation packages have become almost non-existent. It is very interesting to see the rang in expectations between a person who has been layed-off and someone who is looking to change companies. People who have not been layed-off still have the Idea that they can ask for the same salaries they where getting offered last year. Things do seem to be getting better though.
laserfocus 12/4/2012 | 7:58:41 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real The good news about today's market for "real" recruiters is that a lot of the "throw mud at the wall to catch an easy buck" folk will be moving on to another industry. Good riddance!

Those of us who study our industry/technology and truly provide service to our companies are still getting reqs. I think many will agree that companies spent money like water during the boom months, with no consideration for "tomorrow" until the sky started falling. Bad business practice no matter what state the economy is in.
jmd 12/4/2012 | 7:58:40 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real The current market as discussed in this article is not the normal market either. It is a temporary buyers market - things will change.
_____ 12/4/2012 | 7:58:39 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real We can't all walk around with a doom and gloom attitude toward the market or the optical networking industry.

Call me a dinosaur, but I remember the days when the market was in the crapper and cisco, 3com, wellfleet and cabletron emerged from the ruins.

There is hope. Until you see the light at the end of the tunnel, have fun where you are and make sure you make some great contacts.

Just think, the options you were issued may not be worth a lot of money, or may be worth nothing at all. But this does not compare to those at LU, CSCO, JNPR, AVCI, NT and COMS who were issued stock at the peak and now have (even with re-pricing) options which are underwater.
lighter 12/4/2012 | 7:58:35 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real A friend recently sent me an email listing the
whereabouts of 12 old collegues- I was sorry to see that 7 of the collegues she listed were looking for work-most were with startups. Its pretty shitty out there.
KP 12/4/2012 | 7:58:32 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real This is definitely a bad time for all in the industry. But I will think, with all the clean up things have started to improve now.

I have one of my friends layed off a few days back. But within one week, he has 3 offers in his hand. I hope all the guys who got layed off will soon find good jobs.

I wish all my friends great luck in finding jobs.
dodo 12/4/2012 | 7:58:30 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real Granted, us techies and engineers are in a somewhat bad shape due to the decrease in capex, but it seems that the graduating class of 2001 MBAs is finding it tough to land that $90+ job in this downturn economy and when Diane Swonk ,Senior Vice President. Chief Economist, Bank One Corporation ,suggested on CNN Moneyline a couple of days ago that in the mean time they take a job waiting tables e.g in order to pay the bills, some of them found that advice demeaning.

It seems that these people who think that they are TOO talented and believe that they can walk only on water do not know the definition of a respectable job in order to pay their debts. All or nothing!!!! for this class.
opticalrecruiter 12/4/2012 | 7:58:30 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real Should be www.themillardgroup.com
bwells37 12/4/2012 | 7:58:28 PM
re: Optical Recruitment Gets Real When the market was bright, most recruits carried an attitude similar to professional athletes during contract negotiations. It's funny how I now talk to previous engineering and executive-level candidates and they are now humble. Especially, when I called them initially and they were not satisfied with my earlier offers.
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