Meet the speakers at RecPlus: Hitesh Oberoi, InfoEdge

08 Jan 2018

Hitesh Oberoi

As the AIM Group’s RecPlus conference gets closer, we will be running a series of profiles on our keynote speakers. First up as we approach the Feb. 28 start date:

Hitesh Oberoi, the managing director and CEO of Info Edge (India), which operates, one of India’s leading recruitment classified websites. NaukriGulf operates in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, while FirstNaukri focuses on campus hiring.

We asked:

What unique challenges do you face in your market?

Hitesh Oberoi: India is a large, developing country of 1.25 billion people. Average salaries in India are still very low. There aren’t enough high-quality jobs in the country for so many people. As a result, when a job is posted online, it tends to get a lot of applications – especially if it does not require a lot of skill. This creates a problem of applicant spam for recruiters.

A regular job from a good company can easily end up getting 1,000-plus applications. This results in many companies avoiding posting jobs on job boards. They prefer to search a database of resumes instead. However, lots of high-end job-seekers, as well as passive job-seekers, don’t want to register in a resume database for privacy reasons.

As a result, recruiters that don’t post jobs miss out on some candidates. Job-seekers also miss out as these jobs are hard to discover. In the end, the marketplace is not as effective as it could have been.

Traditionally, another problem in India was computer and Internet penetration. For a long time, the Internet user base in India did not grow beyond 70-80 million users. Most people accessed the Internet from the office and not enough people had Internet access at their workplace. PC penetration was also low.

However, this issue has largely been addressed in the last two to three years thanks to falling bandwidth prices and increasing smartphone penetration. This also means that many people in India first access the Internet through their phone. Almost 70 percent of our traffic is now on the phone.

Smartphones are of varying quality and often have low memory and other limitations. So, it is important that we provide a top-class mobile experience to our users, many of whom have no access to a desktop at all.

A third problem which is relevant to India is that often people overstate their achievements and skills. So companies end up spending a lot of time on testing, assessing and interviewing candidates. This makes the process time-consuming and prone to a lot of errors.

What will you be speaking about in your presentation at RecPlus?

I will cover a number of topics:

  1. The unique challenges in the Indian market and our response, especially regarding mobile.
  2. The importance of getting the matching of jobs and resumes right.
  3. Our forays into applicant tracking, resume management, career sites, referral management tools and more. How do we evolve Naukri into a platform for all recruitment, why is that important and how does it fit into our overall strategy?
  4. Our sales and service network, which spans over 40 offices in 30-plus cities with 700-plus people.
  5. Naukri has an EBITDA margin of over 60 percent. How did we get to such a high margin?

How big a part of your business will Artificial Intelligence become?

AI and machine learning is a major area of investment for us. We believe that smarter search and recommendation engines which use deep learning techniques that go beyond basic keyword matching can help us improve our matching engine quite a bit. This will, in turn, help us serve the right jobs to jobseekers and the right resumes to recruiters. That improves job and resume discovery and helps eliminate spam, making recruiting more efficient. In the process, it improves the user experience and customer satisfaction for everyone.

We also feel that in the medium term, AI-driven smart chatbots and voice search could help us transform the user experience for both jobseekers and recruiters.

We see a lot of changes in recruitment classifieds. What are the most interesting developments worldwide you’ve seen so far?

Aggregators have become more mainstream and are beginning to look like job boards in many markets. There is a shift to mobile especially in markets like India. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are becoming more popular, especially for passive jobseekers. At the same time, hiring seems to be plateauing after a massive surge over the last few years.

Both job boards and startups in the space are figuring out how to use AI and Big Data to offer a better experience to jobseekers. Companies and startups are experimenting with new business models, especially for blue-collar hiring. In some markets, traditional recruitment classified companies have been trying to move into areas like applicant tracking, interview and recruitment management software.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the recruitment classified industry faces in the next three years?

Is Google Jobs a threat or an opportunity? What does Google have in mind? Will traffic move from job boards to Google, given Google’s strengths in distribution, AI and data?

What about Indeed? Will its aggressive pricing, aggregation strategy and a differentiated business model continue to grow and threaten traditional job boards?

Could AI-driven startups which focus on matching and conversion threaten established players like LinkedIn?

Many of the companies in the industry are seen as belonging to the Web 1.0 era and therefore have a problem attracting talented data scientists and engineers who are in great demand. Hiring such people is the key to transforming one’s business into a next-generation platform.


Brian Blum

Brian Blum covers the U.S., Canada and Israel for Classified Intelligence Report, and contributes to our special reports and research projects. Originally from San Francisco and now based in Jerusalem, he has been with the AIM Group since 2004. He is the president of Blum Interactive Media, specializing in writing and multimedia content development for online, print, video and audio. His clients include newspapers, universities and non-profits. He is currently working on a book about the billion-dollar bankruptcy of a once high-flying Israeli startup.