Tech jobs: A high price to pay

Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft every now and then create newspaper headlines in India paying hefty packages to students from IITs, NITs and other top colleges/universities like BITS-Pilani. Across all the engineering colleges in Karnataka, the most sought after jobs are in IT/Software.

IT has become the lucrative career option in discussions even amongst school kids and in parental circles. Ability to continuously innovate and solve problems is the differentiator between successful companies and the rest. It’s the right talent/team that helps companies deliver products, achieve set targets and even outperform.

Every organization wants to create competitive advantage and more importantly sustain that edge for many years; Management/decision makers invariably go to any extent to acquire and then retain the best talent.

This has indirectly created a healthy competition among the companies to pay higher salary as the talent pool is common and accessible to all. The top tier companies are competing to get the campus hiring slots in some of the best colleges in India. It’s a great situation for colleges/ students to be in.

Indirect beneficiaries of this competition are the students or the job-seekers in India. While high pay definitely attracts more people, what is helping India as a whole is also the number of such jobs/opportunities that are being created every year. Thanks to many MNCs who have setup offices in India to attract the local talent and also to the many Indian start-ups who have grown and are hiring in large numbers.

According to the trade body NASSCOM, India now has more than 3.1 million IT/Business Process Management professionals having added 1,60,000 direct jobs in the last financial year (2014).

Are high paying jobs real cool? Are IT jobs the best among all the jobs? While to the outside world it is very colorful and cool to be in IT, if you talk to folks working in IT companies, one would soon realize the amount of stress they are going through.

One might think that working in air-conditioned offices in campuses spread across many acres of land is very exciting and relaxing. When you are working in IT, your brain needs to be in overdrive throughout the day. It’s quite a load on the human brain doing it all the time, every single day. I have seen software professionals spending 10-12 hours in office to cope up with their work. Some even work late night / night outs to deliver the tasks on time.

Techies with well-paid jobs are increasingly facing health risks such as hypertension. Working long hours for many days not only takes a toll on the health but also deprives employees of social life.

Quality time to spend with family, kids and relatives over the weekdays is shrinking. In Bengaluru, the situation is worse, where traffic jams and congestion across the city takes away your precious one to two hours of time every day.

The human mind needs lot of relaxation; the less time one spends with family, friends and socializing would mean higher stress on the mind thinking about work/pressure/ targets all the time.

Stricter performance reviews at the workplace and relative performance measurements add inherent pressure on each individual to perform. It is no longer sufficient to outperform your former self, you need to outperform your team mates as well. Pay for performance is the model used in almost all organizations when it comes to rewards, bonuses and year-end hikes.

In such competitive work places it is a great challenge to deliver all the tasks on time and to continuously outperform. The expectations from “highly paid” employees are huge. Not all can quickly adapt to the environment and rise to the challenges. Those who work hard and continuously hone their skills are able to perform well. The high performers grow faster and seize all growth opportunities that exist at their level leaving behind their peers who are performing at a relatively lower level.

In business there is a saying, “you are only as good as your last quarter”! It definitely helps when you have a team that’s comprised of individuals who are trying to perform better than themselves and their peers. If companies have to outperform their competitors in the market place, each company has to deliver better results and that internally puts the pressure on each team to innovate, solve problems and deliver quality products or services. Unfortunately, that’s how the corporate system works. There is no time to blink.

This system is same across other industries as well but what is different in IT industry is the growth opportunities for both organizations as well as employees. The faster one runs, the more the chances of grabbing the market/opportunity. Those who cannot run are left behind; no one wants to be in that situation.

One quote found on the internet describes the situation aptly: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

IT jobs are cool if one has the ability to learn continuously, especially the technological changes and stays ahead of competition. One just needs to master the tricks of the trade. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.