A management degree in India remains to be one of the most coveted degrees for cherished accomplishments; both professional and monetary. However, add to this the mushrooming of low-rung MBA institutes, worsening economic scenario and the large cohort of young unemployed or poorly employed people, monetary accomplishments and well-paying salaries, even after an MBA degree often seem to be a misnomer.
Common Job Test (CJT), a company founded by two entrepreneurs from IIT-Madras and Illinois Institute of Technology seeks to reverse this tide and enable people, with or without the ‘MBA’ tag, to seize well-paying jobs.
Prashant Pitti and Govind Wakhlu launched the candidate assessment services company in 2011 with a vision to provide lucrative avenues in the corporate domain to both disgruntled MBA professionals and fresh graduates.
Degree no bar
The decision to start a venture of this nature stemmed from the revelations of a survey that was conducted in the Delhi and NCR region with 9,000 respondents; both graduates and MBA pass outs to compare the average first salaries of each, and more importantly, to ascertain whether MBA’s are successful in bagging plum job offers which justify the huge investment incurred or whether they have to do with whatever comes their way. According to the findings, on an average basis, MBA’s were earning a salary of around Rs 1.9 lakh, only a couple of thousands more than the average salary of Rs 1.68 lakh earned by graduates. This marked the inception of Common Job Test.
“There are jobs which pay higher salaries but everyone does not have access to them. Our endeavour is to provide an opportunity to the top-quality, deserving candidates, who couldn’t get such jobs either because they did not sit for placements, or due to the remote location of their MBA colleges. Or simply because they took their first job in a haste,” says Pitti. “CJT is a method of access for people who aspire for such jobs paying an annual salary of Rs 3-5 lakh,” he adds.
The test essentially targets graduates and MBA’s with 0-2 years of work experience. Conducted six days of the week, throughout the year, the entrance examination is a two-part process, a written test, similar to other competitive exams testing reasoning and aptitude skills followed by a personal interview to gauge one’s communication skills. The top ten percentile of the test takers are eligible for company placements.
With CJT, Pitti and Wakhlu are looking to provide a level playing field for both graduates and MBA holders. Along with helping MBA professionals, they also provide a window of opportunity to graduates to earn high salaries and bypass the next seemingly obvious step of pursuing a management degree. “We do not downsize a candidate just because he is a graduate. If he has the capabilities that we test him for, we put him at an equal level as an MBA. It is ultimately the company which decides.” explains Wakhlu.
According to Pitti, an equal number of experienced applicants and fresh graduates take the test. However, though the above argument seems tenable, doesn’t this similar monetary proposition for graduates and those with a higher degree somehow dilute the significance of an MBA degree?
Both Wakhlu and Pitti vehemently disagree. They explain that while there is undoubtedly a strong value attached to a high-quality MBA, CJT is only looking to fill the void that has emerged because of lack of results from average or below-average MBA institutes, which have mushroomed all over the country.
Having been merely a few months into operation, it is too soon to either dismiss this initiative or put a stamp of success. But going by the statistics shared by the company, it has surely garnered substantial interest, both by job-seekers and employers. According to Pitti, close to 4,400 people have already taken the test, and on a monthly basis, the company test around 300-400 people. He adds further that 70 per cent of their top candidates are placed.
Correspondingly, in terms of the employer participation, the company has touched base with around 330 companies, and claim to have a dedicated pool of 15-20 companies every month. Some of the companies who have hired candidates taking the CJT include Hewitt, Ideal Cellular, Yes Bank, and ICICI Bank. Besides CJT not charging any amount to companies to come for placements, another added advantage perhaps is that companies interview only quality candidates who have been through the pre-screening process.
With testing centres in Delhi at present, the company has plans of expanding its operations to 8 cities by the end of next year.
While Spice Mobiles has funded into this venture, the company has also tied up with several corporate houses, as well as the Psychology department of University of Delhi, for mentoring and advisory purposes. While the company refuses to divulge the investment that has gone into this venture, Pitti says that the venture is close to breaking even, and that they will only need to raise small amounts of funds in the future.
Though references and word-of-mouth are the prime reason for new candidates, the company is also pursuing the social media platform, especially Facebook to further leverage this form of communication.