How are ‘failed entrepreneurs’ valued in the job market?

There are advantages of recruiting a failed entrepreneur. But there needs to be a system in place for them to be absorbed in an organisation.

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Mirchi, erstwhile Radio Mirchi was specifically looking for failed entrepreneurs as ‘they understand risks, bring zeal, and infuse the much-required energy and drive to do something new.’ Vivek Kulkarni, head of HR, Mirchi shared  this with HRKatha in a recent conversation.

Another senior HR leader, Richard Lobo, executive VP and head of HR, Infosys, finds merit in this idea.

“In today’s environment, where there is always a shortage of skilled talent, it is important for companies to realise that returnees can be a rich source of fulfilling the skill gap,” he says.

“It’s like bringing women back to work. It’s really difficult. Nobody wants to say that I am hiring this person because he is a failed entrepreneur. It needs an open mind and a willing heart. One needs to look at each case on their own merits. One needs a body within an organisation who can help them feel successful.”

SV Nathan, Partner And Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte India

Lobo believes that by enabling a successful transition, others will be encouraged to take similar paths and the company will benefit. For this, we need to create an organisational culture that encourages a diverse talent pool and does not discriminate based on tenure or employment status or any other reason.

Although not a fail-safe strategy, these unsuccessful entrepreneurs have seen the lows and sometimes the highs too. That makes them quite insulated and gives them the strength to be daring in their approach. The question is, whether welcoming them back into the workforce is as easy as it sounds. Do they encounter challenges, despite being well-versed with the trade? Turns out, they do.

Jaidip Chatterjee, CHRO, SREI, feels that having professionals turning into entrepreneurs is a positive thing and many have even succeeded in it. However, when it comes to getting back to jobs post an entrepreneurial stint would depend on their expertise and professional strengths.

“In today’s environment, where there is always a shortage of skilled talent, it is important for companies to realise that returnees can be a rich source of fulfilling the skill gap.”

Richard Lobo, executive VP and head of HR, Infosys

Chatterjee says, “For entrepreneurs with niche skills — for instance, coders, IT professionals, chartered accountants, specialists in a manufacturing segment or unskilled labour — coming back to the workforce is not so difficult. However, if it is a generic profession, it can be a struggle. For instance, if a person is into sales and decides to have his own unit, but fails and then opts to return, this come-back could be difficult.”

Kamlesh Dangi, group head – human resources, InCred, also believes it is not easy for failed entrepreneurs to return to work. “Often, they have to give up their expectation of level /compensation. It is easier at entry-level or junior-level jobs, but tough at mid- to senior-levels,” he opines.

Gautam Srivastava, head – talent management, performance and engagement, HDFC Ergo General Insurance, has objections with the term ‘failed entrepreneurs’.

“Moving from a business setup, where one is the boss and decision maker, to joining under someone. It is a cultural shift where many people may struggle.”

Jaidip Chatterjee, CHRO, SREI

“They have the whole experience of how the industry works, how the business works, and what the situation of the market is, in every sense. They are more like jewels of the current business scenario. Also I have not seen any leader or hiring manager turning down a profile simply because the candidate has been unsuccessful in his/her own venture.”

“Companies evaluate entrepreneurs in the job market, the basis on their professional skills matching with the requirement.”

It’s obviously been established that there are a lot of advantages of recruiting a failed entrepreneur. But there needs to be a system in place for them to be absorbed in an organisation. Their experience warrants a position that can value the same. The reason being sometimes there’s a bit of bitterness in them for not being successful. So when they are included in a workplace they need to feel wanted.

“The reason for failure is very important and it should not be financial misappropriation or fraudulent activity or any other unethical behaviour. Companies wouldn’t want to hire a person with such a history.”

Gautam Srivastava, head – talent management, performance and engagement, HDFC Ergo General Insurance

Chatterjee, CHRO, SREI says, “Moving from a business setup, where one is the boss and decision maker, to joining under someone. It is a cultural shift where many people may struggle.”

Now the question is where and how to find ex-entrepreneurs. Are they easily available in the job market? Should there be a hiring strategy for them?SV Nathan, Partner And Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte India, dismisses that such people need any separate process of hiring, however, he also admits that getting a failed businessman to rejoin is quite tough.

“It’s like bringing women back to work. It’s really difficult. Nobody wants to say that I am hiring this person because he is a failed entrepreneur. It needs an open mind and a willing heart. One needs to look at each case on their own merits. One needs a body within an organisation who can help them feel successful,” Nathan explains.

“Often, they have to give up their expectation of level /compensation. It is easier at entry-level or junior-level jobs, but tough at mid- to senior-levels.”

Kamlesh Dangi, group head – human resources, InCred

Nathan also believes comparisons between two employees where one’s batchmate is now his/her superior only arises at the position of seniority. He does have an alternative to that. “I feel they are better off as gig workers. They should come in as contract workers for a certain period of time,” Nathan says. That way the instances of comparisons and bitterness can be worked on.

Concurs! Srivastava of HDFC Ergo General Insurance. In his opinion, they must be recruited as advisors by companies, as they possess the knowledge of failure and associated experience, which the companies can leverage.

Srivastava also puts in a word of caution. “The reason for failure is very important,” he says, and it should not be financial misappropriation or fraudulent activity or any other unethical behaviour. “Companies wouldn’t want to hire a person with such a history.”

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