Good Profiles feature members of our Good Generation who are either out there in the field doing interesting work or still in the trenches of schools and institutions waiting to make their mark on the world. Have your own story to tell? Know someone who would be great to be profiled? Please sign-up or leave a note here!
What do you do for a living nowadays?
I am the Co-Founder and CEO of OpportuneJobs.com, a for-profit initiative of SkillsKarma Services Private Limited. OpportuneJobs.com is a one stop portal for jobs, fellowships, internships, volunteering, consulting services, RFP/EOI/Tender, events and news. It is a creative enterprise managed by a group of young, passionate, innovative and skill driven entrepreneurs, whose constant endeavor has been addressing the needs of development professionals and corporate/NGOs/social enterprises across India. As a CEO my responsibilities include developing and implementing strategies, making major decisions, and managing the overall operations and resources of OpportuneJobs.com.
Is “doing good” a key reason why you chose this job?
The name SkillsKarma itself emphasizes “doing good.” As SkillsKarma focuses on youth and giving them livelihood options, I believe my endeavor is perfectly “doing good inspired.” Just when youngsters are nervous and suffer from anxiety during spells of joblessness, OpportuneJobs.com comes into the light. It is a ray of hope to all those youngsters who find themselves in the darkness that is unemployment. OpportuneJobs.com provides them the platform to discover career opportunities. This is definitely going to help all those youngsters who, in one way or another, went through the type of job anxiety I did back then.
What do you love most about your job?
Many people love what they do. But I do what I love! I love my job. I appreciate the fact that I am able to create awareness about the social development sector. My passion doesn’t end there. After creating awareness, I am also able to show and provide youngsters a path through career opportunities. I try to mediate and initiate the process of identifying the available opportunities for the needy. The rapid growth of foundations, NGOs and CSR programmes in many firms has created demand for professionals that can bring technical and managerial skills to a sector driven by goals beyond the profit motive.
I personally was also unemployed and looking for jobs at one point in my life. Now when I see my brainchild, I feel proud. It is just that I am wearing different shoes and standing on the other side. I have many sweet memories of my initiative. But one such memory has always remained close to my heart. One fine morning, I received an email from a jobseeker. This was during the initial days of OpportuneJobs.com. He mentioned that he was able to find a suitable post and was now gainfully employed. He thanked me for all my efforts and asked me to continue what I am doing. You could say this sounds like rather general feedback for a job portal. But for me, it was a motivation. Moreover, it was an inspiration that added fuel to my passion. That day I decided that OpportuneJobs.com will continue – no matter what!
What would you wish were different about your job?
This is a generation of information technology. The recent IT boom definitely opened many paths to youngsters. But in the process, the social sector is becoming a road less travelled. Not many understand that India is an agriculture-based country. While we have the cream of the crop talent flocking to IT, science and other fields, it is the social development sector that has very large needs for that talent – a need that is not being met. Sadly, the path to work in social development is less traveled among the many choices youngsters have nowadays.
This is where I come into the picture. I always wanted to explore the social development sector. When I eventually did, I was surprised to realize that there are tons of components that are unknown and unexplored in this sector. Hence, I decided to start OpportuneJobs.com to give people a tool to explore the options in the social development sector. In other words, we are trying to fill the gaps in awareness about this sector – so this is my way.
What were some of the most important experiences that you’ve had that led you to where you are today?
I have nearly 6 years of experience in the areas of social sector recruitment, fair trade, microfinance, renewable energy, etc. During those years, I realized that the organizations working in the social development sector were perpetually short on two things: money and people. Money denotes the fundraising aspect which did not interest me, so I chose to address the “people” part. I could see people are the main force for the firms to work effectively. I also realized that there is little awareness about career opportunities in the social development sector which is why not many people seem to consciously pursue opportunities to work for these organizations. This determined my mission eventually. Personally, I believe in the “right decision at the right time.” Thus, my work supports my values in life. I always believed in creating better awareness about opportunities and I am doing this now through this portal.
How did you get this job?
In 2008, I sought help from Ajay Shakya (Ajay was earlier working with a social sector job portal and is currently the Co-founder & COO of OpportuneJobs.com) to perform an executive level search on behalf of an NGO. During our discussions, we realized that the social development sector has a distinct set of needs. With Ajay’s help, I was able to define and refine the job position of that NGO, eventually making it more appealing and informative to potential candidates. We both saw an opportunity to create an institution that could spearhead an HR intervention and create value for all involved stakeholders. As a result, we launched OpportuneJobs.com in 2011.
If you had to make trade-offs, do you think they were justified or should it be different for others in the same situation going forward?
One of the earliest challenges we faced was to create awareness about our firm and to attract clients. For many years, the social sector used generic staffing agencies for their talent search. It was initially difficult for them to understand that a small niche HR agency would be in a better position to handle and understand their staffing needs. To address this issue, we leveraged our existing contacts, participated in relevant forums, developed partnerships with educational institutions, and built our portal to position our brand and improve clientele.
If you had to do it all over again, knowing what you know today, what past choices would you have made differently with regards to your career?
I am very happy and satisfied with my work today and look forward to building on it. I want to make it better and improve and reach every jobseeker, student, and potential intern and volunteer who is looking for an opportunity.
If you did not have this job and time/money were not a constraint, what would you ideally like to do?
I love my present work. I love networking and interacting with new people. My work allows me to connect to people and learn new things. I believe that there is something to learn from each individual. Hence, I am able to explore new skills and interests from each job seeker. As mentioned, apart from jobs, OpportuneJobs.com also provides opportunities for volunteering, internships, fellowships, as well as a chance to provide consulting services. Since I get to know about a large variety of people in the course of my work, I am able to learn and constantly implement new ideas every day.
Finally, what advice would you have for others in the Good Generation who are interested in your job or career path?
Dream about what you want, but don’t lose sleep over it. We spend a lot of time talking about the big picture issues. But sometimes it’s important to get practical and get our hands dirty. So, my advice is to get into the field, get experience and then start it all over. As we know, small ideas can make big differences. Many think that one can be successful if luck is with us. But I believe that along with luck, skills and expertise are essential as well.
Hence, if we are passionate about what we are doing, we are half done. I also have one point of advice to potential jobseekers. Most of them attend interviews without knowing about the organizations they are applying for. I would suggest every youngster to research more about their target organizations, the nature of the work they are applying for and also to do a little bit of research on the organization’s past achievements. This gives the employer a sense of satisfaction and also the jobseeker some confidence. Through OpportuneJobs.com, we are trying to provide every possible opportunity to jobseekers, volunteers, interns and others. Hopefully we will try to show a path to everyone who seeks our help.