For a good foundation in the banking sector

For a good foundation in the banking sector

Advantage A clerk will be working mostly at the front desk, with several opportunities of face-to-face interaction with customers.

The job crisis in the country doesn’t seem to end soon. The number of government jobs has decreased and even the private sector is now keen on downsizing and right-sizing. There is some hope in the banking sector. Public sector banks (PSBs) have been consistently recruiting people for the past many years, though the number of vacancies has dwindled in the past couple of years. 

There are 21 public sector banks in the country with their branches spread over rural, semi-urban and urban areas. Although technology has made inroads into this sector, these banks still offer face to face transactions with their customers and because of this, are in regular need of people. 

Direct entry into the public sector banks is possible through three channels — sub-staff, clerk and officer. Vacancies of sub-staff are few and far between because their requirement is less. A limited number of positions in higher scale are filled via lateral entry. Entry-level officers are recruited as probationary officers and as management trainees in a few banks. Some are recruited as specialist officers.

Surprisingly, the basic eligibility criteria for the posts of clerk and generalist officer is the same, which is being a graduate. It is another issue that persons with higher education and technical qualification also vie for these positions for a number of reasons.

Many young people are keen to join a public sector bank only as an officer. It may be due to ambition, status consciousness, high qualification, peer pressure or family recommendation. There is a large segment of job seekers who have been focusing on only officers’ position available with PSBs. Not all of them succeed as is the case elsewhere also.

PSBs have always been liberal with promotions. They have been promoting members of sub-staff as clerks, clerks as officers and officers as senior officers. In fact, many of the people who reached the position of chief executive officers in PSBs started their banking career as clerks. 

With changes happening at the HR front and to meet their specific requirements, PSBs in recent years, have brought significant changes in their promotion policies which is more suited to the aspirations of the young generation. Now it takes a lesser number of years to become eligible for promotion and in many cases, more number of vacancies is available resulting in higher chances of growth. So, even if you want to join a PSB as an officer, you can take the route of entering as a clerk and seek a promotion at the earliest opportunity. Most of those who have done it already consider it to be their smart move.

As a clerical staff, you learn the fundamentals of banking from scratch which is immensely helpful in your career when you become an officer. In addition, you will be working mostly at the front desk, with several opportunities for face-to-face interaction with customers. These interactions may teach you a lot and strengthen your interpersonal skills. When you work as a clerk, you get on-the-job training, which makes you better-positioned for a long-term career.

The salary structure for clerks and officers is different, but the gap is not significant. When you get promoted as an officer from the clerical post, your salary is normally a little higher than a newly recruited direct officer.  Also, since clerical recruitment is made at the state level, you can get a posting in the state for which you’ve applied. As an officer, you can get posted anywhere in the country and it is not always easy to get a posting in a state or union territory of your choice. Anyone who is keen to become an officer in a PSB should be ready to get posted anywhere in the country and when you reach top management positions you’ll be placed at bigger centres.  

If you’re a postgraduate or have a professional qualification like MBA, you increase your chances of promotion to officer grade. Immediately after joining as a clerk, it is advisable to get enrolled with Indian Institute of Banking & Finance to pass the JAIIB CAIIB examination, which all the banks consider in the promotion process.

These days, it is possible for a clerk in a PSB to get promoted as an officer within a period of two years as against a minimum of four to five years in the past. The time frame depends on the requirement of individual banks and may keep varying. If you have a specialised qualification, you may express your interest to work in that particular area.

These specialised fields include risk management, information technology etc. While you are working as a clerk, don’t forget to keep a watch on the announcement of officers, vacancies in PSBs through a direct entry, and apply in time. So, make a smart move and succeed in your career.