Campus hiring by IT firms in engineering colleges this year may see a 5-10 percent dip in the wake of COVID-19. The recruitment process will be delayed by a few months and it is likely to be more stringent, say experts.
Already, on-boarding of freshers this year is delayed. “A 5-10 percent dip will be small. I don’t see IT firms reducing fresher hiring significantly,” Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO, CIEL HR Services, said.
If it were a normal year, FY21 hiring would typically start from July 2020 and will go on till May or June 2021. Now as campuses are shut and the academic year is yet to start, it will be impossible, he said.
This delay, Pawan Goel, Chief Business Officer, Naukri.com, a job search portal, explained is the impact of deferred on-boarding IT firms saw due to the pandemic.
On-boarding, which begins in April, was deferred to July, and some firms are yet to complete hiring due to the pandemic.
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VV Apparao, chief human resources officer, HCL Tech, said that the company’s hiring, which usually ends by May, was interrupted by COVID-19.
As for hiring 2021 pass-outs, Apparao said that the company is yet to take a call on the numbers as the hiring season starts only in January.
IT is the largest recruiter
IT firms, big and small, are, by far, the largest recruiters in engineering colleges, accounting for 70-80 percent job offers. The industry employs about 50 lakh people.
If you look at hiring last year, TCS recruited 40,000 freshers and Infosys close to 20,000 graduates. The on-boarding of these graduates started in July. HCL Tech is still hiring the 15,000 recruit target it set for FY20.
The company could not finish recruiting FY20 passouts due to COVID-19. So the hiring is still ongoing. Wipro did not disclose last year’s campus hiring numbers.
Going by the numbers, these three companies alone accounted for around 75,000 in fresher hiring. Any impact in IT hiring will directly hit students, even if the drop is about 5-10 percent.
This means that the competition is high and the selection process is more stringent for the limited sets of jobs available.
"No gut feeling"
Krishnan Venkatachary, CFO, Cigniti Technologies, an IT firm, said that their recruitment process, which has gone completely virtual, is more stringent. Unlike in physical interviews, it is difficult to go with the “gut feeling” here, he pointed out.
Lack of physical presence also means that firms have to rely more on how much the candidate fits into the role through additional rounds of interviews and tough aptitude tests.
An IT recruitment head from Bengaluru said that during interviews, the company chooses only candidates who meet all criteria. “Earlier, we would be alright with a 70 percent match. Now we are looking at least for 90 percent,” the head explained.
In addition, the attitude of freshers becomes all the more important. “We are also checking how self-motivated the candidate is,” the executive pointed out. In the remote working environment, he said, it would be a lot harder to train them unless they are willing to learn on their own.
Tougher entry criteria
That is not all. The entry criteria itself might become more stringent.
Subash*, who will graduate in 2021 from a Tier-II engineering college, said that the entry criteria in his college for placements has increased to a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 8-8.5, without arrears, for bigger companies. Earlier, this was 6.5 or maximum 7 with arrears, which should be cleared before joining the company.
Subash and a majority of his classmates will not be able to attend the placement interviews. “Well, only 10 of my 75 classmates were qualified,” he added.
It is not clear if this criteria would extend across colleges in India or restricted to smaller colleges to assess student’s merit. “But it is not surprising that the entry criteria have been made more stringent. Amidst the pandemic, companies would look for higher quality,” added the Bengaluru hiring executive.
*names changed to protect identity