2008 flashback for graduating students

Nagging fear of slowdown grips college campuses across city as firms that gave offer letters to MBA and engineering students may hold back recruitment amid gloomy market scenario

In the month of December, when recruitment season comes to  an end, graduating students who have already got plum job offers, usually spend time enjoying their last few nostalgic days in college and prepare for the new inning of their life. But this season, gloom has descended on the campuses amid fears of reversal of a 2008-like slowdown in recruitment process.

Wait continues:  Mass recruiters such as TCS, Infosys and HCL have
hired in bulk this year, but their intake is likely to slow down by almost a
year. Representation pic/Thinkstock images

A bearish market has added to their worries. If it continues to wear a glum look, the companies may revise their hiring plan and those firms, which have already offered appointment letters to MBA and engineering graduates during campus recruitment drives, may hold back recruitment of freshers.

Not so rosy offers
Industry experts claim that just like the slowdown in 2008, this year too the top 10 companies have issued mass offer letters. As the appointment letters don't have joining dates mentioned on them, the joining process could well be delayed indefinitely. "Not many companies have revised their hiring plan owing to the current market situation. All the top 10 companies have conducted mass recruitments and issued offers. But they would stagger on taking these graduating students on board. Joining dates could be delayed for a maximum of 15 months," said Kris Lakshmikanth, Founder CEO & Managing Director, Headhunters.

The industry insiders too are singing the same tune, albeit in hushed tones. "Even during 2008 slowdown, companies handed out offers to the graduating batches, but their joining dates were delayed a lot. The same thing is happening now. The biggest problem that freshers face is that if a company selects a candidate, other firms won't be allowed to interview him.

"So if the first company delays joining, they don't have any place to go. Most of them then get hired by start-ups till they get their joining dates," said Amit Khare, an industry insider.

Headhunters add that while the telecom sector has frozen recruitments completely following layoffs of over 10,000 employees, jobs in the automobile and IT sectors have taken a beating too.

"Worried placement heads and college principals are seeking our advice as we are directly in touch with the HR departments of various companies. It is certainly not going to be hunky dory and 2012 is going to be very tough," added Lakshmikanth.

There is a further freeze in lateral employment too. "The company is cautious and recruitments are slow. There wouldn't be any lay offs, but underperformers will be closely monitored and made to sign contracts that if their performance doesn't improve, they will have to leave. Joining dates would be delayed for all the new offers made," said a senior member from Accenture.
Meanwhile, mass recruiters such as TCS, Infosys and HCL have hired in bulk this year too, but their intake is likely to slow down by almost a year.

Keeping it low
Almost 95 per cent of graduating students from Karnataka have been recruited and offer letters handed out sans any joining dates. Placement heads at various top institutions are encountering worried students, approaching them with questions about if their offer still holds.

"Appointment orders have not been affected, but joining dates might be. We ended the placement season early this year, but students who were issued offers last year were only recently taken on board in various companies. Hopefully all students offered jobs now will join soon," said Dr M Vijaydev, Placement Head, M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology.

The fear of uncertainty hangs-heavy on the campuses of other top institutes such as BMSIT, PESIT and RV College too. "Students do not need to panic as we have a two-offer policy in our college. So if one company refuses to take a student in, he will have another offer to look forward too," said Dr Shreedhar, Placement Head, PES Institute of Technology.

Heads of management schools too are spending sleepless nights over the delay in recruitment. However, many institutes have downplayed the fear of slowdown. "This year, we did not witness any slowing of demand for our students. There was a huge number of first-timer companies on the campus and there were numerous overseas assignments too, attesting to the performance and diversity of the batch," said P D Jose, Chairperson, Office of Career Development Services, IIM Bangalore in an official statement.

Other options
In the given scenario, many students are looking at other options, including working at small companies and opting for higher studies. "I have been issued an offer letter from a leading IT company.

They haven't mentioned any joining date but have been vocal about the fact that only by the end of 2012 can we expect to join. I'm going in for a certificate course and will spend the year brushing up my skills," said Dayanand Rao, a student from the graduating batch.

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