New Delhi: Last February, with the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, educational institutions across the country had to comply by government regulations and shut down operations to uphold the safety of the students and curb the spread of the virus.
However, the resilience and willingness to adapt to change saw online tutorials replace classroom learnings allowing to maintain imparting education to the students of the country.
As the crisis prolonged students nearing their graduation faced a major challenge towards their placement prospective. A recent report by Naukri.com highlighted how about 66 per cent of students did not receive their offer letters, while 44 per cent faced deferred joining dates after being hired. The report also highlighted how another 33 per cent students did not hear back from the employer with regard to the status of their employment.
*Students desperately hoped for normalcy to resume in order to launch their prospective career
A mere three months ago, this hope seemed to have made sense, as the number of cases witnessed a steady decline and the aftermath of the pandemic believed to be ebbing away. However, the second-wave catastrophe quickly swept through India fueling a massive spike in the number of cases in the country.
Hence, the fluctuating phases of the virus left students with no other option than to gain stability in thought and openness to adjust to the new normal and explore possibilities hidden in the unexpected future. On the bright side, despite the Covid-induced slump, a few top players in the industry continued their recruitment drive.
The leading management institutes shared a different experience as they witnessed a surge in demand from consulting firms and tech companies. Here are takeaways pointers from some of the industry experts, from IIM, MU, Jaipuria and NCU institutes who have shared their insights on the current placement trend and suggestions on how students can turn current challenges into an opportunity.
The immediate future for young aspirants could be rough in terms of the adapting job market. But the silver lining in this unprecendted pandemic has been digital revolution, which has emerged in a big way.
Rapid digitalisation has certainly changed the current dynamics of the business world. It has compounded the demand for more tech-savvy management graduates.
Hence, there is going to be a rise in demand for executives who are comfortable with handling digital transformation. Companies are going to opt for management graduates well-versed with new-age technology skills such as programming, analytics and tools like R and Python, data analytics, AI, Machine Learning, etc. Such candidates can prove to be an asset to a company. Commenting on the ongoing rise in digitalisation, Prof. (Dr) Daviender Narang, Director of Jaipuria Institute of Management, Ghaziabad said, "Data is the new asset now. It is freely available in large quantities. We now need smart and young minds to optimally utilize that data in order to produce high-yield results. This is true for every industry today."
*Focus on new skills
Adaptability is the key to survival in any phase of life. The current circumstances have set a similar precedence, where those who have adapted and adopted new skills in-line with changing times have unlocked the door leading to great opportunities. The global pandemic has accelerated demand for graduates with specializations in cloud computing, cyber security, AI, ML, process automatic, and data science. While imbibing new skills, it is advisable to gain grip over the fundamental management skills as well. Prof Amit Karna, Chairperson Placement, IIM Ahmedabad said, "Leading in uncertain times and decision-making under stressful and dynamic environments is becoming a norm for managers today. Job seekers would serve themselves well if they were to focus on these skills. Also, adaptability of self and organizational goals is something that candidates need to be very comfortable with." He added that organisational skills would also prove to be an add-on, especially while managing virtual teams working remotely.
*Polish your strengths
While focusing on new skills, don't forget to polish your key strengths. The current economic slump has taken a major toll in the hiring process in the industry where even though the hiring hasn't stopped, it has definitely taken a dip. The trend witnessed of reduced hiring has seen companies be a bit more meticulous in the process and they have been focusing on investing in quality over quantity.
Emphasising on the current scenario, Prof. Prem Vrat, Pro-Chancellor at the NorthCap University in Gurugram, Haryana said, "For good students, the placement scenario will actually be better. As the rest of the industry catches up, the overall placement situation will improve. The demand is already outstripping supply in sectors such as Edtech, Fintech, Healthtech, Consulting, Cybersecurity, Gaming, Analytics, Cloud computing etc., which is also reflected in the compensation packages being offered to trained candidates." Hence, the silver lining to the current crisis is that it has created greater opportunities for able and talented management graduates.
*Look for opportunities
Digitalisation has brought down many barriers, including distance, hence professionals are no longer required to be on field or travel frequently to continue working. It has also opened the doors of international placements, providing an opportunity which was earlier limited only to a few. Hence, the young graduates can work on building a strong online profile and reach out to companies of their interest. In the age of social media, management graduates or job applicants can get access to more projects by networking, reaching out to new market players and sharing their work online. Recruiters are shifting the entire placement process towards automation and are employing proctored and psychometric analysis. This progressive move has infused speed and efficiency in the system, allowing recruiters to assess more candidates.
Sharing its experience, Masters' Union said that this year over 40 leading companies, many of whom belonged to the category of Fortune 500, reached out to the institute to recruit from its first cohort batch of the season. They witnessed that the active use of digital assessment tools expedited the entire process.
Rupesh Bisht, CEO, Masters Union, highlighted that irrespective of the market trends, student fitment and training has been imperative to management requirement. He suggests that students develop traits like agility, adaptability, and the ability to learn and unlearn, apart from general awareness as these would go a long way in their career path. Besides, he urges young management graduates to develop the knack of identifying growth patterns in the industry and the ability to differentiate the sunrise sectors (in technology) from the rest. He believes that the candidates should hold foresightedness to be able to look at startups and identify (well-funded, high-growth, innovative) the ones with strong potential, alongside keeping an eye out for blockchain, NFTs and other new and upcoming elements.