IBM India re-jigs fresher hiring strategy in its quest for talent

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on June 25, 2018 Published on June 25, 2018

Chaitanya Sreenivas, V-P and HR Head, IBM India and South-Asia

Joanna Daly, Vice-President, Talent, IBM

Also targets ‘early’ professionals and non-engineering graduates

In its fight for the best talent in the country, IBM, which has drastically cut down on campus hiring over the last 3-4 years, has rejigged its fresher hiring strategy to also include early professionals and ‘new collars’.

IBM has sub-segmented freshers into three streams — early professionals or freshers who have up to three years of work experience; absolute freshers from campus, and ‘new collars’ who are non-traditional, non-engineering graduates who can be science or commerce graduates or from Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).

“We have sub-segmented freshers because it’s a fight for talent and there are some very bright kids out there,” said Chaitanya Sreenivas, Vice-President and HR Head for IBM India and South-Asia Pvt Ltd. “Skill profiles have changed and that’s what is driving our hiring focus. If we need developers or coders, then science/math or commerce graduates may be equally good at it, why hire engineers?”

Pointing out that there are different pathways to jobs in technology, Joanna Daly, Vice-President, Talent, said, “We are broadening our thinking to tap good candidates from different educational backgrounds, who might have the skills we are looking for or who might be able to learn those skills. For example in cyber-security, we will continue to need people with deep expertise in security but, we will also need people who understand human psychology, recognize hacker behaviour, who understand public policy and the law.”

Hiring ratio

Asked why IBM India’s fresher to lateral hiring ratios has dropped in the last few years, Sreenivas said, “On the contrary, it is quite high, somewhere in the 50 per cent range, as we have a broader range of freshers to choose from now.

“We have also changed the way we go to campuses and have become more selective – we have put up 79 labs across the country in premium Tier 1, 2, 3 locations and are also creating labs in Industrial Training Institutes in Bengaluru and Hyderabad in a pilot, where we are targeting 90 students, who can try out new technologies like cloud, Blockchain, IoT, cognitive, security etc, in a non-production environment.”

IBM, which had a headcount of 1.3 lakh employees in 2010, is now down to approximately 90,000 in India, of whom 10-15 per cent are contract staff, internal and external sources told BusinessLine.

Recruiters and head hunters said that IBM’s recruitment mix has changed to suit the changing demands of their clients. “Large IT firms want to push the intake of their contractual workforce by 15-20 per cent rather than hire freshers whose skills are relevant now but may not be relevant in future,” observed S Pasupathi, Senior V-P, CareerNet Consulting.

“IBM will reduce its headcount by 7-8 per cent with automation this year, and next year that percentage will increase,” pointed out Kris Lakshmikanth, CMD, The Head Hunters India. He said that IBM restricts its fresher hiring to top talent from Tier 1 campuses like IITs, NITs, RECs and top colleges in the country, and focusses largely on hiring laterals with 3-8 years with digital skills like BigData, Cloud, AI and Blockchain.

Published on June 25, 2018

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