Indian IT companies that have traditionally concentrated on hiring from campuses are now increasingly looking to expand their recruitment efforts to include off-campus hiring. With this, amid an unpredictable demand environment, the companies aim to reduce cost, hire on an immediate basis and access a diverse talent pool. 

In the past year, large IT services firms faced challenges due to over-hiring, resulting in a high bench and increased costs. Consequently, they had to onboard the excess hires and reduce campus hiring to manage expenses effectively.

Kapil Joshi, Deputy CEO, Quess IT Staffing said, “We can estimate that on-campus hiring for freshers could see a significant decline, potentially dropping by 50 per cent or more. This reduction is expected to be offset by an increase in off-campus recruitment activities. We anticipate that a very small percentage, potentially only 10 per cent, of graduating engineers will secure a job placement through traditional campus recruitment this summer. Several top IT companies are likely to forego campus placements altogether this year, focusing instead on internal talent mobility through lateral hiring and maximizing utilisation of existing resources.” 

Cost efficiency

Off-campus hiring is expected to rise by 20-30 per cent, according to estimates from TeamLease Digital. Krishna Vij, Business Head- TeamLease Digital told businessline, “The overall cost of hiring will come down by bringing candidates off campus. It allows them to hire talent at any time without being bound by seasonal hiring cycles and allows them to build a database, which will reduce overall turnaround time. Further, a good brand visibility will also be built.”

IT firm LTIMindtree too plans to hire actively off-campus. “We have slightly more off-campus than on-campus approach, compared to everybody else as well. This is because for - campus one needs to plan 18 months and the lack of visibility of business everybody has, it is not possible to predict the demand profile so we have also pivoted,” said Nachiket Deshpande, COO, LTIMindtree. Birlasoft CEO Angan Guha also noted that the company will be driving a lot of off-campus hiring, while on-campus hiring will also remain. 

Companies are also expanding their recruitment beyond prestigious institutions like IITs to access a more diverse talent pool. This approach prioritises skills, aptitude and real-world experience over traditional academic credentials. Companies are also focusing on cultural fit and adaptability to disruptive technologies, reflecting a shift towards a more holistic hiring methodology, elaborates Vij.

While campus placements are still ongoing, they are being conducted with more caution due to past experiences with onboarding delays. Off-campus hiring allows companies to adopt a more agile recruitment strategy, filling specific skill gaps and resource requirements as they arise. This contrasts with the traditional model of campus placements, where a larger pool of candidates is recruited upfront without immediate project needs in mind, explains Joshi. 

He further said, “The selection process for off-campus recruitment is expected to be more rigorous, with a focus on assessing job-readiness, technical skills and core competencies like logical thinking, critical thinking and communication. Companies are likely to leverage their standardised tests to streamline this process and identify the most qualified candidates.”