While the world gets older, India is getting younger. Seventy per cent are millennial employees in the big tech industry, says the latest Nasscom report. The looming recession fears and slowdown in jobs at the largest tech companies definitely put the Indian job market on boiling point. Though many students don’t have a rosy outlook on jobs, knowing the on-ground realities can help them set realistic expectations.

The hiring frenzy of last year is abated and the volume of hiring has gone down dramatically, according to S Pasupathi, Chief Operating Officer of HirePro, a recruitment technology and assessment solutions company. The simple logic is when the job market is bad, the joining ratios are good. So, companies are finding it less arduous to attract and retain talent. They don’t have to hire excessively to meet their demand like last year.

Market sentiment

The sentiment is that the environment favours employers who may be regaining some of the leverage they ceded to employees during the pandemic months. This affects particularly those at the bottom of the pay ladder as it earlier helped them demand better pay, hybrid work schedules, and other benefits. Taken together, these signals point to a fairly competitive job environment in which there are far fewer job opportunities that too reserved only for top-notch talent.

This is why IITs and other top engineering colleges are fairly insulated from job insecurity, says Pasupathi. “When companies have had a good experience at a college, they tend to continue to frequent the same campuses. No risks will be taken. Especially during times of crisis,” he says.

For instance, Samsung India has been hiring an average of 1,000 engineers from top engineering colleges such as IITs, BITS Pilani, IIITs and NITs since 2018 for its R&D centres. This trend will continue, confirms Sudheer Gowda, Group Head, Talent Acquisition and Organisation Culture, Samsung R&D Institute, Bangalore.

“We have been hiring talent from India’s top engineering institutes with skill sets in cutting-edge domains such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, IoT and exceptional coding and programming skills. We also have a programme for young engineers, helping them in their learning and development to build expertise in centres of excellence,” says Gowda.

What students can do

If you are entering the job market, prepare yourself for what’s coming and have patience, says Pasupathi. One of the major errors students commit is making long-term choices based on today’s conditions. “If you are passionate about software development and you are decent at it, but still unable to find a job, instead of making a hurried pivot or taking some drastic turns, just wait and keep at it. It gets better,” advises Pasupati.

This economic downturn may also pose difficult trade-offs for students like, settling for lower-paying jobs or continuing education instead of joining the workforce right away. Building resumes with valuable internship experience and skills could come in handy when the market opens up. One must be job-ready when the market opens up to take advantage of it, Pasupati warns.

“Admissions in higher educational institutions go up at times like these. It is a good parking lot during rainy days. May not be such a bad idea to stack up on skills,” he adds.

What recruiters expect

Remote hiring is here to stay. The cost-benefit that companies have experienced along with the ability to broad-base talent has made this model of hiring irreplaceable and extra competitive.

Students have to stand out to get noticed by recruiters. The best way to do that in a crowded campus hiring space is to be a ‘talent with persona’ that enterprises can build on, according to Kamal Karanth, Co-Founder, Xpheno, a specialist staffing firm.

“Candidates with solid narratives and backing of proven drive and initiatives make the cut faster and higher than the safe candidate who has focussed only on getting their qualification and academic merits. Jobs and careers are all about the power of building and presenting a good narrative. Irrespective of the age and tenure of the candidate, there’s a certain expectation on the narrative a candidate presents,” he says.

The talent demand of enterprises is highly dynamic and change in skill sets is gradual. It is constantly evolving based on external market factors and ecosystems. While the demand for freshers is largely for creating cross-functional capacity and capability, it is also driven by the demand for specialist skill sets in specific domains.

Take the case of EV company, Ather Energy, which intends to hire across all functions next year. “As an engineering-first organisation, we intend to bring in architects, developers, product managers and owners, hardware and firmware engineers and more. In terms of the business, we are seeking risk-takers and strategists to further our marketing, sales, and operations efforts. Apart from these, we are also hiring in supply chain and security and crucial business functions such as HR, legal, and finance,” says Sunitha Lal, CHRO at Ather Energy.

As the hiring frenzy that defined the last two years seems to be dying down, only job-ready graduates may stand a chance.