Bangalore: Companies struggling to cope with a slowdown typically turn to consultants to find a way out.
So, it seems, do B-schools.
In the backdrop of a slowing economy, many recruiters have chosen to stay away from B-school campuses and several B-schools are looking to hire placement consultants to help their graduating batch find jobs.
Few schools Mint spoke to were ready to share details of consultants they had approached or signed on and many denied the move outright. Placement consultants, however, claim that not just so-called tier II B-schools, but also some of the country’s best-known B-schools are looking to do just this.
“It is for the first time that B-schools are appointing consultants... We have taken a couple of schools,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, chairman and managing director at The Head Hunters (India) Pvt. Ltd, based in Bangalore. Lakshmikanth declined to name the schools, but said they were top-tier ones.
B-schools, apart from the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and a few others such as XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur, Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi, and Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, are categorized as tier II schools in India.
Several B-schools started their so-called placement season—a period during which companies visit campuses to hire students—in November, December or January and, according to placement heads, several of them are yet to place even half the graduating batch. Typically lasting a week, placement seasons in some of these schools have stretched to months. The placement season at IIMs is to begin in a few weeks.
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Consultants on stand-by
India has around 1,500 B-schools with around 150,000 students graduating every year, according to the All India Council for Technical Education, the apex body that regulates technical education in the country.
The Institute of Management Technology, or IMT, at Nagpur, Maharashtra, is in the process of finalizing a consultant; the Goa Institute of Management, Ribandar, Goa, is looking at consultants as Plan B; and the lesser known Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu-based Sastra University School of Management is also examining proposals from consultants.
“We are requesting (the) help of consultants. We are working out the arrangement,” said Anwar Ali, director at IMT. Ali plans to pay the consultants out of the school’s placement budget of Rs25-30 lakh.
“We are willing to explore all possible options... I have a basket of consultants as a stand-by,” said Alan D’Souza, director of the Goa Institute of Management.
Starting this month, Lakshmikanth and his team will be busy assessing students, making notes, identifying companies that are hiring and arranging interviews for matching profiles.
Over and above this, he intends to host roadshows across seven or eight cities showcasing the schools. “The trick is to find companies who are hiring,” he said.
Few jobs, limited reach
With technology and financial services companies not hiring, the focus is on manufacturing firms, personal care and home care product makers and even state-owned enterprises.
Not all consultants want to align with one or a few schools.
E. Balaji, chief operating officer at staffing services firm MaFoi Management Consultants Ltd, said his firm has been approached by a few B-schools for help.
MaFoi has added the resumes of the graduating batch to its database, but Balaji added that “...we don’t want to be aligned to any B-school because we want to give our clients the best available talent”. He declined to identify the schools that had approached his firm.
Even with the help of consultants, it may not be easy to find jobs in an environment where companies are downsizing, said an executive with a job portal.
“There are very few jobs and consultants have limited reach,” said Hitesh Oberoi, chief operating officer and director of Info Edge (India) Ltd, owner of job portal Naukri.com, which has launched a portal catering solely to freshers, Firstnaukri.com. The site, in the testing phase, has a few thousand students as registered users.
Despite everything they do, the schools may find it difficult this year, added Oberoi. It is “going to be tough to place students outside the top 20 management schools”.