You’re hired

A six-step cheat sheet for employers to crack campus recruitment


Gautam Srivastava (centre), along with members of the current placement committee, at the Management Development Institute in Gurugram. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Gautam Srivastava (centre), along with members of the current placement committee, at the Management Development Institute in Gurugram. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

It’s that time of the year when recruiters from companies go campus-shopping for talent. Some come back pleased, others disappointed.

Campus recruitments are expensive, both in terms of time and money. You make one set of trips for pre-placement talks, and a second for interviews. You coordinate so that operational managers can take time off and be part of the hiring process. Then you reach the campuses and find you have just a small set of applicants, many of whom are unsuitable. A few who are suitable may interview with you, and choose to take a job somewhere else. Or, worse still, join you as a stop-gap, consuming training resources, and leave soon after.

We asked millennials on the campus what they think recruiters should do before they head to campuses to suss out the talent. Here’s a six-step cheat sheet for cracking campus recruitments.

Start early 

Companies that engage with students early on are looked at with favour. There are many ways of doing this. You could run competitions, award scholarships, do leadership lecture series or appoint brand ambassadors. Consulting firm Ernst and Young runs a business plan competition among colleges across the country and gives a scholarship of Rs1 lakh to the winner. “There’s a lot of buzz around this,” says last year’s winner Saloni Ghatnekar, who is currently completing her third year at Mumbai’s HR College of Commerce and Economics. She has received a job offer from Ernst and Young as well, and will be joining as soon as she graduates. Ghatnekar says the KPMG Campus Ambassador Programme is another popular programme that familiarizes students with the brand and leaves them keen to join for both summer internships and final placements.

Be high-powered

Having a chief executive officer (CEO) on board signals to students that the company takes its new hires seriously. “We had Sanjiv Mehta, the CEO of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, come to our campus for a pre-placement talk. Having the CEO come in person was impressive. Many students made it a point to attend. That gave a big boost to joining Unilever,” says Gautam Srivastava, a student at the Management Development Institute (MDI) in Gurugram, near Delhi. He was part of MDI’s placement committee; he’s now all set to work for Asian Paints. At the pre-placement talk, it will help immensely if you, as a senior manager from the company, are accessible for informal conversations even after the event and are open to giving students your LinkedIn/email details.

Alumni are the icing on the cake

If you have an alumnus from the same campus working in your company, take him/her along for the pre-placement and placement tours. “Seniors from your institute are just more approachable for a frank, informal discussion. You can ask a senior about things like working hours and company culture, something you might hesitate to ask the rest of the team, any one of which may be your potential boss,” says Shashwat Mairal, 23, who worked on the placement committee at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Alumni are more accessible, they often stay on after the formal talk, stroll across to the college cafeteria, or drop in at the college, marketing or photography clubs they may have been a part of, says Mairal. All this makes it easier for students to get feedback that they find credible.

Plan interactive events

Presentations that are interactive work better than vanilla slides. “BMW had a quiz on the company and the automobile sector as a part of their pre-placement talks,” says Srivastava. The prize was the chance to drive a BMW. This ensured students researched the company and the sector, and it reinforced the brand value, with students even keener to join the brand, says Srivastava.

Define the job role clearly

Potential employees would like to know whether they will be sitting at a desk doing equity research, or will be sent out into the field to sell insurance or credit cards.

“If companies spell out what they are looking for in terms of job roles, this way there are no false expectations. Because it is unfortunate for everybody if there isn’t a good fit between what the company is looking for and what the student wants in terms of a job role,” says Mairal.

A student from the placement committee at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (Irma), who does not wish to be named, agrees. “We have the big consumer companies, microfinance companies and foundations like the Mahindra and ICICI foundations coming to recruit. These postings could be in cities or they could be rural. It helps us make up our mind if they tell us where we are likely to be posted,” he says.

And once you are on campus, don’t take too long to make up your mind—multiple rounds of interviews, spread over a long period, can be emotionally taxing for job seekers. “Offer letters which are rolled out on the same day (of placement) make a huge difference because there is certainty,” says Ghatnekar.

Show them the money

Eventually, a lot of it boils down to the money. What are the starting salaries that students are expecting? What were the salaries offered last year?

Do your research separately for each institute that you plan to visit. Use these as benchmarks. If your starting salaries are competitive, you are likely to get a good recruitment slot early in the recruiting season. And have your pick of candidates.

If, on the other hand, you choose to visit institutes where the starting salaries are way higher than what you can offer, chances are you will take the time and trouble to make the trip and find only a few applicants, who may prove to be unsuitable.

While money is not the sole criteria by which millennials pick jobs, it is a significant one. “Money is obviously a big motivator. Nowadays, graduation is quite expensive. An engineering degree from Manipal University can cost Rs8-10 lakh a year, fees at law schools run into lakhs too. So many people have student loans they have to pay back,” says Mairal.

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