Bangalore/Kolkata: Rajant Meshran, a second-year student of the flagship post graduate programme in management at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), is sanguine about his job prospects as the global economy fights its way out of recession.

Open invitation: A file photo of IIM-B. IIMs have been sending out invitations to firms to visit their campuses. November will see potential recruiters making presentations on campus, with final placements due in March. Hemant Mishra/Mint

“The markets have improved (from last year)...the placement team is working very hard," says Meshran, who will be up for a job placement in March.

Meshran expects the next placements season to be at least better than it was for the class of 2009, which became a casualty of the unprecedented financial maelstrom that shook economies across the globe, including India.

Recruiters from Wall Street, the epicentre of the crisis that peaked with the mid-September 2008 collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the hurried sale of Merrill Lynch and Co. to Bank of America Corp., stayed away from on-campus interviews at Indian B-schools and several local companies froze hiring.

Average salaries at the prestigious IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and IIM Calcutta (IIM-C) fell 30% and 20%, respectively, for domestic jobs; placements that used to conclude in two-three days dragged on for at least 9-10 days on several campuses.

As the intensity of the global economic crisis abates and world markets recover, students such as Meshran may have reason to be complacent. Foreign institutional investors had poured $11.2 billion (Rs53,760 crore) into Indian stock markets as of last Friday this year, and companies are again tapping the capital markets for funds, signalling a revival in investment banking activity.

Despite the financial crisis, international banks such as the Indian arm of Citigroup Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered Plc visited IIM campuses in the last recruitment season, and they are expected this time round as well.

Still, B-schools aren’t leaving anything to chance. Schools are reaching out to more recruiters, be they not-for-profit organizations, small and medium enterprises and even the United Nations (UN).

“We have to reach out to all companies," says P.D. Jose, an associate professor and head of the career development services at IIM-B. “Most companies will come because they want to maintain a relationship with us."

Jose thinks that much like in 2009, companies will recruit fewer numbers in the next placement season. The school, which says it keeps enlarging its company base, has reached out to at least 800 companies, up from 700 last time.

Over the last month, IIMs have been sending out invitations to companies to visit their campuses. November will see potential recruiters making presentations on campus, with final placements due in March.

Indian Oil Corp., the country’s biggest refiner, for one, plans to visit IIMs in the coming placement season following its maiden appearance in March.

“There is growing interest in the public sector, particularly from the IIMs," said V.C. Agrawal, director (human resources) at Indian Oil.

In the last placement season, the company visited IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C, IIM Indore (IIM-I) and IIM Kozhikode (IIM-K) and recruited at least 25 students. The company plans to recruit the same number this year as well.

IIM-C, which invited some 2,000 companies last year, would be reaching out to around 5,000 this year for the summer placements. Companies that visit the campus in November would be invited to come and hire during final placements as well.

“Pre-placement offers for those who did summer internships earlier this year have already started coming in and the propensity of companies to hire students who have interned with them appears high," says Preet Pillai, a second-year IIM-C student and placement coordinator.

Apart from traditional sectors such as finance, marketing and consultancy, the school hopes to attract start-ups, private equity and venture capital firms, and media and advertising agencies.

IIM-C would also be reaching out to organizations such as the Planning Commission, the UN, the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, among others.

At IIM-A, Vivek Jain, a member of the students’ placement cell, declined to comment on placements. Last year, the school saw several first-time recruiters on-campus—Jaypee Capital Ltd, which hired 12, Union Bank of India, which made 18 offers, and Unicon Securities Pvt. Ltd, which made 12.

IIM-K says it has reached out to at least 1,000 companies compared with 600 last year.

“We are looking at more non-profits and microfinance institutions," says Rohan Jaikishen, a second-year student and member of the placement committee at IIM-K, having contacted 70 outfits in this space, up from 35 last year. “We are asking more about roles this year than pay." The school has 260 students to place, up from 180 the last time around.

IIM-I, too, has doubled the number of companies it invited for recruitment, but did not reveal the exact number. “We have a larger base (of companies) so that everyone gets placed and gets roles of their choice," says Rishi Pathak, a member of the placement committee at IIM-I. He expects a lot more small and medium firms to visit its campus.

The country’s second-rung private schools, meantime, are keeping their fingers crossed.

“We are even inviting lesser-known and regional companies like small and medium enterprises and local brokerage firms in addition to the regular recruiters this year," says Srinivas Cheedi, dean of the career management centre at IBS, Hyderabad, formerly known as the ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad.

The school, which has waived the minimum salary criteria this year, plans to reach out to some 6,000 big, medium and small companies, up from 2,000 last year.

Considering that students may not be mentally prepared to join unknown, smaller companies, IBS has begun counselling them to be ready for such an eventuality.

Aparna Kalra contributed to this story.