New Delhi: Pranima Das, who graduated from New Delhi’s Faculty of Management Studies, or FMS, in March, isn’t too fond of Mumbai—the city with “no winter". But she is still excited about her job in India’s financial capital with a recruiter who visited her school for the first time.

Scouting for talent: Students on the Faculty of Management Studies campus in New Delhi. Many mid-sized recruiters that visited the top institutes for the first time in 2009 are satisfied with the results. Rajkumar / Mint

They include founder and managing director Gaurav Arora, and senior vice-president Saurav Arora. “We go to Saurav with ideas," said Das. “His response is: ‘Do you want to take over’ (take it forward)?"

Jaypee, one of the shareholders in the exchange, was the largest recruiter at the IIMs in 2009—hiring 53 graduates from their campuses in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Lucknow, along with nine from FMS.

But Jaypee was not alone. Many mid-sized recruiters visited these premier management institutes for the first time in the bleak hiring season of 2009—when most larger recruiters kept away—and made a killing on campus. They are so happy with the results that they plan to go back in February for the 2010 recruiting season.

Among them is Unicon Financial Intermediaries Pvt. Ltd, a mid-sized financial services firm, which hired 31 people from the Ahmedabad and Indore IIMs, FMS and New Delhi’s Indian Institute of Foreign Trade.

The company said the experience has caused it to shed its fear about hiring from premier campuses. It now hopes to expand its on-campus recruitment to top business schools in Mumbai, such as the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.

“I was apprehensive if the fresh hires will culturally fit into our environment our not," said Deepa Mohamed, who heads human resources and training at Unicon. “Not only did they fit in, but they taught the company a lesson or two in terms of training."

Gaurav Arora agrees. “Last time, it was chance. This time, it will not be a chance," he said.

With the hiring sentiment improving in recent months, the larger firms are also set to return to the top business schools. Nonetheless, these schools say they will still welcome first-time recruiters on campus.

“We approach them with equal gusto," said Vivek Jain, a member of the student placement team at IIM, Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Most IIMs have a complex system of student ballots to decide which recruiters to invite every year. But they cast their net wide in 2009 to compensate for the absence of top Wall Street recruiters such as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. as well as the conservative hiring by Indian companies.

On-campus salaries were down 32%, according to an IIM-A report released at the end of the 2009 placement season.

The brisk hiring of interns at business schools a month ago indicates final placements in February might be upbeat. But schools cannot be certain.

Hiring experts such as Tarun Matta, a graduate of IIM Indore’s class of 2003, who runs, a portal for job seekers, said it would be wise of business schools to continue seeking new recruiters, especially as they have larger class sizes to place in two months than in 2009.

But Matta warns it is too soon to declare that first-time recruiters have succeeded in retaining talent. The market, he said, is still stagnant for most hires not to jump ship. “It is early days to say if their experiment has been successful or not," said Matta.

Indeed, some recruiters are cautious. Hanuman Tripathi, chief executive of Infrasoft Technologies Ltd, a banking software company in Mumbai that hired 10 students from the IIMs—seven from the core MBA course and three from executive education programmes—had to let go of two of them. Another two quit as the market improved.

“We found some people snooty. They were not putting in enough effort in the roles they had accepted," he said.

Tripathi still plans to go back to the campuses for hiring from the education programmes, but has declined invitations to the core MBA course. He said one of the lessons he has learnt is that most graduates of executive programmes are from the information technology industry and are looking for roles that are different.

Such roles are difficult to create every year, he said.

Other firms have also faced attrition. Jaypee lost one of its 62 hires as the market improved while seven of Unicon’s 31 hires quit. But the recruiters said this is still better than what they expected.

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