Crunch season at IITs as many students yet to find jobs

  • IITs are reaching out to startups, alumni and recruiters from new segments, and sounding out companies which have previously hired from their campuses.

Pratishtha Bagai, Devina Sengupta
First Published23 May 2024
At IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Madras and IIT-Kanpur -- so-called older IITs - placements begin in December, while the newer ones start earlier in August-September
At IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Madras and IIT-Kanpur -- so-called older IITs - placements begin in December, while the newer ones start earlier in August-September

Placement concerns stalk the corridors of Indian Institutes of Technology as the batch of 2024 draws to a close, with hundreds of students yet to find a job even in the second hiring round.

The elite institutions are reaching out to startups, alumni and recruiters from new segments, and sounding out companies which have previously hired from their campuses, placement team members said. Departments and professors are also asked to pitch in and help place students.

At IIT-Bombay, 300-400 students finishing undergraduate and post-graduate courses are yet to be hired, a member of its placement team said, adding the final numbers may be different. "There were about 1,973 students who had signed up for placements, and about 1,187 from them were placed during the phase-1 process. Another 200 have already been placed in phase-2, and the numbers have increased since the last count," the person cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Also read: Campus gloom at IITs on hiring lull, stagnant salaries

Placements in two phases

A student at IIT Delhi who was placed in the first phase said that from every stream, some students are yet to be hired. "The placement team is reaching out to alumni several times, and students were asked to fill up forms on whether they would still want the placement team to get them a job so that the college can keep a track on who needs to be placed. Many are trying on their own as well," the student said.

At IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Madras and IIT-Kanpur -- so-called older IITs - placements begin in December, while the newer ones start earlier in August-September. The placements are conducted across two phases a few months apart.

After a year and half of reckless hiring, many businesses entered a downturn, with funds drying at startups, consulting companies hit by clients reviewing work, global conflicts and supply chain disruptions. Companies that had over-hired during the boom of 2021 and 2022 began sloughing off staff, and the domino impact was felt by colleges in both B-school and engineering campuses. This has forced them to chase a wider set of companies and, in some cases, inviting recruiters setting the salary standards lower.

Also read: IIT Bombay 2024 placement season underwhelms

Large companies pull back

The placement team member cited above said some companies which had hired before this recruitment season were returning with new profiles. "The new session starts in July and we have a month and a week to place the rest of the students. Every call from any company is getting looked into and student interest is checked," the member added.

Most large IT services companies have decided not to hire from campuses this year. A TeamLease Digital report in February said the hiring intent for freshers in the IT sector has decreased to 42% in H1 2024 compared to 49% in the same period in 2023. In January, Mint reported that India’s freshly graduating tech talent as well as entry- to mid-career employees are staring at a bleak immediate future as the country’s top tech recruiters pull back on new hiring. The last time the country’s largest technology services companies shied away from campuses was during the global financial crisis of 2008.

"This time, since the students were anticipating a downturn in the industry due to recession, there were more students who decided to pursue higher studies instead of placements. Usually, there are about 200 students who pursue higher studies, this year around 300 students are doing that," said a placement team member at IIT Kanpur. The member highlighted that the college had about 2000 students to place and 100-150 are yet to find a job.

Also read: What the IIT placements tell us about the campus hiring market

Lower salaries

"There has been a slight decrease in the packages. Last year, the average package was 26 lakh. This time, it has gone down to 25 lakh," the placement team member added. While the crore-plus packages did come in from the high-frequency trading firms this year as well, the numbers were a handful and core sector firms saw many takers.

"There were a lot of students to place and there were fewer companies that came. There were around 2,000 students this year compared to around 1,700 last year. By the end of last month, close to 60% students were placed on campus," said a placement team member at IIT Kharagpur.

IIT-Delhi has reached out to its alumni, a person aware of the matter said, and students have approached professors and department heads to help them get hired. The Office of Career Services (OCS), IIT Delhi has also asked other departments to inform the placement team in case recruiters were contacted directly for the unplaced students.

Also read: What the vacant seats at TCS mean

On tenterhooks

Although some students of IIT-Madras are yet to be placed, the college said that as of 30 April, it had placed more than 80% of BTech/dual degree students and more than 75% of master's students this year. "During the year 2023-24, Phase-1 and Phase-2 of campus placements, 1,091 students were placed in 256 companies. In addition, out of 300 pre-placement offers 235 were accepted," the firm said in a statement.

The newer IITs, although they have a much smaller batch, are on tenterhooks. "Over the next couple of months, 75% of the batch should get placed. We are getting alumni who have their own startups to hire and it is a gloomy placement season for all," said a placement head at one of the newer IITs. "Until now, we have maintained a minimum threshold of compensation, and the median so far is 12 lakh. But now, there are companies that are offering lower packages and if students want to take up those roles, who are we to stop?"

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