26 May 2020 12:59:44 IST

Fresh grads must redraw their career maps in pandemic-hit job market

Job-seekers need to upskill and be open to accepting flexi staffing roles in changing industry

The impact of the pandemic has been felt across all industries, compelling everyone to take a fresh look at business models, working processes, workforce arrangements, remuneration, and nature of services. It has reframed hiring intent, deferred job offers, and transformed the on-boarding processes entirely, shifting the process largely to virtual interviews and inductions.

Lakhs of undergrads and postgrad students who were dreaming of prominent placements and lucrative job offers at various universities and B-schools nationally, have suddenly been plunged into gloom. While businesses in almost every industry vertical have either shut down or are operating at minimum possible capacity, diminishing the chances of fresh recruitments, the bottomline is that this phase will lead to a rebuild period soon, which will witness an increase in manpower demand, adding momentum to recruitment and hiring once again. 

With the Covid-19 lockdown, economic slowdown and companies freezing fresh hiring, although the immediate future might seem bleak, following are the key areas that fresh grads can still nurture to stay employable and become the choicest resource for organisations in a pandemic-hit job market.

Upping multi-functional skills 

Bolstering the skill level to raise the employability quotient is a brilliant approach that will help gain long-term value for these new professionals. Utilising the lockdown period to avail free online workshops and courses to develop cross- and multi-functional skills can increase the eligibility prospects immensely. It will help them to be viewed as being able to understand the value of time and productivity. Training in areas beyond one’s immediate zone of expertise and domain is more important right now. 

Join the organisation to start working on an important project 

While staying positive during this phase is definitely important, the key approach should be to make the core-connect with the employer during these tough times, and support the firm by joining and starting work on an important project under senior leadership, as this will help build trust and enhance long-term growth prospects. 

Be open to f lexi staffing options

Employment via flexi staffing roles is equally important as permanent ones today and accepting such job offers at this stage is significant as it can act as a stepping stone to get introduced to bigger brands and can lead one to his/her dream company. Organisations consider flexi staff an extension of their own employees; they are not viewed as inexpensive labour which can be done away with during unpredictable times. 

Slower-than-normal hiring and on-boarding

Preparing oneself for slower-than-normal hiring and on-boarding at this time can help open up more future job options as the work experience grows and career takes off. Searching for superior opportunities in one's chosen domain will help increase career mobility. Updating job alerts, researching competitive salary ranges, and actively networking are simple ways to keep opportunities sweeping in. Career mobility may help compensate for potentially lower income immediately after graduation.

Key sectors to consider for jobs  

The pandemic will also line up a new line of business opportunities considering the newer ways of working across the globe. Greater efforts would be directed towards areas such as R&D, healthcare, predictive analysis, and data sciences for the deployment of technology to achieve better risk management.

Medical supplies and services, personal and healthcare, essential goods delivery, and services such as e-commerce and e-logistics have been showing an immense increase in manpower demand, and many are planning to strengthen the talent pool by 50 per cent to ensure catering to consumer needs during this crisis. India is prioritising in-house manufacturing of pharmaceutical ingredients after the pandemic disrupted the global supply chain, leading to a lack of drugs, face masks, and ventilators, among others. The nation is said to spend $1.3 billion for pharmaceuticals, which is indicative of more hiring prospects, of both temporary and permanent staff.  

Banking, IT/ITeS, and telecom sectors would lead in hiring. Considering the massive rise in the demand for broadband services that’s likely to boost job creation in the telecom sector.

LinkedIn data suggest that over 200,000 jobs have been advertised by a range of employers in a single month amid the lockdown, where around 80,000 of the openings are entry-level positions. Another report by Xpheno states that 91 per cent of these are full-time openings and the remaining are a mix of contractual and part-time . IT and ITeS account for over 79 per cent of the total openings, while e-commerce and BFSI account for about 15 per cent. Marquee start-ups are constantly publishing their job postings. Although start-up job openings are down 50 per cent, large players are scouting for talent.

Gaming, digital content, OTT players, work-from-home virtual teams, and project management software players are witnessing steady increase in business and are subsequently announcing hiring in large numbers. 

The new normal 

With functions changing within and across industries, it’s essential that fresh job seekers upskill, be open to negotiations, accept flexi staffing roles to get introduced to bigger brands, and remain flexible to stay employable right now. Though candidates might face difficulties during the slowdown, once the re-building period begins, they will have notched up a great amount of learning.

Companies are reinventing themselves constantly to ensure business continuity and keep the inflow of revenue channels positive. Service providers are also innovating on business models and offerings along with pricing points. As India warms up to a gig economy, and labour market credentials get better with renewed processes and reforms at the national level, the new normal will be completely different from what the job market used to be and the career roadmap for India’s fresh grads will witness an impressive expansion.

(The author is President, Indian Staffing Federation)