17 Sep 2020 20:34 IST

Business schools think out of the box in placement drive

With the pandemic impacting hiring by corporates, B-schools are looking at alternative strategies

The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has had extreme repercussions on the human and economic health of the world. It has brought global economic activities to a grinding halt. Presently, India is going through a temporary recession that will have a long-term impact on the country’s economic condition. Due to the pandemic-led lockdown, many corporates are facing a financial burden that is further resulting in massive layoffs. It is known to be the second biggest upshot after human health.

According to the industry estimates, approximately 10.8 million jobs have been lost since the third week of March, when the government announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the infection. Majorly, the layoffs are happening across large sectors such as hospitality, travel and tourism, construction, and many among others that rely on physical movement. In such a situation, corporates are cautious to participate in the annual placement drives. The corporates that deferred students joining from the last batch’s campus placement to November / December or even later are also not sure about participating in the next campus placement cycle. While some of them are limiting the campus placements to select B-schools.

On the other hand, the global premier B-school students who came back to India during the Covid break are also available to work with Indian corporates. That simply means the supply for fresh management graduates in this country is higher than the present demand. Thus, the prominent B-schools have understood that this year placement season is going to be challenging for them. However, they are working on powerful strategies that can help the campuses and students to cope with the present scenario.

Emerging sectors focused approach

B-schools have realised that Covid-19 is continuing to churn the Indian market. However, there are a few sectors that are seeing exponential growth in their business. Due to the free time during the lockdown, the digital world has seen a boom. Many companies operating their business through online channels witnessed tremendous growth in the number of visitors and subscriptions. Thus, most of the B-schools are shifting their focus from inviting traditional corporates to organisations in the field of e-commerce, edtech, fintech, healthcare, and entertainment for their placements.

The new age technology-based start-ups are seeing an upsurge in the hiring with their user base shooting up during the lockdown. There are a majority of companies that are understanding the scope of artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning, blockchain, and many others. Significantly, prominent B-schools are changing their corporate relations' teams sector allocation in the favour of companies using these technologies that are continuing to go on an expansion spree.

Delay in placement calendar and rolling placement drives

This year, B-schools have deferred the summer internship programmes to take precautionary measures for students’ health. This adversely impacted the placement drive of the campus. Generally, the placement process for most of the premier B-schools is over by November. However, this year some of them are considering pushing their placement calendar by a month or two. Most of the second tier B-schools are not freezing the calendar at all and moving to rolling placements, which means they will be open for inviting corporates as per the recruiters' comfort.

Online platforms for campus placements

To comply with social distancing norms, B-schools are gearing up for online placement drives. They are investing their resources in deploying virtual infrastructure that also involves developing a dedicated platform for the placement process. The majority of prominent B-schools are leveraging new-age technologies to create automated platforms for a seamless virtual experience. Moreover, they are also taking advantage of having an online placement system by conducting webinars and training sessions on cracking online interviews and preparing students to cope with such a difficult economic environment.

Better engagement with alumni network and board of governors

B-schools’ alumni play a pivotal role in campus placement. They are generally B-schools’ evangelists in the corporate they are working with. This has given the B-schools an edge to create a better engagement this year with their alumni through online guest lectures and webinars. Furthermore, some of them are planning to organise online alumni meets before the beginning of the placement season. Most of the premier B-schools have renowned industrialists and corporate honchos on their board of governors. Since they play an advisory role in the schools’ governance, this year some of the premier B-schools are considering taking help from their Board of governors for assisting them in their placement drives.

Strengthening corporate relations team with new hiring

Most of the B-schools are considering Covid-19 as an opportunity to strengthen their corporate relations and placement teams by hiring new members. Those B-schools where corporate relations and placements are student-driven processes are hiring senior corporate leaders as advisors to guide them during this challenging placement season. Even the international B-schools with a significant number of Indian students are hiring corporate relations teams in India.

Consequently, it is a mixed trend of placement drives where many campuses have completely deferred the process for this year while others are gearing up for breaking their previous records through online mode of placement drives.

(The writer is Founder, EduShine Advisory Group, a management consulting firm focused on higher education.)