India’s IT industry on recruitment spree

Ajoyendra Mukherjee has one of the toughest jobs in corporate India. Every year the man who handles the recruitment of Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest software and outsourcing company, hires an army of new people as the Mumbai-based group expands its operations globally.

In 2010, Mr Mukherjee, the head of human resources, recruited 70,000 people and this year he plans to add an extra 60,000 people, which could take the headcount to more than 250,000.

The process usually kicks off in November, when TCS and its major competitors start their roadshows in search of new talent by visiting the best information technology, science-oriented and humanities universities in the country.

The goal is to convince students they can offer them the best prospective career, while selecting the best candidates out of all applicants, which can be more than a million. Top marks are not the only thing Mr Mukherjee’s team of recruiters seek.

“We are looking for people who have the ability to solve unconventional problems, who are quick at finding solutions to basic dilemmas,” says Mr Mukherjee.

The selection process continues until the end of March. Then starts the difficult part – making sure that their preferred candidates accept their offer and join them as soon as their university course is over in July. For many graduates money is not the major driver when picking an employer, as most IT companies tend to offer similar packages to new entrants.

Nimna Sreedharan, a recent software engineering graduate, said she received an offer from both Infosys, the country’s second-largest IT outsourcer, and TCS, but she finally decided to accept the former.

“It wasn’t an easy option, as both are world class companies and the packages they offered me were pretty much identical,” she said. “At the end I went for Infosys as a lot of people told me that they would offer a better training programme.”

Training for most people exiting university and entering into the IT sector is the most important benefit, as it will define the future of their career.

However, Ms Sreedharan said that she would not stay at the Bangalore-based company forever. “I plan to stay there [for a] maximum [of] five years and then I’ll move elsewhere, maybe to TCS.”

Loyalty is a rare commodity in India’s IT industry, especially among the younger employees. Keeping the churn rate under control is one of the biggest challenges IT groups face and it has become even a greater concern since the financial crisis.

Mr Mukherjee proudly said that TCS’s attrition rate is below the average – which is 17 per cent, according to Nasscom, the IT industry lobby – due to regularly rotating roles and a rigorous appraisal scheme. “We have a points scheme, where we give people Gems for good performance and after they collected enough Gems they can buy a gadget from our TCSmart.”

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