‘Building careers of tomorrow’ is the motto of UpGrad and we are able to do that only by hiring sharp talent from the industry.
In order to maintain the diversity of talents in an organisation, it’s mandatory to hire employees of different backgrounds, industries, and sectors. Along with hiring experienced individuals, it’s also important to hire freshers who are recent pass-outs from college. They do not operate on prejudices and this helps to bring a lot of fresh perspective.
UpGrad started off in 2015, and we’ll be completing our 3rd anniversary in March 2018. The organisation has seen several milestones during this tenure – many achievements and ideas have been conceptualised.
Campus recruitment was one such concept which has been on the cards for a long time. As we were in the process of setting up our roots, acting on such decisions was still in consideration since it was difficult for us to forecast the number of people we may need after 6 months or so. As we grew, the uncertainty diminished and a rapid expansion plan was laid on the table. Finally, it was time to turn our idea into reality; we were sure that we would want to go for campus recruitment this year itself instead of waiting for another year. Since campus recruitments would also promote the brand UpGrad to a completely different level.
Campus hiring is a two–way process, i.e. no company hires from a campus unless they are absolutely sure about their future plans and at the same time colleges also assess the organisation’s background.
Let’s take a look at the overall campus recruitment process:
We listed the colleges we would like to visit. This list specially contained top institutes – IITs, NITs, BITS for the engineering vacancies and IIMs and some other top B-schools were on the cards for managerial positions. We reached out to these colleges one by one.
Initially, the calls were really long and a lot of back and forth was taking place, the real challenge was explaining what UpGrad is all about and the role for which we were planning to recruit students, since, roles differed very much. We reached out to almost all of the institutes from the list planned. Most of the campus coordinators were really courteous, understanding the company and roles. At the same point, they were excited to have UpGrad on campus and a few of them were outright adamant.
Finally, we received our first slot which was IIT–Indore on 3rd December 2017. Our happiness was short-lived to see the total number of applications received. We received 19 applications, out of which 5 were shortlisted and 1 was offered after the process. The number of shortlisted candidates was very low, so, we conducted the process remotely. This response alarmed us. Since we wanted to scale-up campus recruitments at a larger scale and the senior management was not convinced with the results and wanted us to re-work the strategy.
The turnaround strategy
We were ready to put all our efforts into making this successful. Our next challenge was to crack BITS since the response from IITs wasn’t convincing. We decided to do an on-campus company presentation of UpGrad as an organisation and the role of content strategist. We planned the presentation to be done by Mayank Kumar, MD and co-founder of UpGrad and Varun Garg, head of the content team. We also decided to take our employees who were alumni of respective institutes, as it would act as a social validation for the students.
As per the plan, we spoke to institutes about the possibility of doing the presentation and that too doing it much before the interview slot. We wanted students to research about the role and UpGrad instead of applying cluelessly. Eventually, it was great that most of the institutes agreed to allow us to conduct pre-placement talks and present ourselves 5 to 10 days before the placement season or our actual slot.
On the basis of this strategy, we conducted pre-placement talks in BITS Goa, BITS Pilani, BITS Hyderabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Lucknow, IIM Calcutta and MDI. These pre-placement talks proved to be really effective.
The game-changing scenario
The slot which was offered to us earlier was preponed by a few days after our pre-placement talks. The response was phenomenal. It was almost 10 times the response we got at IIT Indore, which meant we definitely would be able to hire a decent number of students. The logistics were put in place as we decided to visit all campuses to conduct the process.
As anticipated, we were able to make an awesome number of offers on all campuses. In BITS Goa we made 12 offers, the number stood at 9 in Hyderabad and for the Pilani campus it was 5. For MDI, it was 3. We are in the process of visiting more campuses, as it’s the placement season. We expect to hire 12-15 more candidates from a management background.
If you are a startup or a growing company, it’s very important for you to present your organisation in the right way for the campus placements, preferably by senior management. You should ensure that the session is interactive and students get to know about your company properly. Be proactive in reaching out and following up with institutes as there are hundreds of other companies and institutes too that are competing for the same. Before expecting a large number of applications, make sure the students clearly understand the role which you are hiring for.
Let’s accept the fact that for students, getting placed on campus is not only a matter of prestige but a social pressure too. So, never hire for two completely different roles in campus hiring, it might mess up things – you may end up not hiring anyone or hiring the wrong person for the wrong job. Ensure there aren’t any gaps and loopholes in your interview process. Since, if there are too many students, the institute might lose the confidence in your company.
Make sure to interview each and every candidate that you’ve shortlisted, even if you’ve exhausted the number of vacant positions. It’s not only a sign of being courteous, but you can also get better candidates or keep some in waiting. You can later make offers to these candidates according to your needs.
The way forward
We will try to be more interactive with college students. Be it by creating campus ambassadors or hosting events like quizzes, debates, group discussions, hackathons, etc. or giving internships and pre-placement offers to students. In order to speed up the process, we’d be looking at automation of the initial test process. We would share a feedback/testimonial to the campus placement committee from freshers joining this year, such that it can help them to be updated with our organisational culture and eventually help us in terms of preference.