Jobs to wait and watch for

Written by Reema Jose | Updated: Apr 27 2008, 05:31am hrs
Recruitment companies in the software industry have predicted slow business in fiscal 2009, as the IT services sector gets more cautious on its recruitment plans. While most staffing companies have adopted a wait and watch approach to define the magnitude of the slow down, there is no mistaking the signs of a lull in the market. Project-based hiring was likely to emerge prominent and bench strength would take a cut as companies become more realistic, recruiters say.

Recruitment projections of software majors have also reflected lower numbers. Infosys, which hired a gross 33,000 employees last year, has said the numbers would be lower, at 25,000 gross recruitments to be made in fiscal 2009. TCS hired 35,672 people last fiscal and said it would make a gross addition of 30,000 to 35,000 in fiscal 2009. Wipro did not offer hiring forecasts, saying that recruitments would be in line with business needs.

Staffing companies feel that hiring would be lower by 15% to 20% in 2009 compared to the numbers in 2010.

According to the chief executive officer of staffing firm Headhunters, Kris Laxmikanth, There is definitely a slow down in hiring. We dont expect to see an improvement until the order books start improving for the software players. Companies have indicated that orders would happen by July.

On campus hiring, which supply at least 60% of the work pool for software services vendors, companies are yet to give out clear hiring directions. Infosys, which made 18,000 campus offers for fiscal 2009, said more offers were likely to be made this year. However, recruiters are skeptical. Laxmikanth said, The real numbers will emerge only after May, when the results in engineering schools are out. Most campus recruitments are provisional to the candidate holding a degree certificate, and once that happens, we will know whether candidates have been asked to join later or not.

With IT hiring taking a beating, technology-staffing firm TVA Infotech has decided to de-risk, by diversifying into areas like BFSI, infrastructure and sales. However, TVAs Gautam Sinha feels that the recruitment psyche for 2009 would be clear only once a consolidated picture of campus hiring is available.

Post 2003, campus hiring numbers in IT has been in the range of 1,25,000 to 1,30,000. Campus hiring is the best indicator of how the industry expands.

Laxmikanth feels there would be no mass cancellations in campus offers made. However, candidates would be asked to join two to three months later than the scheduled dates. Like what happened in 2002 during a slow down, companies will stagger the recruitments. There will be no record hiring numbers this year on campus, he said.

Benches will no longer be bloated as earlier, because project based, just-in-time hiring takes over, TVAs Sinha said. A trimmer bench is not bad news by itself, it is just part of a philosophy of bench management. When the rupee appreciates, companies want to have better flexibility in managing the head count on benches.

According to Human Capital chief executive BS Murthy, Q3 2009 was likely to be abysmally slow on hiring. We believe that this is only the beginning of a more severe slow down. Based on what we hear from companies human resource heads and the IT workers themselves, we feel campus hiring will fall by 50% during the year, while lateral hiring will dip by between 15% and 20%, he said.

However, product engineering and research and development players, who constitute only 10% of the employers pie, would continue to hire in line with earlier trends, Balaji said.