National Youth Day in India is meant to celebrate the country’s 230 million strong young population. This year though, many find little reason to celebrate. Under the cloud of an unrelenting economic recession driven by COVID-19, placement season could be dire for many fresh graduates. Facing an unprecedented job market and an economic downturn that will likely not correct itself in 2021, this college placement season could be as bad or even worse than last year.
As over 100 million Indians lost jobs last year, the competition to get hired is going to be even fiercer in 2021. To understand how candidates can differentiate themselves from their peers, we asked professional talent acquisition specialists for help.
We are quite a young company. The average age of our company is 30. COVID-19 hasn’t changed the qualities we look for in hiring recent graduates, even though the number might’ve reduced. We’ve just continued to streamline our hiring process over the years in terms of levels of interviews, candidate profiling, personality tests and trying to understand the culture fit. Of course, technical knowledge is important, but over time we’ve realized that many people with the same qualifications apply, so personality and their ability to fit in our culture has become more important for us.
What we tend to look for are the three C’s: confidence, communication and composure. Communication includes written, verbal, and not only being able to tell people what you’re feeling, but also being able to understand what is demanded of you. Composure is a must because these are high pressure situations, and young people tend to find the easy way out. You have to put in the hours and the effort, and be able to handle the pressure. These soft skills shape a large part of your career, regardless of your technical skills.
The one technical skill that can differentiate you is the number of languages you can read and write. If you have a foreign language to highlight, push that up and make that a big part of your interview, because the languages you speak can open up opportunities you didn’t know were even present.
For engineering graduates, it’s good to have your expertise in one programming language. It can be C, C++ and for example, Python is in high demand right now. You can learn these online or take private tuitions and apply for developer jobs.
In terms of personality, the thing we look for the most is authenticity.
Another thing we look for is what project work you’ve done. You can find such projects on websites like Freelancer. Even though recent graduates don’t have work experience, and in this current market, don’t know how long they would have to be without a job, these projects will improve your CV and tell the recruiter about your skill levels depending on the project. Try to choose projects which will solve real business problems, so it can improve your credentials even more.
In terms of personality, the thing we look for the most is authenticity. Most engineering graduates are delusional, in denial of their own skillset or just not aware of the market demands. If as a candidate you can evaluate yourself, then we can build plans around offsetting your weaknesses. If you can’t work in high pressure roles, we’ll prefer to give you a back-end role. But all this communication depends on how authentic and open you can be during the interview.
Fashion students need to understand that the companies aren’t hiring the traditional way anymore. Rather than just going to institutes and getting the highest scorers, now they’re more than ever focused on innovation and creativity.
In interviews, the students most able to crack it are who are honest and focused on creating new things.
Students can showcase that by having visible profiles on platforms like Behance and Instagram. This should display their work done during the course, and side projects they might have undertaken. The more comprehensive the better — recruiters really focus on that. Even in interviews, the clients focus now more on their art file rather than marks in the courses.
In interviews, the students most able to crack it are who are honest and focused on creating new things. Those types of candidates get an edge over candidates with better scores or better internships as they can fit in more easily in multiple roles as they’re ready to create in whatever role they’re placed in. Bringing out that malleability is very important. Overselling yourself is a big no.
Hospitality has been amongst the worst hit industries due to COVID-19. Many businesses have cut costs, creating room for new graduates and junior level employees. But this is a heavy buyer market, so right now, companies are focused on those who are flexible with their timings and relocation.
The interviewer will always think to perceive someone who has done nothing during the lockdowns to lack a learning attitude.
Another important factor is a candidate’s ability to be shifted to profiles apart from the ones they’ve been hired for. The lockdowns are so erratic, they are looking for people who can work in operations but also help in the kitchen if need be.
Everyone knows the market has been tough, that’s why those who can show work during the pandemic, even working in local businesses, is very important for employers. The interviewer will always think to perceive someone who has done nothing during the lockdowns to lack a learning attitude. Those who can show they’ve overcome the pandemic in some way or the other will prevail.