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May 11, 2001
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Priya Ganapati in Bombay

Many management and engineering students who thought that their hard work had finally paid off in the form of lucrative finance, technology and human resources job offers at campus interviews are now getting unwelcome calls and letters from their prospective employers.

Students across management and engineering institutes in the country are now being told that the job offers made to them have been withdrawn or that they would have to join about five months later than the earlier date of joining.

Campus interviews across the country are usually held between December and March and most students accept the job offers made to them then. When they are through with their exams around June, they start work with the companies.

Triple whammy lays companies low

But this year, thanks to a triple whammy in the form of the dot-com bust, the slowdown in the IT sector and the stock market crash, companies have been forced to postpone the joining date for these fresh recruits or in worst cases renege on their job offers.

In order to cut costs without actually revoking the offers that they had made a few months ago, companies like Wipro and Global Tele-Systems have told students that they would have to join a few months later than was earlier indicated.

Others like BPL Innovision, a high-profile technology venture from the BPL group, has gone a step further and is now paying fresh recruits not to come to work at all.

Some like CMC have completely revoked the job offers made earlier.

The slowdown in the IT industry has had a telling impact on Indian companies. Recently, Infosys issued a profit warning and said that its profits this quarter would less than expected.

Other companies like NIIT and Wipro too have admitted that the slowdown could have an impact on their bottom line.

So, it does not come as a surprise that Wipro, which made a whopping 97 job offers at the Jadavpur University in West Bengal, has now stalled many of them. The company has not given a joining to date to as many as 86 engineering students from the university.

Wipro officials revealed that these offers were made in October itself, long before the economy showed any signs of a downturn. And now, that there is a slowdown, the huge intake poses a problem.

"We will let them know soon when we can start absorbing them. Because of the huge number, we have to stagger our placements, but we will definitely let them know when they can join us," assures Vijay Gupta, head of corporate communications, Wipro.

Joining dates pushed back...

Others have been a bit subtler. Global Tele-Systems and Planetasia have reportedly pushed back the joining date for their hires.

At the K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research in Bombay, Global Tele-Systems had made five marketing, one HR and four finance offers. The chosen ones were asked to join in June. But a few days ago, it sent out letters informing students to now join only in October.

The reason cited was that the company was going through a restructuring process and, hence, it would not be able to take on these fresh hands now.

Global sent out similar letters to the students it had made offers to at the Neville Wadia Institute of Management Studies in Pune.

S M Jadhav, head, HRM at Global Tele-Systems justifies: "The company has been going through a restructuring programme and, hence, it was felt that the joining of the new recruits should coincide with the strategic business unit's plan. The requirement in certain divisions was immediate, so some recruits were absorbed immediately."

"The company also had an extensive induction program, which was to be for two months and recruits were to be absorbed into the divisions in October. But because of the restructuring, the training program has also been restructured and the recruits have to be absorbed straight in October," he adds.

Campus placements are extremely crucial for companies who pick up fresh talent off colleges. It also accords a certain amount of prestige and word of mouth publicity for companies and so few wish to miss on it.

This year, despite the obvious slowdown, companies have not dared to pass up on queuing outside colleges. "Campus recruitment is important for companies. It builds up a reputation for the company among graduating students and no company can afford to miss it. That is why despite the slowdown we are forced to be seen on the campuses," reveals a senior executive closely associated with the IT industry.

"Some withdrawal of job offers does happen in campuses. But this year the trend shows that there such incidences have gone up remarkably. Many companies have gone back on their offers or tried to stall the offers made because of the general slowdown that the industry is experiencing," says Shailesh Vikram Singh of, a Web site that tracks placements across different campuses.

"Companies like CRB Capital and ABCL (Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited)have withdrawn job offers made in campuses. But those were ailing companies. It is only this year that good companies are doing similar things," he adds.

Panicky students seek seniors' help

While the general slowdown may justify the steps taken by many of these companies, their moves have left students panicky and distraught.

"All of the students are worried about this as our course is over and now there is no scope of any companies coming to campus. Please do look into this," writes in a desperate student from K J Somaiya Institute, where Global Tele-Systems postponed the joining date.

Prateek Gupta, a student of Sydenham Institute of Management Studies in Bombay who had a job offer from BPL Innovision revoked in mid-April, says: "The biggest problem is that most companies have finished their management trainee recruitment programmes, and hence there are no vacancies. And in any case there seems to be a general slump in the market as far as jobs are concerned. I am quite distressed."

Gupta says that BPL Innovision which had initially made an offer for Rs 400,000 for position of "marketing business leader'' has now offered Rs 50,000 instead and told him not to join.

"I hope I get a job in the next one month. All in all, BPL has been an experience which has shown us how unprofessional companies can be, and how dangerous it is to be even slightly relaxed," he broods.

Other students are similarly worried about their future. "I have been placed in Planetasia in Placements 2000. But to our shock it has postponed our joining to November. I can't wait for the next 5 months to join Planetasia. So please help me find a new opening," writes a student of IMT-Ghaziabad, a management college near New Delhi to one of his seniors.

IMT Ghaziabad has been one of the worst-hit this year. At the IMT campus, BPL Innovision made 17 job offers to MBAs graduating in October last year itself and issued appointment letters in mid-November. But in April the company revoked those letters and sent out regret notes.

IMT's placement committee has now sought help from its seniors.

"With just a month or so left before all of us join our respective companies, this is indeed a bolt from the blue for our batch and, especially, for those who were to join BPL Innovision on June 1. As of now, these 17 students are without a job and the academic year ends in another three days. In this moment of crisis, we turn to you, our seniors, the alumni of IMT, to help us out in whatever way possible -- be it in terms of leads on openings in your companies, or any company that you know of that is recruiting at the moment," a mail sent out by the committee to IMT seniors on its mailing list pleads.

IT firms not the only ones to go back on their word

IT companies are not the only ones to go back on their word. Anagram Securities and Broking, one of the better-known broking firms on the stock markets, has withdrawn three job offers it had made at the Nirma Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

The company mailed a regret letter to the placement head at institute stating they it could not honour the job offers it had made because of stock markets crash that took place a month ago.

Professor P K Yadav who is in charge of placements confirms, "They said that due to the tight situation, it would be difficult for them to accommodate fresh candidates at this time. They came and met me after that and also said that they were considering retrenchments and so it would not be proper on their part to hire anyone now. We tried to work out alternatives, but to no avail."

The alternative that was suggested by Anagram was that it would take on the three who it had made job offers to as summer trainees for Rs 6,000 per month for the next two months. Naturally, the students turned down the offer.

"We will try out best to place the students. But with the general market conditions it seems a bit difficult," says Yadav.

The rescinding or stalling of job offers is not limited to the lesser-known colleges. The Indian Institute of Management, the premier management institute in the country, too has had to contend with companies delaying the joining dates.

This year, iNautix technologies, a US-headquartered technology company, made initial job offers at IIMs across the country and later put off the joining date by a few weeks. While IIM students are worried about the delay, iNautix officials assure that it will be a very short wait.

"We have set up a new facility at the Tidel Technology Park in Madras, which will be the largest in that park. We have over 1,20,000 sq ft of land there and for that we had made recruitments. But due to some delays we have asked the recruits to join about 3 weeks later. Also, the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu have led to a delay in examinations, which is one more thing we have taken into consideration. We have not postponed any intake," asserts Sriram Vaidhyanathan, head, people practices, iNautix technologies.

'Lesser-known' institutes suffering the most

Many colleges are at a loss on how to tackle these situations. IIM students hint that companies which play truant over placements are blacklisted and given lower priority next year. And this is something that they do not wish to incur because of the prestige associated with recruiting IIM students.

But other lesser know institutes are completely defenceless. S R Dastane, director, Neville Wadia Institute pleads, "Please understand that we are in no position to dictate terms. We are very much worried about the careers of the students and are doing our best to help them."

Meanwhile, Wipro is categorical that all job offers made will be honoured.

"We will take each and every one of those who we have made an offer to," asserts Gupta.

"We do not want people to come here right now and get bored. The option before the students is that they either wait at their home or at Wipro. And I think the former seems more reasonable," he says.

Employees groan as IT firms slash salary hikes

Design: Lynette Menezes


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