This year, while the apprehension remains over how the summer and final placements could pan out, B-schools simultaneously see rays of hope.
Placement officials say institutes have started polls with students to know who their preferred recruiters are so that placement slots could be alloted.
Slot zero is the most coveted of the slots usually with the best companies from the finance, banking and consulting sectors making offers.
However, with the financial meltdown, a number of finance companies have frozen hiring giving way to sectors like retail and FMCG at the top slots along with traditional favourites like consulting and private equity.
Institutes have started communicating with potential recruiters for the upcoming summer placements in October-November and are looking to invite companies from diverse sectors for the process.
"Unlike earlier times where companies hired in large numbers, recent trends have shown that it is better to invite more companies as the number of people hired by each company is fewer than before," says Sapna Agarwal, head of career development services at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B).
The institute will be placing 260 students from the post graduate programme and 70 from the first batch of the executive post graduate programme. Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI) Jamshedpur plans to invite around 70-80 companies for the 240 students it will place for summer placements.
Most institutes had extended their placement process by a few days last year with some of them even extending to a month to ensure all their students got placed with good offers. However, this seems to be developing into a norm for B-schools gradually.
"If last year, management institutes had to extend the placement process by a few days out of compulsion due to the economic scenario, this year they are planning to do it voluntarily. Also, students, who sought for big pay packages earlier are now seeking better roles and profiles in jobs than salaries. Which is why instead of inviting all the top companies for slot zero, we are planning to create a level playing field by extending the placement process. This way the focus on slot zero would lessen and both companies and students can more spend time with each other," says Nilanjan Chatopadhyay, faculty member at SP Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR).
Both top and mid-rung companies as well as students, according to Chatopadhyay, have been demanding more time for interviews.
"Companies want to be sure they choose the right candidate. Similarly, students want to be sure about the roles and job profiles and not merely pay packages. So from an average of 36 hours when all students used to get recruited, we are now looking at placement process of over 200 hours," he added.
Similar views were echoed by Sapna Agarwal of IIM-B. "We see an increasing trend of recruiters wanting more in-depth conversations with students. Generally recruiters spend more time with students during the PGP lateral process as packages are customised for them as compared to entry-level recruitment where there are fixed packages," she said.
"We expect banks and PSUs to hire from our campus. Last year was an unusual placement season for us as we had to extend placement by a few days. We will have a better idea after summer placements this year," said N R Bhusnurmath, placement dean at Management Development Institute (MDI) Gurgaon.
Agarwal said that recruitment for the executive programme students at IIM-B would start from November and go for three-four months in a lateral process considering the average work experience of 7-10 years.
Even from the PGP course, around 60-65 per cent of the batch has work experience before joining the programme and can opt for lateral placement.