As the pandemic halted studies and wiped out employment opportunities for millions of young people around the world, it has changed the way we used to study or work. In Dataquest Digital Index Survey 2020, we looked into how education has evolved in this new normal. We talked to Anil Kumar Singh, Head of Talent Acquisition – India, Capgemini, about this. Excerpts:
DQ: The pandemic has already affected many jobs, and careers. How do you see this crisis and how will a candidate become resilient in this situation?
Anil Kumar Singh: Due to Covid-19, the Indian IT Industry did see a slowdown in growth however the impact was not drastic, and soon saw the industry on a road to recovery. After the initial disruption of business processes, IT as a sector quickly transitioned into a digital way of work-life.
This crisis hastened digital transformation and enable us to quickly adapt to the new normal and create a new working model to address the client requirements.
From a candidate resilience perspective, first and foremost, there is a need to have an understanding that this situation is one of its kind with no precedent to fall back on for everyone concerned. Individuals, families and communities, businesses, and governing bodies; are all adjusting to the norm of the day and trying to establish sustainable processes.
Under such circumstances, a candidate is required to have the ability to be agile and open to new possibilities, to remain flexible and continue their learning journey, and most of all-patience- to dig in for the long haul and see things through.
India’s jobs market has started recovering already and we are seeing a positive uptrend of demand in New Age Technologies like Digital, Cloud, Data Management, and Cyber Security. We have a robust hiring plan. In H1 2020, we have hired 9500 which includes both freshers and laterals. We will continue to hire 13,500 experienced professionals and young professionals in H2 2020.
DQ: What is the best approach for a fresh graduate or a graduate to prepare for a challenging time ahead?
Anil Kumar Singh: As we are entering a new normal, all graduates need to continuously reskill and upskill themselves on new technologies that will open a lot of avenues in the times ahead.
With most of the prestigious universities across the globe throwing open their virtual doors to their vast learning resources, courses and materials and with the advent of online platforms self-learning platforms it has never been easier to embark on a continuous and sustainable learning journey.
An opportunity to understand the business model and culture of organizations should also be explored. Also, there should be an ability to look ahead constantly and keep ourselves updated with changes that are happening across the industries and learn from those changes.
Capgemini has enabled a pre onboarding learning program, ADAPT, for our selected candidates to enable candidates to take maximum advantage of the time before joining.
It is also natural to be anxious and worried about the future, it is, therefore, necessary that students are counseled and made cognisant of the importance of mental health wellbeing. It is essential that they have access to the necessary channels and safe spaces to express their issues and angst. They need to stay motivated, mentally strong, confident, and stay the course.
DQ: How do you build a strong employer brand?
Anil Kumar Singh: During these times, it is essential to address the uncertainties that plague an employee’s or a prospective candidate’s mind and boost their morale.
A clear and transparent communication mechanism, building robust business continuity processes enabling a smooth transition to a virtual workplace, and leveraging existing partner ecosystems to ensure safety, work-life balance and support mechanisms should feature in building a strong employer brand.
We have launched a structured employee engagement program in order to keep the morale and spirits of our employees high while working from home during these times. The fun has always been a core value at Capgemini, and we continue to live it in the changing times as well.
We had launched the ‘Capgemini Bigg Bosss challenge’ where employees along with their family or friends can take up an exciting series of tasks or contests to participate in. Along with this we have also started various online quiz contests and have seen great participation from our employees. Nearly 85,000 employees have been engaged through this Pan India level program.
We also engage with tech enthusiasts through our flagship hackathon, Tech Challenge. It is a unique hackathon designed to identify the best programmers from across India. This hackathon invites passionate developers and tech enthusiasts to leverage their coding skills to design innovative solutions for a sustainable future.
Since its inception, Tech Challenge has received over 5 Lakh registrations including almost 30% of women participation each year.
DQ: How do you expand the candidate reach and build a recruitment strategy?
Anil Kumar Singh: Digital medium enables us to reach candidates in every nook and corner of our country. We have completely transitioned our Fresher Hiring Process from on-the-ground events to virtual hiring.
Be it preplacement webinars or pre buzz engagements, be it bite-sized information about Capgemini or guest lectures, remote proctored and customized assessments ensuring maximum talent coverage geographically to virtual interview schedulers & live scheduling; we have changed it all into a digital landscape.
Along with our partner ecosystem, we have taken our hiring virtually to the students in an effective manner. Our strategies have transformed to ensure a streamlined, seamless, and accessible process.
DQ: What challenges do you face in attracting the right job candidates?
Anil Kumar Singh: Covid-19 has accelerated the speed of change and cross-function innovation is also becoming big. With technology transforming at an exponential rate, it has become difficult to define job profiles within clear cut boundaries.
A right candidate for any job entails a need to be able to effectively perform at the intersection of these changes and be open to cross-skilling-based profiles. It is quite an assertion that going forward Phygital (both physical and digital combination) is going to be the new normal.
Hence the ability to do cross-sector innovation and bring both global and local innovation together will be the way forward and every candidate should have the capability to think at that level.
DQ: What are the skills are you looking for when hiring new employees, which often can be discovered in the first interview?
Anil Kumar Singh: A candidate needs to be high on learning ability- especially proficiency and technology preparedness, open and flexible to new opportunities, confident in demeanor, and effective in communication. The structure of the ecosystem within ensures that candidates ranking high on these parameters have a better chance for a premium salary and profile.
DQ: Do you provide skilling programs and certification to find the best match for a profile?
Anil Kumar Singh: We invest extensively to train and groom the talent that we hire from campuses. We launched a comprehensive Digital learning platform NEXT that every employee of Capgemini leverage to build proficiency in diverse technologies.
The learning journey is customized for freshers based on the technologies needed for customer projects. The training is fully immersive in nature where the individual learns and masters technology by working hands-on with help of dedicated faculty and practitioners from business teams.
This approach enhances self-learning ability and makes the freshers more adaptable to ever-changing technologies. This requires a mindset change in freshers and we enable this through our Pre-Onboarding Learning program ADAPT. Also, we collaborate with a few of our strategic colleges to impart the required technology training in the last semester of their engineering. This helps academia also to understand what the industry experts.