2020 was a year of change, many people lost their jobs, many were furloughed and many worked remotely. It introduced us to the Future of Work. The global crisis has affected employees and employers. In our Digital Index Survey, we have talked to companies and colleges that how it has impacted jobs and careers. In this interview, Lokendra Sethi, VP and HR Head – India, DXC Technology, tells us more.
DQ: The global crisis has already affected many jobs, and careers. How do you see this crisis and how will a candidate become resilient in this situation?
Lokendra Sethi: Confidence is key to building resilience and the way to do well in the current environment is by inculcating an aptitude for continuous learning. The ongoing health crisis has affected the entire world. The idea is to move beyond the initial shock, adapt, and thrive in the ‘new normal’. A pessimistic way to look at this situation would be to focus on job losses, lack of mobility, radical shifts in social dynamics, and so on.
However, an optimist would look at this as an opportunity to leverage technology.
Given the focus on cost optimization, some jobs would be automated due to the increased use of robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This shift is job-enabling. A discerning IT engineer or aspirant would adapt to this change by acquiring multiple and relevant skills and investing time in keeping oneself updated with the latest technologies. The game will change when we move towards a mindset of turning adversity into an opportunity and invest in ourselves.
DQ: What is the best approach for a fresh graduate or a graduate to prepare for a challenging time ahead?
Lokendra Seth: Engineers at the threshold of their careers in the IT industry should understand that the assessment has changed from ‘skills and aptitudes’ to ‘roles and attitude’. Skills are important but multi-skilled resources are more in demand. Investing in certifications, participating in coding challenges and hackathons will provide the much-needed diverse exposure to any engineering graduate aspiring to build a successful career.
Being flexible with skills, roles, projects; and treating every assignment as a learning experience will serve well for a new generation of IT engineers. ‘All work is a scope to learn’ is the right attitude.
Gradually, moving towards finding their skills specialization is also crucial for new engineers to carve their career paths accordingly.
And, we strongly believe in nurturing and grooming young talent. We have thus sharpened our focus on on-campus hiring. Keeping inclusion and diversity at the core, DXC India has onboarded over 3,500 graduates this year of which, 51% are women.
DQ: How do you build a strong employer brand?
Lokendra Sethi: A strong employer brand in the external market reflects a robust and cohesive organizational culture for its internal workforce. Aspirational brands are built over time, with a due commitment to people-centric principles and practices.
Some of the key values that DXC employees associate with are diversity & inclusion, corporate social responsibility, mutual respect and empathy; and new-age people engagement practices. They see DXC as an organization that invests in deep skilling for its employees and building future leaders, thus offering careers over roles; and is focused on innovation and cutting-edge technologies. This comes across in our recruiting processes as well as in our employees’ conversations and opinions on social media.
I believe that our people are the best champions when it comes to creating a stronger brand for DXC. Testimony to this fact is that 30% of our hiring happens through employee referrals.
Building a strong campus presence is an integral part of our brand campaign and engaging with our future employees early on and regularly is a core component of it.
Creating an employer brand and a modern workforce is a continuous endeavor. We are continually building an inclusive, diverse, and robust workplace that offers the best opportunities to our people. Ensuring that every existing and future employee gets the best organizational experience along with adequate work-life integration is the key.
DQ: How do you expand the candidate reach and build a recruitment strategy?
Lokendra Sethi: Leveraging social media and virtual technologies to stay connected with candidates – whether experienced or freshers is the vital strategy for expanding candidate reach. In fact, it is more about connecting with candidates on multiple levels rather than just reaching out to them. This is because the organization’s environment, capabilities, opportunities, training infrastructure, and recognition mechanisms need to be continuously positioned in the minds of potential employees rather than being communicated as a one-time effort.
‘Candidate connection’ is an integral part of our hiring strategy at DXC. In terms of campus hiring, potential candidates from identified institutions are engaged throughout the year via conventions, seminars, hackathons, etc. sponsored by the organization. This ensures that candidates’ interest in the company is sustained through time and enables expedited decision making and hiring. ‘Just-in-time hiring’ is another way to collaborate with contractors with niche skills, for ‘gig’ jobs. This trend is popular amongst software engineers who want to work across differentiated technologies and domains; and companies that can fulfill this aspiration for fixed-term time periods. These candidates can be onboarded fast and be deployed to specific projects.
Even in the case of experienced hiring, we are employing the candidate connection strategy through virtual sessions, white paper presentations, social media messaging on the latest developments at DXC, as well as inviting candidates for focussed chats. This helps in building a connection with the candidate and positions the organizational brand which helps immensely at the time of hiring.
DQ: What challenges do you face in attracting the right job candidates?
Lokendra Sethi: Candidates today are as demanding of employer quality as are employers are on candidate quality. Candidates come with various expectations – working for a specific capability which the organization is known for, working for certain customers, domains, or building skills, etc.
A permanent job offer is no longer about just employment. It is the convergence of candidate expectations on work, culture, recognition, opportunity, skills building, and remuneration. The aforesaid engagement drivers occur in different sequencing for different candidates. Broad classifications cannot be made about each candidate’s engagement drivers, as they are unique.
To understand that engagement factor and make an offer that caters to a specific candidate is a very specialized and dedicated effort. Offer conversations have become longer and qualitative, and the recruiter has become the organization’s face to the candidate. This is a unique challenge that we face today but one which is also a great opportunity to build a positive brand perception in the minds of potential employees.
DQ: What skills are you looking for when hiring new employees, which often can be discovered in the first interview?
Lokendra Sethi: In the case of freshers, communication skills along with confidence and basic technology certifications would help a person stand out in the job market. We look at fresh engineering graduates who possess three key skills – analytical reasoning, communication, and learnability. In addition to that, we do look for attitude, values, and a deep interest in technology.
For experienced hires, beyond the obvious assessment of technological prowess, we look for good values aligned to DXC and a solid attitude. People who are ready to take on work not just to further their careers but also to learn something new are preferred. People who have the hunger to learn and deliver are a great fit! ‘Learning to Learn’ is the mantra. Given our situation-based assessment during interviews, these qualities become quite pronounced during the first few questions of the preliminary interviews.
DQ: Do you provide skilling programs and certifications to find the best match for a profile?
Lokendra Sethi: From an employee standpoint, up-skilling, cross-skilling, multi-skilling, and certifications are core to our customer deployment strategy. We focus more on the ‘build’ model rather than ‘buy’, as it pertains to talent management. This strategy works best because tenured employees with existing skills repertoire learn and cross-skill faster, and it benefits both them and the customers.
DXC offers role-based learning modules in areas of technology, process, business, and leadership skills. This is through a combination of assessments and certifications for accreditation of learning. We have a strong badging model for employees to acquire and showcase their skills. As an example, for employees in the agile and scrum practice, we enable the scrum master certification through ‘learning journeys’ that prepare them for the assessment and certification.
Furthermore, we take skilling very seriously even through our corporate social responsibility initiatives. We invest in colleges in the rural parts of India to ensure that talent identification becomes an all-encompassing effort. We run course modules in such colleges to further the importance of analytical thinking, communication, and coding skills. All this is done with the purpose that talent sourcing doesn’t face demographical constraints in the future.