Nov 25, 2012
When you are out looking at avenues for improvement, it is often fruitful to take a step back and notice what your peers have got right. With this in mind, we at The Scholars’ Avenue decided to compare and contrast the placement procedure at some of the sister IITs with that of IIT Kharagpur, hoping to present actionable information and point out deficiencies, if any. Our findings were not very surprising. IIT Kharagpur falls short in certain areas like information availability where a small amount of one-time effort could potentially improve performance. On the other hand, there were labyrinthine issues needing to be resolved too, like the lack of a comprehensive CV fact verification system, the setting up of which would call for a lot more effort.
Comparing TnP Websites
We began our comparison with a cursory glance at the Training and Placement websites of a few IITs. While Bombay, Madras and Delhi have dedicated entire websites for their placement cells, Kharagpur only has a page introducing the team and giving a gist of the procedure for companies interested in recruiting. IIT Bombay also has a web page describing student profiles and a more direct and to-the-point ‘Why Recruit’ tab. While IIT Kharagpur may furnish the same data upon request by companies, the amount of publicly available data on students makes a lot of difference when recruiting decisions often hinge on easy access to data and minimal transaction costs. Already crippled by location issues, such trivial things might just be the factors that seal KGP’s fate for some companies.
Another key point is the presence of rules and regulations on the websites. IIT Madras and Delhi have an excruciatingly detailed set listed on their websites. The rules encompass all facets of the process, such as eligibility criteria, resume, the policy regarding pre placement offers, the selection procedure to be adopted by the companies and so on and so forth. In Kharagpur, these rules are explained through the means of a presentation, the soft copy of which is uploaded onto the notice board for access by interested students. While it is a reasonably effective technique, it would always be handy to have these rules listed on the websites from where they can be accessed any time, especially by students who missed the talk. In addition, the rules listed in the powerpoint presentation tend to be just pointers for the actual talk and missing the talk may actually result in the students missing out on important information.
Information availability and presentation are important things, but are nevertheless, easy to fix. An important issue needing redress at IIT Kharagpur is that of resume verification. While it is always expected that students graduating from a college as reputed as IIT would not provide fraudulent or misleading information, a few students do succumb to the temptation. Battered by the prospect of facing stiff competition for lucrative jobs, sometimes the conscience looks the other way when the student decides to pad his CV with lies and half-truths. Discovery of such trespasses result only in diminished trust between the institute and the company and consequently, future batches suffer. When companies doubt the veracity of the CV submitted by the student, they have to expend additional resources to perform background checks, a situation they would clearly like to avoid. A central CV submission and verification platform would go a long way in convincing companies that a few bad apples won’t slip in through their hiring procedure. For a system like this to function a dedicated team would be required to verify every minor detail in hundreds of CV’s. Such manpower requirements are the primary constraints that hold back implementation of such a system. Presently, the Training and Placement Cell only conducts checks on resumes selected at random to prevent any malpractices. This is in stark contrast with the situation at IIT Bombay, Madras and Delhi which have excellent mechanisms to weed out CV’s with inconsistencies in them.
At IIT Delhi, the students are given a stipulated time period for uploading details onto their master CV. Once this deadline expires, the CV is frozen by the placement cell and no further changes can be made by the students. Then the student members of the placement team headed by three coordinator go through every resume to validate the data. If any information is in doubt, the concerned student is asked to provide proof to back up the information which he or she has provided on the resume. Upon completion of this process, the students are free to choose which of the details on the master CV they want to send to individual companies. At IIT Bombay, a parallel system exists. Students can submit upto five separate resumes and choose which to submit for each company. The verification process is conducted by department coordinators appointed for this purpose. The work-load is thus reduced considerably as the verification occurs department-wise. The verification process at IIT Madras is done in a similar way by the analogous branch councillors.
We talked to the VP, Rinshul Chandra about the idea of a centralized ERP portal initiated by ex-VP Prateek Agarwal and ex-Placement Head Prof S.K. Srivastava. He indicated that the system is in the final stages of development and will be deployed in the second phase of placements.
The portal will provide students an interface to update their details, upload their resumes, apply for company profiles; and the T&P office to verify and cross-check the details of the CV submitted. Prof. Srivastava had raised concerns regarding the effort required in manually verifying thousands of such profiles in an interview with us in April. While he had suggested a freeze date beyond which a student will not be able to change his resume, a viable alternative is the use of department co-ordinators for the verification, like IIT Bombay.
A Formal Relationship Development Program
Another initiative that can be studied and adapted at Kharagpur is the RRDP (Recruiter Relationship Development Programme) at IIT Bombay. The major objective of this program, as its name suggests, is to foster stronger ties with the recruiters. Benefits of this program include campus tours and interaction of the company executives with the placement team. Member companies are permitted to send personnel to conduct workshops and technical talks, thus increasing their presence and visibilty on campus. They are also enouraged to offer winter internships to pre-final year students through the placement cell. A similar formal program that maintains and develops relationships with companies can give a fillip to placement prospects of students in KGP.
It’s true that the Training and Placement cell at IIT Kharagpur has to work under constraints that aren’t present at the other IITs. The sheer number of students and the unfavorable location work against us. That is precisely why we should do everything in our power to make the process and the experience better for everyone involved, from the students to the recruiters to the Institute itself. Our peers have some excellent ideas in this regard and we could try and implement some of these practices to suit our needs. After all, adaptability does score high on every recruiter’s scorecard.