HR Administration

Infosys Technologies Optimas Award Winner for Competitive Advantage

By Rita Pyrillis

Dec. 3, 2010

When the outsourcing market hit a major slump in 2009, India’s software industry lobbying group asked its members to hold off on college recruiting efforts until the last semester of the school year. That would allow companies to better estimate their staffing needs and avoid making job offers they couldn’t honor.

Typically, employers begin recruiting earlier in the year. The delay meant the top software firms had to vie for the best students at the same time, which posed a huge challenge for Infosys Technologies given the number of positions it needed to fill.

The 2010 goal? Extending 19,000 job offers in 19 weeks at college campuses across 19 of the 28 states in India. Infosys had to meet its recruitment goals in half the time it normally takes. “This meant that our organization had to ensure that we got preference and were able to capture mindshare in schools that we were targeting,” says Nandita Gurjar, senior vice president and group head, human resources, at the Bangalore, India-based company.


A team of 25 recruiters and their staffs were deployed to 330 campuses across India. They interviewed 77,752 candidates and extended 18,864 offers for entry-level software engineering positions, according to company figures.

It was an enormous undertaking for a company that has experienced tremendous growth in the past decade. Infosys is India’s second-largest software exporter with a global workforce of about 122,000 employees. College recruitment is critical to its success. Between 60 and 70 percent of the company’s workforce comes from campuses, Gurjar says. “If we don’t have people, we’re dead.”

So, having the first shot at the country’s best students is key. Companies compete for a spot on the first day of the recruiting period, Gurjar says. As offers are made, the talent pool shrinks. But a small, elite number of firms, including Infosys, are given access to students on “day zero,” which begins at midnight—eight hours before recruiting officially kicks off. “By then,” she says, “we have hired half the students on campus.”

Only one firm per campus is given this privilege, according to Gurjar, and Infosys snags the coveted slot at 85 percent of schools from which it recruits. That’s partly because the company has created a strong presence on campus before recruiting ever begins through workshops on communication and other skills and seminars run by alumni who work at Infosys.

The competition is also stiff for students. They must pass a rigorous exam to get an interview. Only 24 percent of those who took the test passed and made it to the interview, Gurjar says. Final candidates are announced by day’s end and offers are made within the week. After that, new recruits spend six months at the company’s Global Education Center training facility.

“Our whole campus piece is its own world,” Gurjar says. Thousands of employees “get trained in a single day every day of the year. Most have never left the country and these six months are spent getting them ready to become global citizens.” For its innovative approach to tackling a daunting hurdle and beating the competition in the race for India’s top IT talent, Infosys wins the Optimas Award for Competitive Advantage.

Workforce Management, December 2010, p. 22Subscribe Now!

Rita Pyrillis is a writer based in the Chicago area.

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