Placement cells at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are activating their powerful alumni networks as they face the daunting prospect of placing their largest-ever graduating classes ever amid a turbulent global job market.

Alumni at the IIMs are in senior positions across India Inc. and overseas with many in C-suite roles at major corporations as well as startups. In a year where even the country’s top management schools are struggling to secure jobs for all their students, these institutes are relying heavily on the alumni networks for placements.

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“We have maintained an outreach with the alumni in past years but it has never been as important a channel as this time,” said an IIM Calcutta student, who declined to be named.

Earlier too, IIM Calcutta had reached out to its alumni, seeking internship offers during summer placements, in anticipation of a market downturn.

“We had got a great response even then,” said the IIMC student, adding that final placements are more crucial in the scheme of things. “These placements will pay our EMIs.”

Help in cracking jobs
For the IIMs, alumni members, particularly those at the CXO-level at top companies, can help open up jobs, sometimes even when the companies are going slow on hiring. “We got a call from an CHRO at a conglomerate where the HR had earlier said that they had no openings. It was a push from the top; their CEO is an alumnus,” said an IIM placement team member.

On Wednesday, a text message, purportedly from IIM Lucknow, spread on social media where the institute reached out to alumni from the Class of 2011 to assist in placing 72 fresh graduates from the latest batch still looking for jobs.

An IIM Lucknow placement cell member said the number of students unplaced was not that high currently, though placements are still ongoing.

“Any B -school always taps alumni networks; there is nothing new in that,” Prof. Priyanka Sharma, placement chairperson at IIM Lucknow told ET.

Students and alumni members, however, say that the outreach has never been as high – nor the need as palpable – in the past.

“In a crunch year, there is desperation. Placement cells will pull out all the stops to get everyone jobs,” said a professor at an IIM.

At IIM Indore, for instance, the student team is reaching out to alumni, picking up a different batch each day, said a student who did not wish to be named. “There are Zoom meetings being organised at our campus to have a direct interaction with alumni. The situation is bad across all the IIMs,” he said.

With companies scaling back on hiring, led by consulting firms, who have significantly curtailed campus hiring, most institutes are taking the alumni route to ensure that students land up with decent offers, said multiple students.

And while not all alumni can help, students are hoping some numbers are converted, at least.

Alumni members too, say they are seeing an influx of such mails.

“The situation is certainly grim. Never have such mails come asking for help in placements,” said an IIM Bangalore alumnus working with a Gurugram-based tech company. “Many startup founders or senior leaders at big companies are extending help,” he said.

Some institutes said however, that they are not actively pursuing their alumni.

“We have not reached out to alums yet through any broadcast for taking help on hiring like many other institutes. We have a good pool of companies lined up and so far, do not feel the need to send out SOS messages to alumni. Yes, the job market is bad in a few industries but IIM Ahmedabad is well prepared,” said Prof. Ankur Sinha, chairperson of the Placement Committee at IIMA.


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