TCS: A study in successful campus recruitment (National HR Awards)

Winner, Best Recruitment Campaign
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/21/2016

By Sarah Dobson

Recruitment is never an easy task but Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has seen considerable success with its on-campus recruitment — which includes six weeks of intensive training for successful hires.

Over the past five years, the 3,253-employee IT consulting company has partnered with universities across Canada — in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta — to hold career fairs and meet with students. 

“We have close relationships with 15 universities across the country and normally, in an average yearly, directly from universities, on a full-time basis, we hire between 70 to 90 individuals,” says Sarvin Hajivandi, talent acquisition manager at TCS in Toronto. “Our hope is this year, for example, we’ll meet the target of 100.”

The ultimate goal is to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and careers and create a pipeline of future IT leaders. The hiring initiatives on campus also include information sessions, networking sessions and resumé critiques. 

Campus teams for the 3,253-employee Canadian company hire twice annually in January and July. Those who are short-listed are invited for a face-to-face interview, which is held by a panel of three interviewers: an HR representative, a technical representative and a member of the business relationship management team. 

Candidates are assessed based on soft skills, flexibility and adaptability and a technical evaluation is completed to assess their potential in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities.

TCS also looks at time management expertise, work model flexibility, communication skills, trouble-shooting, agility, trainability, future leadership competency, decision-making accountability approaches and the ability to extrapolate and reinterpret information. 

When an interview ends, the panel pools opinions to reach a unanimous decision on the candidate’s suitability. To maintain the reliability and validity of the selection process, they don’t discuss candidates between interviews and regroup at the end of each day to discuss candidates, as opposed to after each candidate. This is meant to avoid any changes in expectations and evaluation scales, ensuring all candidates are treated fairly and equitably. 

After the interview, should TCS choose not to move forward with a candidate, the HR representative meets with the applicant to provide personalized, constructive feedback and address areas of improvement.

During the last session, in July 2016, only four candidates out of 41 did not accept TCS’ joining offer. And only one participant from over 120 in the program’s history in Canada did not successfully graduate. Overall, the attrition rate among campus hires is less than 10 per cent, which is below the industry average, according to TCS.

And while the IT industry is male-dominated, TCS has made a conscious effort to hire qualified women. In its last batch alone, 37.8 per cent of the university graduates who joined the organization were female — much higher than the industry average. Over the past three years, 36.7 per cent of the university graduates hired were female. 

“IT is highly male-dominant and we pay huge attention to diversity and the fact that we want to attract the female population to enroll, participate and get knowledge of IT,” says Hajivandi.

Successful new hires are put through six weeks of training to give them the tools needed to succeed in an IT career. 

“The first week is normally a focus on soft skills, HR orientation, the company’s culture —  we call it ‘HR culture 101’. And then from week two onwards, they are all technical courses,” she says.

Software developers and quality assurance analysts go through the Initial Learning Program (ILP) that includes orientation, product development life cycle training, case study implementation and product integration courses, intercultural effectiveness workshops and additional training specific to the needs of clients.

Participants gain hands-on experience prior to going back to work and leaders from the business come and talk to them, such as human resources or finance. Hierarchy exists at the company, but not that much, says Hajivandi, so people can approach leaders with questions and concerns.

It’s also like a university environment, with faculty from Canada, the United States, Europe and India coming in to teach, she says. 

“There will be exams, mid-terms and finals, projects, presentations.”

The ILP is designed to familiarize new recruits with TCS’ best practices, as well as giving them feedback on their performance throughout the training period. Feedback is also solicited from the participants to ensure TCS trainers are able to continually work on areas of development and incorporate criticism into future training sessions.

Additionally, trainees are encouraged to integrate the one-on-one personalized feedback they receive into their work at the client sites to ensure a smooth transition from the classroom-style training to the workplace

And every individual is put into a mentor-mentee relationship, says Hajivandi, as the company already knows which accounts the new hires will be handling.

“Upon them finishing the ILP, they already have a mentor in place, so when they go back to the account and start working, there will be someone as a point of contact, to guide them, to teach them, to answer their questions,” she says.

Employer branding
TCS also provides sponsorships and hosts coding competitions. Last year, the company was a major sponsor for Ryerson University’s Business Technology Management (BTM) Talent Mash 2016 and the University of Toronto’s “Women in Science and Engineering,” which supports, encourages and advocates for female inventors and leaders within the technology field. 

And CodeVita is a global coding competition that teaches coding skills and trains students for the future, providing a gateway to a career in technology. All teams are judged based on accuracy, speed and efficiency, with prizes ranging from $3,00 to $10,000. 

“There will be a set of questions or problems released online to participants, they code in the span of 24 hours and, after that, the results will be released. So far, in Canada, we’ve been lucky enough to have a team from McMaster University being able to travel to India to participate in the global finale of this coding competition — and Canada had the only female participant in that group,” says Hajivandi.

TCS also promotes STEM careers through its goIT program, which teaches coding and app development to middle and high school students. Graduates from the company’s ILP volunteer for the program.

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