The things jobless engineers should do to get back into India’s IT game

Back to school.
Back to school.
Image: Reuters/Sivaram V
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Whether you’re fresh out of engineering college or a few years into your career, all the bad news surrounding India’s IT industry is understandably a cause for concern.

With visa restrictions mounting abroad, thousands of jobs have been made out of reach for Indian techies. But an even bigger problem is the rising tide of automation that is gradually taking over routine jobs. Last year, HfS research, which analyses business operations and IT services, said the Indian IT industry could lose as many as 640,000 low-skilled jobs by 2021. McKinsey, however, expects a bigger bloodbath: In February, the consulting firm said around half of India’s 3.9 million IT employees will become “irrelevant” (paywall) in the next three to four years.

All this means that it’s harder than ever to find that first placement, or even a solid next position. So, what should a jobless engineer do in India? That’s a question Quora has some answers for.

Be humble

Not everyone gets his or her dream job on day one. As Rohan Tonde, who graduated with a B.E in mechanical engineering and science, puts it, “Get the first job you get. Be glad, take some experience, and then run for another job of your dreams. It’s not easy to get a good job and a good company.”

When it comes to finding a first job in these tough times, Tonde suggests it’s important not to be too demanding in terms of salary or company status: Don’t be too quick to reject the smaller companies, for instance.

“Engineers think since they are engineers they deserve better…But you have to understand that times have changed. (The) manpower of engineers has increased in number. (The) jobs have still remained the same.”

Upgrade that resume

Today, it’s the routine tech jobs that are most at risk due to automation. That means just having an engineering degree or knowing a couple of computer languages simply won’t be enough to guarantee you a place in the industry. It’s all about re-skilling and up-skilling, even if you’re looking for a managerial position.

“…they must take courses to upgrade their skills in areas like data analytics (any engineer can learn data analytics as it’s mostly mathematics and some coding), advanced Java etc.,” Abhishek Dwivedi, who works at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, says.

Indian IT companies are struggling to find people with these skills, so there are many opportunities for techies who take the time to learn something new.

“On the one hand, people are losing jobs, and on another, we are unable to fill vacancies in digital marketing, analytics etc.,” explains Nidhi A, who’s worked in the IT industry for 15 years.

And that’s something for freshers to consider, too.

“You have to make yourself a fresher with skills,” Tonde adds. “Many will choose a skilled engineer (over) an experienced one, hence there, even a fresher can win.”

Get connected

It’s the one advice that applies to anyone and everyone looking for a job: build a network, and use it well.

“Attend professional events and understand what the market wants, how you can do better and fit into more cultures,” Nidhi suggests.

Also, get your resume into the right hands. Find agencies that can do some of the hard work for you.

“I would advise both freshers and experienced engineers to find a job through recruitment agencies,” says Amika Roy, who’s worked in the HR industry for five years. “These agencies are aware of the latest openings in the market. Also, they are directly in contact with the companies.”

Be flexible

The most important thing is not to get discouraged, and to keep an open mind about what to do until you find your next position. Or as Nidhi puts it, “Take tuitions. Do anything that keeps you busy.”

Another option is to volunteer, keeping your head in the game while also doing some good for others.

“If you don’t have a job, go out and teach coding to underprivileged learners or to colleges that cannot afford you otherwise. You will help other people learn,” Nidhi says.