If the serpentine queues were any indication, then The Hindu Opportunities Fair beat its own record in Chennai on Saturday. Where the organisers had been expecting only a little over 70,000 job aspirants to turn up, the numbers that actually came easily touched one lakh just on the opening day of the much-awaited event at the Chennai Trade Centre, Nandambakkam.
Previous such fairs at Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Hyderabad were runaway successes too, the demand far outrunning supply. This time, over 42 companies had set up shop, offering thousands of jobs in areas such as BPOs, IT, ITES, telecom, insurance, manufacturing and services and sales and marketing.
Those who had come calling included top-notch firms such as Cognizant (the principal sponsor of the event), Infosys, e-Serve International Ltd, Accenture, Verizon Data Services, HCL Technologies, ICICI Prudential, Wipro Technologies, NIIT, Larsen and Toubro Infotech, Hewlett Packard and IBM India.
Though online pre-event registrations had touched 90,000 entries, the fair did not disappoint those who had turned up without registration. There was something for everybody — freshers, experienced, those looking for a job change and even a couple of VRS retirees.
The fair lived up to its reputation of a one-stop job shop: written tests, interviews and confirmations, all at one go. The massiveness of the exercise can be gauged from the fact that Cognizant — which had the biggest and best stall — had 50 parallel interviews going on at any point of time, with 250 of its own employees pressed into duty.
By 2 p.m., the company had firmed up as many as 60 recruitments in areas such as testing, client server, data warehousing and business intelligence. "Of the multiple channels of recruitment we follow such as advertisements, employee references and campus recruitment, job fairs are one of the most important as we get a chance to assess those with specific skills,'' an exhausted but thoroughly satisfied Cognizant executive said.
The queues had started forming as early as 6.30 in the morning, eager job seekers coming in from all over the State and even from Kerala. With the ITES sector offering the most exciting career options for freshers, the turnouts at such stalls were predictably huge. Where the fair scored was in its systematic organisation, the comprehensive database generated offering the best access to both employers and job-seekers. Even more than urban students, their rural counterparts had plenty to thank the organisers for. For most of them like S. Thilaka who had come from Dindigul, it was time and money well spent as several options could be explored at one go. At the end of the day, a happy Thilaka went home with a Rs. 6,000 a month job offer in sales, "something which I could never hope to find back home".
For those who needed a push in job-hunting, the employability seminars came as a godsend, with tips on all how-to's including resume preparation, etiquette, presentation skills, dressing and interview skills from industry leaders and top-notch cousellors such as Venkatesan Seshadri, vice- president, Global Resource Management Group, Cognizant; Abhimanyu Acharya of C & K Management Ltd. and T. Muralidharan, chairman of TMI Network. While Mr. Muralidharan's tips on preparing a `killer resume' went down well with the hopefuls, Dr. Acharya's insistence of smaller details found an eager audience too.
Did The Hindu Opportunities fair meet the aspirants' expectations? Says J.S. Naveen who was hoping to walk away with a Cognizant job: "Had it not been for the job fair, I would never have known there were so many jobs to pick from. Now, not only can I pick and choose, I also know what the market expects of me.'