Zomato is scouting for algorithm engineers at IIT campuses. High frequency trading companies are looking for statistical process control experts with high scores in quant. Consulting companies want associate product managers. And conglomerates are seeking chemical engineers for their ESG operations.

Recruiters prowling the premier engineering schools at this year’s hiring season are shunning students with the regular academic profiles, instead picking to-be-engineers who have worked in complex projects. Blame AI.

“If we wanted regular coders, engineers, or get impressed with presentations, we would have relied on ChatGPT,” said a partner at a leading consulting company that has hired more than 10 students from the Indian Institutes of Technology at Mumbai, Delhi, Kharagpur, and Kanpur. 

“We are looking at students who can run complex projects and work in operations that require them to bring more than one skill set.”

The campus hiring season this year began on 1 December.

Threat of automation

Placements offices across the IITs said food-delivery platform Zomato was seeking out algorithm engineers and students with a combination of software developer, machine-learning and data science chops. 

Ride-hailing and electric vehicle maker Ola is targeting students familiar with autonomous technologies, artificial intelligence, machine-learning, silicon design, vehicle engineering, and research experience in cell development.

The demand is for engineers who can do more of a consulting role as well as be armed with digital skills beyond coding, say recruiters. 

“Companies are figuring out which roles will get automated… they will not hire from IITs for profiles that will become redundant,” said Sunil Chemmankotil, chief executive at staffing firm TeamLease Digital. “For algorithm engineers with work experience, candidates from the job markets are offered Rs20-45 lakh.”

In comparison, engineers from tier 2 and 3 colleges who know coding get paid Rs4-8 lakh per annum.

Hunt for specialists

Quant firms, known to offer salaries exceeding Rs1 crore, are stressing on higher levels of maths and statistical modelling, say students who are part of the placement cells at the IITs. 

But “modelling scenarios are tough and not many are qualified for these roles,” said a student at IIT-Delhi.

High-frequency trading and quant companies employ quantitative analytics and algorithms to predict global market movements. Such companies, many of which are based in India, the US, Singapore and Amsterdam, hire candidates who can analyse markets using mathematical and statistical models. 

HFTs have been garnering attention at a time when global markets are going through swift crests and troughs.

So far during this year’s IIT placements, such companies including Quadeye, Graviton Research Capital, Maverick Derivatives, Da Vinci, and Quantbox Research have offered a few roles outside India as well–including in the US, the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Then there are companies looking at green energy profiles, for which they need chemical engineers with some experience in environmental, social and governance (ESG) projects.

“Electric vehicle makers, battery companies, and conglomerates such as Reliance Industries are coming to campus for their new energy business units,” said a person who’s a part of the placements team at one of the top three IITs. 

Reliance Industries Ltd, for instance, is offering about Rs15 lakh in annual pay for engineers to join its new energy business, this person said.