Why it's Time for Start-ups to Look Into Niche Institutions for Their Recruitment Needs

How can start-ups address this quality resource problem?
Why it's Time for Start-ups to Look Into Niche Institutions for Their Recruitment Needs
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The Indian start-up ecosystem has witnessed unprecedented growth in the last decade, catching the attention of venture capital firms and deep-pocketed global investors. Ten start-ups in India gained the Unicorn status in 2018 alone, backed by the likes of Alibaba, SoftBank and Naspers, among others. While raising funds may not be a concern area for these home-grown companies, recruiting qualified and experienced employees certainly is.

A recent report, titled Startup Pulse 2019, revealed that a majority of start-up founders in India continues to struggle with their employee recruitment process. Given India’s skills gap problem, hiring and retaining the right talent remains a challenge for many early-stage start-ups. While the Unicorns still manage to hire quality talent, it is becoming increasingly difficult for lesser-known start-ups to get the right staff. How can start-ups address this quality resource problem? 

Going Beyond the IITs    

Laszlo Bock, the former Head of People Operations at Google, once said in an interview that hiring students only from Ivy League colleges was a wrong strategy. With years of experience, he came into the realization that exceptional talent can also be found in lesser known institutions and at lesser costs. In India, too, the scenario was not much different. For decades, IITs and IIMs were regarded as the Holy Grail of recruitment by both Indian and foreign companies. And, start-ups are no different. Investors, too, tend to be biased towards start-ups that are founded by graduates of these premier institutes.

But, as India’s start-up segment faces a severe lack of skilled workers, it’s time to look beyond IITs and IIMs and focus on the institutes that offer specialized niche courses. Recruitment from these institutions can help start-ups tap into a diverse talent pool and access talent that has more to offer than just their fancy degrees. Students graduating from niche institutes are industry ready as most of these institutes are conceptualized keeping the industry requirements in mind.  The students so hired are also willing to evolve as per the changing requirements. This is mainly because these courses are designed in line with today’s increasingly globalized and dynamic job market. 

Skills or Personality – Factors to Consider While Hiring From Niche Institutes

Employees are the backbone of any company, irrespective of its size or the industry it operates in. And, when it comes to start-ups, the employee hiring process often decides the organization’s fate. While skills are a testament to an individual’s intellectual ability, there are other factors that come into play. A candidate could possess all the technical skills, but may not be able to clearly convey his ideas to the audience. Communication skills, culture fit, past experiences in the industry, and the potential for development are some of the factors that should be weighed in while recruiting a prospective employee. 

Niche Over Traditional

Niche institutions enable students to gain expertise in a particular field of study, giving them an edge over their counterparts who study only generic courses. It’s often seen that students trained in generic courses lack practical exposure as well as the willingness to learn and grow. While traditional curriculums are still highly popular among students, specialized courses are known to teach real-world job skills so that students are industry-ready when they enter the employment market. 

As of now, foreign universities offer the most recognized niche degrees, though a few Indian institutes have won international acclaim for their specialized courses. Hence, given the current employment scenario, it’s about time that start-ups in India turn to these institutes for their recruitment needs.

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