Virtual hiring vs elite campus recruitment: Who’s the winner?

What if you could source the best candidates from anywhere in the world (with the caveat of compliance, of course) for the open positions in your organisation? What if the candidates are interviewed virtually and a virtual job offer is made; and, best yet, the person is onboarded virtually within days, if not weeks?

If this sounds like a recruitment specialist’s utopian dream, we have news for you. This has become many specialists’ everyday norm over the last two years. What seemed like a temporary hiring trend fuelled by the pandemic has morphed into a permanent hiring boom that is not going away anytime soon. [Editor’s note: Do check out our ‘Dos and Don’ts of Remote Hiring’ article for tips on how to do effective remote hiring.].

In a nutshell: virtual hiring or remote recruitment is here to stay. Recruiters and hiring managers across the globe have a new tool in their arsenal—one that provides a wider reach, a larger pool of talented candidates and more efficient (and economical) logistics during the recruitment process. This hiring trend may even help heal the gaping wounds of the great resignation.

Virtual hiring vs elite campus recruitment: Who’s the winner?

It is seemingly a win-win for everyone, except for this vital question: does this spell the end of elite campus hiring? 

Since the dawn of industrialisation, elite campuses the world over—whether the Etons and Oxbridges of Britain, or later down the pages of history, the Harvards and Stanfords across the Atlantic, or the elite IITs and IIMs closer home—have attracted the attention of the best employers. Enterprises have flocked to elite campuses like the proverbial moths to the flame, seeking the best talent to fuel their growth.

This was a natural outgrowth of the ability of the institutions to attract the cream of the student crop: the most gifted, most hardworking; and not so seldom, the most connected and moneyed, landed up at these institutions. Elite campuses were thus magnetic meeting grounds for candidates and employers alike. 

However, with the advent of the new virtual hiring strategy, the net has been cast wide: even globally for many jobs. Why hire costly customer support in the continental United States, when it can be offshored to India, or better yet, to the Philippines, with a wealth of English-speaking talent? Talented software engineers are just as productive whether sourced from Armenia or Peru. Does such a hiring strategy require recruitment teams to queue up at the ‘elites’ anymore?

The impact on the great universities and colleges of the world is not so dire. These institutions are still honeypots for the most talented students globally. Post-pandemic, international student applications to US universities, still the best beacons of talent, are back up again vis-a-vis 2020 or 2021 numbers. The IITs are back to clocking multiple offers of one crore rupees and above. Consulting companies have led the recruitment pack at IIMA, helping 119 students net offer letters from global companies.

Virtual hiring trends also help propel eligible new campuses into the elite list. Innovative private universities and deemed-to-be universities are rising research and innovation powerhouses. As the dollar has been getting stronger, students have been adding more countries to their education list, leading Australia, Germany, the UK, Holland and other countries to become hot destinations for students. Medical education in China, Russia and, till recently, Ukraine are an attraction for many students. All of these are lucrative new hunting grounds for virtual hiring.

All these data points and information bytes underscore this basic fact: we live in a fast-paced world, providing a growth engine for a $95 trillion world economy. This engine can support elite campus hires as much as absorb virtual hires. There’s room for all and more in the brave new post-pandemic world. As interested observers of the recruitment scene, we doff our hats to the trend and cheer it on.