Hackathons -- changing IT hiring dynamics in India

IT industry is undergoing a paradigm shift in technical hiring methodologies

Sulekha Nair January 21, 2015 11:39:56 IST
Hackathons -- changing IT hiring dynamics in India

Information technology and IT-enabled services sectors have seen around 33 percent and 31 percent growth in recruitment in 2014, according to the Monster Employment Index 2014 . Along with this growth, the industry is also undergoing a paradigm shift in technical hiring methodologies. It is becoming more skill–based and objective. One of the instruments enabling this change is the increasing popularity of Hackathons as an effective recruitment tool.

Hackathons  changing IT hiring dynamics in India

Sachin Gupta, Co-Founder, HackerEarth

“Hackathons and similar events are ways to put in a desire for a particular competence or skill set in the mind of engineers to build their knowledge and careers,” says B.S. Murthy, CEO, LeadershipCapital, an executive search firm. “The best hackmasters run great events by employing a range of robust web tools, managing the process with agility and flexibility, communicating with participants in real time with rich information feeds, hot wiring everyone up to social media, delivering frictionless DevOps, and ensuring high levels of fun, engagement and participation,” says Ravi Gururaj, Chairman, Nasscom Product, Executive Council.

HackerEarth, a Bangalore-based startup founded in 2012 by two friends, Sachin Gupta, an IIT-Roorkie computer graduate, and, Vivek Prakash, a programmer, recently did a survey to analyse the impact of non-conventional hiring techniques, specifically Hackathons, and how they have changed the technical recruitment sector.

Excerpts from an interview with Sachin Gupta, Co-Founder.

Can you describe what hackathon means, so that those who are not aware of it will know of it? Is it applicable for both software and hardware?

The word "hackathon" is a combination of two words "hack" and "marathon", where "hack" is used in the sense of playful, exploratory programming, not its alternate meaning as a reference to computer crime. Hackathons are activities when a group of people, mostly comprising of software developers come together and build a product/prototype based on a new idea, in a very short period of time. Incidentally, Hackathons in the beginning were hardware hackathons. But with the evolution of software programming, it has been associated more with computer programming.

Since when did HackerEarth start holding hackathons?

Hackathons in India can traced back to the same time as the Free and Open Source Software or FOSS movement. This was the early 2000s. However, the last 4-5 years have seen a massive upsurge in Hackathons. HackerEarth is democratising technical hiring by making it more objective and skill-driven, and the way we do it is by leveraging Hackathons as a hiring tool. What you build in a Hackathon speaks for your skills and abilities more than what your resume does. Our first Hackathon was in the early 2012. However, our Hackathons are online, and the assessment is instantaneous. We have built a code checker engine that assesses the code that you’ve submitted for its correctness and efficiency. It also gives you a score automatically.

What has been the net result of holding hackathons in your firm? How many skilled personnel have you been able to provide?

Hundreds of developers have been hired using HackerEarth's solutions, which are extensively used by some of the biggest names in the tech industry, such as Adobe, Thoughtworks, Target, Wipro etc as well as startups such as Druva, CodeNation, Practo, and Capillary. Altogether, over a thousand employers use various HackerEarth tech recruitment products.

Tell us about your report and a few of its details?

In 2014, we conducted over 400 Hackathons to ascertain technical hiring and found:

  • 70 percent candidates who came through a hackathon accepted a corresponding job offer
  • There is a 50 percent conversion rate in the hiring leads that come from a hiring hackathon

Over 40 percent of candidates from tier-2 and -3 colleges are as competent as top students from higher pedigree colleges

What are the hiring challenges, as revealed by your report?

Some of the challenges in hiring being faced by companies today are:

  • Increased focus on quality of hires, with bars of competence being set very high
  • Many of the organizations are struggling in creating a lasting employer brand
  • Niche skill hiring is becoming one of the biggest challenge

What is the need of the hour for the industry?

The industry needs skilled and competent programmers. There are those who say that the job market is on the decline, but we strongly disagree. There is a problem in the quality of hireable leads that end up on the recruiters table. Increasing the quality of leads is a big need in the tech industry. Perhaps the need for good programmers is higher than ever. This is being reflected in companies decreasing priorities on things like alma mater pedigree and increasing focus on programming skills. How these needs are being addressed by Hackathons is the prime focus of the reports.

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