Jeff Weiner, the helmsman of the largest social media network for professionals, seems like a man of few words. But the initiative that the LinkedIn CEO announced, in his choosy words, on Monday seeks to establish a better connect with millions of college students in the country.
At the 200,000 square feet campus of the company in Marathahalli, a suburb in Bengaluru, Weiner announced its India-first initiative called ‘Placements.’
Following the pilot launch in November last year, LinkedIn is now opening up the Placements product to students at all colleges and universities in India. LinkedIn Placements is “an equal opportunity platform” for every student, regardless of their location or college, so that they can have a shot at jobs anywhere in India.
“It is all about enabling graduate students to assess their skills to the extent that their assessment is above the bar for certain companies that are hiring and facilitate interviews with these students,” Weiner said.
Students can log on to the site to take an online assessment test, which gives them direct access to thousands of openings in 35 top companies in India. LinkedIn has tied up with Bengaluru-based startups Aspiring Minds and HackerRank, and Gurgaon-based CoCubes and Wheebox for conducting assessment tests online.
But why did LinkedIn pick these four startups from India?
“We basically looked at assessment tests, and there are quite a few companies in India and the way we got to these four because each of them had different strengths,” Akshay Kothari, country manager, LinkedIn India, told TechCircle. “For example, HackerRank is really good for software assessment tests, Amcat (Aspiring Minds) is good for logical reasoning, Wheebox has strong partnerships with the government and CoCubes has been working with a lot of corporates.”
Harishankaran K, co-founder of HackerRank, told TechCircle, “Our product team and their (LinkedIn’s) product team will work together and decide how the whole integration should be done. It was very smooth to work with them because everyone was asking what makes sense for the end user.”
Harishankaran also said that there is no financial arrangement with LinkedIn at present and both the parties just want the initiative to be successful first. “Customers will be ready to pay if it is successful.”
LinkedIn, which is being acquired by Microsoft Corp, also announced the launch of LinkedIn Lite for mobile users and LinkedIn Starter Pack.
Kothari said that majority of the users access LinkedIn via mobile devices. LinkedIn Lite helps professionals and workers to stay connected where connectivity signals are not that strong. The company said that the India team built this product from scratch, with a focus on speed and efficiency of access. The company claims that LinkedIn Lite loads four times faster than the original site.
The Starter Pack is aimed at Indian startups and small and mid-sized businesses. This package will be provided to 100 promising companies and startups in the pilot launch phase.
LinkedIn has identified the country’s burgeoning student population and small businesses as potential opportunities to grow its business in its second-largest and one of the fastest-growing markets for the company globally.
LinkedIn has more than 37 million members in India. Its user base grew 10 times in the past six years. It has been working on products with a ‘strategic focus’ on students.
“While LinkedIn has grown multiple folds in India since we started operating here six years ago, there’s so much more we want to do here. We are committed to India and to boosting our ability to deliver value to even more members and be a part of their professional growth journey, by investing and innovating locally,” said Kothari.
He, however, told TechCircle that the company is not looking to buy any tech startup in the near future, even though they are partnering with many.
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