Tata Consultancy Services Ltd may hire more off-campus freshers this year than previously as it has offered only 25,000 appointment letters as part of its campus recruitment program for this year.

The company, which crossed the 3-lakh employee base last quarter, plans to hire about 55,000 people this year, and said it has given letters to only 25,000 students on campus. TCS had 300,464 employees as of the end of March.

“The current recruitment environment is soft,” said N Chandrasekaran, TCS’s chief executive. “One of the reasons that we are going with a number like 25,000 campus offers is that when we want to hire more people at the entry level we are able to attract them off-campus. So when we say that we will do 55,000 or 60,000 hires and 25,000 campus offers, it will be wrong math to say that the remaining 30,000 or 35,000 people will all be laterals with a higher level of seniority.”

TCS had started out with a similar 50,000-55,000 estimate last year also, but ended up hiring 61,000 people. Not hiring people directly from campus helps TCS avoid developing too much idle labor in case of a sudden dip in demand for its services.

Chandrasekaran also rejected suggestions that he could have saved some money if he’d stuck to the average of 8% for employee salary hikes this year, instead of giving 10%. Most companies, including Infosys Ltd, is giving around 7-8% this year, though Infosys is giving its second raise in nine months unlike TCS.

TCS said hikes could be as high as 14%.

“It is just not only a factor of whether we can live with 8%. It is also a fact that the company has done incredibly well and profits have been very good, margins have been very good, and also we see the growth opportunity. We have a satisfied work force and we want to have an energetic work force, and we want to reward them and keep them energetic.

“So, I think a number of factors go into making this decision. I think it is a good hike, maybe a little bit on the higher side, but I think the employees deserve it.”

Chandrasekaran re-emphasized the company’s focus on digital technologies such as big data, social media, cloud and mobile and said TCS will not wait for clients to approach it for such projects. Rather, he said, TCS has invested to build a big team for such projects and will approach the clients with ideas.

“When we say digital is an opportunity and we are going to capture that, it is not about waiting for a specific project and try to find people, I think we have looked at holistically. That is why we look at it as an umbrella of Digital Re-imagination.

“We think business models, business processes, products and services, channels, workplace, all of these things will undergo changes in the client organizations. So, we look at it holistically and have recruited the talent, built the talent, the foundational software and tools, we looked at everything from a technology perspective as well as an industry perspective:what does it mean for banking, what does it mean for manufacturing, what does it mean for retail.

“We have been investing in these technologies in terms of capability building, competencies and talent for the last two years at least… We have trained a lot of people and we have got our pyramid. We looked at the pyramid, and we looked at talent that is required, processes, internal tools that are required, foundation software that is required which we have to build. So we have made all those investment,” he said.

Like Infosys, TCS too refused to divulge how much revenue it is getting from digital technologies.

The company, however, has faced delays in ramping up some of its digital and marketing contracts and engagements, especially in retail.

“Some ramp up delays have happened, primarily because as the customers are beginning to spend on digital, they are also parallely building out their own organizations to be able to support these projects. For example, what you find in many customers is that they are also hiring a Chief Digital Officer, a Chief Big Data Architect. So those things are also causing some delays, but we are not seeing negativity in terms of discretionary spend,” he said.

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