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Got a Job?

May 27, 2012 2 comments

A family friend lost his job in the recession period 3 years back as his department at a multinational bank closed down. He is still without a job.

Initially he refused jobs which were with local organizations or which were paying less than his earlier job as he did not want a “step down”. His parents supported him and argued that taking up a lower paying job would be insulting. I explained to them that the skill set which this friend had and the kind of experience that he had was quite easily available in the market hence it might be tougher to get a higher paying role. Better thing would be to accept a slight compromise. The only other option was to upgrade skills and look for a better opportunity.

Unfortunately he did neither. Today he is unable to get an interview call as he is unable to explain a 3 year gap on his resume. He is willing to compromise now but there is an even bigger candidate pool available for the skill set he possesses.

He is not alone in such a situation. Every day we talk to a number of candidates who have been out of work for quite sometime and did not accept employments for various reasons,and now find themselves struggling to get any work.

For those who are in similar situations, here’s what you need to do

  1. Shed your Ego – and do it now. There is no shame in accepting a lower paying job or a lower designation in rough times and look for better ones when times change.
  2. Keep doing something – Stagnation in any form is bad, so keep doing any kind of work. Do freelancing, consult someone, teach, mentor, whatever. Show that you are not an idler
  3. Learn new stuff – If you can afford to, use the downturn to get some new skills and certificates. Not only do you add to your employability, you also escape the downgrade.
  4. Network- always. Whether in job or out of it, keep talking and connecting to people, not with the sole intention of asking a job.  Look at contributing to your network and they will remember you.

What do recruiters look for in your resume?

June 23, 2011 Comments off

You have less than half a minute to catch the attention of recruiter going through your resume. I am not exaggerating, that’s how busy the recruiters are and that’s what they (think) can afford on scanning through each of those dozens of resumes on a typical day.

And if you fail to get them interested in you through your resume you just end up missing many good career opportunities.  It does not matter how capable, committed and accomplished professional you are.. what matters is how well you are able to put across those very qualities clearly and confidently on your resume to get the recruiters hooked.

It certainly helps to understand what recruiters look for in resumes so that powered with that specific knowledge you can build a resume that will improve your odds of getting that phone call to your dream job.

Resume Title:

Resume titles should reflect your area of expertise rather than your current designation. You could be called a software developer or software engineer or IT analyst or Associate consultant at different companies but doing the same basic role of coding applications in Java. Hence recognizable titles help recruiters understand your job function and the field you work in easily. And when they see that the role your are in (or is interested in) is one that they are recruiting for your battle is half won.

Professional Summary:

A simple and short but engaging professional summary which highlights your areas expertise, your accomplishments and provides an insight into what value you can bring in and how you are different and better than other candidates helps in creating both credibility and instant respect. Remember first impression is the best impression.

Stability:

Recruiters would prefer that the candidates have an average tenure of 2 yrs and ideally 3 yrs with their employers. Hiring Managers have become very particular about this aspect and hence recruiters prefer not to submit candidates who are job hoppers. So it helps to mention the reason for change in case the change had valid reasons. In case there are career gaps, better call out the reasons rather skipping to mention the dates of employment to cover the gaps.

Experience & Skills:

Be more specific when it comes to the skills. The length and breadth of your experience can be clearly seen in the skills you have acquired and utilized in your jobs.

Its important to call out depth of the experience using  appropriate words such as expertise, exposure, knowledge, understanding, hands on etc. These qualifiers help the recruiter understand your comfort level and competency in a particular skill.

Also if your experience is predominantly in a particular domain such as healthcare or IT or Finance and you intend to continue in the same domain do high light your expertise and preference for that domain. Also use liberally industry specific keywords and business language to drive home the point that you belong in there.

Conversely if you are willing and adaptable to change domains focus more on the core skills and evidence your flexibility to work adeptly in other domains too so that you profile is not rejected for lack of industry specific expertise.

Achievements & Recognition

Key achievements and recognitions for contributions of significance go a long way in establishing your credibility as an accomplished performer. They can set you apart from other applicants and can give you instant head start. They can be provided either as a separate section in the resume or mentioned alongside the roles and responsibilities with various employers.

Achievements not only should be quantifiable and measurable but also the context in which they have been achieved need to be mentioned. For instance improved the sales by 80% or reduced the operating costs by 20% in a product category which is sluggish or has been severely impacted by market movements is a better way to quantify and qualify the achievement. Even still better would be writing a line or two about what specific actions you have taken to get those stupendous results.

Awards and promotions show that you have positively impacted the company’s cause and hence were recognized for your contributions or entrusted you with more responsibility as mark of trust in your abilities.

Employers:

Unless the employers are well established brands the recruiters may not recognize them. Hence it would be good for you to give a brief introduction of your employers and bring out positive elements about the company that can catch the attention of the recruiter. For instance CMMi level kind of certifications in case of technology company or growth rate in case of startup company, or industry recognition in case of operating in a niche area can show your current/previous employers in a positive light. Remember the recruiter consciously or unconsciously values your competency based on what kind of employers you worked/working at.

Education/Qualifications: 

Often hiring managers set minimum parameters around education. They could be either mandatory or preferred parameters. It could be around the qualification or the percentage or perception of the college or universities general standards.

So if you feel that your academic accomplishments are noteworthy make an effort to elaborate them. For instance studying at a premier institute or receiving a scholarship or medal or mentioning any distinction or above average percentages etc. Anything that will put your academics in good light will help create an impression that you have always been an achiever.

If the academic qualifications have not been great then one way to offset that is by mentioning certifications and special trainings you have received, especially when they are industry specific or job specific. They can really create a positive impact. Any articles, case studies you have published can create an impression of subject matter expert. Same holds true if you are member/associate of any groups, forums, associations which are relevant to the area of your interest.

Roles & Responsibilities

This should be more of key performance areas and deliverables and not just a list of duties. A clear and planned career movement that needs to be depicted which reflects the growth and increased potential in your abilities as the years passed by. Most often as the person gains experience and expertise the role becomes more strategic and decision making compared to operational and transactional in nature. This needs to be evidenced in the resume. Roles and responsibilities should reflect your ability and willingness to stretch, go that extra mile and do things beyond what is expected in the job to differentiate you from other candidates.

Personality: 

The tone and language in your resume should be positive, vibrant and confident. A resume which sounds like a laundry list of items will get a recruiter bored and frustrated. Creating a resume that gets read from start to finish is a difficult task, but it is possible if you inject your personality into the same. Then it becomes more like getting to know a person and not just reading some ones career history. Words and language that shows energy, excitement, enthusiasm, confidence, love for accomplishments, sense of responsibility will make the recruiter take a special interest.

Note: A resume will not get you a job that you don’t not have experience or expertise in. It can give you an opportunity to participate in an interview process for a job that you are qualified for

Categories: Careers, Recruitment, Resume Tags: ,

10 career suicide tips

June 4, 2011 Comments off

What a topic to take up on a weekend. Certain instances in last week have prompted me to write this post. As usual, the trigger point has been conversations with some candidates.  It is surprising as to how a large number of people unconsciously keep committing acts which side track their careers.

Here are some pointers which every employee should be conscious about (unless you have the self-destructive tendencies)

Tip #1 – Can’t stay at one place ?-  The best way to make your CV look like a travelogue is to keep hopping jobs every year or even sooner if you can manage that. Mobility after all is the way to go. and you can’t understand why that should be an issue with the next prospective employer?

Tip #2– The aimless wanderer – It takes some time for order to emerge out of chaos. I also hope to make sense of the meandering career that i have had till now. What do you mean there is no direction in what i am doing ? the dots will connect somewhere, sometime. Hello? . Hello…

Tip #3- Don’t research before you leap –

  • What they told me in the interview was different from the role they gave me later
  • I did not know the company was in trouble
  • I am not the start-up kind. i thought they were already established.

Tip #4– i know more than my boss, every time, all the time – it can happen once, twice may be. if it happens every time, you are really the chosen one . Your bosses don’t seem to know a thing. You just can’t agree with their decisions & thoughts. You make every effort to prove your point at every available opportunity.  Way to go. which way?

Tip #5 – i am the know-all. I finished my education when i did my professional course 10 years back. I have worked enough to know everything about my domain & my industry. My company will train me if they feel i need more skills. Where is the need to spend time reading books, attending seminars, Browsing & checking out new developments or to take that certification course ?

Tip #6– my knowledge is my property no sharing allowed. I have worked hard to gather this knowledge, do you think i will let you benefit from it ? Go do it yourself.  Why should someone what to know what i do & how i do it ? I will protect my domain till my last breath.

Tip #7– Complacency is my hallmark. I am comfortable with what I do.  A bit too comfortable to venture out of my cubicle. Don’t expect me to take up new challenges, initiatives,  and responsibilities. The only stretching i know is what i do at the gym.

Tip #8– I trust you to promote me. won’t you let the senior people know how well i am doing ? i am too modest to talk about my achievements, my colleagues in the office do it for me.I am sure my boss always puts in a positive word about me. I only wonder why nobody recognizes me in spite of  all my good work.

Tip #9 -My charisma will cover-up my incompetence. Not everyone is perfect. So what if  I messed up the last deal. OK, we lost that client last month. only 3 of my 4 projects are pending. But you know, i was the person chosen to take the CEO around when he visited the regional office. I make all arrangements for every office party. I have a tab on everything that happens in this office. That’s my network.

Tip # 10– Too busy to take care of  my Health. I slog & spend more time in office than at home, 7 days a week. have no time to take care of my body. had to take frequent medical breaks last year. Looks like i need a longer one this year.I hope my company will understand. Don’t be surprised, this is an increasingly popular road to finish.

These are just some of them. From your experiences, feel free to add more.

10 favorite entrepreneurship books

May 19, 2011 1 comment

There are a lot of books and article talking about why & how of entrepreneurship. Many bestsellers from real life experiences to strategies and case studies.

Here are my top 10 favorite must read for any Budding entrepreneur ( not in any particular order). Some of these are more relevant from Indian Perspective where I operate while others are relevant generically. A few of these books don’t have anything to do about entrepreneurship directly but offer some fantastic lessons which can be key to setting up and building a Business. Many of them are now famous movies too.

Book  #1 – Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach) – a book which makes the reader dream & explore the untested domains. a book that encourages you to find a purpose in life & then to strive to achieve perfection in that purpose. This is the story of a seagull who does not want to live just to eat. He loves flying and breaks all boundaries to become the best.

Book #2 – The Pursuit of Happyness (Chris Gardner) – real life rags to riches story of an individual. Showcases what sheer determination & perseverance can help you achieve.

Book #3Losing my Virginity (Richard Branson) – One of the original maverick. a fantastic account of how a dream gets shaped from a college publishing venture to  music to airline and more. the tale of a person with steely determination & desire to succeed

Book #4 – Simply fly (Capt. Gopinath) – Every word, a lesson in the journey of a serial entrepreneur.From a farmer, to motorcycle dealer, from a politician to an aviation pioneer, this book will fill you with dreams and thoughts of being on your own.

Book #5Mahavakya on Leadership (Lt. Gen. Dr. M L Chibber) – a practical guide to value based leadership from a famous army veteran. Unveils the leadership principles for those who wish to lead & serve. This book discusses leadership in action by taking examples from lives of Mohandas Gandhi, Benjamin Franklin & Winston Churchill among others and even lays down a road map for teachers & parents to inculcate leadership qualities in children.

Book #6The High performance Entrepreneur (Subroto Bagchi) – a step by step do-it-yourself guide for anyone thinking of starting their own business. Subroto Bagchi’s other book ,The Professional, is an equally great book.

Book #7Mavericks at work (William C Taylor & Polly LaBarre) –  an account of business leaders / entrepreneurs from  around the world and how they are redefining their domains  by being original .From banking for a cause to grassroot collaboration, open source to sharing values, every case study is like a fresh breath. Another book on same lines is Blue Ocean Strategy ( W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne).

Book #8Against all odds (A G Krishnamurthy) –  instances from the life of Dhirubhai Ambani and how he fought against all odds and surmounted every obstacle  to build a giant business empire.

Book #9Before you quit your job (Robert Kiyosaki) – From the writer of  Rich Dad Poor Dad, a simple guide for every employee wanting to become an employer. some of Roberts messages could appear again & again in his books and his narrative too is repetitive in nature. This book still qualifies as one of the good reads.

Book #10Connect the Dots (Rashmi Bansal) – Success stories of common ordinary individuals who had the courage to see opportunity and the acumen to seize the moment.

Which are your favorite books that have made you think about being an entrepreneur ?

The Cost of (not) Training

April 30, 2011 4 comments

One thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.- Zig Ziglar

In a dynamically changing world where one has to be alert & learning all the time, a skill set gap can mean stagnation in terms of career path, monetary gains & opportunities too. While it is critical for the employers to invest in employee training to maintain efficiency, competence & competitive edge , It is equally of even more important for an employee to keep training themselvs.

Most often, an employer can find a better skilled replacement ( this has a cost, of course) instead of training existing employees. But, what does the bypassed employee do ?

Actually who pays the price if an employee is not trained enough for the job ?

  • Is the onus for training always on the employer only ?
  • And who should pay for training ?
  • who loses if an employee is not trained ?
  • Are we moving towards a employee initiated training scenario ?
  • How can we build a culture of continuous learning ?

Job Street in India: Robust hiring seen across all sectors & levels

March 22, 2011 Comments off

From the web-Feb 2011

March 6, 2011 Comments off
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