Friday, March 9, 2012

Employment ready!

A pleasant face: Ajit strikes a pose

Two young employees (Mr. Bhaskar and Mr. Sumit)

Recently, my colleague who had to deliver a talk on being "Industry Ready" for students at a pharmacy college, asked me to give some inputs for his talk.

Here are some tips to becoming employment ready!

1) Being employment ready means dropping many of our college goer notions & care free behavior, and becoming very sober. The employer is investing monies on us (the employee) - and the employer expects ROI (return on investment), we should be conscious of this fact (this does not happen in college!).

2) It is also means having the ability to handle your colleagues, juniors, seniors and bosses. This relationship management skill counts a lot. You should have the ability to move with all in a professional way – not coming too close yet winning trust and confidence.

3) The most important attributes are: co-operative attitude and being reliable. People lose confidence if you are not reliable. Time sense and punctuality is a part of reliability. There are people who procrastinate (ie., postpone things) – this is a major impediment to winning confidence of others. It is also a key thing to know how to follow-up and get things done, this requires you to be proactive, plan well, and be active (do not be lazy!). These characteristics make you reliable and this quality is required for success in the industry or anywhere else.

4) Hygiene and etiquette factors are vital. Clipping nails, being clean shaven, having trimmed hair, wearing sober, clean and ironed clothes (stripes or plain shirts are the best choice), avoid casual wear, and ensure that you wear black or brown sober leather shoes.

5) Knowledge and knowledge hungry attitude is vital. Knowledge is not only from the books - it is also the knowledge from the environment, understand the written and unwritten rules of the environment, how to greet people, what is the best body language to have in the employment milieu etc.

6) Empathy is vital for success. It is important to try and be in another person’s shoes. This helps in improved communication. Empathy helps you understand the 'power-line' 'or who's who' and 'how powerful a person is' in any organization. Every person has an ego - so boost it with 'ego massage words' - but do it genuinely. Understand the ego and power status of individuals - and move accordingly. Remember: when the ego of powerful people is hurt they have the potential to harm you considerably.

Empathy also helps you be humane.

7) Communication is a key to success – knowing how to message, write and talk to colleagues, bosses, and juniors is important. Learn how to give speeches, and talk to groups of people. This will help. Try to learn colloquial words too so that you can assimilate into the environment. It is a part of the enculturation process.

8) Knowing how to move with office people in non-official hours is also a vital input to success in employment life.

9) Talk positive, give positive strokes to others, do not berate (ie., curse) and do not gossip. It is safer this way.

10) Humor is very vital – but strike a balance, do not be clownish.

11) Remember: there is no ideal situation, we should have a problem solving attitude. Go anywhere and everywhere only expecting problems, and that you are required to help solve problems. There will be all types of problems: technical, relating to your boss, or with the company, or with juniors, or with labour, or with systems, emotional etc.

12) Also understand, there is never enough money or salary. When you get an increment, it will seem good, after two or three months, it will not be an attractive salary anymore because you would have changed your expectations. So do not get job satisfaction based only on money - otherwise you will never be satisfied in professional life. Obtaining satisfaction by doing positive things and having problem solving attitude will help.

NEVERTHELESS THIS does not mean not wanting to grow financially - growth in salary and perks is very important, however, it is not the only thing.

Never feel overwhelmed if you get a reward, or depressed if you do not get a reward - remember true worth will always attract value. Develop your worth.

13) The main stumbling block in employment life is comfort zone: we do not want to meet strangers, or handle strange situations nor do we want new things or new experiences, because we feel it will cause discomfort. But if you have a problem solving attitude you will never get any discomfort zone in your life - all experiences will be comfort zones, so have a problem solving attitude. Enjoy the problem solving process, identification of problems and applying knowledge with imagination - this creates solutions. Compete with oneself to constantly improve. A learning attitude will help in being adaptable. When you are adaptable you survive and thrive. Problem solving attitude creates outputs - we are ultimately recognized by our outputs and these outputs are our identity and saviour.

Learning does not end with college, a new chapter of learning begins with employment, learn from others without inhibition, ask and learn, acquire knowledge and skills. Take cues from the environment and learn the new tasks or new skills. When I was in the field I had no exposure to computers, however, with office positions, I went on to acquire the requisite skills, this is the importance of learning attitude.

Never compare and feel belittled or do not feel superior to others. Compare with others or other entities to understand how to do things better and effectively. Compare to learn not to develop complexes (ie., inferiority or superiority complex, life is short, do not waste time on such 'complexes'.).

Learn the tasks in your job profile well and improve on it. Learn new skills and gather new knowledge too. Observe, ask, practice, and take lessons to learn your job aspects. Try and master your job.

14) Be disciplined - do not consume liquor or tobacco. If you have to consume liquor due to peer or colleague pressure, restrict it to 1/2 or 1/4 peg - use it only for keeping company. Avoid these bad habits - when you get money, job and professional circles, sometimes these bad habits will tail you and they have the potential to spoil your future. Remember, the only person happy with alcohol consumption is Mr. Vijay Mallya because he makes his money through your bad habits. Gandhiji was honestly right: 'Sharaab abhishaap hain'.

Do not be rigid when it comes to being a part of alcohol consuming circles: be a part of such circuits so that you get the relationship mileage - yet do not encourage and belong to it. Strike a balance so that you do not lose out in life due to orthodox behaviour.

Learn "street smart" concepts by observing "street smart" people, and apply the concepts if required. Be in the know of "street smart" concepts.

15) Remember people's names, designations, greet people before talking about the main issue, learn to talk light topics like weather, etc, admire others, congratulate others, greet them on special occasions, this networking habit is very vital. SMS will help you network better.

16) Learn the spirit of mutuality or 'give and take' to establish win-win relationships, this will make people comfortable with you. Indulge in 'give and take' even without asked (understand the nature of the social contract: when you get your first salary, buy things for your parents, even though they do not ask you, because this is the social contract of the relationship).

17) Participate in professional events like IPC (Indian Pharmaceutical Congress) do not cut off from professional platforms, write articles in professional journals etc.

18) Be defensive - not offensive. Being defensive means you respect yourself and others. Learn to self-love and present yourself in various situations firmly and confidently.

Defend yourself absolutely. Prevent perceived harm to yourself. Remember: there are performance expectations in each situation - understand the 'said and unsaid', 'written and unwritten' performance expectations and try to achieve them.

Negotiate the performance expectations (qualitative and quantitative) with your boss, if required, and make it realistic so that you are safe and at the same time there is mutuality. Performance is of three types:

a) expected performance

b) actual performance

c) perceived performance

The third thing is tricky - many a times, even if your actual performance is excellent, the perceived performance by people who matter may not be that - they may think your performance is very bad. So ensure that you are safe from the angle of perceived performance too.

Help others but help yourself too.

19) Dress well and appropriately, you are not well dressed till you wear a smile! Be emotionally stable, do not lose your temper or feel ecstatic, control your emotions - be balanced, be dedicated to the problem solving attitude (in a way, each moment of the day is a problem solving moment). Balance your work life, social life and family life.

20) Finally, it is character which triumphs: language group, caste, colour, creed or other considerations provide you temporary advantages or disadvantages - only character will help you - on a long term basis.

The above list is certainly not exhaustive, but it will help. Please read all other blogposts, scroll down and click on older posts when required to read all other posts, recommend this blog to others.


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