Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Imagine the unimaginable: Essentials for career success in a digital age!

Ten years ago, did you imagine that your primary mode of communication with your family, friends and relatives would be through the internet? Today, thanks to the facebooks and twitters of the world, this is a reality! Ten years ago, did you imagine having all the knowledge in the world in your palms? Today, thanks to smartphones, this is a reality! Ten years ago, did you imagine that you would apply for a job without ever having to 'post' anything? Today, thanks to the internet, this is a reality!

The last decade has been a decade of unprecedented change; change that was never imagined; change that made us realise our limits of imagination. This move towards a digital era has some important lessons for each student, job seeker and working professional. For every student wishing to succeed in this digital era, there are 3 things that I recommend as "must do".

1. Get a professional sounding email address: For many of you, the email addresses you may have created during your college days would have been funky, creative and sometimes whacky! Some of such whacky email addresses that I have come across include "r_for_risky", "snazzydude", "thexxx", "mydreamgirl", "onprocess", "neverpassed" and "vanishing_fellow" ! However, when you are looking for employment opportunities, I strongly recommend that you do not use such whacky email addresses. Create a professional sounding email address that ideally includes only your first name and last name. With so many free email services available today, getting a professional sounding email address is not a difficult task. A review of the top 16 free email services can be accessed here. Take a look, choose one and get your new email address now!

2. Create your professional profile on LinkedInLinkedIn is a professional networking site. It allows you to post your professional profile online and helps you connect with other professionals across the globe. The site also allows you to source professional recommendations from your classmates, colleagues, supervisors and friends thereby helping you build a strong and credible profile for yourself. Many recruiters look for a LinkedIn profile of prospective employees these days and hence it pays to have a LinkedIn profile. Registration is free. Use LinkedIn to effectively connect with other professionals and you will be surprised by the number of doors that open for you!

3. Start a blog: A blog is a digital home. A blog is an easy way to present a lot of information to your prospective employers and professional colleagues about your experiences and accomplishments. A blog can also be used to share your thoughts to a larger audience spread across the globe. You can post photographs of your achievements and bring life to your career history. In simple terms, a blog can be your digital resume that employers can refer to anytime. Setting up a blog is very simple and does not require any technical knowledge. You can sign up for a free blog at websites such as BlogBlogger or Wordpress. A list of some more free blog hosts are available here. Once you setup a blog, don't forget to keep it updated regularly!

What are you waiting for?  All you need to do is imagine the unimaginable and start working towards it. You will be amazed at how everything will fall in place. Still unable to imagine if you can do any of these? Finding it difficult to change?You have two choices - either wait for the digital era to make you obsolete or change with the times and be a success! Which one do you choose?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Skill Train India in Hindi

With nearly 70% of the Indian population speaking Hindi, our national language it was only imperative that a blog in Hindi would reach out to a larger population and benefit an even larger number of people than an English blog. So, I am glad to announce the launch of the Hindi version of the Skill Train India blog. This blog can be accessed at Skill Train India Hindi

Do share it with all your friends and spread the word around!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

One job all your life or One life for all the jobs?

Tom Peters, in his much acclaimed book 'Re-imagine', makes a rather bold statement:

'Lifetime employment is over!' 

In fact, he reiterates this is as a lesson that all of us in the current digital generation must learn and practice if we intend to be successful in this disruptive age. He believes that career is now defined as a series of 'WOW' projects across several organizations. I completely agree with this and  I think this is the first and the most important lesson that each one of us should learn as students and working professionals. My career is a real life example of Tom Peter's statement. Anybody looking at my career will be shocked, to say the least. Sample this: Nine jobs in 10 years since I started working! An old economy person may immediately relegate me to a non-trust worthy status. However, when you look deep within the roles that I played in the last 10 years, you would realise that my depth of understanding of the education sector comes only due to the breadth of experience that I have had in the education sector. Each of my roles have had immense positive impact on my organizations, colleagues and students. The most satisfying part is that in each of my roles I have created a 'WOW' programme that continues to exist as an integral part of these organizations even now. For all those of you who are starting your career afresh, here are some lessons to succeed in the digital age.

The first two years of career are always a trial and error
8 out of 10 students who approach me for career guidance come with one question once they are in their first job: Is this the right job for me? Gone are the days when the first company you join happens to be the only company you have ever worked all your life. I think the first two years of your career must be solely dedicated to trial and error. You never know what you will like until you do something that you like. So, feel free to put your hands up and volunteer for anything new and different; anything that you are not comfortable with; anything that can help you learn newer things. And don't be afraid to fail. Small failures in your early career can help prevent a fatal career failure later.

Be courageous to jump ships
Choosing to do what you love doing is not devoid of challenges. Not many people are able to successfully move themselves in to doing what they love for many reasons. Lower compensation, lower esteem, more struggles and indecisiveness are some of the factors that prevent people from doing what they love. Look above these and ask yourselves: Everyday when I go back home, do I take back satisfaction or sulkiness? If you want the former, prepare to jump ships and take the plunge early on.

Procrastination is a career killer
I have come across many of my friends and colleagues whose passion lie elsewhere but are tied to a role that they despise. Many of them mention that they would like to get to a comfortable position, earn enough and then move on to working in their area of passion. Unfortunately, that never happens. As people keep moving up the career ladder and compensations continue to rise, the wants and needs also increase. The comfortable position one dreams of never arrives for most people and hence their passion  becomes only a wishful thinking, never materialising in reality. Such procrastination is a passion killer and more importantly a career killer! If you have identified your area of passion, do not delay the jump. Take the plunge now!

Adhere to a strict work life balance
This is one rule that I have diligently stuck to all my life and that hasn't affected my success. There is much more you can accomplish by spending just about 8 hours at work. Get into this routine from day 1 of your career. During the 8 hours, focus only on the job at hand and nothing else. Setting this routine ensures that your team mates and bosses are aware of your availability and work gets scheduled accordingly. Eliminate all time wasters at work and focus on deadlines in hand. Your bosses don't expect you to live in the office - they are more worried about the work getting done within a given deadline. So, do exactly that and go home! Spend time with family and friends and return refreshed the next day. Push the face-booking and google -plussing to evenings, not in the office. When you are at work, WORK and when you are at home, BE AT HOME!

All of us have got one life and let's focus on making the best use of it. Forget about doing one job all your life and signing off with relief; focus on doing all the things that you are passionate about and sign off with pride! The new year is round the corner. Take a resolution now:

"This year I will do one new thing that I am passionate about; that I have always dreamt of doing." 

It isn't a tough resolution, is it? Stick to this resolution every year. Ten years down the line, you would have done much more than you had ever imagined.

It is one life and its your life; what are you going to make of it?

Enabling skill excellence in a disruptive age!

I have been thinking about starting this blog for a long time. After closely working with learners ranging from school dropouts to working professionals, I felt that there is a strong need for a guiding light that could help learners from all walks of life clear the dense fog of the career maze. I am starting this blog today, to purely address this need.

Do I know enough to offer career guidance? I don't claim to know it all! But, I am going to count on many of you - my mentors, my teachers, my colleagues (and ex-colleagues), my batch-mates, my friends, my family and my students - to make this blog a meaningful one for those who need career guidance. I envision this blog to be a dialogue of sorts between those who have 'been there, done that' and those who 'want to be there and do that'! For all those who wanted to contribute towards helping me in my educational social entrepreneurship assignments, I appeal to you to share your thoughts on this blog. You never know - one statement of yours on this blog can probably have a profound life-changing impact on some student somewhere in the world. 

Every day, I intend to post a guidance note. I would like to call each one a lamp post! I intend each lamp post to dispel some darkness related to career. Initially, I would keep them focused on undergraduate & post graduate students but subsequently, I intend to include early career guidance to working professionals too. If you find the lamp posts useful or if you feel that these lamp posts can dispel the darkness caused by career confusion in somebody's life, I earnestly urge you to share them freely. You never know - one 'share' (be it facebook, linkedin, google + or digg) from you can make a world of difference to some student.

Comments and feedback are always welcome. But what I would like to see more of is contradicting view points. There are no right or wrong answers in this world. Everything depends on the perspective in which you see an incidence. I am not here to claim what I know or profess to be the only solution. What I am writing here is based purely on my personal experiences and hence based on a particular perspective. I firmly believe that there are other perspectives too and I urge you to share these contradictions openly. You never know - one contradicting view point from you can offer a better choice to some student.

I dedicate this blog as a step towards achieving one of my dreams - a dream to see a truly skilled India where everyone chooses a career out of passion rather than of compulsion; because only then can excellence become a habit in this truly disruptive age! I dedicate this blog to building a skilled nation!

 Are you with me in this nation building exercise?