Career is the most important investment in one’s life. Experts show you how to nurture it and realise your potential.
Whether you have just got a job, or are well-settled in your career or are still wondering which path to choose, the following advice isrelevant for you.
SET A CAREER GOAL
Just like you plan your financial goals, you need to plan career goals meticulously. Ideal ly, the planning and goal set ting should start when one is a student. However, awareness about career options continues to be low among students. “Nearly 72% of students were confused about career options we found in a survey. More importantly, 80% of the students knew only about six or eight career options,“ says Prateek Bhargava, CEO and Founder, Mindler.com, a technology-driven platform that helps students and parents choose appropriate career paths.
Most youngsters base their career decisions on what they hear being talked aboutaround them.So while they might want to become a doctor, engineer, chartered accountant or lawyer, they have to understand whether they are equipped forit.“The first thing in a career planning is to understand your strengths and weaknesses,“ says Sairee Chahal, Founder, Sheroes, a firm providing career destinations for women. Students need to turn to career counsellors in their own institutes or seek the help of outside experts.
Most people tend to think that everything is settled once they land a job. “Just because you have got a job it doesn’t mean that you have achieved your goal and all learning can come to an end. Please note that you need tokeep on pushing the career goal,“ says Neeti Sharma, Senior VP, Team Lease Services, a human resource outsourcing and staffing firm. “You need to invest in continued education and learning. Lot of things are available online now, use them to upgrade knowledge all the time,“ says Shiv Agrawal, Managing Director, ABC Consultants, a leading human resources firm.
This continuous learning is already visible in global professions like medicine,nursing, IT engineering, etc. IT professionals opting for a Cisco certification is a case in point. Along with their technical skills, such professionals also need to improve their communication skills.
The world is slowly turning digital and you need to spruce up your digital skills irrespective of the field you are working in. For example, sales and marketing professionals need to update online skills and know how to set up online marketing campaign. Sim
ilarly, banking professionals should learn about the latest technologies to promotemobile banking and digital payments. Instead of getting tied down to the classrooms, teachers and professors can take up teaching on online platforms. HR professionals need to shift from traditional hiring to social networkingplatforms like Linkedin.“Automation is now a reality and it is going to remove normal repetitive jobs. So the only option you have is to get onto the digital bandwagon and move ahead of it,“ says Santanu Paul, CEO and MD, Talent Sprint, an online learning platform.
So how should one practice this continuous learning? “Once you identify the skill gap, do something about it every day. Most of this can be achieved bycontinuous reading,“ says Chahal.
While everyone will agree that they need to upgrade skills, lack of time is a problem faced by most working professionals. Taking up online courses is the best way to circumvent this problem. Here again, you may get flooded with courses, so how do you know which is the best one for you? “Take the course that gives you actual experience and not just theoretical notes. You have to learn by doing and not just by reading,“ says Paul. While doing any course,your focus should be on learning new skills rather than the certificate youwill get at the end. “What an employer needs is the problem solving skills and not additional certificates,“ adds Paul.
THINK LIKE AN ENTREPRENEUR
Once you begin to climb the ca reer ladder, you will realise that your exist ingskill sets are not sufficient.For instance, most people get into the IT sector as programmers and then get promoted as team leaders.The next level is management and it calls for going beyond coding skills.At that level, one needs to understand sales, the financial aspect of any project, customer service,etc. You also need to have in-depth understanding about industry and competition.
Shiftingfrom one vertical to another is the best way to understand a business in its totality. Since most companies now have internal job postings and offer lateral shifts, you can easily move across different functions. “Businesses now promote anything that help in overall improvement of the organisation, so they welcome lateral moves,“ says Mukesh Bhasin, Partner, Career Connect.
Shanta Vallury, who moved from business function to HR at RBL Bank, is a classic example. “Once you put organisation before self, you start thinking like an entrepreneur. Moving laterally helps you realise your own potential and also gives you a 360 degree view of the organisation,“ says Vallury, Head HR, CSR and Internal Branding, RBL Bank. Vineet Agrawal, who moved from branch banking to HR and then to corporate banking at a large private sector back,agrees.“While organisations give you an opportunity to move laterally, there is no force. So you have to take the initiative,“ he says.
However,before opting for a lateral shift, understand what it takes. You may need to relocate. The ability to take risks and the spirit to learn new things are the other essentials. “If you are ready to put in effort, you can learn anything new. But please note that if you don’t learn fast, the next team may not accept you,“ says Vineet Agrawal.Experts suggest you start doing this in the initial stages of your career.“Test your ability by shifting to other verticals in the early stages of your career. This is possible once you stop treating career as a job, but treat it as a learning opportunity,“ says Vallury.
Lateral shifts also help you to remain with an organisation for an extended period of time.
Networking was always a basic necessity for career growth.
“Around 50% of the hiring happens through networks. Career prospects depends on marketability and reaching out to people,“ says Bhasin.
These contacts can be through alumni groups, former col leagues, etc. Social media platforms like Linkedin and Face book have made such groups more close-knit. You can use these networks to widen your contacts.
“Linkedin is a good start to meet people outside your horizon and also to understand industry trends,“ says Chahal. However, be careful about what you post on these networks. “Most prospective employers look at your social mediapresence. So posting very strong religious or political views may harm yourfuture career prospects,“ warns Shiv Agrawal.
ASK FOR HELP OR SEEK A MENTOR
We seek help when we need it in most situations and there is nothing wrong in taking outside help for career planning.
“The ability to ask for help is a requisite quality for career enhancement,“ says Chahal. As explained earlier, prospective job seekers can take the help of counsellors at their own institute or other professionals who provide this for a fixed fee.
Once you are in an organisation, your immediate superiors (and also the HR department) act as your mentors. “You should be able to ask what is the skill gap and how you should fill it,“ says Sharma. However, you also may have to seek outside help at this level, because the immediate superiors may not be the best for guidance as they have a vested interest in retaining you. “Earlier employers used to provide full career path, but now you have to do it yourself. Treat your career like a bicycle, it will not move forward if you don’t make the effort and pedal,“ says Paul.
DON’T IGNORE GROOMING
Prospective candidates have to concentrate on aspects which may not appear connected to the job in question but play an important role nevertheless. Maintaining physical fitness is one such aspect. Appearances-dressing properly or presenting an attractive CV-are other factors one needs to take care of. Why should prospective employers bother about such things? “Perception is reality and please note that most employers hire based on their perception about you. Even after being good, the perception about you should also be good,“says Shiv Agrawal. Assume there are two candidates with identical backgrounds. While one is physically fit, the appears obese. Chances are the employer will hire the seemingly fit candidate. “Most employers think like this. If you can’t take care of yourself, how will you take care of the company?“ asks Shiv Agrawal.
Source:-The Economic Times-Mumbai