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Guide to Professional Networking and Job Search

Only a handful of us, hold jobs that are directly linked to our past work experience or academics. And in the era of opportunity in disguise where talent hunt and job seekers are at parallel lines. “To Bridge this gap” I wanted to pen down a few mantras, through which Job seekers could make themselves visible and how talent seekers could findtheir potential candidates.

In today’s scenario, seeking employment is mentally and emotionally draining. It even begins to affect your self-worth. Efficiency is what is required in job hunting, with holistic views and of course knowledge and use of technology. All institutions are helping students to make use of the technologies for future growth. As, in the present scenario, technology is utilized to improve teaching and learning and help our students be corporate ready.

Guide-to-Professional-Networking-and-Job-Search_1On a daily bases we get to see Job openings with profile descriptions on various Portals – Linkedin being one of the best social professional platform. Bases your interest- Whenever you see such posts, make sure that you share or drop a “like”or “comment.” You spend only a few seconds but could be a life-changer for someone who is looking out for an opportunity. It will increase their visibility and even help you find desired key words for your resume, which would indeed attract the recruiters. By sharing the post – You may not be able to get them a job, but someone who might be able to, may see it. This is what “Linkedin” and true networking is all about. Let’s join together and help each other out.

Incredible potential were missed out during the earlier system of hiring. With the use of new methods and technology, the advances in robotics and machine learning are transforming the way we work. We should be open to multi task at this juncture and should be willing to do jobs we’ve never done before in our careers. So what are the tools and strategies we need to identify tomorrow’s high performers? In search for answers, I’ve consulted with many of my colleagues, across many sectors, read number of reports and conducted some of my own talent try-outs. My hunt is far from over, but here are few ideas the can lead you to the desired profile.

1. Explore to the maximum

If we only look for talent in the same place/s, as we always do – top notch universities / institutions, reputed schools, prestigious organizations — the results are the same. There’s a lot of talk about the importance of clarity and vision with each step of the search. Your computer, tablet, or Smartphone holds a wealth of information. If you know what to look for, you have access to an unlimited number of learning resources, job search portals and we can make the best use of it.

For example, say you’ve been searching for a job role of “Manager of Marketing” for a while without any luck. Depending on the company, a “Chief Marketing Officer” position might demand the same skills as a Manager-level position. Instead of relying on the job title to determine the scope and function of the role, read the whole listing to discover what’s actually being asked for.

Be especially cautious of the term “manager,” it’s one of the most confused terms in the career world. One organization’s “Marketing Director” might, in fact, be an individual contributor, whereas a “Marketing Manager” with a different company could lead a team of ten members. The point to be noted is, this again depend upon the size, hierarchy of the company.

No issues, it’s about opening up your search by navigating the shortcomings of job! As long the search should be right, keep initial words, read Job Description thoroughly, understand what the company is asking and see if or as a role fits with the bulk of your non-negotiable (like pay, company type, or location), it’s worth exploring further.

2. Performance should speak

Inspired by my own job experience, as a hiring platform called “Linkedin,” which gives candidates an opportunity to polish the various capabilities like the Data Tool, Basic Excel, STRATA, Programming, Tableau Public, Python, SAS; etc. If you’re hiring a data analyst, give them a spread sheet of historical data and ask them for their key understandings. If you’re hiring a marketing manager, have them plan a launch campaign for a new product. And if you’re a candidate, don’t wait for an employer to ask. Seek out ways to showcase your unique skills and abilities outside of just the standard resume and cover letter.

However, employee selection is the process of putting right men on right job. It is a procedure of matching organizational requirements with the skills and qualifications of people.

3. Don’t wait – Explore all job portals

Applying online is instantly gratifying / rewarding. You can apply to 20 places in one sitting and feel incredibly productive. Also most jobs aren’t publicly advertised?? So why to wait…?.

How to access this secret underground job market?

Guide-to-Professional-Networking-and-Job-Search_2Start by making a list of your dream companies you want to work for. Organize your list based on whether or not you have the right skill sets. If you already know someone there, put that organization on one side of the list, and send an email and fix for an appointment and then take it forward. For everywhere else, you’ll need to make a new connection, which increases your contact and add to your network.

4. The Big Picture

I’ve heard about recruiters who are quick to tag a candidate based on a single short stint on their resume. Try to get a rounded view of the person; otherwise our judgment of them will always be imperfect. For that, let’s stop associating experience with ability, credentials with competence. The employers should leave back the out-dated hiring practices and embrace new ways of identifying and cultivating talent, and candidates can help by learning to tell their story in powerful and convincing ways. We could live in a world where people are seen for what they’re truly capable of and have the opportunity to realize their full potential. So let’s start to construct it.

5. Top Essential Employability Skills and most Transferable in-demand Skills

Various skills in enterprise are role defined, while others can be utilised in all job roles (multi takers). The Manageable skills develop through learning during our career – know what they are and set targets for improving them to maximise the job evolution.

Few of them are:

(a) Positive Attitude

Having positive attitude helps you cope more easily with the daily affairs of life. It brings confidence, and avoids unnecessary problems. If the change is adopted in one’s life, it would bring constructive changes, keeps everyone happier, cheerful and more prosperous.

(b) Self-Management

Success starts with self-management. It is an acquired art. Setting goals and managing time comes out of self-management. It develops the attentiveness skills which will help to overcome the temptation of delay.

(c) Willingness to Learn

Be always open to new learning and cooperative. Be willing to learn from others and share knowledge

(d) Thinking Skills

Thinking skills are the mental state of mind that we apply when in need. It enables us to assimilate each new experience into the diagram that we are constructing or imagining of “how things are”

(e) Flexibility

Flexibility in workplace allows employers and employees to make arrangements about working conditions that suit them. This helps employees maintain a work / life balance and can help employers improve the productivity and efficiency of their business.

In today’s world, employees will be expected to specialize in your role to some extent, although understanding the functions of your colleagues’ positions and departments will allow you to work with them better. Being flexible means making time for others and not expecting them to respond to your requests instantly. Look for examples of how your flexible approach to work will benefit the company.

(f) Motivation and Enthusiasm

Whoever hires you, the employer is investing in you, so they need to see that you are passionate about working and interested in your career. If you are lacking in motivation this may have a negative impact on your work.

(g) Initiative

Highly valued in job – is your own initiative. An employer needs to know that you can think for yourself. Approach this with thoughtfulness and start small, you have got your whole career to develop your skills. Kindly note, for any activity please do not act smart or outside of your authority.

(h) Organization and Planning

Prioritization of tasks and time management are the key factor for any job role. You need prove your administration skills to your next interviewer that you will be able to perform to your full ability and excel in your role.

(i) Communication

Effective communication is essential for any job role. Employers need to know that you are capable to express and explain your thoughts to anybody in the organization and also able to realize the viewpoints of others.

(j) Teamwork

Teamwork is often a crucial part of any job role, as it is often necessary for colleagues to work well together. Teamwork means that people will have to cooperate, using their individual skills and providing constructive feedback, despite any personal conflict. Employees get opportunity to work in groups and communicate with people from every department of the company in order to prove and deliver results.

(k) Leadership skills

Leaders take responsibility and delegate tasks effectively. Most roles involve at least some aspect of leadership, especially beyond the initial stages of your career. Look for opportunities to manage projects and other people as early as possible to begin developing this key transferable skill.

(l) Problem solving

Workshops / Training can only take you so far, sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where you need to figure out a new solution. Make a note when you really have to dig deep and figure something out. Try to use examples in your interviews to convince the interviewer.

(m) Self-Awareness

Try to recognize your areas of weakness and improve it. It is almost as important as developing and using your strengths. Your potential employer needs to know that you realise, you aren’t perfect. If appropriate, mention areas you are keen to develop in your new position, (eg. go for trainings, attend conferences, etc.) as well as presenting the skills you bring to the role.

Finally the ability for search in jobs lies in the capability and adaptability of the job seeker keeping in mind the competitive scenario today. There is “No ‘Job Shortage” – but using the right platform and skills will enhance the job seekers to accomplish his/ her goal. The job seeker should however, be well equipped with his or her strong and weak capabilities to channelize his / her root of career.

Mini B. Daniel
Associate Professor of Communication

Being a Reflective Designer

A typical design project mentoring session begins with the professor pointing out to the visuals presented by the student and enquiring

  • What more options do you have?
  • Did you think through the problem solutions we discussed, to improve on your design solutions?
  • Find the challenges in your design solutions.

 DID YOU REFLECT ON YOUR SOLUTIONS……….??? ARE YOU BEING A REFLECTIVE DESIGNER

By now the student is in a state of flux ready to throw in the line, topple the table, or shrug the shoulders and walk off….

thinkbook.org

 

…..all the while thinking under the breadth, ‘Who wants to go over again the discussion on finding more gaps in the designed product’? Didn’t I stay awake the whole night, forego the movie I’ve been dying to see, working on my design? Ask my parents, how I’ve put all my energy in this design, made lovingly, passionately, they’ll vouch for it.

No doubt these are some very genuine thoughts of the design student but before the frustration tips over into demotivation of the learner and extreme steps such abandonment of the project, this experience can be flipped into a positive methodology in learning.

The process of reflection during design development can form the foundation of exploration at every step allowing the design to progress only when the reflective process has satisfied the many questions raised.

In many instances, such as in an exam situation, very often students are heard wishing, that if only they were given a second chance they would have tweaked the solution differently or they would have considered the answer differently.

It seemed, given the opportunity of a second chance, they would have collected their thoughts, stepped back, taken a wider view, considered the context deeply, looked back at possible gaps, how it could have been resolved and after having carefully reflected on the possibilities, suggest solutions to the design problem differently……… now.

As Confucius philosophized, ‘Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous’.

REFLECTION IS INTEGRAL TO DESIGN PROCESS

Reflection is a process of thinking again about the subject matter, now with a renewed sense of security, having undertaken and finished a task, the first time experiencing unsurety, insecurity and hesitancy.

When designers start with initial concepts, whether it be a simple project of developing a form or a complex project developing the corporate identity of a brand, the apprehensions remains the same as the excitement and anticipation. When reflective practice is adopted at all stages of development, it enables deeper exploration and fitment of the solution to the required brief.

Reflection at stages ensures better choices of pathways, more aligned progress and ultimately leads to more appropriate solutions.

REFLECTIVE PRACTICE & ITS EFFECTIVENESS

During the process of design development, maintain a documentation and categorization of the data, the explorations and its context throughout the process

Repeated self questioning can lead to clarity of problem brief which is already half the problem solved.

Provide room for open critique and a healthy adaptation of aligning it to the design problem.

Like all design students are encouraged to keep a Design Diary, so should a project have its Design Diary earmarked to note reflections of important issues and to note landmarks.

As noted by Richard Carlson, American Motivation Trainer and Psychotherapist stated truly,

“Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.”

Reflections are not just thinking of experiences, over the time they turn into insights, which in the long run build up student’s Design philosophy and Design values.

 

 

 

 

Design Thinking : The 5 Stages

Uncertainty abounds nowadays- wars, oil prices, pandemics, start-ups – acting as challengers and disrupting businesses; during such times, being conscious of sustainability and ‘Design Thinking’ redefines business models.

The uncertainty constantly challenges businesses to review and rethink their focus, their business, and most importantly their survival. In such a state of complexity, there is possibly a need to question the basics and revisit the obvious, and that is where design thinking comes in. It offers a thinking approach to redefine all of this in a more human-centric manner.

So what is design thinking? It is purely being more humane and empathetic with the belief that the end-user is at the heart of all decision making

Design thinking is a process which integrates critical thinking, cross functional collaboration, empathy, iteration, & curiosity to deliver breakthrough-outcomes. Companies are increasingly leveraging design thinking to achieve quantum growth.

The thought process while starting with a consumer centric approach also has to pass through the test of technical viability and business feasibility.

The 5 stages of design thinking are-

Stage 1 Empathize – Research the Target Group-User (TGU) needs

We have to set our assumptions and biases aside when we investigate the possible problem that is being attempted to be solved. We have to immerse ourselves in the context of the problem and possibly talk to TGU, who faces it, and speak to the possible experts and even look at similar challenges faced by, and solutions of, diverse businesses.

There are ways to understand the same, namely, FGD, Focus Interviews, Storytelling and Empathy maps. Empathy maps are particularly useful as they map what people say, do, think and feel in the context of the problem. “Observe & Hear Closely”. It allows us to understand how people feel, behave, and experience the problem and possibly how they might see a solution.

Stage 2 Define – The needs & problems of the TGU need to be defined

The insights gathered need to be summarized in a “human-centric” problem rather than business goals. This can be done by identifying the frustrations and challenges that people face through empathy maps, and how people are solving problems and what we need to do for them to find newer and easier solutions to overcome their frustrations.

To exemplify, rather than defining how to get a 20% increase in online sales of juice in Gurgaon, maybe we need to understand the consumption pattern of a health-conscious consumer, which could mean that consumers looking for healthy food may need to be educated on the meaning of ‘health’.

Stage 3 Ideate – Challenge the Assumptions & Evolve ideas

Once the problem/pain-points are identified it is imperative to start ideating and brainstorming the possible alternatives and evolve ideas. Prioritize the breadth rather than depth while developing ideas, as we need to solve a larger range of challenges. The focus needs to be on developing ideas which lead us to formulate prototypes & test the hypotheses.

So basically ideate and evaluate, and sketch your ideas and brainstorm in order to develop possible metrics against which to assess them. A good way to evaluate is to put ideas on the table and ask for a vote.

The ideas post evaluation with maximum votes are put through a prototype test.

Stage 4 Prototype – Start by Creating Alternate Solutions

This is when the idea identified gets a physical form. The same is defined and put through a paper test where a ‘what-if’ analysis could also be done. This helps to ensure that significant gaps are debated on and plugged before the prototype is put through a test. The prototyping stage should be a realistic discussion on what will work and what will not and changes are incorporated in a circular and iterative process, until there seems to be a workable structure. Maybe at this stage it is a good idea to put multiple test cases in discussion as that allows the breadth of possible solutions.

Stage 5 Test – Test the Solutions you feel are the best in ground situations, simulations, pilots

This stage could be considered to be an extension of the empathizing stage .This stage helps to understand in more detail the pain-points of the TGU and explore if the possible solutions being offered are really giving the desired outcomes, those which really help TGU change their behavior or take different decisions towards finding solutions. The answer to gauge is whether a significant impact has been made. It is important to get a feedback; there are various ways in which companies seem to be doing it – simulations, pilot test markets, test groups.

The objective is to put the best possible ideas forward and be open to critical feedback towards finding the right possible solutions. In fact this stage may even reveal that the problems identified and/or solutions proposed were not determined correctly.

Design thinking is an intimate way to get to know the TGU and problem definition better, so that the possible solutions to identified problems have a higher chance of success.

Questions to reflect

  1. Do companies succeed with design thinking ?

-Yes they do. Some examples of successful deployment of design thinking are listed below-

https://hbr.org/2015/09/how-indra-nooyi-turned-design-thinking-into-strategy

https://www.bbva.com/en/airbnb-design-thinking-success-story/

  1. But do companies nowadays “really” use this approach and do they spend enough time in each stage before formalizing a launch or a solution?

-We see a lot of initiatives-launches which did not work due to incomplete efforts in stages of ideation, prototyping and testing…(discuss)

  1. Maybe design thinking approach is one of the reasons why Reliance Retail and Jio are hyper growth platforms?