T. Indra Kumar,
T. Indra Kumar is currently heading the HR operations in US and Chennai for NTrust Infotech and has hands-on experience and proven track record in handling all gamut of end to end HR, setting up HR function, building systems, process and policies, Talent Acquisition, Development and Retention, Automation of HR function (HRMS), Training & Development including OBTs, Rewards & Recognition, Employees motivation, compensation & Benefits, H1B recruitment, Visa processing for US (H1B and L1B) and post recruitment US HR operations.
Having been to various colleges in Tier-2/3 cities for hiring, I wanted to share few of my thoughts on how students can take self-initiative and build their employability skills.
In my experience, I’ve seen these students to be extremely good in many aspects but lacking in certain basic employability skills. The one that is equally important to showcase their talents and get selected. Say for example, a student without Basic English conversing / oral communication skills, however good he may be in academics, will not be able to articulate himself. So, it is needless to stress upon the importance of these skills.
Help yourself - Approach to build Employability skills:
Say, your House is on fire and you are stuck inside. What would you do and what are the various options that you will look at.
1. Call up the Fire station and wait for them to come and rescue you and put off the fire.
2. Shout for help from your neighborhood and wait for the help to come.
3. Try to save yourself first. While you wait for the help from the fire station to arrive, take the help of neighborhood and try to put off the fire.
The third approach is the best and wise one and I am sure that anyone would look at the 3rd approach and it will be without any analysis at all. Similar kind of approach in terms of self-initiative is required to start building these skills too instead of waiting for someone to tell you or train you. That someone could be your own placement wing, college or corporate initiative.
2. Skill Development – Long-term Process:
Say, you are a farmer and you are doing agriculture. For any crop to be cultivated, the process involves putting the seeds, watering on a regular basis, putting fertilizers and taking care right from the beginning to 3 or 6 months so that it grows fully and in a healthy way to give the expected yield. Similarly, say you are an athlete or a tennis player. Your sports skill and capability is “Average” or “Above Average” and you want to move to “Good”. Filling the skill gap requires daily practice for considerable amount of time for 1 or 2 years. It just cannot happen overnight.
In the above instances, is it possible to cut short the process and get the expected results? Is it possible to speed up the crop growth in just one week by doing everything in one week that you needed to do on a daily basis for 3 or 6 months? Instead of daily practice for 1-2 years, can you shorten and practice for just 2 months and become a good athlete?
The answer is apparently a Big NO and it’s just not possible at all. Stephen Covey, in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People calls it “Principles” or “Natural law”. He says that any growth and Development is a step-by-step process and there is no shortcut to it. A thousand mile journey starts with the first step.
Development of employability skills too is a long-terms process. One cannot learn it in just couple of weeks or months before the campus recruitment. If not in the school, one has to start working on improving these skills right from day-1 in colleges as you prioritize and study any of the other subjects.
3. Some Workable Suggestions:
For instance, what kind of cumulative learning that you could have, say if you plan to learn one vocabulary a day or week, one grammar rule for every week, reading one book for every 3 months, reading newspaper on a daily basis for 30 minutes, listening to English news for 30 minutes on a daily basis etc. The results would be phenomenal.
I’ve read somewhere that Chinese/Japanese read comic books to pick up and improve their English communication skills. That’s not a short cut but an innovative method to pick up and improve your English communication. Comics have simple sentences and commonly used simple vocabularies. You may look at reading comic books too on a regular basis. You can learn how to construct simple sentences with commonly used words. A simple yet an effective way to improve one’s communication skills.
Remember, communication skill alone is not enough. You need to equip yourself with few other basic skills like how to attend interviews, Group discussion etc., You may form “peer groups” consisting of your own classmates and engage yourself in regular group discussions and mock interviews. You may also take the help of HR persons who have visited your college for campus.
Have a workable schedule and start it off without procrastination. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
4. Outlier – The 10,000 Hour Rule:
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, talks about an extensive research that was done covering Outliers in various field. (Outliers are those who have achieved exceptionally well in their chosen field than the rest of the people).
One of the findings that he talks about is all the Outliers put in extra hours of practice on a daily basis than others because of which they are able to master whatever they do and they do exceptionally better than others. For instance, Bill Gates had the opportunity and was so passionate about computers that he was spending his time almost day and night doing just programming.
The research says that to reach that kind of mastery or those who have reached that kind of mastery level have spent around 10,000 hours on learning and practice. Looks like that is the kind of hard work required to become an “Outlier”. The common thread across all the Outliers is the 10,000 hour mark. The point to be kept in mind once again for building employability skills is, one cannot cut short the learning process. It’s a step-by-step approach and a long-term process. With such an approach, you can become an Outlier too.
5. Success Stories of some of the SMALL Town Persons in Corporate World:
He was born and brought up in a small town in Orissa. Since there were no primary schools, he did not go to school till the age of 8 and he studied in Oriya medium. One of the routine activities that he had to do was to read out the English Newspapers to his Father on a daily basis which helped him to master the language and connect with the world too.
He started his career as a Clerk in a Government set-up. He is the one who co-founded Mind Tree, one of the leading IT organizations in India. He has published some of the best books in Management and values like High performance entrepreneurs, The Professional, Go Kiss the World. All are amazing books. He is Subroto Bagchi.. He is an inspiration to Tier-2/3 students that they can make it Big too.
The second person that I want to talk about was born in a village in Andhra Pradesh. He did not go to School till the age of 8 years. He failed in 10th Standard and took two attempts to clear it. He studied in Telugu Medium. Later on, he went on to complete his PG Degree and Doctorate in HR from XLRI. He has authored 8 books and published over 60 papers. He is Srinivas Rao Kandula who is heading the entire world-wide HR for iGATE Patni.
To conclude, Coming from Tier-2/3 cities need not be a disadvantage at all. And most importantly, it is not enough if you have incredible talents. You need to present it with good confidence and proper polish too.
Remember, there is no short-cut to it and it is a long-term process.
No Pain… No Gain…