Sunday, November 24, 2013

Communication is the key to success

Effective communication is not only an important requirement in a corporate job but it also plays an important role in your career growth. Here are few tips that will help you!

Written communication:

Written communication in current digital era is mostly in the form of emails and instant messaging. It is imperative to understand the email etiquette to effectively communicate in your job. 

Important items of email etiquette are:

    • Have "Hi/Hello/Dear" followed by the name of the target recipient in the beginning of your email.

    • Have a valid subject line which gives a hint of what this email is about. If there was already a subject line but the context has changed now, don’t hesitate to update the subject relative to current email’s context.

    • Try to avoid the words “Tell You” or “Tell me” and prefer “Let you know” or “Let me know”.

    • Respond promptly to an email. If you need to go over the email and analyse a problem/data/situation, acknowledge with target timelines.

    • If the email content is huge, try to use bullet points to summarize it or prefer to attach a file with the details.

    • Re-read your email from recipient perspective and see if (s)he can understand what you intend to communicate.

    • Make sure you don’t have any spelling mistakes. Most of the current day email clients have spell and grammar check options, put them to the best use.

    • Have a valid email signature with contact information.

    • Avoid using CAPITAL (Uppercase) letters. It means "shouting".

    • Ensure you have enabled out of office reply during your vacation.

    • If you are including email groups, understand those groups and if your content is relevant to those groups' members?

    • Do not show emotions through email. If you are emotional, take some time to relax and then send the email.

    • Do not use official email for personal communication. Keep in mind that, all emails may be monitored.

Instant Messaging:

    • Few corporate companies use instant messaging applications for interaction with-in the team(s) or with-in the corporate. Here are few things to keep in mind while communicating through them.
    • Try to avoid emoticons or special symbols in your chat.
    • See the target recipients current status and try not to disturb if the status indicates he/she is busy, unless it is also very urgent for you to chat with him/her.
    • Make sure you have updated your status appropriately.
    • While you can start with greeting the recipient, try to keep your communication short and simple. Lot of people don’t prefer to read long messages in instant messaging tools.

Verbal Communication:

    • We talk to our team members or our bosses or other teams. Everything you communicate verbally including your casual discussion with a colleague to a discussion in a meeting room is important in a way. 
    • Understand the purpose of the every communication you have and be prepared. 
    • For organised meetings, most of the times an agenda for discussion is shared before hand. If so, go through that and understand your involvement in it and do your ground work before going to the meeting.
    • Make sure you are not shouting and at the same time you are not too low.
    • Maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to. If you are talking to a group of people, share eye-contact with all of them in turns.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

4 Steps to crack interviews

After my initial post, some of my readers and friends requested me to cover the interview preparation and tips in detail and the result is this post.

Here are the 4 most important steps to succeed in an interview:

1. Preparation

2. Things to do before going to the interview

3. Things to do during the interview

4. Closing the interview

Let us dive deep and see each of the above step in detail.

1. Preparation

  • You should gain thorough knowledge in the area of your skills.
  • Make notes with bullet points and this will be helpful for the quick review.
  • Be prepared for few common questions that are asked across interviews. Best way to improve your confidence is, write down your answers, practice by speaking out loudly in front of a mirror.
  • “What”, “How”, “Why” are few words that are used across many interviews. 
  • When “What” is used, interviewer is expecting you to describe your understanding on a topic/situation/problem. 
  • When “How” is used, you are expected to answer how did you solve a problem or do you solve a problem. 
  • When “Why” is used, you are expected to answer “Why” you have chosen that solution/that part of your solution, compare it with other solutions and describe the pros and cons of different possible approaches.

Interviewer may get in to further questions based on your answer and it may fall into one of the following categories:

Leading Questions: 

  • Interviewer might pick a word or term from your answer and ask questions about it. 
  • If you are lucky and get an interviewer who is asking questions in this way, you know what to be done. Don’t you think you can make interviewer ask the next question based on your answer? 
  • This type of questions are discouraged in interviewers point of view but some candidates might just get lucky to get that type interviewer.
Probing questions: 

  • Probing questions are used to understand if you have solved the problem or how do/did you go about solving a problem.
Hypothetical questions: 

  • These are as well to be avoided in interviewers point of view. But for fresh graduates, some times they would have to be asked due to the candidate’s less/no experience. 
  • These usually start with “Suppose” or “Given” or “If” etc.,. You will be given a hypothetical problem and asked for how do you go about solving it. 
  • Don’t just give up if you don’t know the complete solution. Interviewers might just look for your thought process and to see if you really trying or just giving up.

2. Things to do before going to the interview

Understanding the company profile:

  • Make sure you understand the company or organisation’s profile, when they started, what are they in to and their presence at present etc.,. 
  • This is needed in interviewer’s perspective if you are serious about joining them.
Understanding the job profile:
  • If you just jump in to the interviewing without going through the job profile, it means that you don’t know anything about that job and you are still interested. It really is not a good thing. 
  • Request the interview coordinator to share the job description before going to the interview and go through it and understand what are the expectations for that job position.

Few Other things:
  • Reach the venue before 30 minutes of the schedule. It is good than hurrying in on time or making interviewer wait.
  • Make sure you are in formal dress even if that organisation doesn’t have a dress code. It shows how serious you are about that job and at least a few interviewers appreciate it.
  • Make sure you don't smell bad and the same time avoid using perfumes with strong smell. Some people don't like strong fragrances and they tend to get headaches.

3. Things to do during the interview

  • Communication is key to success in any field. Make sure you are listening to the questions clearly and request the interviewer to repeat if you don’t understand. 
  • Don’t just assume until you are asked to. Wait for interviewer to complete talking even if you understood the question.
  • Be confident when you are answering.
  • Be honest with interviewer and let him/her know that you didn’t get a chance to look at that topic/area when you don’t know answer.
  • When you don’t know something that is required for that job and if you are confident in learning and performing, be assuring and give an example where you have learnt some thing new and performed well.
Face to Face:
  • Maintain a smile on your face all the time.
  • Be confident and don’t be nervous, there is nothing wrong in not knowing something.
  • Sit straight. Don’t lean forward or backward.
  • Don’t shake your legs, it shows that you are nervous.
  • Look into the eyes of the interviewer(s) while answering. Don't stare.
  • Your body language shows how you respond to a particular question. This is observed by many psychologists that if you don’t like a question or not interested about it, you tend to move/lean back. Many experienced interviewers can easily identify this. 
  • Similarly, when you are tensed, your shoulders get to be tight. The key to overcome these is to be confident and honest while talking to the interviewer.
While body language plays an important role in Face to Face interviews, telephonic interviews are little different.

  • Acknowledge the questions asked by the interviewer.
  • If you are thinking and need a few minutes, let the interviewer know that you are thinking about the solution and you need few minutes.
  • Repeat the question after the interviewer if you are not clear about it. Don’t hesitate to ask further questions to understand something.

4. Closing the interview

  • If you are interested about joining that organisation, show it to the interviewer and tell him/her the reasons why you like it. 
  • Some of the top reasons include, passion about that job, growth opportunities in that company and challenges involved in the job.
  • Don’t be desperate, you just need to show that you are interested if offered.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

4 Steps to find your dream job

Finding the right job is not an easy task but is essential for you to lead a successful and a happy professional life. Here are the 4 steps that can help launch you in to a job that is likely to fit you.

1. Identify your interests

2. Identify your skills

3. Align your skills with interests

4. Get it right and Get in

A brief description of each step with action items to help you land in your dream job: 

1. Identify your interests:

It is very important to identify your interests before starting your job search as it plays a crucial role in your professional life. You don’t want to end up doing something you don’t like to!!!

  • What do you like to do? Some of us might just want to enjoy the life without working, but that’s not where we are getting at. If you like to do a job or if you have to do a job, what is it that you enjoy doing? 
  • Look around you, you might see some people whom you like to be. Don’t look at their Ferrari or some other life style materialistic things. Look for what they do and do you like doing what they do? If so, start making a list with a name “I’d like to do” and add this job to that list.
  • Remember the instances where you did few things very well and you enjoyed it too. One may like to become a programmer or a specialist in marketing. Point here is not just to identify a title, it is also to identify what you end up doing as a programmer or a marketing specialist. Get deeper and narrow down to the day to day tasks you would like to handle.
  • Just to give you an example, a programmer may end up programming in Java or Mainframe or some other language and a marketing specialist may end up selling/marketing medicine products or some software products. There are too many areas to be listed here. 
  • You have to identify what do you want to do exactly, figure it out and keep adding it to the list “I’d like to do”
  • If you have more than one item in the “I’d like to do” list, start rating them or writing them in most preferred order.

2. Identify your skills:

This is an important step in the process of finding a right job. 

  • List down all your skills. It could be that you are very good persuading people or it could be that you are very good at doing some complex coding. 
  • Write down all your soft skills and your technical skills and of course.
  • Rate yourself on those skills which can be looked at later for any improvements needed.

3. Align your skills with interests:

Okay, now you have already completed two most important aspects of your job hunting. This step is crucial as it helps you self evaluate and improve the skills needed for your dream job.

  • Look out in the market to see what does your dream job need? 
  • Go to the job searching web sites and enter the keywords of your dream job. 
  • I may use keywords like “Marketing Manager”, “FMCG” etc.,. You have to come up with keywords closer to your dream job.
  • Go through each of the job listing, write down the skills employer is looking for. This may give you a list of skills that are repeatedly asked for most number of times etc.,.
  • Once you have the list of skills that employers are looking for in current market scenario, bring up the list of skills that you have prepared earlier. Match both the lists and identify the gaps and fill-in the gaps by learning the skills that are most needed.

As much as you fill-in the gaps between both the skill lists, the chances are high for you to crack through the hiring process.

4. Get it right and Get in:

This is the final step which includes identifying organisations that offers your dream job and a few important aspects of interview process.
  • Identify the organisations having openings of your dream job.
  • Understand their hiring process.
  • Prepare yourself for the interview.
  • Seek clarifications or understanding about the job’s roles and responsibilities and make sure you understand the job profile.
  • Ask any questions about the work culture of the company.
  • Seek for opportunities of growth in the company.
  • Set the expectations on what you are looking for, this helps the employer understand your expectations.

After all these steps, you are most likely to end up with a job offer letter of your dream job in your hands. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen, it means that there are gaps to be filled-in and areas to be improved upon. This gives a great experience to learn from and to move on to next company in your job searching.

All the very best and Happy searching!!!!!