Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Equip yourself to get a good job
by Usha Albuquerque

TODAY, the job market has exploded with hundreds of new jobs being created every day, while there are also many that are fading away. The unprecedented era of technology has transformed the job market rapidly, remaking virtually every aspect of the way we work and the way we live. Fifty years ago, machines ruled only the industrial sector, but today the impact of the computer chip magnifies the power of the human mind and intellect.

In this high-paced, hi-tech modern workplace, the worker must be highly literate and computer friendly, and have the appropriate skills for ensuring his/her career growth. Today, there are thousands of educated people who are unemployed - and most often because of their lack of these skills, are also unemployable.

So, what must one do to develop the right skills? A few of the most essential skills are listed below:

Update computer skills

Practise and work on activities like generating computer-based mailing lists, data input, generating data bases, financial record keeping, and Internet communications. Set aside some time to find out more about your computer. It is a marvelous tool if utilised in a proper manner. Most often you can learn a lot of what the computer can do, just by trial and error.

Acquire new skills

Enroll in a class for developing skills you may not have---these may relate to your work, or to an area of computer technology or software application. If you are in college, find time in the evenings, weekends, or holidays. If you are working, ask your company if they will allow you to do so. Most organisations are happy to have employees upgrade their skills and are sometimes even prepared to pay for the extra classes. It is never too late to learn. Learning accounting, language or communication skills may be the most appropriate and aggressive step you could take to make yourself and your career competitive well into the future.

Master art of presentation

Spend time on learning how to speak and write clearly. Many employers will not hire those who, despite a long list of qualifications, cannot write a proper letter or a memo or make a presentation. Presentation and communication skills are very important for success. If necessary, enroll in classes for developing personality and presentation skills. Learn to speak slowly and intelligently. It helps to practise at home by speaking in front of the mirror to an imaginary colleague, and recording it too. Read up about a new development or an event and try relating it in your own words. It is only when we hear ourselves that we realise how poor our communication skills are.

Cultivate contacts

Develop relationships with colleagues in your workplace. If you are already working in an organisation, you can learn a lot from your colleagues, from the way they handle work, what they do and why. Gathering information about other aspects of your office organisation is also important to get to know the dynamics of various relationships and how they influence your career path. It is good to maintain good working relationships with colleagues, especially if you have to work in a team. A person who pulls in different directions without a valid explanation, is not going to go far in an organisation. Moreover, if you have a difference of opinion you have to learn to win others to your viewpoint without creating tensions within the group. Such interpersonal skills are a vital part of career growth

Have nose for news

Keep abreast of the news- not only within the office but also of national, political and business news. It is good to be informed as conditions within the country and in the international arena influence the fortunes of organisations. So you must read at least two newspapers every day, as well as a newsmagazine and business magazine once every week. You can also pick up and read books on technology, computer software and books on your special area of work. Introduce yourself to a whole new world of information and knowledge. Personal growth is as important as success.

Ask questions

Do not hesitate to pick up the phone or go to an organisation or office to ask a question and get a clarification. Many perceive asking a question of others as a sign of weakness. It is quite the opposite. Ask questions and you will learn incessantly and at a more rapid pace than those who do not. Never lose a childlike, inquisitive mind. It is the sure sign of a winner.

Pick a part-time job

Find yourself a part-time or summer job. Working at a fast food joint, in an ad agency, or marketing office can give you valuable hands-on realistic experience that is a wonderful introduction to the world of work. Such an exercise will give you great insight into the kind of work you may like to do in your career, and teach you valuable lessons in team-work, management skills, discipline and work values. It would also look good on your CV .

Develop all these skills and you will move into the future updated and extremely marketable, and financially secure over the long term.

The writer has authored the Penguin India Career Guide and The Essential Guide to Careers.