Headhunters’ Delight
Usha Albuquerque

This may be the right time to shift your goals and polish up skills you have acquired. Improve your hiring quotient and effectively manage your present career in the uncertain job market. Here’s how…

THE economic downturn is now really beginning to bite. The recent lay-offs, cuts in salary and downsizing of companies have sent shivers down the spines of everyone. Seeing hundreds of Jet Airways employees fighting to retain their jobs has made thousands wonder when they might get the pink slip. Jobs and careers, which only a few weeks ago seemed to be on the upswing, are suddenly coming crashing down.

Shifts in the economy are a fact of life and given the current supply-and-demand situation, it is best that one is aware not only of how insecure a job can be but also of how important it is to keep oneself employed and employable. To effectively manage your present career in today’s job market, you not only need to improve your hiring quotient but also position yourself to recognise and pre-empt the changes that may take place in the future. So, what can you do? Read on.

Be Tech-savvy

LIKE it or not, technology is advancing into every aspect of work life and will continue to do so, increasingly. Keep yourself abreast of hi-tech advances, as they will shape jobs and organisations. Ask questions. Take an online course, if necessary. Every day push yourself a little further inside what’s happening in the tech world. Your comfort in the virtual world with online tools like email, blogs, podcasts and web conferencing is truly important in this particular aspect of office culture.

Stand Out

DO good work and let people know you by the quality of your labour and work product. You need to demonstrate to employers that you can hit the ground running. There are so few good workers out there that you will soon make a name for yourself. If you enjoy your work and are proactive and creative, it will show. Much of your success in your job depends less on your knowledge and how smart you are but on your attitude, your willingness to work and your cooperation to get things done. Demonstrate that you can be adaptable and are a self-motivated employee who can work without supervision. Keep in mind, whatever may be the problems, do not complain. When hard times hit, those who complain or spend more time explaining why they failed, are often the first to go.

Go Network

KEEPING up the professional friendships in your worklife can help you tremendously during difficult times. The old saying — It’s not what you know but who you know — is often true. Use every opportunity to build up a network of contacts in your academic, professional and social life, who may be able to help you with your future career plans/job opportunities. Only 20 per cent job vacancies are advertised through the traditional media of local and national newspapers. Therefore, it is vital to have a network of contacts in as many areas of work as possible. Develop relationships with those whom you want to be your references at your new place of work.

Get Global

TO cope in the global marketplace, equip yourself with international skills. If you know more than one language and are sensitive to cultural differences, you can effectively interact with diverse people and handle a range of international assignments. With so many multinationals working in India, bilingual employees have a definite advantage.

Team Spirit

THE ability to work effectively in teams — often more than one at a time — and to be able to readjust roles from one project situation to another in an ever-shifting work situation will help you build team spirit. Organisations look for people who can relate to and feel comfortable with people at all levels. Sharing knowledge, facilitating idea generation and structuring efficiency in the team are of prime importance.

Keep Learning

EDUCATION doesn’t stop once you start working. Ongoing training and constant updating of futuristic skills will build a portfolio of strengths to maintain your employability in the new job market. So, develop a lifelong learning outlook along with the curiosity to acquire and willingness to apply new knowledge. Also, single subject specialisation is on the way out; crossing skill boundaries is what is crucial — an engineer with an MBA, a nurse with financial ability or a techie with business or legal skills.

Look Your Part

WE are judged by how we look. If we’re ridiculously sloppy or dirty, if our clothes are unkempt, our hair is a weird colour or shape, we will make a bad impression. It costs little to maintain an attire and grooming that wins respect. People assume you’re what you look like, so appear at your best all of the time. Look like a businessperson or a writer or an actor. You don’t have to wear Prada! You just have to look professional. Get rid of the purple hair, and tattoos now!

And finally, keep in mind that dramatic changes may eliminate your job or even make your career obsolete but it is not a time of all gloom. Think positive — you can now devote much of your spare time to making yourself a more attractive candidate — taking a computer or language course or starting an MBA programme that you had been unable to pursue after college. It won’t be time wasted — jobseekers increase their marketability simply by getting enrolled.

Going back to study – irrespective of the level — keeps a person in tune with the latest trends in a particular field of study, especially in technical areas. Human resource executives are more inclined towards candidates who have taken it upon themselves to update their skills through education.

Companies want employees who have the zeal to be lifelong learners. If the cost of further education is a concern, fear not. After hiring you, your employer may pay for all or part of your continuing education if it directly relates to your job.

It may also be the time for introspection. Look around, talk to people and find out where the markets are moving. You may find that instead of confining yourself to your current field, you need to look at the thousands of opportunities presenting themselves. It may be the right time to shift your goals and polish up the skills you have acquired.

This may also be the time to list all transferable experiences gained at former positions. Many jobseekers fail to realise the broad array of skills they have acquired. Think of all the special projects or responsibilities you handled. Ask yourself what did I learn as a result of the project, and what new skills did I acquire along the way. Write down all your answers in detail. Experiences gained at previous positions can usually be transferred to fit the needs of potential future employers.

So, prepare yourself and maintain a positive attitude — there still are thousands of jobs waiting for the right person!

Be a volunteer

ANOTHER good use of free time is doing volunteer work. HR executives are often impressed by volunteer work with NGOs, particularly in social development fields, and if they involve a leadership role. Working with campaigns like the Teach India campaign, or raising money through a benefit for a local charity, for example, would build confidence and be a highly marketable skill. Best of all, volunteer work builds self-esteem – vital to your ability to succeed, particularly in the all-important job interview.

(The writer is a career counsellor)



Mr Right or Wrong?
As candidates fudge particulars with aplomb, background screening poses a gigantic challenge for recruiters
S. C. Dhall

AN immaculate employment and personal record, the right qualifications and a pleasing personality — every headhunter’s dream come true. But not any more. Hundreds of candidates across the country are trying to fake it to land their dream job. Discrepancies vary from concealing information about criminal records, being sacked from the previous organisation or simply fudging educational qualifications.

The banking and financial industry has earned itself the dubious distinction of the highest misrepresentation of employment facts: Every third resume has an anomaly. In the IT industry, every fourth resume and in the ITES industry every sixth resume poses a challenge to recruiters.

In a seminar organised in Chennai recently, it was revealed that seventy five percent of IT-related security breaches happen from within companies while over six per cent annual revenues of global companies are lost due to fraud. This has led companies to the importance of screening of an employee’s personal and professional background.

ICICI Bank chairman K.V. Kamath said that the bank had to sift through over 42 resumes on an average to find one qualified candiate. The bank scanned through about 7.5 lakh resumes to find 17,500 qualified candidates during the last financial year. In India, it has been observed that a large number of people enter the job market but many lack the skill set to success. Advocating for an increase in the skilled employee base to keep attrition under control, Kamath said this could make employees realise that they have competition for jobs.

IT companies and BPOs – already grappling to find and retain the right employees — are now facing the daunting task of weeding out the black sheep. A recent survey shows that one in every four CV submitted for an IT job contains some kind of discrepancy.

Analysts feel that due to the rapid growth of IT/BPO services, overall employment opportunities have grown tremendously. On the one hand, there is a rising demand for talent while on the other, there is shortage of people with right skills. Placement agencies find themselves under pressure to identify candidates at short notice, which is why some candidates and recruitment agencies fake information related to academic qualifications and last salary.

Recently, Tata Consultancy Services had asked a dozen employee to leave the organisation for fudging resumes. Satyam also asked several employees to leave immediately after discrepancies were found during a background check. Since companies spent lot of money on training the fresh recruits, a reference check before an employee joins the organisation is necessary to avoid loss of revenue.

Employers, this one is for you. Beware of any agency that claims to have verified candidates for criminal activity. There are no searchable records available at any district courts in India.

According to a pre-screening player, fake degrees can be obtained and verified in the country with ease. Most discrepancies are related to education qualifications. Of these, over 80 per cent candidates submit fake documents and overall 70 per cent discrepancies are related to previous employment. Currently, there are around 500 companies in the screening arena. The cost of a background check varies from Rs 500 to 5,000 and the industry has a Rs 500-crore base.

According to a research conducted by a screening firm, more and more executives are falling prey to fraudulent methods to land jobs. The research mentioned that security services saw most people trying to get jobs through misrepresentation as job opportunities become scarce.



Caution: Handle with care
Troublemakers are omnipresent. Give them a patient hearing & see all your troubles vanish
D.C. Sharma

NO organisation is free from troublemakers, late- comers, work-shirkers and time-killers. To find faults with them only aggravates the problem. As they say, “If you fight with thorns, you’ll be pricked. If you handle them with care, you’ll get lovely roses!”

Ralph Elliot, a USA-based top class employee relations officer, reveals: “When a troublemaker comes to me in a fit of anger I always ask him what he wants me to do. That cools him down.”

When you ask a person what he wants you to do, you serve him at two levels. First, he feels psychologically satisfied that you care for him. Secondly, he feels himself unburdened of his mounting problem. He really finds a soft corner in your heart. Your kind and affectionate pat to an angry person works like a soothing balm.

The easiest way to cool down an angry person is to ask him to elaborate his problem. That lightens his troubled heart. At the same time, agree with him. Tell him how you, too, would have acted in a similar way had you been in his position. This again would assure him a sense of similarity, which builds a natural relationship between you. When you assure him you would stand by him to solve his problem, you make him feel he is not alone.

Half the problem is solved when you had addressed his complaint as a problem. Why call it a problem at all? The word “complaint” itself carries a pinching tinge. Addressing it as a problem, you deprive it of its pinching edge.

When you gracefully handle a troublemaker, you serve many ends. First, he is psychologically relieved. Secondly, he no more remains a troublemaker! Thirdly, he is put on a line and he tries to show his worth in a productive and constructive manner. He only needs due direction once he feels his problem shall be solved.

The reason behind the troublemaker’s mischief is not what appears to be evident. A greater part of his problem lies in what he does not say. The officer who can read between the lines can handle a troublemaker better than the one who simply poses to be competent but knows only to shout.

Dr Howard Pickering, a US-based psychiatrist writes: “...marital difficulties arise from husband or wife who are overly jealous. The one who is emotionally insecure is usually selfish, suspicious and grasping.” Similarly, it is the psychological insecurity that prompts a troublemaker to perform below his own competence. It compels him to interfere with the well functioning of his colleagues. His destructive attitude harms not only his organisation but also his own personality and output

Showing empty love and doing nothing for the troublemaker does not solve the problem. Genuinely help him. Such a small beginning with a loving pat can give you a worker par excellence!

Perhaps, you may realise your troublemaker may not be blindly following the rules without question. Who knows he may have some better ideas, he may possess a better skill than you may be expecting? You’ll know all that once you make him realise you really intend to help him.

Let him tell how and where he wants to improve. Let him improve his work and skills. Rule by work, not by rules. Instead of creating trouble, he’ll prove an asset to your organisation. Try it!



Avoid herd mentality
Don’t go in for an MBA because everybody is doing so. It is worth it only if you know what you can gain out of it
Luv Chaudhary

Tips from those who have been there, done that

A GOOD to excellent MBA would cost you two years of your life and around Rs 7-8 lakh in India while that in a good foreign university about $100,000 of your life savings. This, on top of the two years’ worth of income you would forgo pursuing the pinnacle of education, as some might view the MBA.

There have been many debates on the merits of doing an MBA. Certain studies have shown that the MBA is at the risk of becoming irrelevant. Most potential MBA-ites view it as an instant recipe to a high-flying career and a fat paycheck. Hence there is a question that is worth exploring: What is the value of an MBA education?

It is not common knowledge that the MBA was designed to help engineers move out of technical situations and into management positions. People with business or finance backgrounds may find the programme redundant to a degree as it merely reinforces (and enhances, no doubt) their current knowledge. For them, the question is whether sacrificing two years of relevant experience is worth more than achieving an MBA. It is the group of individuals with more technical backgrounds that tend to benefit more by this broadening experience. This credential gives them the option to learn several new concepts and make that career switch into the business or management arena.

The social and business networks you gain from these top schools are easily worth the tuition. After two years of shared projects and all-nighters, it’s often easy to reconnect with good friends or even acquaintances from your MBA days with a simple email or phone call. The bond created through an alumnus is a strange, mystical thing, especially at top tier schools where the sense of belonging to an elite group is strong. Employers these days do give more weightage to your experience than to your degree, but they’re still more likely to favour people they know. Sorry, folks. Come resume screening time and it proves to be a huge advantage if the recruiter recognises you as an alumnus.

Employers assume, with some justification, that someone who managed to get into an elite school is ambitious, intelligent, and self-motivated. Further to this, many of your old buddies would probably be at senior positions in major companies 10-15 years postgraduation. Now, you are both in the situation to scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

Apart from social and business networks, you can also gain valuable group communication skills from the MBA experience. At most business schools, the case method and class participation make up an important part of the curriculum. In a business school setting, you learn when to interrupt, when to keep silent and listen, when to be serious, and when to use humour to break the ice. This same group power dynamic exists in many business situations, from team projects to board meetings. Mastering the art of communication in a group is one of the things that distinguish successful people from the rest, and it is learned very powerfully in a B-school.

So you need to examine the pros and cons of attending an MBA programme against your longer-term goals and the relevance of the MBA in achieving those goals. Often, many lose sight of the real intent of higher education —racing more towards the finish line (and the dollar signs) and forget to maximise the experience right in front of them. It is an opportunity to grow professionally and personally. You will be tested in ways you never imagined. The MBA is worth it if you know what you can gain out of it. It is not an automatic passport to success; it won’t bring you instant fame and fortune. For that, my friend, you’re going to have to use the grey matter in between your ears. You’ll just have some MBA leverage to help you along, that’s all.

To be continued

(The writer is a student of IIM, Lucknow, batch 2007-09)



Career Hotline
The world at your feet
Pervin Malhotra

Q. Can you please tell me something about footwear manufacturing technology? What is the eligibility for this? What is the duration of this course? Please name some good institutions and their fees.

— Divangshu Kumar

A. India ranks second among the largest footwear producing countries in the world after China. Although we only have a relatively modest share of the global footwear export market, the figures are expected to leapfrog thanks to shift from labour-intensive methods to modern state-of-art production, technology and innovative design. With the commerce ministry paying special attention to this sector, it is expected to grow by 20 - 30 per cent in the coming years. Domestic demand for footwear is also on the rise — estimated at over 800 million pairs a year!

Footwear manufacturing involves everything from preparing and treating the raw material to cutting, stitching and adding the finishing touches. This is a highly mechanised process handled by skilled production technicians with an eye for detail.

On completing your course you could either work with shoe manufacturers or handle independent projects for them. Some of the big companies that employ footwear technologists are Reebok, Adidas, Nike, Bata, Hindustan Unilever, Farida Shoes, Drish Shoes, Mirza Tanners, M&B Footwear, Liberty Shoes, Lakhani Shoes, Sree Leather or lifestyle retail chains like Pantaloon, Lifestyle, Landmark and Footmark.

In this industry, career progress is purely performance-based. After you have gained some practical hands-on experience in a well-established design and fabrication firm, you could set up your own unit catering to international as well as domestic markets.

As this is not a very cost-intensive venture, a single line, small-scale unit could be set up with a relatively small investment. Besides, labour and raw material are still available at a reasonable cost and power consumption is minimal.

Institute Watch

n Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI), A 10A, Sector 24, Noida 201301. Also at Kanpur, Agra and Chennai.
Set up under the MoC, GoI, FDDI is one of the most reputed training institutions in the footwear industry. Equipped with a CAD center and a resource centre, the ISO 9001 certified institute is accredited with Bally of Switzerland and the Textile Institute, UK, for its long-term courses e.g. PG diploma in management-footwear technology (two-year) and diploma in footwear technology (UG, three-year).
Details: (
Here are some other institutes in North India:
n AVI School of Fashion & Shoe Technology
S.C.O. 493-94, Sector 35-C, Chandigarh
n Central Footwear Training Institute (CFTI): Agra
n Dr BR Ambedkar Regional Engineering College
PO REC, Jalandhar 144011
n Government Leather Institute, Agra, Kanpur, Jalandhar
n Harcourt Butler Technological Institute (UP Tech University), Kanpur 208002
n Muzaffarpur Institute of Techonology (Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Bihar University), Muzaffarpur-842003
- National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT): New Delhi
Shoe Design Centre
5477/72, Kikarwala Chowk, Karol Bagh, New Delhi-110005
Eligibility for most manufacturing technology programmes that are offered both at the undergraduate as well as PG level is a background in science. The fees vary from institute to institute and depend on the level and duration of the course. You can get the exact details regarding eligibility etc from their respective websites.

Path to Success

Q. I did PGDBA (finance) from Symbiosis, Pune, through distance mode while working as an accountant in a company but I’m not able to get a better opening as everyone asks for regular courses. Please suggest some institute or course in Delhi from where I can pursue a further relevant qualification that can get me a good job in the financial sector.

— Dhruv Choksi

A. Among others, here’s an interesting one you could check out: The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) has tied up with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) to offer a four-month certificate programme in Capital and Financial Markets. The first 170-hr course, which started in August, has attracted a motley group of participants –– from IAS officers to CAs and financial journalists. As many as 70 per cent applicants have over three years of work experience.

The focus is on practical training and the institute plans to get online trading simulators to facilitate learning in equities and derivatives. The faculty comprises in-house lecturers from IIFT as well as private investment bankers and trading practitioners. The course fee is Rs 50,000. Classes are conducted at IIFT’s New Delhi campus.

The course covers primary and secondary markets, derivatives, forex management, commodity markets, bond markets, mutual funds etc. The idea is to develop professionals with adequate skills in the securities market. The number of financial products on offer is growing by the day and there is a need for professionals who understand the market.

You can choose to take classes on weekdays for two hours or for five hours each on Saturdays and Sundays.

BCA is not enough

Q. I would like to do BCA. Will I have to do MCA after it or is BCA sufficient for a good career? Please tell me my options after BCA in a government and private sector.

— Radhika Sanyal

A. You are not likely to get a good job in the information technology sector after a three-year bachelor degree. You will need to do a MCA or M.Sc IT subsequently from a reputed university or institution. Your goal should be to make the most of your course while concentrating on the fundamentals. Alternatively, should you wish to specialise in computer networking, you can go for recognised certifications such as MCSE, CCNA etc. Of course, you could opt for specialisation in information security or quality testing or even gaming technology. The options are countless.

Calling all budding scientists

Q. I am a student of class 12. I want to know about K.V.P.Y and how can I apply for it?

— Gandharv Lijhara

A. The Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana is an ongoing programme initiated by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, to encourage students of basic sciences, engineering and medicine to take up research careers in these areas.

Generous scholarships are provided (right up to the pre-Ph.D. level) to selected students. In addition, summer programmes in prestigious research and educational institutions in the country are organised and preferential access to libraries, laboratories and museums is provided.

Since you have not mentioned what stream you are in, I’m giving you the comprehensive details so you can apply for the area of your choice.

n Eligibility for basic science

- Stream SA: Students joining class 11 (science subjects) in 2008-09 with min 75% (65% for SC/ST) in math and science in class 10 boards.

- Stream SB: Open to all first year students of BSc / MSc; integrated in 2008-2009 with minimum 60% marks in math and science in 10+2 boards.

- Stream SB + 2 (SX): Open to all students of class 12 in 2008-2009 who aspire to join IISER for integrated MS programme. Should have minimum 75% marks in math & science subjects in class 10 boards.

- Stream SP: Students of class 11 and 12, year one or two of any UG programme in basic sciences with minimum 60% in class 10 & 12 boards. A science-based research project is mandatory for participation.

n Eligibility for engineering stream

- Stream SP: First year BE / BTech / BArch with minimum 60% marks in 10+2 board exam. A research project is required. Second year BE/ BTech / BArch with minimum 60% marks in the first year. A research project is required.

n Eligibility for medicine stream

- Stream SP: Those enrolled in MBBS programme with minimum 75% (65% for SC/ST) marks in science subjects in 10+2 board exam. A research project is required.

n Selection: On the basis of an aptitude test to be conducted on November 2, 2008, excellent academic record and demonstrated interest in research.

n Fellowships: Rs 4,000-7,000 a month and contingency grants for students studying basic science, engineering and medicine.

n Application form: Download from the Indian Institute of Science website (

For more details, contact Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana, Bangalore 560012.

Holistic Healing

Q. I have done BAMS and am very interested in alternative therapies. I have also done a course in yoga. Now, I am keen to enroll in a short course in acupuncture but have not been able to locate a recognised course in the subject. Could you please suggest a good one?

A. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) ( has just introduced a one year PG Diploma in Acupuncture in collaboration with the Institute of Acupuncture and Natural Medicines, New Delhi.

Eligibility: Medical graduates (allopathy / ayurveda / unani / siddha / homoeopathy / yoga / naturopathy)

Application form and details can be obtained from the IGNOU website. But you’ll haveto hurry. The application deadline is October 31, 2008.

This column appears weekly. Please send in your queries, preferably on a postcard, along with your full name, complete address and academic qualifications to: Editor, Jobs and Careers, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160030, or at careers



Fortnightly Quiz-321

Breathtaking view

1. Which novel by Aravind Adiga has won this year’s Man Booker award?

2. Name Finland’s former President who has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

3. Name this year’s winner of the Nobel prize for economics.

4. What is the term used to describe the minimum amount of money that banks are required to keep with the Reserve Bank of India?

5. Name the six states where Assembly elections will be held in the months of November and December.

6. Name the nun from a remote village in Kerala who, after 62 years of her death, was recently conferred sainthood by the Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

7. What is India’s rank on the 2008 Global Hunger Index of 88 countries?

8. How many years ago was the famous Coonoor-Udhagamandalam mountain train, which featured in Bollywood blockbuster song Chhaiyya Chaiyya in the film Dil Se, started?

9. Name the two Indian Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) that rank among the world’s top 200 universities, as per a latest ranking by an international agency.

10. Name the top three run scorers in Test cricket.

— Tarun Sharma

Winners of quiz 320: The first prize by draw of lots goes to Rajat Gupta, XI (non-medical), R.S.D Raj Rattan Public School, Ferozpur City, Pin code-152002

Second: Minni, class VII-A, RM School, Jhabkara, district Gurdaspur, pin code-143535

Third: Sandeep Singh Saini, class 10th-A, Govt Senior Secondary School Boys, Nalagarh, district Solan (HP), pin code-174101

Answers to quiz 320: France; China; 85; Non-combat; Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar; October 2; Salwa Judum; Russia; Kapil Dev; Badminton

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

Note: Kindly mention the pincode of your place to facilitate the delivery of the prize money.

Answers can also be sent at [email protected]

Name ……………….…………...........
Class ....………….......….……...........
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