What is business communication and why is it important?

As a student entering the corporate world, one of the most critical aspects of your skill-set is your communication ability. Effective communication within a company can help to foster a healthy working relationship between you and your colleagues. Simultaneously, strong business communication with external stakeholders such as clients and customers go a long way.

At Talerang, we speak to companies on a daily basis to understand what would make them excited to hire a fresher. Business communication is a significant aspect for them. Here is a summary of some key points HR professionals expect from an early stage professional:

  1. A positive tone and wording is critical: Make it a point to use a positive tone when interacting with stakeholders. For example, suggest alternatives and offer solutions to problems instead of getting defensive or argumentative. If you need someone’s help with a task, make it sound like a request than a demand. Be assertive rather than aggressive while communicating with your team and customers. You should also avoid monotone responses – incorporate energy into your conversation. If you can build a positive aura around you and your team and your customers genuinely like speaking to you, the results will follow!
  2. Be an active listener: Business communication is as much about listening as speaking. Avoid bringing in strong opinions and being distracted by your own thoughts. Be engaged and give your full attention to the speaker. Pay attention during business conversations and meetings and ask questions. Being curious and asking questions will help you guide the conversation and keeps you focused on the topic.
  3. Be prudent with your writing: Business communication is mainly conducted over e-mail. An average office employee sends and receives 122 emails per day*. Here are some ways to ensure you are effective with your business writing:
  • Use the subject wisely: Ensure your e-mail is opened by having the right subject. For example, if the work required is urgent, reflect the deadline in your subject.
  • Keep it brief and actionable: Keep your sentences short. Make sure the email is concise. Clarify next steps in the e-mail along with who is responsible.
  • Check the tone: Avoid informal language while communicating via email. Close your mails with “Regards”, “Best” or “Yours sincerely”, depending on the situation.
  • Proofread: Review your emails for spelling, grammar and punctuation.

The best part about graduating is no exams at work. However, the way you interact both in person and in writing will determine how people perceive you. Ultimately, even if you work extremely hard, if you are unable to communicate the impact of your work to your manager and clients you will not be appreciated. Effective business communication is extremely critical to succeeding at any job at any firm.

*Source: http://bit.ly/1GofscG

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2h1qqlK

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Staying relevant in a constantly changing world

Keeping yourself current is important to show your relevance in any job. This involves keeping your skills current and also being aware of trends and changes in your industry. Unlike 50 years ago when people often stayed in a similar role for their entire career, most careers today have constantly changing demands. Here are a few specific things you can do to stay upto date:

  1.   Staying current with news: You can choose the media that you like and subscribe to print or online options. Follow relevant newspapers, magazines, editorials and blogs to ensure you are well-read. Be aware of what is happening around you and what direct and indirect impact it has on your work. For instance, the demonetization policy is a major change and will likely have several effects on our economy! You can switch on Google alerts for topics that interest you so that you receive a digest of articles in your mailbox regularly. You should definitely follow your clients, the company you are working in or a company you might be interviewing with to be fully aware of the changes that are happening in your environment. Relevant knowledge will also allow you to have good conversations with senior people at work and gain their respect.
  1.   Webinars, conferences and workshops: Conferences and workshops can help you learn specific skills and also learn from other people’s experiences. Make sure you connect with other attendees during and after the conference in order to maximise the experience. Seminars and trainings on relevant topics also help you open your mind and refresh your knowledge where required. Most fields are constantly evolving and knowing new techniques and trends will allow you to add value at your workplace in a more effective manner. Perspectives of experienced professionals and speakers help you better understand the pros and cons of issues and help you formulate an informed opinion for yourself. Make the time to sign-up for different events so that you are widening your knowledge base.
  1.   Read books: Due to the growth of the internet and smart-phone penetration, young people today don’t read as much. It’s important to read so that you keep learning even after school and college are over. This becomes all the more important if you have studied a topic in college that is different from the area in which you plan to work. Identify key thought leaders and authors who are relevant to the field that you are in or plan to enter. Look for best sellers and well-known books that will educate you. For example, if you are interested in marketing, you could pick up relevant books on positioning, use of technology in marketing, global trends and digital consumer psychology. These will widen your horizon and help you bring new and interesting ideas into the workplace. Reading stories of successful business leaders and companies from your sector or related sectors will also help you learn from other people’s experiences and apply it to your own career.

Training you is not entirely your employer’s responsibility – it is ultimately up to you to stay well-versed with the current scenario, learn new skills and consume relevant information to stay relevant. Every couple of weeks make time to step back and take an honest evaluation of your skills, then take any needed steps to strengthen them. The more connected you are with the world around you, the more likely you are to bring best practices to your job!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2fGVPbC

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Shape your career the way YOU want

Placement season is ongoing. It’s the dream of every college graduate to find a job based on his / her skills and interests. To ensure students excel in the placement process, I strongly recommend that they take the time to first understand their work-readiness aptitude, analyse themselves better, look for a mentor who can give detailed feedback and also enrol for mock interview sessions to better prepare themselves for the big day.

 

Here is how these steps will help you prepare:

 

  1. Profile match: A work-readiness aptitude predictor helps you narrow down career choices that are best suited to your personality and skills. While signing up for an aptitude test, ensure it is percentile-based. Percentile-based aptitude tests grade your performance in relative terms. Choose a predictor that helps you get to know yourself better and hence align yourself to the skill-track that suits you best. You can compare your aptitude with your interests and select the jobs that you will apply to accordingly.
  2. Enrol for a mock interview: Mock interviews prepare the candidate for challenges he / she may face during an interview. These mock interview sessions increase your self awareness and boost your self-confidence, making you ready to deal with a professional interviewer. You can leverage mock interviews to work on things such as your body language and content, thereby learning how to create a lasting impression. You can also learn how to utilize time effectively during an interview. They are a fabulous platform to receive constructive feedback and work on implementing them on the big day!
  3. Mentorship session: You need someone to guide you on the feedback from the Work-readiness Aptitude Predictor. Based on the feedback, a mentor would thus help you decide which stream/ career is best suited for you. For instance, if your aptitude score is above average or superior in logic and reasoning, you might assume that you are a great fit in multiple skill-tracks. But your mentor would help you decide which of those careers would be the right fit for you personally.

 

While an aptitude test matches the best suited job for you by helping you realise your true potential, mentors and mock interviews help you reach that true potential.

 

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2fvR6Hf

 

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The frantic world of Finance

Finance is a broad vertical and has several sub-domains within it such as Investment banking, Equity research, Accounting, Trading, Financial Planning / Advisory, Retail Banking, Corporate Banking and more. You could even take on a Sales or Marketing function within a Financial Institution. When many people think Finance, they think of a Bank job. However, jobs for college graduates extend to financial institutions such as Private Equity Firms and Hedge Funds. Although working in Finance requires you to have the basic analytical skills, there is more to a career in Finance. Here are some areas you should develop before entering the Finance world, no matter what the role!

 

  1. Comfort with numbers: Finance roles require analytical skills and an eye for detail. You will be expected to analyze scenarios and project different ratios. Anyone hoping to enter the field of Finance is expected to be meticulous, systematic and organised. The ability to deal with excel sheets and other tools such as Bloomberg Terminals and Tally would give you an edge. When money is involved, even a few 0s of error or a 0.001% difference could be cause for major concern!

Quick tip: Anyone hoping to enter the field of Finance is expected to be meticulous, systematic and organised.

 

  1. Ability to handle stress: Most projects tend to be high stakes. In the Audit and Accounting world, regulators and legal aspects make every aspect of the project time sensitive and critical. Investment Banking and Trading can also be very stressful jobs because deals tend to be time sensitive.

Quick tip: To handle stress effectively, people skills are necessary. In the finance world, success is 85% through technical knowledge and 15% through psychology.

 

  1. Process orientation: People who are excited about following systems and processes thrive in the Finance world. There are few creative people in the Finance sector because it tends to require the right brain more than the left. Protocol becomes important when working with large numbers and in large organizations. Retail banks tend to have a lot of logistics.

Quick tip: The spirit of taking initiative and being creative in everyday tasks is the key.

 

  1. Motivation: Are you motivated by money? Most Finance jobs tend to be very demanding but they also pay well compared to other industries. Are you excited by Financial impact or are you looking to make an impact in the social sector? Think about who you are and what you want to do, don’t apply to a company just because all your friends are doing so or because your parents asked you to.

Quick tip:  Apart from being self-motivated, your ability to inspire, develop and direct people as they work, increases your points to be a successful manager.

 

The Financial industry is fairly demanding. You need to be comfortable with numbers, accounts and the concepts of cost-cutting and budgeting. The nature of the Finance world is such that in order to stay competitive, you’ll be required to keep your focus and gain relevant experience with internships. Also, doing something to differentiate yourself from the crowd, like entering the CFA program during your final year of college, can improve your chances of landing a job in the Finance industry. Keep working hard and good luck!

 

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2fxC8Ra

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Mentorship Matters

In earlier times, we would rely on our parents and older siblings for guidance. Choices were more basic –  law, engineering or medicine? Once one entered a profession it was usually for life, and career progression was based on seniority in a profession. In today’s constantly changing and evolving times, there are hundreds of education and career options. Choices are less binary and seeking out a mentor can significantly help you navigate your professional career. To help orchestrate this, several colleges and firms now have a structured mentor-mentee system which enhances the professional and personal growth of employees. Mentors are usually assigned or seeked out by students and professionals. In the role of a mentor, a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps to guide a relatively less experienced person by imparting social, professional and personal insights.

 

Talerang was invited to IIT Roorkee, where the institution in partnership with Talerang, launched a first of its kind non-academic mentorship program. It involved training the third year students to be effective mentors and then assigning them as mentors to the first years to support their transition into college and beyond. After the initial process guided by Talerang, IIT Roorkee launched an in-house mentorship program earlier this year for which college students can apply as mentors or mentees. If your institute or school does not have this kind of program in place, here’s how you can go about setting it up for yourself:

 

  1. Find a mentor that works for you

The fit with your mentor is very important. Find someone you can connect with, someone with a set of strengths, skills and career path you want to learn from. You can get connected to the person through common contacts or seek them out on LinkedIn / by writing them an e-mail.  You could also consider interning under someone who you want to develop as a mentor or working for your ideal mentor for a few years. This will help solidify the relationship and ensure that you get significant coaching and time from the person.

 

  1. Seek help and support

Reach out to your mentors at critical milestones for you. Invite them for events such as your graduation. Call them even if it’s for a short amount of time before taking any major life decision such as a new job, a college choice or even your marriage! You can create separate sets of mentors in your school life, college and work life. Ask questions so as to understand and learn from the mistakes your mentor made. Also ask them for feedback on how you are handling your work, or on specific deliverables such as a project you have worked on or an application essay you have put together.

 

  1. Build a lasting bond

Finding a mentor is one thing but making sure that the relationship between you and your mentor stays requires hard work. Send personalized cards and meaningful gifts on occasions such as their birthday or Diwali. See how you can also be helpful for the person so that it’s not just a one-way street. Drop in and meet them occasionally without a specific agenda so that they know you are in this for a long period and not making it transactional. Once you get to know them and understand their interests, you can even share fun articles, gifts or books that they might enjoy. Once in awhile you can take them out for coffee or a meal.

 

Effective mentor-mentee bonds benefit the entire system. Mentors are able to increase their self-worth and confidence as they share knowledge and skills. Mentees boost their self confidence and interpersonal skills. They are also more aware of the challenges ahead and how to deal with them effectively. When these networks are in place, organizations grow effectively because of a positive environment where each person is being heard and taken care of without judgement.

Link to the published article- http://bit.ly/2ftaZSl

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Should you go abroad for your Master’s? What does it take?

With increasing purchasing power and globalization, more and more Indians are considering an overseas education. According to the India Students Mobility Report, 2016, India sent 360,000 students to study abroad last year. Compared to the millions enrolled in colleges, this is a small percentage. So how should you decide if a Master’s abroad is worth it?

You need to keep in mind your interests, career goals, driving factors, long term plans and learning style.

  1. Know yourself: A Master’s is a specialized program. You need to think through your personal story and how it fits in. Think through whether this is the right time to go. Having at least 2 years of meaningful work experience is recommended for most colleges abroad, especially MBA programs. You are bound to bring much more to an MBA program if you’ve worked for a few years and you will also be more competitive when you graduate for placements.

Think about your learning style. Most colleges abroad involve a lot of pre-work and self-study by the student, as well as more subjective paper submissions (as opposed to the Indian lecture and testing method). If you enjoy reading and group submissions, an education abroad would be a good fit for you. Lastly, think about your long-term plans. Do you want to stay abroad or come back to India after? What would make you happy long-term should have a role to play in the location you choose to study and how much you are willing to invest.

  1. Selecting the right program: First thing to know is what is on offer. Research the faculty and teaching methods, review the curriculum and registration process and be clear about the placement policy and companies that visit campus for placements. Is the same program offered in India too? Are there job opportunities available in the country you are looking at? Speak to alumni from the colleges to get their thoughts.

Keep in mind the cost factor associated with going abroad for your Master’s. While a Master’s degree in the UK costs around US$20,000, the cost of living could cost between US$18,200 and US$20,200 per year! Living expenses in the US range from US$7,000 to US$20,000 depending on the city you live in and your lifestyle. If you’re still not sure, you could consider applying to 8-10 colleges and seeing which ones you are admitted to – this will narrow down the choices! Since each college has a different character and culture, and this is taken into account when admitting candidates, they might help you make the choice!

  1. Give the best to your application: The application to a University abroad goes beyond your mark sheet. Do you have relevant extra-curricular activities on your resume? You will also need recommendation letters, a personal statement and in some cases a portfolio of your work. You will need to prepare for the GMAT/ GRE/ TOEFL depending on the program. You should start your preparation at least three to six months before the application deadline and test dates to achieve your maximum potential.

Connect with potential recommenders a few months in advance of the deadlines in order to reinforce these relationships and ensure that these individuals know you well enough before actually filling out the forms for you. Schools want recommendation letters from people who know your work and have seen you operate in a professional capacity.

If you just want to experience the life abroad, you can also apply for an internship or travel for a few months – this might be an easier option! Ask yourself why you want to go for a Master’s and make sure your application form is synonymous to your beliefs. What makes you stand out from thousands of other applicants with similar professional and academic profiles? The clearer the story, the better admissions officers will understand your rationale for pursuing a Master’s, and the more likely it is that they will decide to invest a space in their class in you!

Best of luck!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2ePCZyH

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Placement Season: Grab your seat!

Getting placed is one of the best feelings in the world! Starting a professional career after completion of an undergraduate degree is a dream come true for several students. The companies that visit colleges for placements have different criteria. Some of them hire candidates based on fit and skill, others look for specific traits that match their needs.

October is a busy month for college students, with placements getting started at most colleges across India. Here are some tips to deal with the placement season jitters!

  1.        Understand the process:

Any company’s recruitment process typically starts with a written test or online registration. Shortlisted candidates are then called for a group discussion round and those who perform well are further called on for rounds of interviews. Be thorough with the placement policies of your college and the kind of profile you are looking to apply for. Keep a tab on the activities of the placement cell as to which company hires the most candidates for your preferred profile and how their selection process is structured.

  1.        Company specific research: Understand the company’s profile and what they are looking for in entry-level hires. Research their work-culture, structure, hierarchy and background. Visit the company’s website and try to understand the different kind of domains that the company is involved in. Understand their locations of operation and what their core values are. Speak to seniors and mentors who can give you insights on the company so you are adequately aware and can prepare accordingly.
  2.        Practice makes perfect:

Revise your resume depending on the job role and think about the way you present yourself in front of the interviewer. Google commonly asked interview questions and make sure you solve previous years’ test papers in order to be better positioned for the aptitude test. A week before the big day, go through your resume from start to finish and make sure you can give supporting examples for all the things you’ve achieved. Work on your communication skills and try practicing mock interviews with your friends. Also, finalize your outfit at least a week in advance so that there are no last minute surprises!

  1.        Final countdown: A day before the interview, stay calm and focused. Carry an interview folder with 4 copies of your resume, an ID and also photos / certificates where needed. Research the panel of interviewers a night before the interview so that you’re better positioned when you enter the interview room and don’t feel uncomfortable. Remember to have a good night’s’ sleep a night before your interview and don’t forget to carry your interview folder on the final day!

Talerang was invited to IIT Roorkee to train the graduating class of 800 students of the B.Tech program. The objective was to make them work ready before the placement season. The students were trained on their spoken communication, resume preparation, interview practice, first impression and etiquette. We also conducted 300 mock interviews to coach and train the students individually. Based on my experience at IIT Roorkee, I realized that confidence goes a long way in wowing an interviewer. You may not have all the skills as a fresher, but if you have the will and the right attitude, companies might be willing to take a chance on you! So go get your dreams!

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Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2eeJFVK

Considering a career in Marketing? This might help you decide!

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a one-person shop, every business needs to have a marketing strategy and it needs to be implemented consistently if the business is to grow. It doesn’t matter if you have a stellar product. Unless it’s marketed well, its target base customers may never know it even exists!

There are several types of Marketing- Market research, Brand Management, Advertising, Promotions/ Sales, Public Relations, Written Communication, Event Management and Digital Media. While Market research has more to do with conducting research, analyzing trends and having an out-of-the-box thought process when required, Digital Media requires you to develop strategies for an organization’s social media marketing platforms and create progress reports for clients. Event Management requires you to have a creative mindset, excellent organizational abilities and leadership skills.

Depending on the kind of business you’re involved in, your firm’s marketing strategy needs to be nurtured accordingly. Most successful marketers today are revenue-driven and know their market. They are known to create remarkable customer experiences, use customer data to come up with effective marketing campaigns and work backwards from the product launch date so as to ensure consistent results.

Being a Marketing major is not compulsory to be interested in the marketing space. Here are a few skills that you might want to build on before entering the creative and deadline-driven world of marketing:

  1. Identify your target market: Anybody or everybody might be potential clients for your product. As a marketer on a strict budget, what you need to identify is who your ideal customer is. You might define your ideal customer in terms of income, age, geographical area, number of employees or revenues. Only after you’ve identified your primary market can you actually start devising your marketing campaign.
  2. Analytics: Marketing analytics is the measurement and optimization of your marketing activities. Since marketers now have access to a tremendous amount of data, they are expected to focus on how their marketing efforts are performing and adjust/modify them accordingly. Factors such as number of visitors to your website, bounce rate, conversions, number of shares on social media, number of tweets during a webinar and number of brand mentions from an event are just some of the factors that brand marketers these days tend to study rather deeply. The ability to understand, interpret and draw inferences from the market is an important skill for any budding marketer today.
  3. Ability to write: Digital marketing areas such as content marketing, social media messaging and search engine optimization all have close ties to quality writing. As a marketing analyst at any firm, you’ll be expected to interpret what data shows and communicate the results to team members who would build targeted and engaging creative pieces. Without clear, concise and well-articulated research interpretation, there’s not much that can be done.
  4. Interpersonal skills: The ability to collaborate cross-functionality is one of the key traits of any successful marketing team. The best marketing ideas come from brainstorming, teamwork and collaboration and having a strong cultural fit with other departments within the company. Candidates who fully comprehend how the company functions will be better at highlighting the company’s best features. Taking initiative and coming up with out-of-the-box ideas also goes a long way.

Entering the marketing sector does not only mean developing the business, it also means building your ability to make decisions and inculcating various other values and skills in you. It involves the art of knowing your customers and catering to their needs in the most effective manner. It’s a two-way process where you not only nurture the business but also develop yourself. The marketing world is full of things to learn and lots of opportunities to grow as an individual!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2e1n7ve

Jobs in the Creative space – becoming more rewarding over time

 

What are jobs in the creative space? These are roles or industries that are based on individual creativity with the potential to generate revenue.

Broadly, creative industries have been categorized into advertising, marketing, architecture, crafts, design (product, graphic and fashion), performing arts (theatre, dance, music) and visual arts (drawing, painting, photography and filmmaking). (Source: www.gov.uk)

 

Jobs in the creative space are now in serious consideration when students are graduating. Previous generations were not as lucky when it came to choosing the profession they wanted to pursue. It is estimated that as much as 45% of India’s employment could come from the Cultural and Creative Industries. (Source: http://www.workammo.com/hr-challenge-for-india-creative-economy/).

 

Here are some things to mentally prepare yourself for before signing up for a job in the creative space:

  1. Flexibility: If you’re planning on entering the creative sector, you need to accept the fact that your work timelines might not be well structured. Since artists tend to work whenever their creative juices are flowing and when the entire team is producing work, office hours tend to not be fixed. Also, since artistic work involves a lot of freelancing, you might be filled with work for a few weeks and completely devoid of work for some weeks to follow.
  2. Appreciation of the artists themselves: Artists tend to be completely immersed into their work. There are thinner boundaries for them between their personal and professional life and their work tends to be their passion. They take pride in their creations be it music, writing or art. Working with them effectively often requires the ability to understand and appreciate their personalities in addition to their creative contribution.
  3. Patience: It may take some time before your work is recognized at a job in the creative space. You may need to wait before you’re appreciated and rewarded for your work. Being patient is a critical trait that you need to inculcate as an artist.

 

Interestingly, technology and digitalization is disrupting the creative space. Graphic designing, 3D printing and digital magazines are evolving. Acting for online channels such as YouTube and Netflix is also picking up rapidly. Designers, musicians and comedians are now paid well and awarded recognition.

Companies are hiring creative people in mainstream roles at competitive salaries. Applying for creative jobs no longer needs to be considered as a breakaway from the traditional job sectors. You could be financially successful and working towards your passion- if you find the right click!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2djqsCB

 

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Skills required to enter the start-up sector

The start-up ecosystem in India has grown significantly in the last 5 years. Opportunities for funding, and a savvier Indian consumer have helped. From 3,100 start-ups in 2014 to a projection of more than 11,500 by 2020, there’s a lot of hype about working at a start-up. These organizations are beginning to change the outlook among Indian youth towards jobs. (Source: TheNextWeb)

After speaking to several entrepreneurs in the start-up space looking to hire young talent, I have highlighted some of the skills, mindsets and behaviours that these organizations expect from their staff.

 

  1.      Entrepreneurial spirit: As a part of a dynamic start-up team, each person on the team is expected to think like an entrepreneur. This involves risk-taking, ability to solve a problem rather than delegating it to someone else and ideating. You should be able to take initiative without hesitation.

Departments and designations are secondary – everyone is working toward growth and a common vision and should be willing to go the extra mile for the bigger picture.

 

  1.      Passionate about the company’s mission: A person entering into the start-up sector should be passionate about what the company stands for and confident about the ideas he/ she brings to the table. Working at a start-up is seldom smooth sailing: there are often extreme highs and lows. If you’re passionate about your work you will be more likely to work harder and do justice to the tasks assigned to you. Additionally, passion and conviction in your product is the first step to convincing customers that you have something worth buying!

 

  1.   Getting the job done: You are responsible for the job assigned to you, no-one else is going to follow up daily with you. Ownership is critical which involves the ability to solve problems that may not be in your domain.

Being comfortable with MS Excel, PowerPoint as well as applications such as Google sheets and maps will increase your efficiency at work. You will have an endless list of tasks on your plate everyday so get ready to prioritize and multitask! At the end of the day, you need to ensure that each day of yours is productive and irrespective of the obstacles, you are inching toward your goals! The ability to influence and motivate people goes a long way in a start-up environment.
Enter with zeal, the ability to work hard and be flexible with your work. If things go well, you could see tremendous growth in a short span of time! Irrespective of how things go, most start-ups ensure young talent a steep learning curve and the experience of a lifetime!

Link to published article: http://bit.ly/2doNp6I

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