Women’s participation in the work-force

According to the NSS Surveys of Employment and Unemployment the female workforce participation rate is not improving. In fact, it has gone from 41% in 1999 – 2000 to 32% in 2011 – 2012. Getting women to work is an important for our country to progress. Research shows that women in the work force significantly increases national GDP and the productivity of companies as a whole.

Let us see how as a community we can work better to bridge the gap:

 

  • Education, training and hiring: Education is the first step to helping women get to work. It enables women to be aware of their fundamental rights and gives them perspective on their life. Girls should be encouraged at home, school and colleges to take up leadership roles and acquire training in hard and soft skills. Parents should support their daughters on taking up careers and not shy away from them doing roles such as mechanical engineering or coding. They should break the stereotypes and pursue their interests and skills. Hiring agencies or departments should hire women and men based on their skills and knowledge and avoid gender bias. The salaries should be granted based on the performances of the employees. Any gender discrimination should be penalized. Working conditions should be healthy and functional.
  • Community engagement: We need to keep creating awareness and talking about the gap so that people realize it is a real issue. This week, leaders across sectors pledged their support to this cause at the ThinkBig 2017 summit. It was attended by key leaders such as Mrs. Ratna Prabha, Mission Director of National Mission for Empowerment of Women , Government of India. Mr. Nick Dyer, Permanent Secretary UK at the Department of International Development was also present, as were the CEOs of Walmart, Goldman Sachs and others who all shared their commitment towards women in the work force. It was great to see the passion that people have towards this cause. Mr. Dyer remarked that women earn 52% of what men earn for the same work and Marine Walter, Deputy Country Director of UNDP said that investing in women would contribute 700 billion dollars to the GDP of the country by 2025. Support towards women in Business shown at the conference was inspiring.

 

If we keep investing in our women, we will invest in our nation. We all know there is a multiplier effect of getting women educated and back to work. Let’s pledge as a nation this Children’s Day to support all children and cherish the girl child!

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

 

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Profitability or scalability? Understanding their pros and cons

Generation Z is curious to explore the world of entrepreneurship. Moving away from the traditional career ladder comes with its share of risks and challenges. One critical question that you need to address as an entrepreneur in the first few years is whether you want to first focus on profitability or scale. While some entrepreneurs are lucky to get both, other products need to choose between the two. According to Forbes, 90% of start-ups fail and hence it is important to figure out your strategy! Here are some reasons to focus on scale or profitability.

Why focus on scale?

Scaling up your business increases the reach of your product or service. Some products require several customers are on board before they can be valuable as a service. For example, a platform like Quora leverages network effects and works best when multiple users are on it. Such products monetize once they have users who are dependent on their services. Scaling without profit may require outside investment to hire people and market the product effectively.

For instance, WhatsApp is one of the most widely used messenger services in the world. It has been scaled and backed by Sequoia Capital (Jim Goetz and Michael Moritz), but didn’t monetize initially. Once it had achieved momentum, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for 19 billion dollars. Hence, getting investors and partners on board allows you to grow without profit and achieve values for both users and the owners.

Why focus on profitability?

Some of the advantages of a profitable venture are sustainability and independence. If the product is revenue generating and breaks even, the venture can remain a going concern. This works well for social enterprises and small business; whose focus is to remain in operation. Making a profit will help build independent assets of the company and shield the company from situations like recessions when investment dries up. The additional advantage is independence from external investors. This allows the founder and core team to decide the strategy, values and direction of their business.

Ultimately, successful entrepreneurs should keep working on their strategy along with their operations – working on their business and not just in their business! Currently, many investors in India are pushing for profitability along with scale because their fingers have been burnt in ventures that did not have a sustainable model to begin with. If a start-up does not have a monetization strategy, it may never be able to make money and that is a big risk for its investors. Keep in mind that it is possible to both create profit and scale steadily. While you may not get the immediate growth of an Uber or a WhatsApp, a blend of both may be the best alternative to achieve recognition in the long term.

 

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Sticking it out professionally

According to research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an employee stayed at an organization for 4.6 years on average. However, Generation Z (those entering the work world this year) are expected to quit their first job in less than a year! According to a study by time.com 70% of Gen Z quit their first job in less than a year. This is detrimental since if a future employer sees that you have been job hopping, they will worry about hiring you. Sticking it out with a company for at least 2-3 years is critical to build your reputation! Here are some ways you can stick it out and beat the odds!

 

  • Remain calm under pressure: The first few years are hard because before you become an expert in any area, you will be required to work on various vertices and deal with difficult situations for the first time. You will have to meet deadlines for projects, presentations and important client meetings. The best way to avoid last minute hassles is to have a detailed execution plan for every project. Try to stay positive even during stressful times because ultimately your attitude will determine your frame of mind! Don’t panic and quit, stay calm and stick it out. You will see that your learning curve is the maximum during challenging situations.
  • Seek mentorship: In your time during the company try to build connections with the senior team. These mentors can help you get through difficult moments and prevent you from quitting under pressure. There will be times when you don’t feel motivated about the work you are taking on. Draw inspiration from your mentors at these low moments. Everyone has ups and downs in their careers and leaving your job should be the last resort, not the first option. Often, the issue you are facing might seem big to you but your mentor or manager might be able to solve it easily.
  • Think long term: Be sure of where you see yourself in your life. Especially in the next 5 years. If you committed yourself for 2 years plan out your time wisely. Set monthly, bi-weekly or daily targets. If you are dedicated to your work and company, it showcases professionalism and strong character. It will result in promotions and growth. Staying longer at a company exposes you to new situations, projects and people which also help you strengthen the breadth and depth of your professional experience. If you leave your organisation before the set commitment you may lose the relationships you have built, which would affect your trajectory and reference checks.

 

One of the trickiest questions during a job interview is “How committed are you to our company”? As someone taking on your first or second job, you might be confused as to how to answer that question. Show your loyalty and you will see immense benefits. Take the opportunity of working any company as a challenge and work towards your goal accordingly. Keep in mind that in the world outside college, commitment and loyalty is often valued more than competence!

 

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Creating documents that impress!

Several career tracks require you to communicate with customers and clients on a regular basis. A lot of companies now expect applicants to share a home-work assignment as one of the interview rounds. The assignment requires them to create documents like presentations and reports to gauge their ability to hit the ground running. In consulting, people who can do work that is “client-ready” or ready to share externally are valued a lot since their managers don’t have to stress about checking their work in detail. Client-ready documents should be well written, revised, proof-read and appropriate for the customer. Let us understand the best ways of creating such documents:

 

  • Understand the brief: If you are aware of what is required in a particular document, will you be able to get it done perfectly. Get support from your manager and google the details to understand the format and procedure of framing the document. Read examples and samples online to get ideas and some background. Ask relevant questions and refer to any previous work done by the company to work off a base.
  • Create an action plan: Divide your document into categories critical to content. For example, in a proposal or contract, detail out sections involved. Make sure you have all the information you need and then draft the document accordingly. Think through the steps that are needed to prepare the final document. If you need support from your peers or you need to research some facts allocate time for that as well.
  • Format your work effectively: A document can be a spreadsheet, word document or presentation. Customize the right format according to the audience. For presentations make sure you have a master slide so that there is consistency between each slide. Make sure to have consistency in the font size and colour used throughout the document. Ensure you have spaces where required and all photographs are high resolution and not pixelated. If the organization has an existing template you can use that to ensure that your work is in the appropriate format.
  • Sharing the document: Make sure that the documents you are sharing have been checked by your manager before sharing externally. Conduct one final check for facts, grammar, tone and typos. Make sure the documents are updated with all the latest facts and figures. The attachment should be in the correct format as expected such as PDF, JPEG, PNG, Word Doc, PPT. For a video or image, it should be high resolution and in line with the company’s branding. Test opening the file once on your own laptop before sharing it externally. You should know who to grant edit and view access of important documents. Remember to date the document and copy the relevant people.

 

According to a survey conducted by Radicati group, around 269 billion emails are sent per day. Since we write so many e-mails there is a tendency to overlook the minor details but each document and e-mail should be checked carefully. It is essential for us to be detail-oriented because the documents you share have a lasting impression on the reader! Once you have followed these steps, you should be ready with a document that will impress your client or manager!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2iKR5p6

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Invest in yourself through “me time”

A study on the mental health status of corporate India with over 6000 respondents revealed that 80% suffer from  anxiety. Stephen Covey says in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, it is important to ‘Sharpen The Saw’ which means to preserve and enhance your greatest asset – you! It means striking a balance in different parts of life – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. A great way to achieve this is through ‘me time’. Whether you are a student or a working professional, mental, emotional and physical exhaustion can cause lack of effectiveness, confidence and low self-esteem. In order to rejuvenate yourself and do away with stress dedicate some time to yourself! Let’s see how can you give time to yourself in these four areas of life:

  1. Physical enrichment: Being healthy is a critical ingredient to being effective. You may fall sick due to exertion, experience severe headaches or muscle cramps that can hinder your work. Sleep, exercise and do some morning yoga. Yoga relaxes your muscles and helps relieve stress and pain. Keeping yourself fit will increase your productivity and efficiency!
  2. Emotional balance: Build meaningful connections with people around you. These can include your friends, classmates, mentors, or colleagues. Taking time off to analyse your relationship with them will help you understand your equation and resolve any toxic issues. Understand yourself, why and how you react in certain situations so that you can maintain an emotional balance at work. Getting worked up and stressed out in a work environment is detrimental to your career success. So work on your emotional strength and resilience.
  3. Intellectual power: Investing in ourselves intellectually can go a long way at work. Keep a journal to write down your learnings and growth each day. Take some time out to recharge your brain. Read a novel, play sudoku or crossword! This will improve your memory and ensure you are staying alert mentally. Keep reading relevant books and articles to stay informed and current. You should have a wealth of information and ideas on the areas that you are working in. A good memory and analytical brain will accelerate your career!
  4. Spiritual: Listen to music to calm your nerves and improve your inner strength. Take time out to try meditation, or if you are religious you can spend time praying. Revive your passion for art, theatre, dance or other areas such as pottery, painting, sketching, and acting. Admiring nature also has a soothing effect on humans. You can even engage with an NGO or community service to obtain peace of mind. This is a critical aspect of investing in yourself. Once you have peace of mind you can give your full self to your career.

So this Diwali gift yourself some spiritual spa! Investing time in yourself repairs your soul and develops your biggest asset – you. It gives you the strength and confidence to overcome challenges in your career and give your work your 100%! Take time out this festive season for some “me time” and see the difference in the new year!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2xYitH4

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Appropriate usage of Internet

According to Student Online Behaviour Report by HT Digital and IMRB, 93% of students in metropolitan cities access internet everyday. The internet is a great way for students to learn new things. Since Generation Z is often known as the tech generation, they also need to know where to draw the line. Personal usage of internet during college or work hours make you look unprofessional and irresponsible.

So how can we make sure we are using the internet appropriately in our jobs? Here are some ways you can leverage the internet and have it increase your professionalism!

  • Be professional on e-mail: As students you may send out mails to senior people such as principals, directors, society leaders or even potential recruiters. Make sure to address them professionally. It is advisable to check and revert to your mail within 24 hours to avoid lags. If you are on a vacation, set up an ‘Out of Office’ to let the people know about your availability. Limit writing important emails from your phone because it increases the chances of typos and formatting issues. Mark your emails as unread if you need to still reply to an email. This will help you to keep track of your emails.
  • Videos as a skill-building tool: Through Youtube videos you can learn different skills – both in your personal and professional life. Professionally, you can learn how to use new applications that might be beneficial such as Flipagram, Canva, Google docs, Google drive, Dropbox etc. You can even learn Excel formulae, or how to build a website on Youtube. For personal skills, you can learn a new recipe or how to play new songs on a guitar on Youtube.
  • Internet search: If you are confused about a topic, you can always leverage the internet. Google can be your best friend when you’re studying or figuring something new out at work. Figuring out solutions through the internet will make you self sufficient and improve your research skills. For example, if you need to write a research paper, you can start by googling best practices, and then background information which will make you more knowledgeable on the topic overnight.

That being said, do not check your Snapchat, Instagram or personal blogging sites at work. Don’t keep checking your phone in class while your professor is talking! Too much digital usage can also become an addiction. Don’t shy away from building in person relationships with your colleagues and friends by being on your phone during social occasions. While the internet can help you solve your questions and doubts, it is ultimately a tool! Use it wisely and it can create a step-change in your performance at work.

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2gI3C9a

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Career insights from the Father of the Nation!

Leadership skills are often spoken about as a critical aspect for career progression. According to a study by Brandon Hall conducted in 32 countries in 2015, 71 percent of leaders at most organizations need to develop their leadership ability. 84 percent of the organizations felt that there is a shortage of leaders in the work-place! On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, let’s see what we can take away from Gandhian leadership. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Bapu or Mahatma Gandhi has been an inspiration for the youth. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from his style that we can imbibe and apply to our leadership journey.

  1. Building a connection: A transformational leader such as Gandhi made his audience feel connected to him. He did this by understanding them and empathizing with them. In order to build a connection with your audience, you need to get to know them. A good leader not only speaks but also listens to his/her people. Relating to people gives you the ability to lead them effectively. For instance, Gandhi connected with people to understand their issues and made them believe in themselves first, before they believed in him!
  2. Having a clear and sure vision: It is important to have a vision to lead! If you have a clear goal in mind it will be helpful for people to understand your direction well. Explaining your vision,  goals and values is also important. For instance, Gandhi had a set vision to achieve independence for India. He did not hesitate in articulating this vision and explaining it in detail to his people! Through good times and bad he did not waver in his vision. This gave the people following him strength and confidence.
  3. Communicating effectively: Delivering your thoughts in a well structured manner and having strong oratory skills helps you lead. Let your audience know what you have planned for the future and inspire them with your words. Watch inspiring speeches by people like Gandhi to pick-up techniques such as their tone of voice, their style and their ability to engage their audience. For example, Gandhi had certain keywords such as non-violence and ‘satyagraha’ which he used effectively to communicate his vision and strategy to the people. Simplicity and relatable phrases help your vision resonate with your people!
  4. Practice what you preach: People look up to leaders who can “be the change”. It makes the leader trustworthy and an idol! Turning your thoughts into actions is what people look for in a leader! For instance, Gandhi was non-violent and adhered to the truth. He participated in his own marches and fasts. He was part of the people and part of the change he inspired. This helped people look up to him.

We all need someone to look up to, and Gandhi could be one such person for you! Ultimately though, leadership starts from within. So spend some time observing and learning from a few leaders you admire and start practicing the aspects that you can connect with. The results and impact on your career will follow!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2xsDm8d

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Gear up for this Placement season!

Placement season is around the corner, but are you ready to grab a seat yet? For those of you in college, make sure to put in your 100% and get an offer. The first few companies that come to campus are often the most attractive to students, so put your best foot forward in October! According to the Ministry of Education less than 40% of students get placed in India as of 2017. This needs to change! The AICTE has decided to introduce summer internships as a critical aspect of the education curriculum. Before the season begins, you should have done as many extra-curriculars, worked on your academics and done internships. Now, make sure to present yourself to companies in the best possible light. Beyond this, what can a student do to get placed?

  1. Resume and cover letter: A resume speaks for you while a cover letter shows your purpose! Make sure that your resume is well written and clear. Your resume should be written in reverse chronological order, well formatted and readable. The most recent activities should be first. The sections should be academics, leadership / extra-curricular activities, work experience and interests. You can then customise each section according to the job profile. For example, for a marketing profile add marketing internships that you have done. It goes without saying that there should no false information on your resume! Do not exaggerate any of your accomplishments.
  2. Skill set match: After you have done your research on the company and job description, list down your strengths and weaknesses. According to your strengths write down your skill sets. You can even include additional courses like Excel training, coding or a foreign language. This will expand your skill set and give you an upper hand. Try to match your skill track with the job description. For instance if you are applying for the post of an analyst, do some research as to what the job entails. Not all analysts do analytical work! For example, you may need to have strong writing skills, and comfort with Microsoft office as opposed to quantitative ability. Understand your skill sets and the requirements and work accordingly.
  3. Practice before placement day: Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your interviews and interactions before you go ahead – you can do this with a friend, a senior or in front of a mirror. Mock interviews will give you an insight into what the real interview will look like. They help improve your prepared answers, boost your confidence and decrease stress during the actual interview. Mock interviews also help you prepare behavioural interview questions. They provide you with constructive feedback. This will help you improve your body language. In some cases, companies also have assessments. There are practice tests for these available online as well! Make sure to do a your research and do some mock tests before the actual one.
  4. Follow-up: Your placement process does not end with the interview. Ask for the recruiter’s business card to follow-up with him / her. After your interview, drop an email or text to the company/ recruiter thanking them for their time. Ask the recruiter for feedback if possible and ask relevant questions to clear any doubts. This will show your interest and dedication for the role / company.

Finally, stay calm and focused before the big day! Reach the interview venue well in time so that you are not late and panting at the door! Dress appropriately and look groomed and tidy. Lastly, remember to have a good night’s’ sleep! All the best!

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

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It is healthy to be grateful!

In this day of digital media and technology, we sometimes tend to be closer to our phones than our friends! If we want to build relationships that are lasting, feeling gratitude towards those around us goes a long way. Instead of seeing relationships as transactional, we should be grateful to our parents, teachers, mentors and seniors who have guided us in the need of the hour. This will lead to healthier bonds and also make us feel better overall! According to a study conducted by Robert A. Emmons at the University of California revealed that people who express their gratitude are 25% happier than those who don’t. Neuroscience says that gratitude keeps us healthy!

Let’s have a look at the broader advantages of expressing gratitude:

  1. Improves psychological health: Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions like anger, jealousy, frustration and resentment. It releases “happy hormones” in your body and reduces depression. It enhances empathy and helps you fight aggression. Grateful people behave in a pro-social manner which improves their psychological health and gives them the confidence to deal with different situations. For instance there are many college students who donate blood or visit an orphanage on their birthdays. They feel a strong sense of gratitude and belongingness. They are able to give back to the society.
  2. Opens the door to new relationships: Appreciating someone’s effort is not just good manners. Thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Acknowledging other people’s contributions leads to new opportunities of connecting and building relationships. In this process you may learn and understand human nature too. As an example when a mentee appreciates the help of his/ her mentor, it allows them to trust each other and build a lasting relationship. Even existing relationships grow deeper when the other person feels acknowledged. It takes a minute to thank someone for their help or support and can make them feel integral to your life!
  3. Enhances mental strength: Gratitude not only reduces stress levels but also helps overcome trauma. According to a study by Behavior Research and Therapy in 2006, it was found that veterans of the Vietnam War with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2003 rewards gratitude as a major contributor to resilience subsequent to the terrorist attacks on September 11. Gratitude fosters resilience.

Gratitude helps people feel positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. In order to maintain strong relationships with people in your life and balance your mental health one should be grateful. We can express our gratitude by writing an email, cards, gifts or by taking people out for a lunch or dinner.  In our busy lives, let’s not forget the little things. It’s these little gestures that matter the most!

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

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Learn from your mistakes

We all have heard that “Good judgement comes from experience.” Experiences, either good or bad help us learn and improve our judgement. Mistakes can occur in our personal or professional life. Growth comes with learning from your past mistakes and avoid repeating them! Psychology says that our brain alerts us in less than a second of an impending mistake before we repeat it.

Let’s see how we can learn from our mistakes:

 

  • Acceptance: We can learn great things from our mistakes if we’re not busy denying them! It is important to own up to our mistakes and take responsibility. We should have the courage to appreciate our mistakes as they teach us life lessons beyond the classroom. No one is born perfect but in order to grow it is important to accept your faults and work towards them! Do not give yourself excuses to run away from your mistakes or be defensive about them! A problem can be solved only if we know that there is a problem.
  • Improvement: Once you have accepted your imperfections and faults try to improve those areas. Understand where you went wrong and come up with a solution. If you tend to be stuck in a similar position, you will prevent yourself from repeating the same mistake. In order to improve we need to develop ourselves. Work on our soft and hard skills. Increase patience and attention span. Your mistakes will teach you to be focused, determined, confident and judicious.
  • Getting support: Seek help or support if you are stuck in a position which might be difficult to handle alone. Ask your mentor or senior for guidance. If you have made a blunder, accept it and ask your seniors for advice. They might have gone through a similar situation and might be of great help. You can learn from their experiences and grow through their achievements. Take help from close friends and family to resolve personal problems. Not just tangible support, but emotional and mental support will also help you learn.

 

Learning from your past experiences and working towards them gives you a sense of responsibility and self-satisfaction. Steve Jobs says, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your innovations.” It is an important pattern of life to make mistake, accept them and learn. Mistakes are your pathway to success, if handled right! So don’t be too harsh on yourself and let each low lead to a new high!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2wocx9u

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