Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Learning how to pay it forward

I am inspired by a post I read that teaches people a great lesson about reaching out and making someone else’s day.
And when I was invited to share my experiences, courtesy Jobsforher mission, to reverse India's female brain drain and bring women BACK TO WORK, I was tempted to check with those in my network to chip in with some opinions related to
- the challenges that are most likely to come up, when a woman wishes to return to a career, after a break?
-and what needs to be done, to make the transition smooth?
Over the past couple of decades, I have been fortunate to have a ringside view of the 'changing expectations' from both sides..the hiring manager and the job aspirants- and must confess I am yet to figure out who is more anxious!
Amongst the crowdsourced thoughts I could collate, three were outstanding.
Radhika had a candid observation:"bias is a habit... it is an underlying belief. the only thing that stands between women successfully returning to a career is Bias! (The way forward)  has to be a top-down approach from the board. Senior women ( in age and position) bring to table a wealth of experience and wisdom, they are great team players and committed - and need a dedicated resource to run this initiative as a project."
Dr Susanta Misra shared his insights with a dedicated blog post, that the 'in-between career status' highlighted some of the advantages, and a checklist of 10 points..on what to do, and a handful of 'don'ts'. A #mustread for all of us whose career is a permanent beta.
Geetha, a voluntary Jobsforher ambassador, had a bunch of pointed questions that are often on the top of the mind for most aspirants, that she often is subject to.
1. How do I land a job - with such a long/short career gap?
2. Do I need to get trained in something? If yes, what and from where?
3. My gap seems to be projected more than my experience! How do I convince?
4. They say I am over experienced for a lower profile and prefer the ones without gaps for the one's I am perfectly eligible otherwise! How do I tackle this?
5. Does a change in CV land me the job I am looking for?
6. Are there options for volunteering? Do they pay? Should I take it up while I search for the right job?
7. Do internships (Paid / Unpaid) help? If they do, how?
8. Can I get an option to work from home? It gets tricky when they add, in the same field I have been working! 
9. Should I accept an offer where I have to join as a junior / get a lesser pay?
10. I have good experience in one field which does not offer the flexibility or want me to travel extensively for example. Can I look for a change of career instead of compromising on my priorities? 
11. Flexibility is a must. But does it come without compromising on the pay or role?
12. Should I take up freelancing? But will it help me in a career that I ultimately want to land?
It helps to understand that these aren't entirely gender-related too. More things have changed in the last 10 yrs..and faster than any 10yr period. Careers ladders are passe'. It resembles a Lattice now-with distributed work locations, virtual colleagues and different time zones.
Well, Seth Godin says "We're not pawns if we choose not to be."
I know I do not have the right answers. Do you
PS. Please share your thoughts, experiences and ideas on how we can make a better tomorrow!

Saturday, January 14, 2017


We are almost into the second fortnight of the year 2017. It is that time of the year where all across, one reads about different lists, and then, makes resolutions very diligently. Only to forget them -as the weeks turn into months!?

Thanks to the resolution of last year, I have been listening to podcasts, to trigger & maintain my morning walks, and help me get clued into the best thought leaders. Audible has been a godsend, as WhatsApp and Facebook had in the recent past cannibalised my reading habit.
I have just finished 2 hours of listening to Thomas Friedman's latest book -Thank you for Being Late, but it has forced me to pause and reflect. The book essentially reminds us that we are are living through one of the greatest inflexion points in history (perhaps after the printing press days!). And how the planet’s three largest forces - the advance of technology, globalisation and climate change are each driving the other – and how these accelerations are fundamentally reshaping the world.
The first chapter alludes to a chance interaction of the Author with an Ethiopian blogger, who works part-time as a parking attendant in NY..and it is simply mindboggling to realise that we are indeed in a time when 'more people could make history, record history, publicize history, and amplify history all at the same time.' Also how 2007 was an awesome year..that has turned the world upside down..changed the way we have been living since. ( Hint. Can you believe it..that the period saw the birth of iphone, Facebook and Twitter going global, Android and Kindle being release, Google bought Youtube, Airbnb and Skype emerged. IBMs Watson too! Uncanny, And to think we all lived through it and weren't conscious.)
My take away- is that trying to keep pace with the rate of acceleration, is simply futile & overwhelming. I ought to be getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. And focus instead, on my strengths, and my ability to forge deep relationships—to love, to care, to hope, to trust, and to build voluntary communities based on shared values!
As a strong believer of collaboration, I think this is my cue to chipping away a lot of things that I no longer add value to ( or which is being done by several others more efficiently and cheaper). 2017 will be a year where I will invest in working more closely with some of the 500+ partners of NPA, the global recruiting network, and orchestrate a network of recruiters across 40 countries.
I intend to coax my partners to share insights about the changing expectations of Employers and Employees in their country/domain of expertise, and help more professionals find global opportunities.
Here's wishing each one of you a more fulfilling year!

Monday, December 12, 2016

#futureofwork : Global mobility of talent

It is that part of the year, when most are taking stock of the larger picture, and strategising about the plans for 2017. As a member of an international recruiting network, with over 500 partners across 40 countries, I have been fortunate to be on multiple conference calls over the past week, across industries and continents & comparing notes.
The calls this week -to me- seem a vindication of a report by PwC, Talent Mobility: 2020 and beyond, forecasts that the number of people on global assignments will increase by 50 per cent by 2020.
The direction of mobility is changing, with emerging markets becoming important. There are generational differences when it comes to mobility,
- 71% of millennials wanting and expecting an overseas posting during their career.
-short-term assignments, often lasting a year or less, have become more popular; 20 % of assignments now last less than 12 months, compared with 10 % in 2002.
It is interesting to see the patterns changing. If the expat assignments of 2-5yrs stints were the norm in 1970-90, the period 1990-2010 saw the growth of offshoring & growing emerging markets perpetuating a lot of talent flow from the West to East.
Future View -2020?
Global mobility continues to grow in volume. Within the context of closely aligned international regulatory frameworks, the growth of cross-border acquisitions by sovereign wealth funds, lingering public investments in private business concerns, greater security cooperation between nations, and information technology that canidentify and connect talent in an instant, global mobility becomes part of the new normal.
Some of the scenarios that are increasingly emerging :
-Mobility of talent is fluid. For example, a Chinese company may engage a European team to manage an investment in Africa. Another US Major is setting up a theme park in China in 2019, and is looking for professionals who can join in Florida, & willing to beget deputed to Beijing for about 18 months!
-Western employers are losing their appeal. More skilled workers from emerging economies will return home to exploit their new-found skills in the lucrative domestic markets. Local workers with international experience are often far more attractive to domestic employers than foreign workers in the same market.
-Pressure of pay. Economies, living standards and compensation levels are beginning to harmonise across the globe. Some organisations have already adopted ‘destination pay’ and ‘local plus’ remuneration methodologies across many of their locations, allowing employees to be more quickly and easily deployed in a cost-effective way.
All these trends emphasise - a borderless workforce. If companies are to become nimble enough to respond to unexpected changes, they should see their workforce as essentially borderless. That could mean developing talent where the jobs are, relocating talent to the jobs, or moving jobs closer to sources of talent, within the constantly shifting constraints of international immigration law.
What does it mean for a hiring professional like me? I am privy to several exciting roles being shared by specialist partners -from different continents & it is becoming clearer the world would be a better place only if one were to collaborate. The jobs are becoming increasingly complex as the businesses evolve.
As an employee, it is time to change one's mindset. Constantly reinvent oneself to remain relevant in the changing times. Or even pick up cues from a millenial who is quick to share “I expect to travel and my career will be more about enjoying the experience than earning money.” 

The Future is not what it used be, right?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Mentoring Women on a Career break

I was lucky to be drafted at the eleventh hour to be a Mentor -at an event, that was the Hyderabad leg in the launch of a pan-India Group Mentoring program for women who are looking to restart their careers after taking breaks for marriage/motherhood/elderly-career, etc.
I have known Neha Bagaria, the Founder of Jobsforher & been following their interesting initiatives over the past year and a half, and am glad the movement has been beginning to get lapped up by the industry. Some of their success stories are chronicled here!
Yesterday, they had some stalwarts of the corporate world -who were willing to share their experience and wisdom. Meenakshi DhingraSmita Nair JainSharada Rao and Tanay Kediyal, who was the only other male member in the venue.
There were about 15+ ladies who had made it convenient to participate, and I am sure they would have benefitted from the opportunity to get a 1-on-1 with the senior professionals and get some insights on the opportunities in the specific domain/company and some tips to find themselves closer to their dream job
Here are my thoughts:
-I loved the energies. All the mentees had the luxury of picking the Mentor they wanted, And in turn, as a Mentor shared " had a great time today as well and definitely want to help".
-It was ironical that almost all the ladies seemed low on confidence, almost at the end of their wits. And that despite being well qualified, had stints in the industry, in India and some even abroad, and post a sabbatical! It was admirable that they had shed their inhibition and made it to the event, keen to explore how they could catch the attention of those who mattered. The senior professionals from companies like Cognizant, Google, Sears, & Wells Fargo!
As a recruiter -I let each aspirant know, that just as anxious as they were, in finding a good break, a lot of hiring managers spend sleepless nights hoping to find a talented colleague too. And rather than being defensive about the tenure/break, they ought to be focussed on being able to connect to the right decision makers, showcase their strengths, and validate their interests with testimonials of being abreast with the latest.
I parrotted that
- it wasn't always the best who got the best jobs, but often the right person at the right time- emphasising the need to be found by those looking to fill in positions.
-By being visible on social media (completed Linkedin profiles, participating in online meet-ups / groups of interest), they would do well increasing their credibility with physical networking with industry.
-Perhaps they needed to get back into the groove, by taking on projects/roles, rather than waiting for the dream job on a platter the first time. Instead consider SMEs and Startups who value their impact, and not merely apply for large MNCs-that may have a lot of systems already in place..& may tend to be bureaucratic in appreciating the value one brings.
-And yes, by tailor making a resume/CV for the specific opportunity by highlighting their accomplishments for the role in question.
Takeaways for Corporate recruiters?
-Access to experienced & committed talent pool, hungry to make a difference
-Reflect on the quality of the candidature, and the 'years on the job'.
-Time to consider flexible options -interns, part time or virtual jobs for mature professionals than eager freshers who are'nt yet sure of what they wish to do.
-And yes, those who can join at short notice, with negligible notice period.
Shout to all those reading this, there are events -happening at the major cities in India, with some topnotch women professionals from leading corporates,(Whos Who?) willing to be at Gurgaon (Dec 1st).Mumbai (Dec 2nd), Pune (Dec3rd) and Bangalore (Dec 6th)
And for the rest, bookmark the events page- that have webinars, and offline meetings offering career counselling, resume writing, and among other things -entrepreneurship!
PS. I would not be doing justice if I didn't mention the hospitality of Fusion9 ( awesome snacks!) -being just round the corner, that perhaps was the trigger to make it at gunpoint notice. Do pick up the e-book " The Way Back to the Way forward- Restarter journeys"

Monday, October 24, 2016

The best time to look for a better job is when you do not HAVE to look for one!

Is it only me? As a consumer, I feel my shopping habits have changed in the past couple of years. The Big Billion day, the great Indian Sale or the unbox sales notwithstanding. The malls and stores have bargain sales almost every other month. My impulse purchases are becoming increasingly lesser. With more apps in tow,  WhatsApp to get instant feedback from those that matter, window shopping and comparing online prices is less stressful- after all, I am making more informed decisions and value purchases.

We as consumers have come to accept disruption as a new normal in all ways of life, but when it comes to looking for jobs, we still tend to be in a time warp!

Did you know in the last 6 months, hiring in B2B has picked up and those in B2C are consolidating?

It pains me every day as acquaintances call me- when in between jobs..and frustrated about the pace of hiring action. "Am looking at the portals, and have reached out to pals -but nothing seems to happen. How do I find the jobs that I want"?

Almost every day, I have to educate that recruiters are in the business of finding people for jobs. We are mandated by employers looking to fill in critical positions & their specs are becoming more demanding.

And would you believe it..employers have changed their shopping habits over the past couple of decades!! 

If you are looking for a change of job, change the way you are looking! Stop posting CVs on portals and hope that a recruiter from your dream company will call you.

Professional networking sites is passe as Ver. 3.0 -as companies are in Recruitment 4.0 are more focussed on 'catching the early bird' as they have been investing in big data and AI and adopting 'outbound hiring' strategy!

So how does one make oneself prepared for a new job?

-Get yourself found by employers looking for great bargains! Review your social media footprint. Invest in Personal branding. Position yourself to stand out amongst peers.

-Take stock of your inventory of skills. It is predicted that 69% of the jobs in India will be made redundant by AI. Don't despair- there will be a new set of jobs/skills that would be in demand. Can you transplant some of your competencies to leverage them in a new environment?

-Embrace change the right way. Here is a hint to manage your career better. You can choose one among the four options :
  • Step up is where you use computers or artificial intelligence to step up their skills, be it decision-making or knowledge production.
  • Next, you step aside by opting for jobs machines cannot do.
  • By stepping in, you can act as links between the man and the machine
  • Stepping narrowly is you can focus your skills so narrow and sharp that you attain great expertise in some super special areas so that automating them won’t make economic sense at all.
  • Finally, stepping forward is about “creating new cognitive technology solutions for the rest of the world to use”. 
Finding a job can be a full-time job in itself. I shall be glad to have your impressions.

Monday, October 17, 2016

#futureofwork : Careers that need a digital mindset!

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be gifted an autographed copy of Abhijit  Bhaduri's latest book -The digital tsunami. The book is now available at Amazon

It is simply unputdownable.Abhijit has included so many examples of how disruption has become very much a part of our daily life, that it is hazardous to ignore the changes that are being thrust all around us. And with the accelerated pace technology and globalization, we can no longer be complacent & sit back..and say it will not affect us!! 

It will. The questions, therefore to be asked, are

-how soon do our jobs/skills get redundant
-what can we do to prevent ourselves from being extinct in the job market

And the book is an amazing aid for self-help. T here are a large number of examples that keep reminding us to move from an analog way of thinking to the digital way.

Appendix 1 gives us exercises to build digital appreciation. Some habits we ought to do by ourselves, and some by engaging our extended network

Appendix 2 goads us to be open to a workshop..required for boundary-less thinking!

For me, there were quite a few suspicions vindicated.

1.       The digital world is about discovering the uniqueness of the human being and technology is merely the enabler..to be faster , data driven (individualized) and so one will see the repercussions in hiring the right talent.
2.       He also referred to a pyramid of skills. Commoditized (that quickly taken as granted), Marketable ( that can be acquired by formal education) and Niche ( that are learnt informally by talent networks). And one must constantly be reinventing ourselves to pursue and possess the skills to navigate the career ahead!
3.       If in the past one could get by, being a specialist in one domain ( referred to as"I" in the past), being a “T shaped” person  (“great at this one thing and familiar with all this other stuff”), one is likely to be a handicapped in a world being taken over by “Pi” shaped thinking talent (building expertise in multiple domains)

Now its time for us to walk the talk. Do let me know what your takeaways were from the book!!

PS And yes, here is a fine summary- again from a Forbes article that Abhijit has contributed to last year!