On a sunny bright day, ‘Sarah’ and ‘Ali’ walked into my office seeking advice on their career or to be precise, the lack of a career. Upon reviewing their credentials, it was clear that they were bright youngsters who had the passion, work ethic, and intelligence to leave their mark on the world. During the discussion of their credentials, it was clearly visible in their body language and tone that their motivation level was at the lowest due to the fact they were unable to get their dream job. This was not the first-time nor the last time; youngsters like Sarah and Ali have shown up at my office seeking advice and guidance on career selection. Throughout Pakistan and the world, there is a plethora of youngsters from varying education and financial backgrounds that have the passion and skills to succeed and alas, they don’t know where to begin their journey. There are plenty of examples with youngsters from varying education and financial backgrounds. All of them eager to succeed – but don’t know where to start.
The first and foremost aspect of these youngsters is that they have realized that they are and have hit a roadblock and are not taking steps to circumvent the obstacle. Youngster do not tend to ask for help due to multiple reason with the courage, shyness, laziness and self-awareness being the top four challenges based on my experience. With seeking or asking for help, they are quickly discouraged, which lays the first seeds of doubt, and along with social and peer pressure, they start to settle on the ‘best’ option at that moment.
One cannot fix problem until one does not know what the problem is!
In the case of Sarah and Ali, along with the others that come through my door, is that they have realized that there is a problem that needs to be solved, and that they need to seek the answer as it does not come without due diligence.
Where should YOU start?
Research has shown that people who started their careers with Blue Chip/Multinational companies are successful even after leaving their company later down their career. This has been one of the main reasons, that young professionals and fresh graduates vie for a placement in these companies. Such companies are running like well-oiled machines; well-defined guideline, robust systems that are continuously improving, and clear organizational structures with proper talent management plans. Every department and each position have clear KPIs that can only be achieved through commitment, perseverance, teamwork, blood and sweat. Learning “good business practices” early on in your career, prepares you better for your future growth as well as gives you experience if you plan to venture into your own business. In today’s world, where entrepreneurship is leading the way for innovation, these aspects are not always available, and need to be developed to entice the next generation. To sustain our population and economic well-being, competition at all levels and all of them require similar skillsets.
The need of the hour…
What truly differentiates you from other candidates is not only your GPA, but the skill set that you have developed through your life. Organizations are looking for skills that are aligned with their own vision and goals. Understanding their vision is vital to success. Recruiters have realized that it is very easy to provide technical training but extremely hard to impart soft skills to the employees. The academic qualifications have merely become a pre-requisite and not a deciding factor for most organizations. Companies have shifted their recruitment techniques to target those candidates with above average skills in communication, critical thinking, teamwork and listening, along with an understanding of their corporate vision and ability to align with the organization to achieve goals.
So what next…
The process to land the best job is simple but requires dedication and hard work. To be in the 1%, you need to work 99% harder than the rest. The amount of effort put in is proportional to the amount of success one can achieve. The earlier you start your conscientious effort towards an illustrious career, the higher will be your chances to achieve your aspirations.
Get to work…
Success always comes by building up on your areas of strength. Hence, it is important to know and understand your strengths as well as your aspirations. An easy 5 step process is laid out below after research and spending the time with recruiters, companies and young professionals.
- Discover YOURSELF:
YOU are YOU and there is only YOU. You have your own unique strengths and aspirations. Don’t go trying to be someone else. This is the stage that you need to discover yourself. With all the challenges around you, it is impossible to excel and thrive in a field that is not aligned with your strengths and aspirations. There are numerous kinds of surveys available online, along with experts that can help you to identify your strengths and zoom into your long-term aspirations. Using these resources of self-awareness will funnel help you effectively funnel yourself energy in what is best for you, and only you.
- Find YOUR Industry:
Your educational qualification makes you eligible to work in various industries. Even within the same industry and corporation, you may be eligible for more than one type of job role, e.g. a mechanical engineer may be eligible to work as a “Shift Engineer” or as a “Management Trainee” in the same organization. To understand the different opportunities in an organization, you must have a thorough market research in terms of macro- and micro-economic outlook as well as the networking. What do you think is good? What does everyone think is good? Does your current location help you seek opportunities in areas you have selected? Are you willing to relocate? What are the pros and cons of relocating? A lot of effort needs to go into the research and answering such questions.
- Brand YOURSELF
YOU are different from your friends, colleagues, siblings and the rest of the world. Your uniqueness must be shown in your branding material such as one’s resume, curriculum vitae, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and more. Sometimes, persons with excellent skills that are lined up perfectly with a certain position, are unable to showcase themselves effectively which leads to their application being rejecting and tossed into the trash bin. People who are hired by great corporations are able to brand themselves apart from others. You need to talk to such persons and try to understand the “tricks of the trade”. All this will help you to brand yourself on paper as well as on social media.
- Job Interview
“Practice makes Perfect” – is an old saying. Yet, few people apply this technique when it comes to getting their careers on the right track. Youngsters spend a lot of time getting through their educational milestones but spend little effort on how to get through the job interviews. Job interviews are stressful; they result in panic attacks and feelings of doubt make them even more difficult. Hence, it is strongly recommended to go through the preparation phase and mock-up interviews with people you don’t know. Would you not practice if you were to play the final of Super League? Would you not work hard to win that trophy? The same applies to job interviews. Don’t you want that prized job you had always dreamt about?
- ACTION to Improve
YOU have to continuously improve yourself and stay ahead of the pack. If you don’t get the job, then it’s time to review and recognize your shortcomings. Understand what went wrong and have an open mind to criticism – this will help you to improve yourself in the future. If you have landed the job, then Good Luck! – more effort is required to stay abreast of everyone else. Remember, an average effort, at best, will yield average results. So get up and get ready for the next round of challenges!