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How to get a good job & build a great career ?

As a part of my volunteering work, I lead an initiative called Confluence in National HRD Bangalore Chapter. This gives me an opportunity to give back to the HR fraternity, after more than 2.5 decades in this profession.

The goal of NHRD Confluence is to connect Industry, Academia and Students. The value proposition of this initiative is pretty obvious for each stakeholder, for the Student it is about getting to interact with Industry leaders while at college, learn from them and improve chances of a good job. For the Academia it is an opportunity to contextualize their curriculum to Industry needs, build faculty capability and improve placement opportunities of their students. And for the Industry, it is an opportunity to influence quality of education, groom students, and evaluate the colleges on different parameters, thereby improve quality of talent hired.

This initiative has been interesting in many ways for me. As I participate, observe and reflect on multiple conversations that ensue between different stakeholders in multiple forums, one thing intrigues me the most — India has abundant supply of talent, Industry has a huge demand for talent, yet there is unemployment. Sounds so counter intuitive, isn’t it?

If we examine the demand side for a moment, there is a huge demand for talented people, Lakhs of jobs (if not millions) but India does not have a talent (or people) with the right skill sets for these Lakhs of jobs. How sad can this situation be?

Now let us examine the supply side. There are thousands of colleges & universities in India, which are manufacturing ITI’s, Diplomas, Graduates, Engineers, MBA’s, Doctors, Nurses, etc. in millions each year. In many ways the supply side is probably 2X of the demand. By this proportion, 1X should be employed and Industry should be happy. However, this isn’t the case. There are thousands of open positions across Industry, yet they are unable to hire from the current talent pool.

The biggest challenge in India is not lack of employment. The single biggest challenge that India faces today and will continue to face for the next 10 years is lack of employability. What’s the difference?

Lack of employment is when there aren’t jobs. Lack of employability is when there isn’t the right skill to fulfill the requirement for the job. So where does this leave us? Developing the right skills and staying relevant for employment is the key to success for any individual today in the job market.

Let us examine the third dimension of the issue, the talent (people) themselves. This stakeholder group (people/talent) has been probably the most interesting and complex group. India is a young country with employable workforce of more than 749 million people (Age 15–59) as of 2010. This is will swell to 962 million by 2030, making India the largest contributor of workforce to the entire world. All of this sounds like a dream, till we examine the fact that 70% of this workforce will be millennial. This age group is not born to parents, from the British India era. They are born 50 years after Independence, in a resurgent India. They are free from the historical shackles of colonialism, more self-confident, highly aspirational, big dreamers, impatient and want to achieve their goals in a very short period of time. They are looking for a good life, be well paid, have many materialistic wants, strong social desires (for status) and hence want to grow faster up the ladder.

The significant complexity it poses in the current demographic context for India is that this very talent pool of Millennial is being called “unemployable” because they lack the skills. High on aspirations but low on skill does not present a pretty picture.

Now, who has to solve this problem? The one who is immediately looked at is — of course, the Government. I would humbly beg to disagree. While Government has a role to reform the education system, the primary role is that of the people themselves. My logic is simple. I cannot have high aspirations for myself in life, but expect someone else (Government in this case) to fulfill the same. I need to do what ever it takes in terms of building my skills and capabilities, to make sure that I am employable.

So if you are reading this blog, my question to you is have you ever reflected on your employability to score? If not, you can do that right now. Answer the following 3 teaser questions in YES or NO for a start.

  1. In the last 6 months, I have invested (min 12 hours) in acquiring a new skill in my domain / functional area.
  2. In the last 3 months, I have researched in good detail (spending 3–4 hours) on the future trends in my area of work & the new skills I may have to build to stay relevant.
  3. In the last 1 month, I have influenced my subordinate or peer to acquire a new skill, for him/her to remain contemporary in their domain.

If the answer to 2 of the questions above is a NO, you have something to reflect upon. If the answer to all 3 questions is a NO, you have something to worry about.

If you want a good job and a great career, invest in yourself, continue to add new skills, invest a part of your wallet to grow your wallet. We all know that the only way to grow one’s wealth is to invest a part of the money you earn. The same logic applies to education, skills and career. Start acting now, before it is too late for you.

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PGC is a boutique Management Consulting firm engaged in the business of enabling its clients to transform their Org, Culture & Capabilities.

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