Monday, March 23, 2009

A series on alternate employment avenues

In India, we are obsessed with our children following a well beaten track when it comes to career and employment. I still remember when I passed out of school, everyone around was asking me, "Do you want to be a Doctor or an Engineer?", as though those were the only options available. It's been more than 20 years since then and things have not changed that much. We still want our children to do whatever is bringing in the best moolah today. We dont want them to experiment with or explore other possible avenues. When they show interest in other fields, we chastise them for not being realistic. As parents we do all that we can to stifle any passion that the children may have in areas that do not have a clear track record of regular fat paychecks.

But, the most passionate, successful and happy people I have met in my life have been those that have followed their heart and done what they believe is their reason for existence. Their list of options, it seems, was not limited to Engineering, Medicine, Law, Accounting, and Teaching .

When I wrote the post Are you gearing up for the next boom?, I realized that it may be time to write a series of articles on people who have succeeded in non-traditional areas of employment. We need our youth to find something that they can be passionate about, where they can chase their dreams, have a shot at happiness and get to change the world for the better.

The basic idea behind these articles is to show that one can go down a new career path and still make a comfortable living. So, while success for most of the people we are going to meet in this column may not be defined in terms of money alone, my articles will concentrate a bit more in that area, as I find most parents in India today understand that language better.

The articles will appear starting later this week on the career advice section of

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good guys deserve to stand out!

The title of this post is one of the slogans used by an up-and-coming job site to promote their resume writing service. This is a service provided by most of the leading job sites today.

While I understand the compulsions of a company to create new services and revenue streams, I cannot understand how "resume writing" can be considered a service for anybody. A resume writing service on a job site is like a photo enhancement service on a matrimonial site!

Till about ten years ago, as an employer, I used to form a part of my opinion about the candidate based on how he has presented himself on the resume. I used to be able to get insights into the candidate's written communication skills, clarity of thought, language skills and other "soft" skills based on how well the resume was crafted. Mind you, I never cared for the aesthetics of the resume and have always been skeptical about the overly flamboyant and flowery ones.

Aishwarya Rai

Over a period, I noticed that the opinions I was forming based on the resume were getting more and more inaccurate. I soon realized that this was because somebody else was writing the resume. During this phase, because the resumes were of such good quality in terms of language and presentation, the real candidate would almost always fall short of expectation and hence be rejected [In retrospect, some of the candidates may have been selected had they not added additional baggage by way of setting my expectations high]. Going back to my matrimonial site analogy, if in your photo you looked like Aishwarya Rai, as a prospective groom, be sure that I would be sorely disappointed when I see you in person!

Once an interviewer feels cheated, there is very little you, as a candidate, can do to change the opinion of the potential employer in the available time. If the resume has been done by somebody else, how accurate is the data therein? How factually accurate are the accomplishments listed? Have they also been embellished? Your credibility is lost and your chances disappear even before the interview is half-way through!

Instead of providing services that give the best chance for both candidate and company to find the right match, these resume writing services end up as a dis-service to both parties.

Good guys definitely deserve to stand out. Just not through getting your resumes written by somebody else. There are many legitimate ways by which genuine candidates can stand out and distance themselves from the fakers. Check out to find out how. Read more about it here.

Remember, if you can write a fantastic resume yourself, there is no need to use a resume writing service. If you can't write one, getting somebody else to write one is almost always seen as a deception by the interviewer. Either way, outsourced resume writing is a service you don't want.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Are you gearing up for the next boom?

I know that the market conditions are looking rather bleak now, but sooner or later, things are going to pick up and then eventually we are going to get into a boom period. It may be later this year, next year or maybe even later, but it is bound to happen.

So what are you doing to be ready for the next boom? Do you have spare time now? Here are some of the things you can do instead of agonizing over the present situation:

  1. Learn a new skill or a language. Some of these skills will come in handy when things get better.
  2. Take up a hobby. You will learn to relax and gain some expertise
  3. Build your network. A network built without the requirement for immediate gratification/profit is almost always stronger.
  4. Set your house in order. Plan your future. Revaluate your priorities. You will have a clearer idea of the way forward when doors open.
  5. Get involved in some charity that you never had time for before.
  6. Maybe even start a new company.

The possibilities are endless. You have time on your hands now, use it wisely. The good times will come, as surely as the day follows the night.

Are you gearing up for the next boom? Write in and tell me what you plan to do.