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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Check your career intelligence by using these six checks

Irrespective of whether your marks or high or low, coming from urban or rural area or hailing from well connected family or not, you must gain career intelligence if you want to have a chance to succeed in the work-life after college. 

How do you know if you have career intelligence? You will know that you have career intelligence if you do two primary checks. One, do you know the abilities you have and can you grow them, if you do not know and Two, do you know how you can sell your abilities. 

Section I: Awareness of your abilities and how to grow them

Check 1: Do you know the primary abilities you have?

We develop abilities in colleges, but job require skills. Both are different. We have to convert our abilities into skills to perform in a job. But our view of ability and job-related skills is so restrictive that it stops us from exploring good job choices.

Let us take a Howard Gardner's view of intelligence as our abilities. As knowledge workers we have three primary abilities:
  • Logical ability ( which we primarily develop in subjects of mathematics and science) is useful for learning several job-related skills in programming, accounting and even medicine. 
  • Linguistic ability ( which we develop in languages and social studies)  is useful in many job skills such as collaborating with colleagues, selling services or products, developing and promoting innovative ideas and products in companies. 
  • Visual abilities ( which we develop in drawing and crafts) are used powerfully in creating advertising, websites and other related visual domains like fashion and entertainment.
Do you know the ancillary abilities you possess?

Even our 'ancillary' abilities can be used in work. For instance, smell and taste abilities can be used powerfully in jobs related to tea, wine, perfume and cooking domains. Or our auditory ability can be used in jobs related to music industry such as sound engineers. Or our kinesthetic ability of sports can be used in jobs related to sports such as coaches, sport administrators or sports commentators.

Here is a way to list down your entire set of abilities.

Check 2: More importantly, do you know the way of growing your primary cognitive skills?

As we have mentioned above, cognitive skills are developed only after working with real live problems, or working in projects that produce real outputs. If you are studying in a college which offers internships, then these skills can be developed easily. If however, you are studying in a college which does not offer such internships, then a graduate has to find his own way to work in real-life projects.

Check 3: Do you know the methods of developing secondary cognitive abilities that are necessary to survive in any job? 

You need secondary cognitive skills skills - communication, planning and team working - are important in any job.

Remember cooking cannot be learnt by reading recipe books; it can be learnt only by actually 'cooking' individual dishes. Similarly, communication skill cannot be developed by taking classes of 'How to do presentation' in a class room but by doing actual presentations of 'assignments'.

Planning skill does not develop by reading a book in planning, but by doing actual planning for say an event in college, like Annual day and Robotics competition. College clubs, Planning annual events, and college presentations of projects are inherent part of ' College Systems' in good colleges.

Team working skill cannot be learnt by taking training class. It can be improved only by functioning in a real team which is producing an output. It can be learnt in sports by playing in a team.

Section II: Awareness of using available job options 

Check 4: Do you know the available job options suitable for your basket of abilities?

Depending on the understanding of the job market in your field, a graduate chooses possible job positions which suit him the most.

Choosing a job position is choosing the combination of four elements of a job
  • Role of doer, teacher , advisor, researcher ( I am assuming the direct role of manager is not available for a fresh graduate)  
  • Subject speciality to specialise (For instance, audit or tax after doing accounting, or doing animation or art work design after doing bachelors in commercial arts)
  • Function ( Sales, manufacturing, service)
  • Industry domain ( software or telecom) 
A graduate may chose combination of the above four elements. For instance a commerce graduate may chose to focus on work in banking domain, with banking speciality, sales function. He may also choose alternate job positions in say retail and tax domain. Here are some examples of work-path choices.

Check 5: Find the best possible path that will help you find the good employer

Skill-market, like product market, has its own rules. Graduates must understand these rules so that they can adhere to them instead of fighting them.

For instance, many graduates have poor understanding of buyers in the skill market (employers), the jobs available with them and what evaluations they use to hire fresh graduates. Few Tier 3 college graduates understand why companies pay 5 times the salary to a graduate from Tier 1 college as compared to Tier 3 college. They keep on trying to get job in Tier A company which is almost difficult for them, until they have done something unique in their graduation. And they keep on refusing to work in Tier C/D companies because of low salary.

With no work in hand, they do not get the requisite skills necessary to produce result in a job. And on the other hand, neither their credentials improve by sitting in the house. They must find a way to work in a small company and get the requisite skills and credentials, to move ahead so that they can work in better companies in 3-5 years.  In career intelligence jargon, this is called marketing and selling skill to influence the job-market.

Check 6: Present your credentials in a CV and demonstrate them convincingly in the interview

Whatever the decision the graduate takes, the graduate must have the requisite skills in drafting CV, approaching employers and then demonstrating one's credentials in the interview in convincing manner. CV designing and interview-demonstration becomes a core requirement of Career intelligence.

Some graduates make a beautiful CV, but cannot handle all the questions of an interviewer that the CV raises. Some graduates design such a poor CV that they cannot even get a interview call. So the balance between CV and interview has to be maintained in a way that will demonstrate one's credentials for the desired job.

Summary

If you can check up all the above questions satisfactorily, you can safely assume to have enough career intelligence.

If you do not develop this career intelligence to a sufficient degree, you may take up a job because others are taking it, or you may refuse the right job because of low salary. Without enough career intelligence, you will follow others like a sheep and miss your career boat.

A student requires enough career intelligence while he is graduating. If he does not have it, he may lose some years in just getting his 'direction' right. If he has it, he can exploit his limited skills for the fullest possible gains.