Every year in India lacs of students qualify Grade 12th exams and have to make a career choice which stays with them for the rest of their lives and determines their entitlement. However not everyone ends up finding their dream job. What happens to the rest?
Students are indeed competing for the limited resources and opportunities. The performance bars are moving up every year and limited candidates are selected in reputed courses. Students are studying harder and harder to make up to the raised bar, but there are still some who are left behind. In an interview in Times of India, at the back drop of Global Business Summit 2018 in New Delhi, Steve Woznaik said that in India kids have found a straight forward formula for success which is to study hard, get marks, join degree courses and earn high paying jobs. It is a structured formula, in which the creativity is lost because everyone is same, following the same path. Again, not everyone would be able to pursue this track. Not everyone can secure admission to a good Engineering college or a seat in medicine. The question then is, given this situation how should majority of the students deal with their career?
Personal branding is all about how you are seen by others and whether you have something tangible to offer so that the outside world is compelled to make a place for you. You will always hear one question from prospective employers, institutions and prospective business partners, “What is in it for me?” In other words, how will your unique characteristics benefit others so that you can command a place for yourself. What is it that you have to bring to the table? It is essentially about two things your skills and abilities and how you communicate your talent to the external world.
In a world where we see volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, VUCA as we call it, a constant updation of skills is essential to keep oneself relevant. Consider the example of the pandemic which we have been witnessing since the year 2020, industries such as hospitality, aviation, food delivery portals or cab aggregators faced the heat. These were the industries which were doing a roaring business. Industries such as ecommerce, telecom companies, artificial intelligence and machine learning and digital transformation are the sectors that commanded sizeable share of GDP during this time. This indicates that some skills became obsolete suddenly which necessitated the acquisition of new skills.
Next thing about skills is that sometimes we are ignorant about our own exceptional qualities. I have in my speaking career seen hundreds of people who are at loss of words when you ask them to write down the positive characteristics of their personality where as it takes them no time to pen down their shortcomings . One day I was speaking to the senior executive of an ITES company where her team dealt with customer complaints. She had approached me for career counselling and mu usual question was about her positive side. At first, she couldn’t think about anything. On digging deeper, she said that the recent company data revealed that her department took 60% less time to resolve customer complaints compared to the company average and they also received fewer repeat calls from customers. I consider this as a remarkable achievement, considering how much efficiency she had brought in. Unfortunately, she was ignorant about her capability. This happens with most of us.
I personally believe that each one of us has certain abilities which we do not recognize or appreciate. Many a times we underestimate ourselves and fail to recognize our strengths which could help us in getting ahead in our lives. If only we could take some time and make a mental note and be consciously aware of our positive side, we could end up having a better opinion about our own self. I always push my audience to perform this exercise of listing down the good things about them. Nothing is small, even if you have helped an old man to cross the road that is also worth putting in the list because this reflects your empathy, which is a quality very much required by the world outside you. you are akin to a brand and you need to discover the compelling characteristics of you which could make you the first choice of the recruiters and other opportunities.
Having listed your strengths, next thing is to have awareness about the world in general. The information which you possess about the latest happenings and anything that is relevant to your area of interest is the key differentiator of brand you. Keep yourself updated through daily newspapers and other sources of information. It is important that you know about the available opportunities and the skills and abilities required to be eligible for them. Next thing is to do a self-assessment to see if you have in you whatever it takes to grab those opportunities. This is how you will find an answer to the question, “what is in it for me?” It is important to continuously enhance your skills by taking up additional contemporary courses and increase your knowledge about the fields that are of interest to you. The crux is that you need to find a niche for yourself.
By now you have built the brand you. The next important thing is to communicate about this brand to the world outside. Take a stock of how good you are at talking about yourself. Are you fluent in your language? Even if you know the language, are you comfortable with expressing yourself? Can you connect with others and build a rapport? Sometimes, we may have exceptional skills but we may be poor at communicating them, in that case it is as good as not having those skills. Remember that being able to communicate your uniqueness is as important as being unique.