Photographs: Uttam Ghosh Amit Bansal
If you thought that just by choosing the right professional course, you will land yourself with a plum job you might be in for a rude shock when you hit the job market. Employers look at attributes beyond just your degree. Every manager wants an employee who can produce good results for the organisation! So we need to understand what attributes managers look for in order to determine whether a candidate will produce results or not.
Job descriptions are a basic definition of the knowledge, skills and attitude that are required for a given role. A candidate who scores high on these three attributes is a dream employee for that job. Let us try to understand the knowledge skills and attitude in more detail.
Knowledge can be considered as the underpinning principles of a process or procedure, as well as tacit knowledge gained as a result of the experience of performing certain tasks.
If you are applying for a particular role, you must possess the necessary knowledge so that you can perform that role. Let's assume that there is a job for the role of Software Testing Professional. In context of this role, the candidate is required to have the knowledge of software development lifecycle, various testing tools, the process of testing that involves writing test cases, filing defects etc.
Knowledge is very specific to a role. While our education system imparts knowledge on various technical/non-technical areas, it often falls short of meeting the expectations of the industry. The biggest gap is the practical application and knowledge of industry practices related to the requirements of a particular role.
In good times, most organisations took the responsibility of filling this gap by having an extensive 12 to 16 week training program for fresh employees. However, in these times, most companies expect the candidates to have this knowledge and hence the interviewers ask lot of questions pertaining to the knowledge requirement of that role.
So, number 1 in the list of top 10 is domain knowledge specific to the job.
Amit Bansal is the CEO of PurpleLeap (http://www.purpleleap.com/) an employability skill enhancement initiative of Educomp Solutions Pvt Ltd.
Skills help you do things effectively. While different jobs may require varying degree of competence in each of these skills, it will be safe to say that most jobs require the following skills. We can broadly list the skills under the following areas:
2. Communications skills (listening, reading, verbal, written)
Excellent communication skills are the number one thing that employers and interviewers look for in a candidate. These can be either verbal or written communication skills but you must be able to prove that you can communicate and work alongside others in an excellent manner.
Successful communication is critical in business.
3. Problem-solving skills
Companies are looking for people who can fix problems with minimal direction. They don't want to have to tell people to react when fires are burning - the employee should know how to fix the problem. Problem solving includes the following steps:
- The ability to assess a situation, gather more information if necessary
- Identify key issues that need to be addressed
- Break down complex problems into simpler manageable problems
- Analyse a problem to develop workable solutions
In these dynamic times, as much as half of the information in some industries becomes obsolete in five years.
Learnability is the key skill that makes you constantly learn, unlearn and relearn. This also includes your ability to apply knowledge and skills in new settings.
Number 2,3,4 in the top 10 are skills -- communication skills, problem solving skills and learnability.
Some people call it attitude, some call it behavioural trait and others mindset.
Call it what you wish, but the bottom-line is, this is the single factor that differentiates successful employees from the rest. Since it is hard to train people on behavioural traits, organisations do not take any risk if they find a candidate lacking here. Let us figure out what key attributes fall under attitude:
5. Loyalty and integrity
Employers are looking for loyalty at both the team/manager level and overall corporate level. Employers want and need to be able to trust their employees to work professionally to meet the employer's best interests. Employers do not want to hire people who require close scrutiny or who can't be trusted to represent the company in public.
6. Interpersonal Skills
The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day.
I was going to use teamwork, but that's been done to death and it's also implicit in some of the other qualities.
However, employers, and managers in particular, really, really like to have people who can get along with their colleagues and who can act maturely and responsibly in difficult circumstances.
7. Strong work ethic
I think it goes without saying that employers want workers who will work hard and who are committed to meeting deadlines.
You must be able to prove that you are willing to go beyond the call of duty for your employer and that you are willing to give them 100 per cent commitment to the company and the job.
8. Motivation and initiative
Business leaders aren't omniscient and they make mistakes. They also have to react rapidly to changing business conditions. They need people who can change gears and focus quickly and adapt their working hours as required.
Flexibility and adaptability deal with your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.
10. Determination and persistence
This is extremely important.
Managers will give employees challenging goals, but generally they are achievable. The key is to be able to work hard and keep moving things forward when you encounter obstacles.
So, number 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the top 10 list is only attitude!
A good employee is an asset to any organisation and worth the weight in gold. If you have your KSA in place, you are on your way to corporate success!