Stay fit at work

July 29, 2009

Ever felt sleepy at work and like you just can’t concentrate no matter how hard you try? Come on, admit it. It won’t be politically incorrect to say yes.

The fact of the matter is that, fat or slim, short or tall, black or white (or brown), long-haired or messy-haired, your brain cells need some good ‘ol fresh air.

Studies show that those who exercised daily were nearly 100% more alert and effective in their workplace. How’s that for good statistics!

So, if you’ve been wondering how to get that due appraisal to work in your favor, my advice to you would be to try at least a half hour of cardiac workouts a day! Not only will you feel different, your work will be so much more productive and those around you will notice the new you.

Truth be known, even a 15 minute workout in office, can give your heart a serious pump up, infuse your body with oxygen and freshen your brain cells. In some organisations, HR even put up a gym in the office so as to promote the exercise = productive work formula. It doesn’t have to be something that takes up tons of your busy schedule. Take the first 15 minutes of your lunch break to sneak in a quick workout, another 15 for a quick freshening up and a half hour for your food, or however it suits you best.

Before I sign out, I’d like to emphasize to you that you really don’t want to wait another day. If nothing else, shake the sheets full of dust on your treadmill at home, or hit the gym at your office for some ‘I-want-to-be-more-productive-at-work-time’ and see the change it’ll bring to your life.

Well, that’s all for now on that topic, I got some serious gymming to do!


How can you find your career strengths?

July 22, 2009

What do you enjoy doing? What makes you feel energetic? What do you do well? These are no ordinary questions.

Answers to the above questions can lead you to the most precious asset you have for building a successful career: Your strengths.

Why bother about strengths? When you use our strengths, you will enjoy your work and give your best performance. Opposite is also true. Failing to use your own strengths is a recipe for boredom and mediocre performance at work.

You may wonder if you have any strength in the first place. Indeed, when people see a great musician, painter, orator or sportsman perform, they recognize readily his/her strength. But they fail to ask themselves what their own strengths are and quietly assume they have none.

There are three main reasons why people fail to leverage on their own strengths. First, what you are good at comes easily to you. Therefore, you may take it for granted. For example, if your strength lies in, say, leading people, you may find this activity so easy that it may not appear as anything special to you.

Second, your strengths may be such that you may not be able to publicly express them, unlike in the case of a painter or musician. Therefore, no one, including you, recognizes them.

Third, since many people do not recognize their strengths, they fail to develop them. As a result, the strengths remain dormant, like an unpolished diamond.

Here’s how you can spot your own strengths if you don’t already know them:

Pay attention to the activities that give you a feeling of joy or enjoyment. That’s a clue to your strengths.

Do you suddenly feel energized while doing certain activities? If yes, that’s another clue to your strengths.

Look at all your past achievements and see if you can detect a pattern of specific activities. If you can, these particular activities are nothing but expressions of your strengths.

Find out what you excel at consistently. That’s a definite clue to your strengths.

Interestingly, people can identify others’ strengths (and weaknesses) quite easily. If you can notice others’ strengths, they too can notice yours. So, if someone compliments you for good work, pay attention. He may be pointing at your strengths unconsciously.

A person’s strengths are like a blown-up balloon under the water–they keep surfacing. Sub-consciously, you may feel a compulsion to express your strengths. For example, if your strength is writing, you may grab any opportunity to write.

Ask yourself: “What do I feel compelled to do?

Like a magnet, your yearnings pull you towards your strengths. So, if you catch yourself longing repeatedly to do something, say, teaching others, therein may lie your strength.

Rapid learning
If you are able to learn a particular skill rapidly, that again is a clue to your strength.

Losing track of time
Not being conscious of the time while you are doing something is one of the most reliable clues to your strengths.

Ask yourself: “What do I enjoy doing so much that it makes me lose track of time?”

Feedback analysis
This method was suggest by management guru Peter Drucker. It works as follows:

1. Whenever you take a key decision or action, write down what you expect to happen.
2. Later, perhaps after a few days, weeks or months, compare the actual results with your own expectations.

According to Drucker, if practiced consistently, the feedback analysis will reveal to you both your strengths and weaknesses.

With so many ways to uncover your strengths, it is time you unleashed them to enjoy your work, give superior performance and savor success in your career.

Interview Success

July 15, 2009

In the April 2000 issue of the Reader’s Digest magazine, Nick Corcodilos, a famous headhunter, recounts how Zagorski, a professional seeking a new job, wowed an interviewer at a big corporation and got the job.

Zagorski went for an interview at AT&T. At the outset, even before Zagorski could settle in his seat, the interviewer told him that he had only 20 minutes to spare. Instead of feeling belittled or nervous, Zagorski got up and walked up to the marker board. He then started writing down the challenges faced by the company.

Fifteen minutes later, he wrote down his estimate of what he would add to the bottom line. When he paused to take a look at the interviewer, he found him completely dazed. The next thing he heard was interviewer telling him that there was no need for any further interview. The interviewer called in his team, introduced Zagorski to everybody and they began a working meeting, which lasted for two hours.

Most people go to interviews hoping to be questioned and assessed by an interviewer. They go anxious and worried, wondering whether they would get the job. People like Zagorski approach an interview with a completely different mind-set. They go well-prepared to demonstrate how they would fit into employer’s needs and bring value to their business. They go as a value provider, not as a job seeker.

Would you also like to impress your would be employer just like Zagorski? If yes, the next time when you get an interview call, don’t lose any time and get down to preparing a powerful presentation. Here is a road map:

1. Know the employer
Go to the company’s Web site and learn about its products and services. What initiatives this company is taking? Who are its competitors, and what challenges this company is facing? Read the “news” section to pick up the latest happenings there.

2. Review the job
Next, zero in on the job that you are pursuing. What are the employer’s expectations in terms of responsibilities, actions and goals? Also note the job requirements–qualifications, experience and skills–employer is expecting the right candidate to satisfy.

3. Review yourself
Look at your resume and review the assets you have: your experience, education, achievements, skills, knowledge and strengths.

4. Prepare a presentation
Having done the homework, now it’s time to prepare a short PowerPoint presentation. The presentation should essentially comprise the following parts:

Part 1: About yourself
Prepare a short introduction of yours in terms of education, experience and achievements.

Part 2: Employer’s business
This part is about showing your understanding of company’s business: products, services, markets, competition, etc.

Part 3: Employer’s needs
In this part, list all of employer’s expectations–responsibilities, actions and goals—you will be expected to meet. Also talk about the challenges you will be facing in the job.

Part 4: How would you deliver?
This is the heart of your presentation where you would demonstrate how you would tackle the challenges and go on not just to meet employer’s expectations, but exceed them. To make it credible, share actual examples from your past experience and use quantitative information.

On the whole, keep your presentation limited to 10 slides and 15 minutes long.

5. Practise: The last and final step is to practise delivering the presentation. More you practise, more relaxed, confident and convincing you will be during the interview.

Zagorski wouldn’t have been able to make that job-winning presentation if he had not done thorough preparation. Now, it’s your turn to follow his way and enjoy success at interview.
Atul Mathur is the author of three ebooks: 5 Quick Steps to a New Job, The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction.

Experts share their opinions with TimesJobs on the new budget

July 8, 2009

We asked renowned people from the HR industry for their opinion on the Indian Budget of 2009, the impact of the budget on Recruitment and the Growth of various sectors, etc. This is what they had to say:

Arti Sharma, Head HR, India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd.

Budget 2009 was not able to give much to salaried professionals. The increase of slab by Rs.10000/- will give little impact to few professionals.
– FBT abolition is good for corporates but required more clarity. Incase this will be passed on to employee on normal slab rate this will be a big hit for employees and that too at this time of recession, when no change or reduced salary .FBT abolition at employer end should not be passed to employees
as tax burden.
– There is one good step in last so many years that surcharge is removed for more then 10lacs salaried professional.
– Commodity rates are increasing, salaries in this tough market situation either no increase or cut , the budget was not able to give any relief.
– All salaried professionals were expecting increasing under Home loan exemption but no change made all unhappy.
– This is good step that taking care of farmers and want to focus more on their development ,but Govt need to understand
that most of their tax collection is coming from salaried professionals.
There is nothing for salaried professional.
Overall the budget -2009 was not able to give any relief to salaried professionals ,and a big disappointment for all.

Rajita Singh, Head – HR, Broadridge Financial Solutions (India) Pvt. Ltd.

It is great to see the focus on bringing back GDP to 9% and from an HR perspective this focus means greater employment opportunities for all thus increasing the standard of living. Also good to see no FBT and increase in the exemption limit. I would like all surcharges and cess to go as well. Happy with the spend on infrastructure as well.

On the Industry front, welcome the announcement of GST. The concerns I have are high fiscal deficit and no direction wrt to disinvestments.

Vinda Chitnis, Vice President – Human Resources & Administration, THIRDWARE SOLUTION Ltd

“I feel, Extension of Fiscal benefits like 10A/10B sections for Tech industry under the Software Technology Parks of India scheme will help stabilise and grow in present volitile situation.

Makarand Deshpande, Director – HR & Admin, Skoda Auto India Pvt Ltd

It is no major step to give boost to the corporate sector except abolition of FBT (Fringe Benefit Tax). Absolutely nothing is provided for the SME sector which is one of the large sector to provide employment opportunities.

For individual tax payers , major relief was expected this time but they are completely disappointed. Very small relief has been given compare to expectations. The corporate sector was also expecting some relief in the corporate taxes but nothing is given to them.

No proper thought is given to boost the employment opportunities and to counter the recessionary effect, no major step has been taken.

The budget ensures to give 12 million jobs each year and reduce poverty by half by 2014, but how this will be done which is big question. The expenditure has crossed Rs. 10 lakh cr for the first time and fiscal deficit is 6.8% of GDP which is again highest. How this expenditure and deficit will be managed is not clear.

The roadmap for GST(Goods and service tax) implementation was expected to have better clarity for this major reforms in indirect taxes administration, no such step is seen or declared in the budget.

Overall in my view budget is disappointing for corporate sector as well as for the individuals and that’s why there was a biggest budget day fall in the SENSEX.”

Sanjay Shanmugaum, Vice President – Human Resources, CBay Systems (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget has correctly identified India’s immediate challenge to be that of that sustaining the GDP growth at 9%. With that in mind, the Budget has proposed the requisite economic stimulus needed for this, with financial inclusiveness as the guiding factor.

For the Indian IT and outsourcing industry that is struggling to cope with slowing global demand and shrinking profit margins, the Budget has proposed some much needed initiatives to boost growth. The removal of FBT and the reforms in indirect taxes is seen as a major plus, allowing for stock based compensation to be more effective.

In a knowledge sector such as ours, this becomes even more pertinent, and helps us manage our talent needs better. That said, the decision to extend tax deduction on export profits under Sections 10A and 10B of the IT Act will help Indian companies retain competitive edge in a global scenario.

On the whole, the Budget focuses strongly on social and rural upliftment and the government’s increased expenditure on infrastructure, agriculture and urban development along with the slew of incentives for private investment in education, social security and energy security will provide an impetus to these sectors while strengthening India’s overall competitiveness and indirectly create employment opportunities.”

Arun Solomon, General Manager-Human Resources, MSPL Limited

“This budget appears to be focused on reducing the impact of recession. As employees and employers the very marginal tax exemption of Rs. 10,000 and dispensing with the surcharge will benefit practically many employees across the spectrum.

The increase in terms of the amount for the medical treatment of dependents with disability lightens the burden of those who have dependents.

Employees were expecting the conveyance allowance to be increased and similarly premium on medical insurance to be substantially increased. To disincentivise all the talent to be heading towards metros, some of us had hoped that there would have been some tax incentives for employees working in non-metro areas also enabling talent to gravitate.”

Stay tuned for our next batch of expert’s opinion on the way the Budget of 2009 will impact jobs and industries nationwide.

What’s your opinion on the Budget Plan for the year? Share it here with other blog readers like you.

How to’s and benefits of Job Fairs in recession

July 3, 2009

Job Fairs are especially effective in today’s current global scenario because they provide a cost-effective, and very convenient way to contact many recruiters in a surprisingly short amount of time. Another benefit is that they are all under one roof. Job fairs can be extremely beneficial provided you know how to make them work to your advantage.

When choosing to attend a job fair, it’s very important that now – more than ever with the job crunch – that you make yourself stand out as a candidate. Researching on various companies that are attending will show your interest and ‘tell’ them that you are proactive and right for the job.

Begin with getting a list of attending companies from the job fair organizers. Then, just choose out the companies that you are personally interested in working for and get to work on researching them.

Once you have completed your list, make sure you take note of the smaller details as well. Write it down. A short pencil is better then a long memory!

After your lister is done, make sure that your resume is up to par. If you want your job fair experience to be productive now that the market crash is here, you need to ensure that not only your research but that your resume shows you can stand out of the average. If it doesn’t, get it fixed.

Companies will not even bother to read through lengthy, badly worded resumes in the short amount of time they have with hundreds of potential employees. Your time is short, make it count.