Top ten tips to get ‘industry ready’

Recently I was asked to take a session for MBA students in a nearby college. I collected a few thoughts from my peers and have jotted down the essence of what I tried to convey to them. On reflection, some of these are applicable to anyone who is starting their career.

1. Understand how the business makes money (who, what, where, why, how). Without understanding the customers and revenue and the roles that contribute it is impossible to make sense of why some things are important to the business. This also means understanding the real purpose of the business – what is being solved by the business and for whom?

2. Observe – yourself, people and environment closely. Understanding your strengths and areas where you falter is important. Also you need to know what’s happening around and use systems thinking to understand the whole picture.

3. Theory is for guidance and learning concepts – use it to only to crystallise thoughts. Many times in the first few years you will wonder why you learnt all that you learnt. They are important to understand what is happening around or how things are related. However if you use the jargons you learnt in college in your office you will probably be ignored!

4. Any function of HR is a great starting point. Many freshers are scared of starting their career in recruitment – they feel it will become the end all of who they are. That is just not true. There are umpteen number of examples of people who have moulded and shaped their career irrespective of where they began.

5.Learn to influence and communicate better and better. You can never stop being a student of great communication. Look for and learn from role models across the world – Tedtalks have some excellent resources with respect to communication and influencing.

6. Self monitor to improve productivity and impact. No one is going to tell you how you are doing. They will hold grudges for you not delivering enough. In this day and age our greatest enemies are our phones. Learn self-control when it comes to using the mobile in the workplace.

7. Take charge of your own career and help others to do theirs – The era of ‘supervisors’ is dying because organisations are adopting flatter structures and also appreciating ‘empowered’ team members. This being the case, there will be no one to give you feedback constantly or ‘guide’ you regarding your career. You need to prioritise it and seek answers internally and externally on skills and competencies to stay relevant as well as to grow. As HR this is one area you can strongly contribute by guiding others to take charge of their own careers.

8. Agile is the new adapt- move quickly & easily but more importantly think and understand quickly. Organisations do not have the flexibility to put up with those who are outdated or not keeping up with changes. They want team members who will think and adapt and not just adapt.

9. Personnel to personal – While personnel management died long ago, HR in most organisations are realising the value in remaining personal. Policies and best practices are getting outdated quickly and have no relevance when each individual is contributing differently. It is important to realise that ‘exceptions’ need to be made and over the top insistence on adherence to rules can be detrimental for the organisation culture.

10. “What years can teach you, hours won’t” – don’t rush. The mantra is to rest, reflect & recoup. This is not to say you need to vacation often but you need to take time to reflect on what is appropriate and how to get where you need to get to.

Do you have any more tips that can be shared to those starting their careers soon?