Employability Skills

April 04, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

April 04, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

K. J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai

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Employability Skills

Employability Skills Persona and Personality:The image by which we are "known"

Persona:

The word persona originated in and was borrowed from theater. It could have been the Greek "prosopon" for mask, which was derived from the Etruscan phersu that may be connected to Persephone that created the foundations for this word. One etymologist notes: "An interesting etymology of persona is from 'per' and 'sonare' (= to sound through) referring to the theatrical wooden mask in which the mouth was made to strengthen the sound of the voice." The Romans used persona to describe a mask worn by an actor. The plural is usually personae and some derivatives are: character, personal, personality, and personify.

Persona is the representation of our being. It represents what each of us think we are toward others and not what we really are. It does not blend with our individuality. It concerns only our communication with the exterior world. It is a 'false self'. All human beings have a persona, which is what we wish to present to others. Some people, however, blend their persona with their reality. That stops them from evolving, progressing and growing. They project themselves into a 'role'; they desire to be accepted and recognized as what they would like to be and not as what they truly are - they think their true self is not good enough. In the long term, the individual loses the concept of his or her reality and identifies with his or her persona; their greatest concern then is to avoid being unmasked. Most of the people who are in entertainment industry or are in glamour world have this problem.

Personality:

Personality is an individual's habitual patterns of behavior and response, internal or external, in adapting himself to the environment of which he is a part. "It is a functional identity, a pattern of physical and mental process, a continuum of activity." (Langer)

The term personality is used among some psychologists almost in its literal sense - i.e., to indicate a mask, persona, as was worn by actors on the stage in ancient Rome. In this sense, the personality, like the mask, feigns individuality, and tries to make others and one believe that one is individual. Fundamentally the persona is nothing real: it is compromise between individual and society as to what a man should appear to be. He takes a name, earns a title, represents an office, and is this or that. (Jung)

There are others, however, who believe there is little difference between the person and the personality, that the personality is the person. (Menninger)

Personality can be used as a universal term that encompasses all the psychological, intellectual, emotional, and physical characteristics of an individual, especially as they are presented to other people. We say that someone has a "big personality" or "no personality", or a "sports personality". Personality is reflected in our behavior. When we act out of character we often say "It just wasn't like me.", "I wasn't myself". This reflects a key point about your personality - it's a relatively stable and permanent aspect of you as a person. You may have mood swings, be up or down according to specific circumstances. But, your basic personality underlies these changes.

Personality Profiles:

It is generally recognized that personality can be described by reference to 5 key dimensions or global factors. Most of us lie somewhere between the two extremes for each global factor listed below.

  • Extrovert (Extroversion v Introversion)
    Extroverts are outgoing, warm individuals who enjoy company. They are lively, fun-loving and are often quite open about themselves. They are group-oriented people who naturally join in with others. An introvert is someone who is self-sufficient and prefers his or her own company. Introverts are generally careful, serious and self-reliant.
  • Anxiety (Anxious v Confident)
    Anxious people worry a lot and are often tense. They are also impatient people with a lot of nervous energy. They can also be very shrewd and hard to fool. On the other hand, the confident person is calm in the face of adversity, meets challenges easily, and exudes self-assurance. A high degree of stability is also accompanied by a resilient, even placid manner, which can sometimes be too trusting and relaxed.
  • Tough-mindedness (Objective v Subjective)
    Tough-minded people are unsentimental and look at things objectively. The opposite is the tender-minded person who is more subjective and willing to experiment.
  • Independence (Assertive v Co-operative)
    Independence is characterized by a dominant, forceful person who is competitive. This means they can also be rather insensitive to other people. Co-operative people are agreeable, preferring to avoid conflict. They are often described as shy.
  • Control (Conscientious v Flexible)
    The conscientious person is self-controlled and dutiful. They are likely to be tidy, organized and have a common sense, practical approach to problem solving. They are also persevering, some might say stubborn. Their friends and work colleagues may describe them as a perfectionist. At the opposite end, the flexible personality can tolerate untidiness, may ignore protocol and follows an expedient, often imaginative approach to solving problems.

    Very few people will exhibit the extremes described above. Most of us have a balance between these aspects and would be positioned somewhere in between the two opposing poles.

Employable Vs Qualified:

Employability is taken as the skills, understandings and personal attributes that make one more likely to not only to gain employment but also be successful in ones chosen occupation. Employability benefits the individual, the employer, the workforce, the community and the economy.

To date almost all emphasis has been on the subject discipline. But the recruiters see qualification in a different way. Rarely is the academic achievement the only, or even the most important, attribute of a candidate or an employee. In many circumstances the qualification is necessary, but not sufficient reason for someone to be recruited. The qualification is regarded as the minimum requirement. It is often regarded as a box ticking exercise that gets the applicant 'in the door' of the interview. It is being increasingly recognized that what really sells the candidate to the employer are the, so-called, 'soft skills'. According to studies employers tend to value generic skills more highly than disciplinary based understanding and skills. Employability is designed to assist the individual to function in a job, not just in the acquisition of a job - 'To be employed is to be at risk. To be employable is to be secure.'

Raising the question of 'what is employability' reflects the beginning of the debate about 'quality' in higher education at the start of the 1990s. There was much debate about 'what do we mean by quality?'. 'Can we define it?'. Or 'do we just know it when we see it?'. It was, for example, a long time before quality and standards were disentangled. Much time was also spent trying to adapt industrial models to higher education; debating whether ISO9000 was part of, or separate from, TQM.

'Employability' is likely to go through the same processes. Employers' views will be wholeheartedly embraced by disciples, as TQM was in some quarters of higher education. Mostly, employers and academics will 'talk past each other' and there will be endless debates about appropriate language. Employability processes will be confused with outcomes. Employability-linked learning will be subject to crude measures of outcome, viz. first-destination returns. The following is a working 'definition' of employability.

Employability of a graduate is the propensity of the graduate to exhibit attributes that employers anticipate will be necessary for the future effective functioning of their organisation.

The implication is that:

  • employability relates to individuals seeking work.
  • employers have an idea of what are necessary attributes.
  • desirability is linked to future requirements.
  • employers have mechanisms for determining that graduates exhibit appropriate attributes.

This definition does not specify that graduates need to exhibit 'graduate' attributes nor that they are recruited into 'graduate jobs'. This is because:

(a) graduates enter employment at a variety of levels.
(b) what constitutes a graduate job is no longer clearly specified.

Indeed, the Association of Graduate Recruiters now defines a graduate job as any job that a graduate does. This is not a fatuous response to a changing situation but one that reflects the diversity of graduate employment.
There is plenty of evidence that graduates, in fact, take on jobs that may not necessarily have been seen as graduate jobs and grow them. That is, the 'mundane' job taken by the graduate evolves to become far more important and more far reaching and have a greater impact on the functioning of the organization than was anticipated.

What does the corporate wants?
Over the last twenty years there has been considerable research on the necessary or desirable attributes of graduates. There are many lists of attributes and a good degree of convergence. The context in which assertions are made about graduate attributes is the rapidly changing organization.

Most organizations are characterized by a presumption that change is here to stay and have been affected by significant reorganization of one sort or another: downsizing, de-layering and flexible contractual arrangements. This means that, for graduates, there is an unclear graduate promotion ladder, far more project-oriented team working, a consequent need to be able to interact with a wide range of personnel and a less clear chain of responsibility. On top of that graduates face a wide range of work requirements and greater workload, longer working hours and more responsibility than in the past. In short, graduates need to be flexible and adaptable.

Organizations are thus looking much further than degree subject and classification when recruiting. Employers and their representatives consistently say that, to succeed at work, most people in future must develop a range of personal and intellectual attributes beyond those traditionally made explicit in programmes of study in higher education institutions.

At root, employers want interactive and personal attributes. The core interactive attributes are communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills. These are necessary to communicate, formally and informally, with a wide range of people both internal and external to the organization; to relate to, and feel comfortable with, people at all levels in the organization as well as a range of external stakeholders, to be able to make and maintain relationships as circumstances change; work effectively in teams, often more than one team at once, and to be able to re-adjust roles from one project situation to another in an ever-shifting work situation.

Personal attributes are attitudes and abilities including intellect, knowledge (in some cases) willingness and ability to learn and continue learning, ability to find things out, willingness to take risks and show initiative, flexibility and adaptability to respond, pre-empt and ultimately lead change; and 'self-skill' such as self-motivation, self-confidence, self-management and self-promotion. These personal attributes are important to allow graduates to fit into the work culture, do the job, develop ideas, take initiative and responsibility and ultimately help organisations deal with change. On one level the set of specified skills has not changed greatly for a quarter of a century: communication skills, numeracy, self-confidence and self-discipline, problem-solving, analysis and interpersonal skills featured alongside knowledge and intelligence. Technological and organisational changes over 25 years have added team-working, flexibility, adaptability. Furthermore, 'problem solving' has become 'creative problem-solving' and risk-taking has become a key attribute. On the other hand, there is much less emphasis on knowledge and far more on willingness to continue learning.

To sum up, these days corporate wants:

Effective Communication:
According to employers, the ability to communicate effectively with others and get along with a variety of different types of personalities is two of the most desirable qualities in job candidates. Employers want to know if you have the ability to organize your thoughts and ideas effectively. Can you express them clearly when speaking or writing? Can you present your ideas to others persuasively? Can you bring out the best efforts of individuals so they become effective, enthusiastic members of a team? Are you able to successfully contend with stressful situations and handle conflict?

Passion:
It's not enough just to have the right qualifications; an employer needs to know that you are willing to give 100 percent to your job. Interviewers are impressed by candidates who are alert, responsive and energetic. Do you demonstrate a forcefulness and capacity to make things move ahead? Can you maintain your work effort at an above average rate?

Learn Unlearn and Relearn:
Employers need to know that the people they hire can expand and change as their companies do. Applicants who are receptive to new ideas and concepts are highly valued by employers. Are you capable of changing and being receptive to new situations and ideas? Can you confront and deal with problems that may not have standard solutions?

High Personal Energy Levels:
A job candidate's willingness to work hard matters a great deal. Employers want to know that you are committed to devoting the prime hours of your day to the job. Do you have the capacity to compete with others and the willingness to be measured by your performance in relation to others?

Maturity:
This is an elusive quality that employers always mention in connection with first job hires. Maturity essentially means knowing how to handle self in a business situation. Misplaced humorous remarks, giggling at inappropriate moments or being indiscreet about company information are tell-tale signs of immaturity. Do you demonstrate a sense of maturity that enables you to deal positively and effectively with situations and people? Can you realistically assess your own capabilities? Do you see yourself as others see you and clearly recognize your strengths and weaknesses?

Skills:
Do you posses the positive combination of education and skills required for the position you are seeking? Do you have the ability to identify and work toward specific goals? Do such goals challenge your abilities?

  • Problem-solving skills rather than memorization of coursework. For achieving results in the future management and leadership environments, person must have clear critical thinking skills.
  • An understanding of the people aspects of the work situation. Examples include team- based assignments, group projects, and associated team evaluations.
  • Well-developed logic and reasoning skills. Other related competencies included good judgment and decision-making skills; technical expertise; exposure to high-tech, state-of-the-art equipment; independent goal setting; and time management skills.
  • A broad knowledge beyond their field. Employers want employees to have a broad perspective and broaden their knowledge base. Also, many employers advised becoming conversant in a second language

Personality Development: A must for Career growth as well as personal growth.
How to Start? - Understanding SELF

The first step towards developing your personality is, knowing 'self'. No person is the same as another in this world. Each person is unique in his own sense. So you are unique and also amazing. Wonder why?

Are you aware that you have over 12 billion brain cells which could look like stars under a microscope? Your brain is the finest precision machine in existence and is far more powerful than the most sophisticated computer ever made. Yet we use just one-tenth of our brain power. Are you also aware that your metabolic system works with such clockwork precision that even the most advanced factory system cannot compare with it? You will marvel at the design of the human body. In spite of this greatness, many suffer from a poor self- image and an inferiority complex that hampers their personal growth and prevents them from putting best efforts in their spheres of activity. God has made each of us a masterpiece of his creation in spite of all our imperfections. While in this age we talk about state-of - art technology, God thought of it when he created each of us. So we have every reason to feel great and to achieve great things for ourselves and for others around.

Our self-image is the complex impression we have about our physical appearance, social rules, personal history and personality traits; and it matters a lot. The image we have of ourselves is an important factor in the development of our skills and our personality, in the maintenance of our emotional health and in the sheer enjoyment of life!

Those with a negative self-image tend to:

  • Lack self-confidence.
  • Feel insecure, skeptical and fearful.
  • Accept being ignored, hurt and rebuffed.
  • Have no pride in their achievements.
  • Feel embarrassed by compliments.

Those with a positive self-image tend to:

  • Accept themselves the way they are.
  • Accept others as they are.
  • Feel secure and confident.
  • Have reasonable pride in themselves and their achievements.
  • Accept compliments gracefully.

Want to know yourself: SWOT Analysis
Yin and yang, Sweet and sour, Night and day, Strength and weakness- Opposites are a fact of life. If you know how to take stock of the oppositions within and without your effort , you are more likely to plan and act effectively. That's where the SWOT analysis comes in. The name says it: Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat. A SWOT analysis guides you to identify the positives and negatives inside your self (S-W) and outside of it, in the external environment (O-T). Developing a full awareness of your situation can help with both strategic planning and decision-making.

The SWOT method (which is sometimes called TOWS) was originally developed for business and industry, but it is equally useful in the work of community health and development, education, and even personal growth. SWOT is not the only assessment technique you can use, but is one with a long track record of effectiveness.

A SWOT analysis focuses on the four elements of the acronym, but the graphic format you use varies depending on the depth and complexity of your effort. .Remember that the purpose of performing a SWOT is to, reveal positive forces that work together and, potential problems that need to be addressed or at least recognized. A realistic recognition of the weaknesses and threats that exist for your effort is the first step to countering them with a robust and creative set of strengths and opportunities. A SWOT analysis identifies your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to assist you in making strategic plans and decisions.

SWOT is a simple yet comprehensive way of assessing the positive and negative forces within and without your organization, so you can be better prepared to act effectively. The more stakeholders you involve in preparing the SWOT, the more valuable your analysis will be. Whatever courses of action you decide on, the four-cornered SWOT analysis prompts you to move in a balanced way throughout your program. It reminds you to:

  • build on your strengths
  • minimize your weaknesses
  • seize opportunities
  • counteract threats

A SWOT analysis will be most helpful if you use it to support the vision, mission, and objectives you have already defined. The SWOT will at least provide perspective, and at best will reveal connections and areas for action. Believe in yourself .Remember that your unique thumb impression makes you a person uniquely gifted by God with your special talents. So don't compare yourself to others. Know your strengths and build on them; also know your weaknesses and correct them. The only person you can change is yourself. If you don't like the way you are, it's time to change. Accept other people as they are because you cannot change them but you can influence them to change only if you change yourself. A lot of people can tell you what to do and what not to do, but nobody can really advise you correctly. Set your own high personal moral standards and live up to them and you will eventually be respected.

Career Life Planning: The Path of becoming employable:

There is no single way to proceed with a career, but it can help tremendously to do some planning. In order to make a plan, you first must identify what you want to achieve and break it down into manageable tasks. Thus, having the big picture in mind, you can begin working on more immediate steps. Through this process, each person can individualize their direction and make a plan based upon their own needs and values. The following is an outline of the process of setting up specific goals and making a plan to reach them. Writing it down strengthens the process and greatly increases the chances of obtaining your goals. It formalizes your intentions, it helps you assess the goals you have chosen, and it clarifies your thinking. It is said that there is one universal rule of planning: You will never be greater than the vision that guides you. No Olympic athlete ever got to the Olympics by mistake; the drive and desire for that stellar performance guides one to it.

When he was just a struggling, out-of-work actor, Jim Carey wrote himself a check for ten million dollars. That was his vision, to be paid that much for his creative work. Years later, he was the first actor to be paid ten million dollars for acting in a single motion picture. Writing down our goals or creating a profound symbol, such as Carey did with that check, helps us to subliminally rephrase the choices we make and supersedes beliefs that are self-limiting.

There is a lot of power in writing it down, make it part of your process

Step 1: Begin with a personal MISSION statement

Stephen Covey in his book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," defines a personal MISSION statement as follows: "It focuses on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based." It is a statement of purpose concerning all aspects of your life and a guiding image of success.

Writing a mission statement can take some time and certainly requires careful thought. The process is important because it "forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs. As you do, other people begin to sense that you're not being driven by everything that happens to you. You have a sense of mission about what you're trying to do and you are excited about it."

Step 2: Establish long-term and short-term GOALS

GOALS are those things you wish to accomplish. They need to be generated from an understanding of your mission in life so that they will reflect your deepest values, and your unique talents. A goal identifies where you want to be, and, in the process, helps you determine where you are. They grow out of your chosen roles in life, both professional and personal. There is no reason to postpone the personal for the professional, both goals must work together. Some goals may take years to realize, others will be accomplished this year.

Michael J. Gelb in "How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci" has some good guidelines to establishing goals. He applies the SMART acronym to goals.

S - Specific: Define exactly what you want to accomplish.
M - Measurable: Decide how you will measure your progress and most important, how you will know that you have achieved your goal.
A - Accountability: Make a full commitment to be personally responsible for achieving your goal.
R - Realistic and relevant: Set goals that are ambitious but achievable. Check that your goals are relevant to your overall sense of purpose and values (your mission).
T - Time Line: Create a clear time line for the achievement of your goals.

Step 3: Develop an ACTION PLAN of intermediate steps that need to be accomplished on the way to your goal.

Once you know what you want to accomplish, how to get there? Beginning with the end in mind, an ACTION PLAN establishes a time-line of activities that need to be accomplished on the way to achieving your goal. It is a guide that helps focus you on the tasks at hand. It can help you schedule your time each week; it will help you to complete onerous tasks, such as labeling you slides, researching opportunities, because they are put into a larger perspective of a goal to be accomplished.

To sum up:
It's all in the head. You belief makes you what you want to be. So, to be something you need to have self belief that you surely have all to be the one.

Think big depending upon your personal strengths and weaknesses. If you are strong in certain areas, keep it up; if you are weak in certain other areas, get out of the rut by reducing your weaknesses. It is only when you think and aim at something big that you will begin to act and prepare in a manner that will bring you success. Make a small beginning. They say - the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Setting goals is like aiming at a target. It helps you plan activities that will tale you along the proper road to your destination. Planning is like a bridge that takes you from where you are to where you want to be. If you don't plan where you are to reach, then any road will take you somewhere. Once you have set your goals, start early; otherwise you get caught up in the traffic jam of other activities.

Don't be afraid of mistakes: There is nobody in this world who can honestly and confidently say that he never makes mistakes. Nobody makes mistakes for fun. All great discoveries and inventions have been made through trial and error. Mistakes enable us to learn to do things better.

Have a positive attitude. Whenever we attempt anything there is a tendency to be alert about the consequences of failure. Why not be alert to the consequences of success also? After all we do get so obsessed with the consequences that we constantly have starting trouble. There is always an element of risk in whatever we do. A tortoise can never move forward and progress without sticking its neck out of the shell.

Perseverance is the key. Whenever we don't achieve what we have aimed at, there is a tendency to give up. It is only in very exceptional cases that one reaches the top in the first attempt. When you persevere, never give up; look at failure as lack of success or a temporary setback rather than as a defeat. With this attitude, you will motivate yourself to continue with your attempts in whatever you do until you reach your goal.

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