Monday, May 11, 2015

Two necessary but oft-underrated career skills

I was recently reading an article shared by Tathagat Verma (referred to as TV below) on his Thought Leadership space in Facebook. This article titled as "Downsized IT dream" was about the changing dynamics in the Indian IT space (probably not limited to India alone) where most companies, under the secular business pressures, are rethinking a lot about the kind of talent that will help them leap forward. What the IT services companies are finding is no surprise, that in many cases, the kind of talent they have isn't same as what will be needed for future. I would recommend you to read the article to gain further insights but for the purposes of this discussion, i am citing a part of interesting discussion that happened on the Thought Leadership Facebook page and organizes the discussion below in terms of two main skills that are needed to thrive in today's competitive world.

Underrated career skill#1: The value of networking/work-relationship building:
The discussion started with TV mentioning the following at the start of post-
[TV] “This was always waiting for happen, and I am neither surprised nor have any sympathy for the "victims" because seriously, no one in their right minds will take an IT job as an entitlement, and if you don't go out and build your network proactively, contribute to building the community, pay your dues and help people with your volunteer skills, and eventually build you own brand outside of being an employee with a large company, then, frankly speaking, shame on you! ‪#‎career ‪#‎IT”

He clearly cites the value of networking in today's world. This is an aspect of our work that i have seen most of the people take for granted and don't put conscious to build it proactively. The part of discussion went into the "excuse" mode around introverts not being very good at networking naturally, to which i humbly disagreed and provided a below perspective.

[Anuj] "This discussion related to introversion and extroversion misses a point IMHO. Its not that the people who are introverts cannot network effectively, if that were true- by that logic- people who are extroverts will find it hard to code because that job requires solitude which is more of an introvert's strength (by popular definition). I fully agree personality orientation is not right or wrong and its just the way it is, In my opinion, its just that an introvert would need more additional preparation and efforts to network effectively than an extrovert. I see many people who are introvert are able to socialize better than so called extroverts by recognizing and putting in efforts in right direction. People need to be convinced of value of networking rather than expecting that "work will speak for itself", which does happen- but not that often."

Underrated career skill#2: Have a reasonable view of future of our chosen profession
The Downsized IT dream article focused a lot on seniority of people who were being asked to go. To me, seniority is not the root of the problem but rather a symptom. My thoughts around it were as below

[Anuj] "I disagree with the article on the lines that it is not the seniority of the affected people that's the core of problem. To me, its more of not investing time and efforts in understanding the ongoing industry trends and proactively aligning careers. Skills, like medicines, have expiry date and denial to accept that and forcing self value based on current skills usually boomerangs. To me, its more about asking self regularly, a personal version of Peter Drucker question- "if I were starting my career today, what skills would matter the most" rather than being blinded by pseudo false comfort "years of experience" gives oneself. Its just by chance that senior people fall in this trap more so but at junior levels too people may be stuck with this mindset. I agree networking is very important but to me, it comes close second in the list."

Do you agree with these thoughts ? or disagree ? Do share your thoughts.

[I deliberately chose the word "skill" to describe the above career forwarding attributes. I see the word "skill" so narrowly used only to describe technical aspects of work. Ok, i have seen people refer to communication as skill but the case in the point is i have not seen many people practicing various aspects of mastering communication as well as they would practice, say C# Java nuances. In this blogpost also my intention in calling these two as skills to emphasize the point that if you don't know these yet or you find yourself lacking in these, good news is that like any other skill, these can be learned by adequate amount of commitment, focus and practice.]