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10 tips to take your Business Writing to the next level.

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Compelling business writing could offer you the assistance required to win that million-dollar contract, acquire advancement, resolve a debate, or produce a huge increment in new business leads. Poor business writing, then again, can never be fixed; it can make you lose business to your opposition and even cost you your occupation. Here are 10 tips to enhance your business writing abilities:

Know your target audience:
Before you write, ensure you know who your intended interest group is and what particular result you’d like to accomplish. In the event that it’s a vital business correspondence, take five minutes to envision yourself in the shoes of the beneficiary and envision what the present individual’s reality is. The more thought and research you put into comprehending your intended interest group and how you can help them, the more intense and viable your business writing will get to be.

Dart on Target and People

Use Active voice:
Use a solid, dynamic voice rather than an indifferent, uninvolved voice. “The meeting motivation could be examined further” is latent. “We should talk about the meeting plan” is dynamic. Express certainty and conclusiveness in your business interchanges.

Use a conversational tone:
Write in a conversational tone as opposed to being excessively formal and bureaucratic,unless you’re keeping in touch with an administrator or somebody who favors custom. Know the people you write to! Regardless of the fact that you are writing a piece that will be read by a few thousand potential customers, make your writing as welcoming and individual as could reasonably be expected. You can achieve this by keeping in mind one particular individual whom you picture as a perfect client. Compose your piece in view of this one individual and you will decidedly draw in a huge number of customers who will feel that you are composing specifically to them!

Use third party endorsements to talk about your organization:
Supplant overstatement with strong certainties and respectable testimonials. Rather, utilize an actuality, for example, expressing that the President of a main affiliation positioned your organization with the most elevated quality score out of 500 affirmed organizations.

Don't Complicate

Don’t complicate:
Avoid using acronyms that you use internally in your organization and popular expressions. While they may appear to be adorable and sharp to you, it’s exceptionally irritating to a bustling official who has a heap of reports and proposals to read.

Talk about advantages to the customer:
Change over item highlights into advantages. Instead of explaining product features, tell the customer how each of those features are going to help or influence his life.

advantages

Read out your report to edit:
Try not to depend on editing all your vital business reports from your PC desktop. Print out your report and read it so everyone can hear. On the off chance that you experience any ungainliness in discourse it implies you have to re–write your piece to make it more conversational and stream better. You will also be able to spot grammatical mistakes and blunders that your PC spelling and linguistic check project would not have identified.

Understand what intrigues your audience:
In writing a business letter or business proposition, it is indispensably essential to compose from your client’s point of view and what will intrigue them.

Make the point: Business writing is altogether different. Try not to wind or escape into colorful phrases. Compose the most imperative point you need to make in the primary sentence.

clarity

State the Call to Action clearly:
Be clear, succinct, and to the point. Guide customers by including a particular invitation to action: “click on the connection to get your unique report” or “ring me to set a no–cost 15 minute meeting.”

Could you envision the rush and fervor of driving a rocket–fast, cobalt blue Porsche 911 Turbo as it whisks you to your destination? A well–written article or report can be similar to that Porsche and produce a huge amount of new business in a fraction of the time with more fun!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rajeev is one of the most sought after teachers on LearnSocial. He is a passionate trainer with training experience across several corporates in India. He strives to make the whole learning experience engaging and relevant to the learner. Here, he shares some tips on taking your business writing skills to the next level.

rajeev

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Exploring the Power of Excel

Who amongst us hasn’t used the trusted Excel spreadsheet application from Microsoft? It is one of the most widely productivity tools and is part of the Microsoft Office Suite. Excel has the incredible feature of using formulas, which makes it an excellent tool for report making and data manipulation. By using formulas, you can crunch data, analyze it and get answers to most complex questions. While anyone can use a simple SUM or IF formula, an advanced user of it would be able to seamlessly write & combine formulas like SUMIFS, SUMPRODUCT, INDEX, MATCH, LOOKUP formulas. Apart from knowing the formulas, advanced Excel users know how to debug them, audit them, know how to use which formula for which occasion, and they also know few alternatives for any given formula problem.

Using Excel, one can create tables, graphs, charts, reports, simulations and much more. Tables can be used to structure & present data so that looks impressive, and create awesome Excel workbooks. Conditional formatting is a powerful feature in Excel using which you can tell Excel to highlight portions of your data that meet any given condition. By using charts, we can communicate effectively and present results in a stunning manner. Pivot tables & pivot reporting allows us to analyze massive amounts of data & answer questions with just a few clicks. Excel has its own language – VBA, which allows a user to give instructions to Excel to get things done. It is a simple but extremely powerful way to extend Excel’s functionality. Using VBA, you can write macros to automate the day to day work, saving time & money.

Excel has many powerful & advanced features packaged in to it. Data tables help us model practical problems & analyze massive amount of data for a solution. Solver helps us model practical problems & find a solution by iterating thru all possibilities. With Simulation we can simulate real world data & situations in Excel using various functions & statistical methods. We can use built in functions & charting features to understand trend & forecast future values from available data. It is popular for a reason! Combining the awesomeness of Excel with flexibility of other applications like MS Access, Outlook or PowerPoint, can achieve wonders!

An advanced Excel operator knows all the above tools and methods and also how to optimize an Excel workbook to make it fast. If you want to become an advanced user, then you will need to know all the tips and tricks of Excel to leverage its power. Go ahead, explore the power of Excel.

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Decoding the GMAT

The charm of an MBA or Masters in Management(MiM) degree has always been appealing, and more so getting it from a world class B-School. Add to this the prestige that comes with a tag of being a Management grad with a fancy job and title, and you have hordes of people applying to numerous top colleges every year! The first step to an MBA or MiM application is the feared GMAT exam. But is it really that scary and demanding to crack? Let’s finds out.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computerized aptitude test that aims to gauge the analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and English reading skills as a parameter for admission into Management and MBA programs in universities worldwide. The exam itself is governed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), and the GMAT score is accepted across the globe in over 2,100 institutions and 5,900 programs.

The exam is quite extensive and intensive, with four specific test sections each testing a particular skill. The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is a single 30 minute section with a writing task, where a test taker analyses an argument and then presents a reasoning and critique of the argument. This is graded on a scale of 6 points, with 6 indicating an outstanding essay. A fairly recent addition of the exam has been the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section (in 2012), designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. This consists of twelve questions in four formats with a score ranging from 1 to 8. The questions asked in this section were identified in a survey of 740 management faculty worldwide as important for today’s incoming students. Scores of both these sections are not counted against the GMAT score, but these scores are considered holistically when considering an application.

The Quantitative and Verbal sections are the ones whose score contribute to the final GMAT score. The Quant sections seeks to measure the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, interpret graphic data, and analyze and use information given in a problem. There are two sub sections here: problem solving and data sufficiency. The entire section is graded from 0-60, with scores being reported for scores between 6 and 51, and is considered a tough part of the exam. The other scoring section is the Verbal, which seeks to measure the test taker’s ability to read and comprehend written material, reason and evaluate arguments and correct written material to express ideas effectively in standard written English. It contains reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction questions with the entire sections graded from 0-51.

Phew! That’s quite a handful! It is not scary but is a revered test, with most people still picking to take the GMAT though the GRE is accepted for Management programs’ admissions these days. There is a certain exclusivity and elite characteristic associated with the GMAT making it the most popular choice. Planning to take the GMAT? Want to ace it? Look no further than our GMAT Test Prep which will help you get the score you deserve. Log on for some amazing learning!

 

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The Future of Online Learning

Education is the driving force of the collective called a nation. It possesses miraculous properties to wipe out poverty, oppression and apathy – evils that plague our society. Many nations allocate a significant portion of their GDP towards education but there still remain large sections which are stuck in a sort of perpetual ‘Dark Age’. This is mostly due to the absence of cogs that turn the wheels of enlightenment and learning.
Since the past five or six centuries, schools and universities have been the mainstay in the dissemination of learning. However, with the onset of technology, the Internet has become so pervasive that it has become the de-facto tool for the acquisition of learning and education.

Several, hundred years ago, learning was all about copying and memorising. As technology spread and infiltrated various socioeconomic groups, computers allowed students to access informational resources via the web while they simultaneously listened to a related lecture. E-learning previously involved video clips that demonstrated a task and the student was prompted to answer MCQs to advance further. E-learning became more interactive as advancements in graphics and storage allowed for more complicated programs, and learners could participate in simulations and choose the path of their lesson. Some courses even replaced instructors and more learning institutions adopted E-learning platforms.

The future e-learning trends could comprise of the following and may render a brick and mortar classroom irrelevant in the future:

1. MOOC: Massively Open Online Courses allow millions of people from all over the world to take the same course concomitantly. An effective way to monetize them hasn’t been found yet but their growing credibility among companies can redefine ‘classrooms’. It would become a figurative term with the world being called a ‘classroom’. It would also make learning affordable, and all permeating through more avenues.

2. Mobile learning: The mobile devices, or rather, smartphones, as they are called today come equipped with a host of powerful features such as a camera, digital compass, heat sensors and gyroscopes that enable them to become scientific tools and perform real time, on field scientific experiments. It also enables the user to take lessons on the go through the apps specifically designed for the courses.

3. E-learning can take the form of an interactive gaming session rather than conventional lectures. Learners like challenges and games give them the opportunity to devise strategies to beat the game.
The concept of E-learning will certainly revolutionize traditional learning by providing richer content and broader perspectives. A teacher can become a motivator, confidante and designer of content and organizer of the flow of courses rather than a transmitter of knowledge and hard-nosed discipline. It will make learning personalized, individualistic and self-paced, further making it more palatable and exciting.
Education today is certainly a diamond in the rough and e-learning could be the polish that cleans up sub-par teaching, provides equality across sub-economic groups and makes learning a whole lot more exciting.

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When teachers become the taught

picjumbo.com_HNCK7801Pink Floyd’s ‘Hey teachers leave us kids alone’ has a cult status when it comes to exhibiting the irreverent in each of us as students. But what happens when teachers don the mantle of being the taught? Times such as ours, have made technology the game changer in the simple transaction of teaching-learning between student and teacher across varied levels, be it school, college, or as in our case – the virtual classroom. So at a time when ‘connect’ is the buzz word, neither teachers nor students can leave the other partner alone.

Teachers today have a pressing need to stay abreast of technology to be able to translate the knowledge into bite-sized pieces for easy consumption. And as a platform which gets learners and trainers together, we take our training of instructors very seriously.

Our aim at LearnSocial is to enable anyone to learn from anywhere at any point of time. If we take a direct reciprocal of that, in terms of teaching, the aim is as much to enable anyone (of course this means anyone with a specific knowledge and skill base) to be able to teach from anywhere at any point of time. And while we are enabling learning, we are enabling teaching in equal measure by making teachers equal stakeholders as we train them to teach on our platform. In that quest, we train the trainer, thus enabling him/her to deliver his lesson with efficacy and precision.

For any instructor to be eligible for our platform, subject matter expertise, communication skills and real experience in the field form the basic criteria for selection. And from here starts the journey of teaching the teacher or training the trainer, whatever you’d like to call it. As we train the instructor on the basic nitty-gritty of using the synchronous online conferencing tool and the Learning Management System, most of the training effectively revolves around the basic principles that govern teaching in any ordinary classroom. A quiet room where there is no sound disturbance, switching the microphone on and off at appropriate times, prior information on any pauses during the session – all of these form the basic guideline to the instructors. We equip the trainer to be able to handle any basic audio/video trouble that the learners may face. They are also walked through all features of the LMS tool to utilize all features in the tool to make the session interactive and reiterative at points where needed.

The challenge with courses such as ours is that there will never be a homologous composition in any given batch. A batch which, on an average ranges between 10 and 15 students could have a fresher out of college, a professional with a couple of years of experience or someone who simply is there for the love of learning. So the first thing we tell our teachers is to know the students’ background in advance and then plan the content in a manner which is relevant, organized and clear. They ought to have a clear agenda and set the expectations right, right at the start of the batch.

In a bid to simulate the same environment as in a real classroom, the instructor can be seen by all learners and vice versa, thus enabling the former to gauge from the expressions if his point has been hitting home or not. Since live sessions can have some unanticipated disruptions, our instructors are advised to clarify when a learner can seek an answer to his query – at the end of the session or while the point has just been spoken of by the instructor.

Every course experience needs to be personalized. This simply means that learners are guided to come up with creative solutions, think independently and be able to do stuff on their own once the course comes to an end. At the end of each individual session, the instructor needs to dwell upon whether the learners can implement whatever has been taught and how would the learning improve their chances in their work sphere.

The principles of basic pedagogy will remain the same be it a real or a virtual classroom. However for a virtual classroom, the instructor has a greater opportunity to be one up on his counterpart in the real brick and mortar space. For one, even as a teacher, he/she is constantly skilling himself/herself with the training wherewithal that an e-learning platform offers. And two, he/she has a reach to a student community that transcends the geographical confines of space. With the smartening up of content delivery on account of technology and the training that e-learning set-ups provide, the instructor in a virtual classroom is ready to take off into a sky of infinite possibilities.

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12-minute speed hiring – Is it really Smart Hiring

personal-885550_1280For most jobs, do we simply need a smart, grammarly guy at work with his basic cognitive skills in place? It would be easy to answer this question with a prompt ‘yes’ had it not been for the presence of the word ‘simply’, which in the case of this question is not so simple a word. In fact it throws open a whole Pandora’s box of complex questions when it comes to the process of finding the right fit for any job in question. And that is why the 12-minute ‘hire or fire’ speed hiring concept has my brain cells doing a little bit of a jig within my skull.

Typically, ‘speed hiring’ involves candidates being tested for their cognitive abilities in just about 12 minutes and offer letters are given to the suitable candidates. Put the candidate into a cauldron of 50 questions of Grammar, Ratio &Percentages, inductive reasoning for 12 minutes and voila the HR wizard will be able to determine whether the ingredient going in was fit to be served as a dish or not to the position lying vacant. Are we really talking recruitment or SAT here? To give the devil its due, the test does seem to make sense in terms of determining basic language and cognitive skills, a must for any job. It tests the guy beyond what his resume sells by way of degrees and achievements. It also shows his ability to think quickly under pressure – 50 questions in 12 minutes. But coming back to the real question, is a good score good enough to determine whether or not this guy fits in?

A good score simply reflects that this guy is a smart test taker but what about the not so measurable qualities of grit, communication, motivation, empathy, leadership and so many more which might be important to the job in question. Does the 12-minute test give you an insight into that? Besides, like each human being, each job position is determined by unique principles, one may need a quick technical mind, the other good communication skills and another acuity in decision making. How can one generic test be the determinant of candidates being fit for different job roles?

Even if for a moment we assume that the test gives us our average Joe who has minimal requisite skills in place, what are the odds in his favour with respect to performance? As per a research on 20,000 new hires, why 46% failed within the first 18 months was not so much on account of lack of skills but for attitudinal reasons. While basic mathematics, English grammar and inductive reasoning may give us a fleeting insight into a candidate’s skill, the recruiter would still be clueless on whether this guy would fit into the cultural landscape of the organization or not. You have tested the guy for his intelligence quotient for whatever it is worth but what about the emotional quotient, his attitude – something that would be a far greater propeller than skill when it comes to pushing the pedal to the metal in the long run.

Recruitment is a much more byzantine game than just a simple 12 minute test of 50 questions assessing grammar and cognitive skills. It can serve as a basic filtering process to have only a certain level of aptitude make it to the next stage of selection. But the test by itself as a sole determinant for hiring would be like picking up an angora wool pullover on the basis of size, when you are actually living in a tropical country with temperatures ranging between 26 and 36 degrees centigrade throughout the year.

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Team building – From a circumstantial team to a community team

What better time than close to 15th August, the Indian Independence Day, to talk about the concept of ‘unity is strength’ in the corporate space? Any workplace is a mixed bag of people who are a sum total of their experiences, innate temperaments and environmental conditioning. And the more diverse the mix, the greater the chances of lack of connect between the team members. So what does a smart manager do in order to build that dream team that has him laughing all the way to the stage where the team collects its bronze statue on the awards night?

Well for starters, he/she could indulge in some team building. Enough has been written and said about the importance of team building. While the generic principles surrounding team building workshops remain the same, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all solution. For instance, an internal team building workshop that we conducted threw up a lot of interesting insights.  Even before we started, we knew that internal camaraderie was very strong within individual teams but feeble when it came to cross-team connect.

The objective

IMG_20150807_153224So our agenda was simple. We needed a start point to make inter-team synergies a little more fluid than what they were presently. The motive was clear – to move from being a circumstantial team to a community team.

The environment

Since the motive was to make a cross cultural connect between the members of unrelated teams, we chose to steer clear of a slideshow and conference room environment. Instead we used just a white board and were informally seated around tables in the cafeteria.

The seating plan

The seating plan was important. People were made to sit in pre-decided groups of eight. These eight were drawn from different departments and were not quite familiar with each other.  And while they were reluctant to sit next to someone they had only seen and not talked to, as the session progressed, they were all exchanging high-five’s with easy familiarity.

The activity

Our primary aim was to get different team members to be familiar with each other, so we did a quick easy quiz with one question for eachIMG_20150807_153208 person. All questions were personal and participants had to respond to ‘What was your first school, first crush, favourite sitcom, number of girlfriends’ and so on and so forth. Each question was designed keeping in mind the person’s personality, how open he/she would be to share a certain detail with a group. Once all questions were done, different people were asked if they remembered which school Vishnu went to? Or how old was Sumant when he first started dating? Or what is Madhav’s favourite drink? This easy interaction invited a lot of spontaneous laughter and nothing like humour to catalyze the success of any workshop.

 

The takeaways

While a lot of conversation flew back and forth between people conducting and people participating, we knew that we had to offer some tangible takeaways in terms of recommendations. So we enumerated the following:

  • Know each person in the other teams by name
  • Make eye contact when you pass by each other
  • Have a positive greeting or a non-verbal signal, like a smile or a wave of hand when you see each other
  • A handshake always helps
  • Make an effort to reach out to at least 2 people in a fortnight’s time to connect, maybe during lunch or post lunch or breaks
  • Give feedback, and without being hostile ask questions to whoever you think is in an appropriate source to answer your query
  • Contribute your ideas towards getting more hygiene into the workplace
  • Share the social media activity of your organization

The connecting link for future activity

At the end of the workshop, each participant was asked to name two individuals with whom he/she had least interaction with. Each person was given a time of a fortnight to make his/her acquaintances with two such people and build familiarity as an ongoing process within the organization. It was decided that for the next workshop, each participant would share one interesting fact each about the persons he/she interacted with.

Wrap-up

Like any corporate process, team building also has to be a sustained, scalable activity. It has been proven that cohesive teams are more effective teams. But before any team building activity is undertaken,IMG_20150807_153212 it is important to identify the exact objectives that you aim to achieve and then design a set of activities to create an impact. In that light, our workshop is showing incipient but positive results, in the form of a cheerful hi and a beaming smile that we all greet each other with. The rest, as they say, shall follow.

 

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Freedom & Ownership – Our Cool Work Ethos

So it’s kinda cool to say, I work for a startup. The word start-up is oozing with promise, an aspiration for a dream and a refreshing novelty as against the boring clichés of established enterprises. Well it’s not all hunky dory either. There is as much a risk as there is a promise in being part of a startup. But yeah, what the heck, isn’t risk a part of our primitive spirit of adventurism, a wanderlust that makes us discover the land no one earlier knew even existed?

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And so here we are, a bunch of adventurers, though we don’t quite wear bandanas and eye patches. But we do wear tattoos and jeans. It is like a naturally pervasive phenomenon to sport the cool, casual look. We may dress the ‘carefully, careless’ part but we are fanatical about our jobs when it comes to impeccable delivery. What makes us so obsessive about what we do is the unrestrained environment that we work in. For instance, it is perfectly fine to pull my feet up on the chair while I am deep into writing a piece and not be abashed if my CEO walks in that time. It is not because I couldn’t care less but because I know what matters in terms of productivity is ultimately the write-up at the end. Whether it is written sitting on a couch or ramrod straight in a chair is of no consequence to anybody around.

As a start-up we are not punctilious on these little details of mannerisms and behavior. We can call out a loud ‘hi’ without generating ripples of shock in the corridor. We can sit in the conference room and talk about Pink Floyd and Sting with as much passion as we can on customer acquisition and generating more revenue. We can have a guy fresh out of college debate with the marketing head on the efficacy of a particular marketing strategy the latter has in mind. And this fresh-off-the-boat dude is heard, with an open mindedness and respect for his point of view. This is what is the shot of motivation for the newbie – his opinion counts. Here respect makes an entry. While we pride ourselves in our coolness quotient, we also honour each individual’s talent and acumen. Well after all, it was his talent and acumen that made him get here in the first place. Right? So the flat structure is really this creation of space – both figurative and literal for each participant under the banner of LearnSocial.

 

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What’s really liberating is that once goals have been defined and tasks have been assigned, we don’t have a watchdog breathing down our neck every few hours by way of mails and phone calls. There is no micro management of people and their activities. Be it a tea break, a personal phone call or social interaction among people in different cabins, all are treated with as much natural acceptance as a pee break.

So does that mean that we are working in a no rules, no questions asked structure? Well that’s where you may have gone wrong. No restriction does not imply no answerability. It simply means making each individual the owner of his own job. Because the natural human instinct is to rebel against authority, once you remove fetters of super imposed control from the equation, each person becomes an owner of his/her own job. The onus shifts from the task creator to the task doer to ensure timely and immaculate finishing of task and report its completion to the origin of the task chain. There are times when people work through the night not because of someone else’s instruction but because their ownership for the job compels them to meet deadlines and deliver as the need of the hour may be. And guess what’s happening as a byproduct of taking this ownership for the job at hand. Not only am I actively taking responsibility for the completion of the task, but yeah, I also own the innate risks and the results that follow.

All of us in the office are alive with the knowledge that we are in the process of creating something tangible out of what is a dream. We are all walking the journey to create physical, real tangibles that could one day become the business of the century. We are working on the notion of calculated foresight for demand for a particular product or bunch of products in the near future. We have come onboard with our own career objectives of finding money, fame, purpose or growth. While our reasons may differ but our faith in the possibility of the enterprise becoming a success story is the common thread that gets us together as a team.

As we build products and add to our portfolio and chase targets and aggrandize reputation, we really want to do much more than breaking even and make the coffers swell with profits. Of course that is the primary objective but the higher objective here is to have a work environment, an interpersonal space that really epitomizes the reason why each one of us wants to come to work every day. So here’s to the start up spirit that we have generated where each one of us defines the collective spirit of what LearnSocial culture is really about – freedom and ownership.

 

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Because English is a money language

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It is an irony of sorts that while English is really not the official language of our country, it occupies a status much more exalted than any of the other languages spoken within its geographical span. English has become all-pervasive in India and you can see it everywhere, right from food packets and billboards to conversations and English-speaking classes.

There is a distinct demand for English training courses both in the online and offline space. Why is fluency in the language such an ambition for many in our country? The first answer that comes to mind is that command over the English language carries with itself the promise of upward mobility both in the social as well as the economic context. This is not merely a perceived notion. There is empirical evidence to prove the fact. According to a study
 Indians who speak English fluently earn around 34% more in wages; and
 those who speak a little English earn around 13% more in wages than Indians who don’t speak the language at all.

In a whole lot of cases, interviewers have reported losing interest in the aspirant from the moment a grammatically wrong sentence is uttered by the latter. Since most of our official business in white collared jobs is conducted in the English language, it is self-evident that these interviewers are obviously judging the aspirant with respect to his fluency of the English language.

Knowing the language better just ups your chances of being received well in any interpersonal space – be it a private conversation or an official engagement. And this becomes even more pertinent because in order to promote a work culture that is free from the trappings of racial or regional colour, a neutral language like English acts as a great go-between for people who speak many different tongues.

The spoken communication aside, English is an international language, proficiency in which gives us greater reach, visibility and access to a host of things. What makes us such eager subscribers to the language is the plethora of options it opens up for us. There is no denying the fact that the audience who would be able to read this piece would be very limited if I chose to write it in my native language, which incidentally happens to be a dialect.

English language is a skill set that straddles across the entire range of careers that one might be pursuing today. Irrespective of what your profession may be, a certain level of expertise in English will form the barrier to your entry and growth thereafter. It has become imperative to be conversant in a language which dominates the career space, be it IT, education, administration, medicine or any other. If one wants to integrate better into the global organized sector, then English will definitely be the passport to one’s entry there.

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Degree Versus Skills- A never ending dilemma and controversy!

Hi there! It’s been a never-ending discussion as to which is more important- Degree or Skills.

I am here to debate and pick each one of them and see how they work separately; and thereby conclude what is needed in actuality. Coz without that we can keep talking till ‘cows come home’ and the whole debate will become a deception point rather than a decision point.

As you guys already know me, I believe in Story-telling! So I will start with an anecdote.

It was in early 90’s when this incident took place. Once a rich business man was on a road trip, where his car gave way while driving up a hill. He was very upset and tried all possible permutation and combination, as per his knowledge, to fix the car; but to no avail. He walked up the hill to seek for some roadside garage, but couldn’t see any. Feeling lost and dejected he started cursing his fate. This is when he saw a truck coming up the way, and he saw a ray of hope to rescue himself from that awkward situation. He stopped the truck and explained his plight to the truck driver. The driver readily agreed to help him but kept a clause saying, he needs to be paid whatever amount he claimed for. Seeing no option the businessman readily agreed. The truck driver opened the bonnet and checked what happened. Then he asked the businessman to try starting the car. Once he figured out where the problem was, he walked up to his truck, took out a screw driver and tightened a screw in the car. He again asked the businessman to start the car and this time it worked. There was an evident sigh of relief from the car driver and he thanked this man for his help. The truck driver gave a weird smile and asked the businessman for 100bucks. Aha! A businessman will always be a businessman; and he tried to negotiate on the amount, as he felt that it was too high. After a heated discussion he said-“OK, I will give you your 100 bucks. But you need to justify the reason why do you claim this money?” The truck-driver smiled back and gave an instant answer which put the so-called educated businessman in a shock. He said- “50 bucks is for my knowledge, coz I knew which screw to tighten. And 50 bucks is for my skill, for I knew how much to tighten it!” The businessman finally had to yield-in to his desires and gave away the 100bucks; but this time with a hearty smile J

This is the basic difference in a Degree/Knowledge and a Skill. If you go by stats, 45% of the recruiters go by the degree or certificates. There is a reason to it. Not all professions depends on just skills. Imagine you are at a restaurant and there is some problem with the food that was served. Will you speak to the waiter or will you speak to the manager? Undoubtedly, you will speak with the manager. But why? Because he has the Hotel Management Degree; and will be able to give you the exact reason for such a mishap. The waiter can only apologize and get you another plate. Therefore Degree is needed.

Another classic example, which was brought up by my colleague was- If you need a surgery done, will you go a normal doctor or a good doctor who has degrees from reputed institute? Of-course the latter! Who would like a take a risk on his own life? No one, isn’t it?

Enough with Degrees, now let’s take the argument towards skills. This is an interesting topic. Steve Jobs and many other entrepreneurs are the ones who are school drop outs. Yet they made multi-million dollar companies. And this was possible only because of their skills. Here is a quote from one of the websites which says-

When it comes to what’s most important to advance their career and earn a bigger paycheck, more than three in five (63%) employees report learning new skills or receiving special training, compared to those who report receiving a college or graduate degree (45%).

There is a Learning and Development Department in any organization where there is a TNA or training need analysis done per employee, and training calendar gets published based on the ‘Skill Gaps’ thus identified. Also you need to constantly update your competency matrix each calendar year, to prove your worth and showcase your abilities to be cross-functional.

According to a survey done this year, employers and hiring managers may be looking for something other than a specific degree as three in four (74%) employees believe their employers value work experience and related skills more than education when evaluating job candidates. Plus, half (48%) of employees with a college degree believe their specific degree is not very relevant to the job they do today, while four in five (80%) report that they have never been asked about their college GPA (grade point average) during a job interview. More than half (53%) of employees also believe a graduate degree is no longer necessary to be offered a high-paying job.

 

Having said all this, let me tell you that Degree is something which is concrete. Degree is an authenticate certificate that the person applying for the post has the knowledge of the requirement; and has the ability to manage the functioning and justify the post. On the contrary, it is skill which attracts the employers, clients and management which lifts or drops the person. Without the skill, the person would not be able to catch hold the interest of their superiors and attain success. Degree gives you the confidence and helps you build the insight which will help you make employable and add/upgrade skills.  However, it is the skill that will drive the path and make you improve and explore on your capabilities.

To conclude I would say, degree is the first step to success and skill is the ladder.
Anindita.

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