Category Archives: Job Articles

Getting a Job- Degree of Separation

Employers everywhere are forever confronted by the need to choose the best possible candidate for a particular position with an eye to the future. Candidates, on the other hand, will always see themselves as being the ‘best and the brightest’ and eminently suitable for the prospective company. So how do we separate the wheat from the chaff?

Candidates with higher degrees (usually a Masters or post-graduate) are in plentiful supply; the ‘right’ candidate, however, is not. The truth is, there is a lot more than just a degree that qualifies someone for a particular position (and a future career). Let me explain.

Is everybody who graduates from a certain university the same in every way ? No, because there are a multitude of personal attributes that distinguish one from the other. Our personal journeys and life experiences contribute to our total make up just as much as the quality of our educational institution. Just look around and you will see some of the most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs have never been to a top school or have a ‘name’ degree. What they do have is street-smarts and the courage to make things happen.

I once asked an eminent professor from a renowned international university about what he thought were the differences amongst various learning establishments. His response was simple and insightful: “The institution is like a carpenter, and the student a piece of wood. The carpenter may be very skilled, or a novice, and the wood may be of high or low quality. A good carpenter will make something acceptable out of ordinary wood ,but can you imagine what he could do with teak?”

So what are these ‘intrinsic qualities’ that will make us desirable to prospective employers – internal and external? Let’s start with Attitude. Amongst some companies, there is a credo: “Hire for attitude, train for skill.” This applies whether you are hiring a fresh graduate or someone with considerable experience. There is simply no point in inducting someone who will be a pain for everyone with his poor attitude.

Confidence and Assertiveness are essential qualities for most jobs, and are certainly required to get ahead. A confident person knows how to put his point across, defend an idea and get others to do what is required to get the job done.

Next is the ability to ‘Adapt, Change and Grow.’ Too many people come into professional arena  with qualifications in a particular field and then close themselves off from other opportunities that arise. No organisation or environment is static; everything is changing rapidly and the person who can keep up (or, preferably ahead) of change will emerge the winner. You need to be constantly looking for ways to reinvent yourself and ways of working to remain not just relevant but sought after.

‘Problem-solving’ and ‘decision-making’ offer many opportunities to put a number of skills to use. Your ability to analyse a situation from a range of angles and provide optimum solutions that are creative and cost-efficient will quickly distinguish you from the rest of the pack. Asking the right questions and seeing things from different perspectives will put you on the road to success.

Lastly, get yourself some role models. Pick the most outstanding attributes from great leaders to make a composite ‘model’ for yourself. The inspiration can come from any number of fields and from people near and far. What is it that fires your imagination? What was it that made this person successful? What attributes turned failure into success ? What personal battles and demons did they have to overcome?

If we were to make a list of all the other things a top-quality candidate will have, it would be a pretty long one, depending of course on the task at hand. So why not give ourselves a head start? Building a positive reputation is certainly a good way to go.


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