Unless you know what you are and what you are not, explains management guru Virender Kapoor, how will you get an appropriate job?
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a framework used to evaluate an organisation, to develop strategies and position it effectively in a competitive business environment.
Such an analysis takes into account internal and external factors, as well as current and future conditions.
SWOT analysis helps with a realistic, factual assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of an organisation within its industry and the overall environmental scenario.
An analysis like this should be realistic, truthful and not based on assumptions, beliefs, hearsay information and rhetoric.
Can this be used by individuals to plan her/his career, especially to land her/his first job?
A fresh graduate obviously needs her/his first break to get her/his first job.
Unless s/he gets her/his first job s/he cannot get experience. And without experience, there is no job.
The first hurdle: Misplaced enthusiasm and unrealistic self-assessment
While I am an advocate of and in agreement with the idea of thinking positive, remaining enthusiastic and bouncing back after a failure, I do not advocate a fantasy La-La land.
The academic phase is like a swimming pool where you take baby steps to learn and feel safe and secure swimming in a protected area.
However, in the corporate world, you will be swimming in high seas.
Things are rough and you have to be tough and ready to face extreme weather conditions.
In my career, I have seen students who are grounded and realistic.
I have also come across young budding graduates who are totally out of sync with reality and are seldom level-headed or reasonable in estimating their own capabilities.
Unless you know what you are and what you are not, how will you get an appropriate job?
Therefore knowing yourself is the first and foremost action you need to take.
You must get to know your strengths and weaknesses which you can leverage and work on respectively.
Basically there are two outcomes of a SWOT analysis for a fresh graduate looking for a job.
First is the correct assessment of yourself to get a job -- what you actually are and capable of.
Next, you have to realise and accept your shortcomings and work on filling up those gaps before you go job hunting.
It is human tendency not to accept weaknesses and boast about whatever little strengths we have, often going overboard.
Therefore it's important to be realistic. Whatever your strengths are -- say you score 8 out of ten -- just tone it down a notch lower say 7 or even 6 and you will not regret it.
This is a self-corrective method.
Also if you have not done something in your college days, accept it and see what best you can do now.
Let's start your SWOT right away!
Strengths: How to find and list them
You may have dozens of strengths so it is important to list even seemingly most insignificant ones. But be ready with something substantial to prove for each of the strengths you have listed.
That is the key to prepare for any interview. Don't know where to begin? Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you a dependable person?
- Do you follow through a job? Are you well organized?
- Are you punctual? Do you value time?
- Do you have knowledge? Are you well informed?
- Are you good at reading and writing?
- Are you a quick learner?
- Do you have tenacity and persistence?
- Are you a team player? Have you participated in college events?
- Can you articulate and explain your point/s of view? Are you scared of facing a small crowd/audience?
You must be able to convince yourself about each of the strengths you have listed and make a small note in front of each point justifying it with solid realistic examples.
If you cannot prove your strength to yourself, drop it from the list.
Weaknesses: How to accept and list them
Human psychology is such that accepting weaknesses is one of the most difficult things to do. Therefore be absolute true to yourself when you list these.
A fair assessment of your weak areas also reflects your character.
Some important ones relevant to your job interview are:
- I didn't participate in anything like college festival or dramatics
- I am not good at debates
- I haven't read any novels/books outside the syllabus
- I haven't read any self-improvement books
- I never bothered to watch the news channels or read a paper.
- I am not interested in reading any magazines, newspapers or content related to gossip, health, cars, fashion or films
- I am not confident at public speaking. I am shy of speaking to strangers
- I feel a lack of guidance and have no clear direction
- I am not serious
- I have never been interested in social work of any kind
- I don't have a hobby
- I don't like travelling
- I never bothered to understand my parents' job profile
- I am not punctual
- I am disorganised and waste too much time
- I give up too soon
- I depend too much on my parents for everything
- I am not assertive
- My general awareness is very poor as I am disinterested in learning
- I don't play any outdoor games
Opportunities: Make the most of them
Youth of today are very lucky.
You have the best of everything -- access to books, libraries, the Internet and TV.
Besides, most of the university courses are not too rigorous, due to which students have enough free time including term breaks.
If you want to sharpen your skills and enhance your capabilities, sky is the limit.
There are so many free seminars, exhibitions, upskilling workshops you can attend for free from anywhere in the country.
You can participate as a volunteer for events, take online courses, work for old age homes, organise small socially relevant drives, get out of your home, your comfort zone and explore.
You can start by making a group of five friends and take up a cause. Come up with a detailed report as learning experience.
This can become an important learning tool kit to showcase in your interview.
As per several employment studies, only 25 percent of technical graduates and 10-15 percent of regular graduates are considered employable by the industry in India.
Another opportunity or silver lining in the dark cloud is that there are millions like you who have no clue how to sharpen their credentials or how to better themselves to make themselves a marketable product.
Those who know what to do, are not prepared to make efforts. So here is an opportunity to beat the competition which seems formidable in size but is poor in competitive excellence.
Today, India is on the cusp of becoming a superpower, a manufacturing hub, an entrepreneurial incubator. The government is investing in training the youth, in infrastructure.
There are plenty of opportunities in smaller towns as India is moving from urban to rural. A reverse migration is on its way.
Threats: Realise and reset
The biggest threat to a graduate in India is his/her own mindset.
You need to realise that your degree and marks do not get you a job. You may have the skills but you still need to make an effort.
People are hiring bright students who are hardworking and willing to change.
Another threat is having unrealistic expectations.
You need to have a truthful analysis of all your capabilities. Write it down and maybe even discuss it with a mentor.
Next, make an action plan to fill the gaps.
You may have lost time but you can always correct things now.
Consider a group of students preparing for the civil services exams or IIT-Joint Entrance Examination.
These students work hard for years together, some even fail several times and then one day, they make it big.
Take your job interview as a competitive exam and prepare for six to eight months.
Work hard with full steam and go for a job kill. You will succeed.
While it's natural to have certain expectations about your dream job, let me also warn you that you don't need to be too choosy about your first job.
As long as it meets some of your requirements, take it and get your foot in the door.
Work hard and you will move forward professionally very quickly.
Don't wait for the best job. Treat every opportunity like your dream job and give it your 100%.
Virender Kapoor is the former director of Pune's Symbiosis Institute of Management and the founder of Management Institute for Leadership and Excellence in Pune. He has authored more than 36 books on self-improvement designed for school students, senior managers and CEOs.