CRACK­ING THE 'HIRE-ABIL­ITY' CODE

What are the top qual­i­ties that in­dus­try re­cruiters look for while hir­ing a young pro­fes­sional? What qual­i­ties do young­sters them­selves feel they should have to be hired? In the back­drop of IM­PACT’s Top 30 Un­der 30, we at­tempt to find out if Gen Next is i

Impact - - SPOTLIGHT - BY SAMARPITA BAN­ER­JEE (with in­puts from Team IM­PACT)

It was dur­ing the course of a heated dis­cus­sion at this year’s jury meet for IM­PACT’s Top 30 Un­der 30 list that Jury Chair Pu­nit Misra, CEO, Do­mes­tic Broad­cast Busi­ness, ZEEL, came up with an ad­di­tional pa­ram­e­ter for se­lect­ing can­di­dates. Apart from the set pa­ram­e­ters, one ques­tion he wanted the jury to ask them­selves while short­list­ing pro­files out of the 150 odd en­tries pre­sented to them was: ‘Given a chance, will you hire this can­di­date?’ This one ques­tion made it eas­ier for the jury mem­bers to zero in on the 30 names that would go on to be­come a part of the list this year.

This made us think too. What is it re­ally, that in today’s dy­namic, hy­per-com­pet­i­tive pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment that gives cer­tain young pro­fes­sion­als an edge and makes them stand out?

The world is chang­ing, evolv­ing at a rapid pace, and with it are also chang­ing the pa­ram­e­ters that would make one hire­able. Qual­i­ties like ef­fi­ciency or

hav­ing a pro­fes­sional at­ti­tude, that could have pos­si­bly landed young pro­fes­sion­als a job 10 years back, are not good enough by them­selves now.

We got the jury out on that one – and here’s what they had to say.

Not­ing that the rapidly chang­ing ad­ver­tis­ing, mar­ket­ing and me­dia in­dus­try re­quires young pro­fes­sion­als to be adap­tive to change, Arun Iyer, Chair­man & CCO, Lowe Lin­tas says, “In today’s day and age, a young­ster is not what the young­ster of yesteryears used to be. At the age of around 24 or 25, we are sim­ply look­ing for an in­di­vid­ual who comes with a great level of ex­cite­ment and en­thu­si­asm. The world has changed and there is so much more that this age group knows and brings to the ta­ble. While look­ing at hir­ing some­one, we are usu­ally on the look­out for that ex­tra en­thu­si­asm.”

As for Misra him­self, he says there are a few de­cid­ing fac­tors that have helped him sift through can­di­dates in the past. He ex­plains, “I look for at­ti­tude over ap­ti­tude, since ap­ti­tude is a given. And by at­ti­tude, I mean pos­i­tiv­ity, en­ergy, pas­sion, a be­lief sys­tem and a sense of pride in the work that peo­ple want to cre­ate. Se­condly, the qual­ity of agility in terms of learn­ing, where peo­ple are able to use the learn­ings from their di­verse ex­pe­ri­ences and ap­ply them in a new set­ting is a very use­ful qual­ity to have, and also a sign of a fu­ture leader. An­other im­por­tant as­pect I look out for has to do with val­ues and how peo­ple re­act when thrown into dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions.”

Hav­ing a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude, says Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strat­egy Of­fi­cer, Leo Bur­nett, South Asia, is an im­por­tant de­cid­ing fac­tor. He says, “At younger lev­els, we hire for the at­ti­tude and not just for their skills. Ob­vi­ously, you want to see a bit of cre­ative or strate­gic spark, an abil­ity to look at cul­ture and find in­sights, and be able to take it to an edgy idea. How­ever, more than this, we look for en­ergy, pas­sion, and a cer­tain de­sire to be a part of the cre­ative in­dus­try which is more im­por­tant than skillsets. You de­velop skills over the pe­riod of your ca­reer, but these are qual­i­ties that you can­not re­ally de­velop but can pos­sess from the be­gin­ning.”

Sathya Sri­ram, Head - Strat­egy & Mar­ket­ing, The Hindu Group agrees, say­ing, “While hir­ing, I largely look for the right at­ti­tude. A per­son’s at­ti­tude comes though in his or her work. I hire for mind­set and at­ti­tude, be­cause these are the two things that help you do great work and get rec­og­nized.”

For many, a young can­di­date’s risk­tak­ing abil­ity gives them that ex­tra edge. Says Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head - Kids En­ter­tain­ment, Vi­a­com18, “While hir­ing young pro­fes­sion­als, I look for young bril­liant, in­spir­ing minds, that want to take risks. I usu­ally look for peo­ple who want to do some­thing that is dif­fer­ent, clut­ter-break­ing, and yet can make sense for the brand and cam­paign. It’s not about be­ing cre­ative just for the sake of it, but also about cre­at­ing an im­pact on ground.”

The pas­sion with which one comes up with ideas and brings those ideas to fruition also helps de­cide if a can­di­date can fit into an or­ga­ni­za­tion, feels Megha Tata, COO, BTVI. She says, “While look­ing at hir­ing some­one, I al­ways look for the pas­sion in that in­di­vid­ual, if he or she re­ally wants to do some­thing. It’s also about out-of-the-box think­ing be­cause that’s when you re­ally do some­thing which is fun­da­men­tally mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in your piece of work, world or per­sonal life.”

When the work is ad­ver­tis­ing, one has to have a cre­ative streak – that is a given. But it has to be cou­pled with orig­i­nal think­ing. Partha Sinha, Vice Chair­man & Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, McCann World­group ex­plains, “What we look for is an amount of orig­i­nal­ity, be­cause our busi­ness is all about orig­i­nal think­ing and not about copy­ing and past­ing. Se­condly, the work be­ing done by them needs to be im­pact­ful. Typ­i­cally, orig­i­nal thinkers tend to have an im­pact on peo­ple around them, both the agency and the client.

One also needs to be self-mo­ti­vated and pos­sess an en­tre­pre­neur­ial ca­pa­bil­ity.”

A lot of it also has to do with the con­sis­tency with which these young­sters per­form and look at their work, which Shekhar Ban­er­jee, COO, Madi­son

Me­dia feels is an im­por­tant qual­ity to have. He ex­plains, “Func­tional skills can be imparted and we as agen­cies in­vest a lot of time and en­ergy on train­ing peo­ple. It’s not about that. We are look­ing at the abil­ity to learn, the level of mo­ti­va­tion and pas­sion and also their con­sis­tency. The per­son should be ready to in­vest in the client and the place where they are work­ing.”

Shar­ing her thoughts, Kaa­con Sethi, ‎Chief Cor­po­rate Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer, ‎Dainik Bhaskar Group, says that it’s not just a per­son’s ta­lent that mat­ters, but much more. She says, “I look out for an

in­stant vibe, a good grasp of the sit­u­a­tion, a de­sire, a hunger to get on top of prob­lems, ex­tend­ing your­self. It’s not just about ta­lent, it’s also about the re­sources they bring to the ta­ble, to be able to grap­ple with an is­sue and to come up with so­lu­tions. Also, what I per­son­ally value the most is an abil­ity to fig­ure out what your work can do for your com­pany. I look for a blend of great cre­ativ­ity and a sound per­spec­tive on what this can do for my com­pany and my brand.”

Here’s what some of the young achievers on our list had to say about qual­i­ties that make them at­trac­tive to re­cruiters:

For Meghna Das, Copy Su­per­vi­sor, Law & Ken­neth Saatchi & Saatchi, it is the in­quis­i­tive­ness and cu­rios­ity that you bring to the ta­ble that makes you stand out and shine brighter. She says, “I be­lieve it is all about the cu­rios­ity, to want to know ev­ery­thing and pos­si­bly do ev­ery­thing out­side of just work and the heart to stick by your work even if it takes a year to be­come real. One also needs an abun­dant source of joy to bring to work ev­ery day (be­cause you’re go­ing to need it), and the courage to have your ideas laughed at ev­ery once in a while.”

Echo­ing Das’ thoughts, Haripriya Mark, Group Ac­count Man­ager, Ogilvy & Mather says, “You al­ways need to be hun­gry for work, you need to be cu­ri­ous enough to keep ask­ing your se­niors ques­tions and keep ques­tion­ing things and al­ways make sure you are fear­less in front of ev­ery­one.”

Aish­warya Khanvilkar, Brand Ser­vices As­so­ciate, Leo Bur­nett makes an in­ter­est­ing point when she says one should never let go of their hob­bies or in­ter­ests be­cause that helps peo­ple draw on cre­ativ­ity. She says, “When it comes to ad­ver­tis­ing, one needs to show and em­ploy cre­ativ­ity. One needs to con­tinue with his or her in­ter­est in any­thing; be it mu­sic, new me­dia, gam­ing, fash­ion or an in­tel­lec­tual cu­rios­ity in trends and cul­ture. The best part about this busi­ness is that you can draw in­spi­ra­tion and in­sights from your day-to-day in­ter­ests and hob­bies. One needs to have a global view and not some­thing that is too cen­tric. One needs to be plat­form neu­tral and ex­plore more op­por­tu­ni­ties at the be­gin­ning of their ca­reer it­self.”

The con­stant evo­lu­tion of the pro­fes­sional ecosys­tem in a dig­i­tal era also de­mands pro­fes­sion­als to be read­ily adapt­able to change. Kavya Satyakumar, As­so­ciate Cre­ative Tech­nol­o­gist, Dentsu We­bchut­ney, says, “At Dentsu We­bchut­ney, we look for peo­ple who get the vibe of the Dig­i­tal ecosys­tem which is chang­ing so fast. We are look­ing for peo­ple who thrive in a con­stantly chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment and who are able to adapt re­ally quickly, so peo­ple are pas­sion­ate and driven about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, and prob­a­bly mak­ing an im­pact.”

Gone are the days when be­ing a spe­cial­ist in a par­tic­u­lar do­main or medium was what in­dus­try se­niors looked out for. Today, one needs to be a multi-tasker who can dab­ble in dif­fer­ent medi­ums and forms. Mi­hir Chitre, As­so­ciate Cre­ative Di­rec­tor, What’s Your Prob­lem & Medulla Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, says, “Now is the time to do truly in­te­grated ad­ver­tis­ing. Today, just be­ing, say, a film spe­cial­ist or Dig­i­tal spe­cial­ist won’t help you make the cut. Today, you need to have a clas­si­cal big idea, one that can be ex­e­cuted across plat­forms. It’s good to be ver­sa­tile. The un­der­stand­ing of var­i­ous plat­forms is also one of the most cru­cial things.”

While the in­dus­try keeps hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions around work­life bal­ance, a lot of these highly driven pro­fes­sion­als feel that it is im­por­tant to make your work your life. Says Shrenik Gandhi, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer & Co-Founder, White Rivers Me­dia, “In today’s pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment, you need to be pas­sion­ate and you need to be avail­able 24/7. It is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for peo­ple who have en­tered the Dig­i­tal do­main as the medium it­self is 24/7. Your cus­tomer will not wait for a 9-5 week­day to reg­is­ter a com­plaint.”

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