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
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.”