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What do you look for in a fresher?

What do you look for in a fresher?
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As I was retuning from the seminar, I was reflecting why I said what I said. Here are the reasons why I considered the three qualities as the most...

I was attending a seminar recently. The audience was a mix of experienced professionals as well as those who were fresh out of college. One girl had this interesting question for me. “If you all look for experienced people always, where should freshers like us go?”

I laughed at the question and quickly understood the underlying frustration. It is true – everyone needs a first break to takeoff in career!

“I completely agree with you; but you need to have the essential qualities to get the first break”, I replied to her.

She was quick with her second question, “What are those essential qualities that you look for in a fresher?”

I said, “There may be many qualities; but essentially I look for three viz., attitude, communication and domain knowledge and specifically in that order”.

She was satisfied with my answer and thanked me.

As I was retuning from the seminar, I was reflecting why I said what I said. Here are the reasons why I considered the three qualities as the most essential for a career takeoff.

Attitude: Every job requires a combination of elements to deliver performance. Attitude certainly tops the list. If a person’s attitude towards work is positive, he/she will put in the required effort to learn, find ways to perform and deliver results. Such people will demonstrate dignity of labour; they will not have hang-ups to take up any task as long it helps to achieve the result. On the contrary, if the attitude is negative, then he/she will have many excuses not to perform. They will end up operating within the boundaries and have objections to take up certain tasks. They will be mostly worried about what they get than what they give! Such an attitude can get onto the nerves of their bosses and other colleagues. They will essentially become difficult people to work with. Also, attitudinal change is much difficult to bring about compared to other skills and knowledge.

You can see a person’s attitude depicted in his/her body language, the first few words spoken and how the questions are replied. Of course, some people could be smart enough to depict impeccable attitude during the interview process only to display true colours after getting the job. Such people may celebrate that they got through the process, but they will certainly find it hard to strike it well in career.

Communication: These days, there are very few jobs that do not require communication. It is a skill that connects you to the world. It helps to build relationships, to share ideas, to express own skills, to influence, to get things done and so on. If there are communication challenges, it makes it so much more difficult for others to understand and for the person to reach out. One may be brilliant in functional or domain knowledge; but without communication skills, you personality will not find expression in professional life. It is true that there are poor communicators, but with excellent domain expertise. Surely such people can succeed; however, it surely has to be outstanding expertise to draw such attention despite poor communication.

Domain knowledge: Some thorough grounding in one’s own area of study indicates your learnability, studiousness and commitment. It is true that there could be a vast gap between what one studies in college and what one needs to perform the job. But your domain knowledge gives enough confidence to the employer on your depth of comprehension and ability to learn on the job. During the interviews, sometimes we come across candidates who do not even remember what one studied during the last semester. Does it indicate poor memory, lack of interest or does it signify a casual attitude?

Certain jobs like chemistry, pharmacy, software etc., cannot afford to have poor domain knowledge. In such situations, it may even take the second priority ahead of communication.

In the final count, it is ideal to master the right attitude, communicate proficiently and possess good domain knowledge. If one were to miss out on any of these three, it has to be either communication or domain knowledge that has to be dropped. If you have the attitude, the other missing element can be acquired!

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