Basic guide for Indian Engineers to becoming Employable

Basic guide for Indian Engineers to becoming EmployableIt’s hiring season in Green Apple Solutions and like every time these are very exciting times. As a policy we prefer to hire freshers only. There is an elaborate theory behind doing this which I shall share some other time but the short reason is that freshers are fast learners and that is extremely important for a company like us where new technologies are adopted as soon as they are available. Every day many candidates appear for interviews for various profiles. Most of them are usually engineers for their “analytical” skills. I feel very bad when I say this but only less than 30% of them are actually employable and this is a very optimistic number. It is very easy to become an engineer in India due to the abundance and omnipresence of engineering colleges and almost everyone who comes out of school with sciences as their majors get a B.Tech. Parents becomes a part of this rat race or peer pressure and get their kids into engineering colleges without considering the future options or even the aptitude of the child. The result is as we see a deluge of unemployed unemployable graduates with an engineering degree and no knowledge of any sorts. Anyways, this post is not meant to discuss the faults in the system or parenting or anything else but more about how engineering students and graduates can become employable. It has been a long time since I wrote as an employer (this is the last post) but trust me these are very simple steps that you can follow and if followed correctly will definitely get you a job. In a sea of aspirants if you are different you will stand out and that will get you hired. Being different will get the job done for you.

  • Drop your ego, wake up and smell the coffee: I will be brutally honest here. If you are not studying in the top 50 colleges in India (IITs etc) you will most likely not get placed. There could be many reasons for the same, most prominent one being not getting the opportunity at all. You need to realize this as soon as possible and start working to trying to get past this disadvantage. Most of the students just coast through the 4 years of college simply assuming that something will happen when they graduate. Well, it doesn’t. The first and most important step towards fixing the situation would be accepting it. Then only can you do anything to fix it. You need to accept that just because you have completed a degree, it does not entitle you to a job.
  • Be ready to pivot: Maybe pivot is not the right term here but being an entrepreneur this is the term that comes naturally to me. You need to be clear about what you are going to do once you pass out. Do you wish to stay and try for employment in your core field or are you already planning to try to get into IT or some other field. Even if you are rigid about your choice you should be ready to switch/pivot in future for when things do not work out as you planned. If you are thinking of doing MBA then you may stop reading this post, bookmark it and come back to it when you are about to graduate from your management school. Chances are if you are not employable now, an MBA is not going to change that and the points that I am going to discuss next apply even to unemployable MBAs.
  • Try to score well: Let me start by saying that it is very less likely that you will ever be able to actually use the knowledge that you gained in college. Having said that I still recommend you to score well in your degree exams just so you don’t get filtered out at the first stage of screening. Almost all companies will look at your resumes before you are called for an interview and with low scores you are very less likely to be called.
  • Build skills, learn something: Most of the resumes that come in my hands are usually inflated with bogus or useless projects what are of zero inherent value for the applicant or the employer. Most of these are parts of compulsory training modules which are to be honest, utterly useless. Some of them are certifications from various random institutes which have no value in terms of usefulness. Instead of doing all this try to cultivate some skills which could be leveraged later. If you want to stay in your core field, pick a subject/topic of your field and become an expert in that. Everyone around you is a jack of all trades and to be different you need to be the master of at least one. If you wish to move to IT after graduating then start working towards it. Learn any programming language, understand the OOP concepts and try to build something. If you come to me with a programming project even if it is small, I will be impressed. It pains me dearly to see a graduate sitting in front of me who knows nothing even though the résumé is full of educational accolades. Stop running after certificates. learn something real.
  • Get a real hobby: “Surfing internet” is not a hobby. At least with the advent of Facebook it no longer is. You need to think beyond “listening music, reading books, surfing net”. Not that there is any harm in listening to music or reading books but you need to specialize in something. No employer is every going to count spending time on Facebook as a self-improving activity. All of us are able to like, learn and cultivate one skill or the other so why not do it. Today I met a girl whose hobby is Madhubani Paintings. Not only is it unique, it gave her an advantage when she first intrigued and then educated me about the same. Unless you are applying for something genuinely mundane, everyone wants to hire passionate people only.
  • Fix your resume: Your résumé is broken. I have not yet looked at it and I know it is broken. The reason this is so is because I know that your résumé is not original. Most likely you took the résumé of a friend or a senior and just changed the personal information. I talked about this in detail in one of my previous posts. Maybe you do not realize it but if in a stack (pile) all the resumes look alike, what are the chances that yours will even be considered. You need to fix your résumé. From the filename to fonts to the content. Everything.
  • Please come prepared: If you come unprepared for an interview in any way, be it your attire, your outlook or your punctuality the only message I get from this is that you are not genuinely interested in getting this job. So some research about the company where you are going, be aware of the profile you are applying for and prepare yourself accordingly. Almost all interviews contain some trivial questions and if you can’t even answer those then it really shows you are not serious. I always start with “Tell me something about yourself” and usually the answer to this question alone tells me if the candidate needs to be considered or not. Also please come dresses nicely.
  • Stay confident and persistent: It is very easy to be tempted to quit after a few failures. It is understandable that failure get to you in a way most situations don’t. It breaks your confidence and fills you up with a lot of doubt. It adds a lot of pressure which in turn harm you. Let me tell you a little secret. There is no shortage of jobs in the industry. You just have to become the right (or even just OK) candidate. Try to stay confident. And persevere.
    I am sure that most of you might already be aware of, if not all, a lot of these things but the most of you don’t realize the importance of these points. And difference between knowing and realizing is what the entire employability is all about. Although I am writing this post to help you, the aspiring engineering student or graduate, you can really help me and employers like me by actually paying heed to these points.

In case you want to ask any more questions or wish to share your feedback, feel free to post a comment or you can catch me on twitter at @akhilrex

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I have helped many startups in building their products and I would be happy to have a chat with you about your idea. Catch me on twitter at @akhilrex