The Future of Careers


In our parents’ time, joining the public sector ensured job security and perpetual employment (till retirement). Most of our parent’s generation stuck to one company throughout their working life. The economy was stable and upheavals were rare and contained.

During my time, multinational firms were the rage and we would stick with a company for a minimum of 3 years, and changed jobs maybe 6-10 times in a career spanning 40 years.  During the mid life crisis, we would contemplate an alternate career maybe in the social sector or the entrepreneur bug would bite us. The economic upheavals were more frequent, and the impact could create job deficits and layoffs. However, most organisations still believed in 3-5 year plans. We could also sense the trends and change our profile accordingly to remain employed

In the next generation of employees, the economic upheavals will be more frequent and the impact on the jobs would be more severe.

  1. Organisations cannot come up with a strategy beyond a year, as the trend cannot be predicted, due to disruptions of technology and the economy as well as ‘black swans’
  2. Companies will therefore start projects in marketing, sales and production and then shut them down if the expected results do not come through or if there is a cash crunch
  3. Companies will outsource most of the humdrum activities like payroll, administration, even some aspects of sales and production, if these activities do not have any competitive advantage or are commoditised with no value-add
  4. There will be more inorganic growth by mergers and acquisitions
  5. Companies need to have flexibility in size and operations. This means that the workforce will always have a mix of permanent employees and consultants

We will therefore sometimes be unemployed and sometimes work as a consultant. Reality is that no company can guarantee permanent employment nor are they compelled to. If the market is down and the supply of MBAs is large, we have to accept what is given, else our pride will keep us unemployed.

This creates psychological issues, as our beliefs are governed by our parents’ beliefs – that permanent employment is good. There is a stigma attached to temporary jobs or being a consultant.

We have to accept that we may not get permanent employment. Acceptance is important and allows us to move on.

We should therefore:

  • Invest in government backed investments like Public Provident Fund for long term capital creation
  • Create and keep a stash equal to one year’s salary as an emergency fund
  •  In our CV, focus on what we know, learnt and achieved, not what designations we held
  • Be ready to change jobs and locations, leaving the family behind
  • Invest in skills that can provide additional employment including transferable skills
  • Create and use skills that can keep you self-employed (be it music, teaching or something…) and keep the home fires burning, children’s education taken care of
  • Be mentally prepared to move sideways, not necessarily upwards
  • Build and maintain your network

20 questions to ask a recruiter (or friends in the target company)


Pay and reward

  1. How will my performance be measured?
  2. How will my targets be set? And how much say will I have in setting them?
  3. Who are the key decision-makers that I will need to get along with? And how would you describe each of them?
  4. How regularly will my pay be reviewed? And when will be my first review?
  5. How much of my bonus is guaranteed? And how much of it is dependent on performance?

Doing the job

  1. Be honest with me, what do you really think of the members of the team that I would be running or working with?
  2. What do you see as the immediate challenges for me if I were to be given the job?
  3. When was the last company restructuring? And how did it affect this department?
  4. How is the organization performing? What do staff and shareholders think of the company’s performance?
  5. Are there any big changes or restructuring planned for the near future?
  6. So what exactly happened to the previous job holder?


  1. How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  2. What is the best thing about working for this organization?
  3. I promise that I won’t mention it to anyone, but just between you and me, what frustrates you most about working here?
  4. Would you describe this as a political organization? And if so, why?
  5. How much inter-departmental rivalry is there in the company?
  6. How much do people socialize together outside of work? What was the last social event that you went to?

The future

  1. What training and development is given to employees?
  2. What opportunities are there for promotion?
  3. Could you tell me about the sorts of people who have failed here? What was it they did or didn’t do that made them unsuccessful?
The above has been extracted from “The Ultimate Career Success Workbook” by Rob Yeung

Should I do the certification courses like NCFM while doing my MBA?


There is a lot of wishful thinking that goes on in the name of placement. The reality is based on demand and supply.

For example, some one asked me yesterday whether they should do NSE’s Certification in Financial Markets (NCFM) modules. The objective is to get into brokerage and investment banking.

My answer was as follows:

  1. Salaries and jobs are determined by the demand of the recruiters and supply of the right MBAs. More about the MBA market can be found in Chapter 5 (MBA for sale – what salary will I get) of my book, “What recruiters want?”
  2. Investment Banking and Brokerage is attractive to MBAs, therefore this is an overcrowded market with a lot of sellers.
  3. There are a limited number of well-paying brokerage houses and investment banking firms. There are others, which are more discount shops with low margins and therefore with low fixed salaries and high variable, performance based salaries.
  4. If the impact of the European crisis spills over to India, the stock market would be down and hiring will freeze.
  5. If everyone has NCFM certification, then it becomes a basic requirement (hygiene factor) and not a nice-to-have factor (motivator) for hiring.
  6. If you do join a brokerage firm, the chances that you will actually be doing trading or company evaluation and research is minimal, given that all Tier-1 B-School graduates too want to do the same job.
  7. You will probably, and specially in a bad market, be asked to get more customers for the brokerage house. At best, you will be asked to create market analysis / research documents and sell them. For that you do not need the NCFM modules.
  8. Nitesh Mittal (a reader) pointed out that there are other options – for example, be a certified financial planner. (
  9. Sunil Dath (another reader) pointed out that there is a third option – to do a Diploma in Banking and Finance (

The downturn in the economy

by suggests what to do if you do not get a job.


I hate my boss


I have discussed beliefs before. Any action has a response based on beliefs. If you believe that the company you are working in is bad, all your judgements will be coloured negatively. If you believe, like all humans, companies occasionally make mistakes, you give it a benefit of doubt.

The company is not forcing you…your boss, (an individual) is forcing you. He has his reasons. He has a belief, based on his upbringing, experience, genetics, about how to get things done. He is not there with a life mission to make you unhappy. He is paying you a salary, he is upgrading your skills, he is teaching you life lessons.

Messages come from all weird people in life. We need to be receptive enoughto receive these messages.

How do I get a job in these troubled times?


These are bad times. Demand for MBAs is less than supply so salaries are going south. All MBAs are not created equal, some are more equal than others – some MBAs will get better jobs by virtue of their work experience, their college reputation and the location of the college.

Job portals are out. Every one has his resume out there and are competing for the same jobs. I need to do something different.
I have a target list of companies that I want to join based on my chosen career path. What should I do? I need to categorise these companies as A, B and C based on an arbitrary ranking of desirability. A-type companies have a brand and most MBAs will flock there. These companies will be choosy and I do not have a chance. B-category companies are the ones I need to target and I will use the C category companies to hone my skills.
I need to do my research on these B-category companies. Basic stuff like company financials, market share, positioning strategy, pricing, competition and organisation culture.
In these times, the order of the day is to increase sales and decrease costs. How do I use this to get a job? Simple: offer them customers / sales and offer them a variable component of salary based on performance indicators.
For example, I want to be a financial analyst. Given the markets right now, the glamorous and cushy jobs are not there any more. So what can I do? I can go to a company that wants to expand its customer base rapidly (say Reliance Money) and make a proposition to them – I will get them 5 new customers a month or increase their Assets Under Management by 1 lakh each month and I will take 75% of my salary as fixed and 25% as variable based on pre-defined targets.
Where do I get the customers? In these times, everyone wants someone to trust with their money. Would my relatives trust me with Rs. 10,000 a month? After all I am a relative – hence a known person, specialising in financial management and Rs 10,000 will not kill them. 5 relatives a month can get me half way to my target and the next month I would achieve my target! I would be doing the same stuff as a Financial Analyst, giving reports to my clients, gaining experience, creating a loyal client base and when I get a job in an A category company, I move with my clients. If I am doing a good job, the word-of-mouth will get me more clients. One existing client can refer at least one more person and I could have a multplier in operation. If I am not doing a good job, then I know this is not my career.
I know that it feels queasy to talk about sales when I am specialising in finance. But reality is that we are selling/promoting ourselves each day of our life. We just did not stake our careers on selling.

So I have this brilliant idea! What can I do with it?


“I am a new joinee to my organisation and I have a great idea which can add to the bottom line as well as advertise me to the powers-that-be. However, I am not confident that my boss agrees with me. “

Step 1. First things first. Do I really know that my boss will not agree with me or is it something that I ASS-U-ME (some one said: let me not make an ASS of U and ME)? I need to sound out the office grapevine in terms of my boss’ personality and what makes him tick. Basic stuff: if I make my boss goods good, he will help me. This is not the time to advertise myself, I first need to establish credibility. Therefore I need to give my boss the credit for the idea and hope he will take you along. If not, I go to step 2.
Step 2. I need to go over my boss and I need to tread carefully.
  1. I first need to find out who are the influential people (every organisation has an informal org chart based on power and influence) and what makes them tick.
  2. I need to find out a way to approach him/her in an informal setting. One of the ways to do this is to join a club in the organisation that has the secretaries / the receptionists as a member. Typically the CSR or the cultural clubs are my best bet. This allows me to find out more about my target – his moods, itinerary etc.
  3. I need to have my 3 point pitch ready – how will the organisation benefit in money terms, how much will it cost and how long will it take. If I have not done my research, I am dead and the secretary will cut you dead subsequently.
  4. Once I find an opportunity, I need to introduce myself, make my pitch (in one minute) and ask for an opportunity to give a more detailed 15 minute presentation. I will probably be asked to send him a presentation.
  5. I need to create a brief presentation (3 slides: a. proposal and benefits – what and why; b. implementation and costs – who, when, where, how; c. next steps). The covering slide should have my boss’ name first and my name second.
  6. I should now go to my boss and tell him that I accidentally met the influencer and had an informal chat and now have this opportunity and want his feedback. When my boss sees his name on the presentation, he will have no choice but to help.
  7. I then make the presentation with my boss and defer to him all the way.

Step 3. If I have a go ahead, I need to implement the idea. However, this may take a lot of my time and may impact my immediate deliverables. I need my boss to agree to the change in appraisal KPIs.

There is a possibility that my boss will not like what I have done. There is also a possibility that the influencer may think that I am suited for my boss’ role but I may personally not be ready yet. I need to be ready for these eventualities and the consequences.