Thursday, September 7, 2017

Ace your telephonic, video and lunch interviews!

          Hey everyone! Hope you enjoyed our segment on networking and ventured into the wild world to strike conversations and forge relationships on your way to building a successful network.

Before we wrap up what’s been a great 6-month learning journey with our blogs, I’d like to share a few best practices with you to ace telephonic, video and lunch interviews. Some of them may even seem obvious but many are seldom followed. Let’s jump straight in!

Telephonic Interviews: Often, unless it’s a direct campus interview, your initial interviews with recruiters or even, at times, the hiring manager, will be conducted over a call. Based on our collective experience, we compiled a list of things to take care of when giving interviews over the phone.

Prepare for the conversation: If you are expecting a call/are scheduled for a call, keep your vital docs (resume, prep notes, etc.) ready on either your desktop or your cell or even some folded prints (if you are on a call on your cell, may be best to have the note on a separate screen)! It will help you immensely during your call :) Of course, don’t waste time sifting through the docs when you are on the call, have them accessible and organized. Practice it to be natural and spot potential goof ups that need to be avoided.

Find a quiet spot: This may seem obvious but speaking from experience, my team and I have interviewed thousands and find the most common hindrance in telephonic interviewing is noise or disturbances in the background. People talking, traffic, what not! You may not be able to hear the person on the other end of the line, making for disconnected, and awkward conversations. It makes for an unpleasant experience. Show your respect and value the conversation by finding a quiet spot to take the call from. Usually, telephonic interviews are scheduled ahead of time, giving you time to locate a space. While there are times when the noise is unforeseen, if it continues to hinder your call - excuse yourself, offer to call back and relocate to another quiet place. If you can’t find one immediately, do apologize and request for it to be re-scheduled. Clear communication is key.

Be on time! Goes without saying, this is vital for interviews. Again, this is an obvious one but to ensure you are on time, give yourself a 10-minute breather ahead of the scheduled time to get to your spot and collect yourself so you don't seem flushed. If for whatever reason, you miss the call, have a professional voicemail that can save the day. A simple Google search would show you how to set it up for your service provider. If you can't make it, make sure you let the person interviewing know as soon as possible. Depending on the company or interviewer, re-scheduling may or may not lessen your chances if they are on tight recruitment timelines, but it would earn you some brownie points to inform them ahead of time if you can’t make it, as it shows your respect for their time. Again, clear and timely communication makes all the difference.

If you have been asked to call, start the call on time or even a few seconds before the given time. When you hit the dot, it will make a great first impression. If they don’t pick up, drop a quick text/voicemail (be clear, polite, brief and leave the right details) or leave them an email asking if it’s still a good time for the call. You may try once more in 10 minutes. If there’s still no answer, drop an email suggesting a re-schedule. It’s important to be courteous, as, with everything, they may have an emergency or an unpreventable situation at their end. Give them the benefit of the doubt. If you are in a situation where you need to make an international/long distance call that can be expensive, if you think the opportunity is worth it (most times the cost of the call is nothing compared to the opportunity), go ahead. Based on the people you are dealing with, they may either offer to call you (knowing the cost of the call to them is much more manageable) or if you cannot arrange for the call, it is absolutely ok to set the expectations earlier and request them for a call instead.  

Other minor things:
·       If possible, use earphones/headphones and speak into the mic, to be heard well and cut off background noise. Test them before use!
·       Be cognizant of the interview end-time. While it's good if the conversation organically goes on with equal interest on both sides and they are good with the call overflowing, you don't want to be the reason for the interviewer missing his/her next meeting if they have one :)
·       Confirm your ID on truecaller (or the likes) ahead of the call. Sometimes your truecaller name is not accurate or may show a weird or embarrassing name. It is worth checking and correcting it before the call. 
·       Make sure your phone has sufficient charge! Running out of battery is the last thing you'd want on a call, and you want to avoid charging the phone during the call.

Video Interviews: If you have a video interview scheduled, take note of the following for an awesome experience!

·       Have your laptop at hand and shut down unrelated computer applications to ensure there is no lag or draw over in the video.
·       Ensure there’s enough light falling on your face and keep a clean, mess-free surrounding in the frame seen over video.
·       Apart from testing your mic/headphones, test your camera settings. You do not want to spend the first few minutes of the interview with "Can you see me", "I can't hear you!". Overall, just be familiar with your video conferencing application (skype, hangouts, etc.)
·       Asked to download a completely new application for the video call? If you are not familiar with the application, download it ahead of time, set it up and explore it to gain familiarity. Many of these apps have short tutorial videos online showing you how to use it. If you still have a burning question on one of its main functions, it is okay to write and ask, but do your research to see if you can get the answer before reaching out.
·       Mute your phone and keep it aside to avoid distractions. That’ll save you from your phone blaring out Arijit Singh ringtones when you are discussing your qualifications 😊
·       Clean your desktop in case you need to share your screen.
·       Wear full interview attire! It will get you mentally set for the environment.

Lunch Interviews: Were you invited to be a part of an informal lunch/coffee chat? This is a great way to have a comfortable conversation beyond the four walls of the conference room to truly get to know one another.

Research: Do a quick search to know more about the restaurant/coffee shop location, menu, crowd/noise level, suitable attire among other things, to gauge and prepare for the chat. Knowing the location beforehand will ensure you do not stress trying to find the place and get there on time. Having an idea of the menu will help you pick a few things in advance so you can focus on the interview. Order something appropriate, that will not be too messy or klutzy. Having an understanding of the crowd and noise levels will help you prep for the overall environment along with your attire to ensure you are not out of place :)

Arrival: Come 10-15 minutes ahead of the scheduled interview. If a table is not reserved, proactively ask for one to save you the awkward wait at the entrance. Message the interviewer and keep her/him posted on where you are but be mindful not to rush them if you get there first/early.

Recognition: To avoid any surprises, look up the interviewer on Google/LinkedIn so you can recognize her/him when you see them.

The Food: Knowing what’s on the menu comes in handy, and you probably know what you want. But not so fast! Start by engaging in polite conversation - maybe about the place, the weather, or even how you got there. Keep it positive and casual. Be gracious, let the interviewer take the lead in ordering the food unless he/she insists you go first. If you are in a café, a coffee/tea or any other simple drink should do. If you are out to lunch, order a dish and a non-alcoholic drink if needed, be mindful to keep the order price reasonable and opt for food that is easy to eat. Think of easy to fork items like Penne Pasta or salad, rather than a messy spaghetti or a larger than life sandwich. If you have any dietary restrictions, there is absolutely no harm in letting them know. 

Conversations: While the setting and small talk may be casual, you can open up a bit as they are looking to get to know the real you but it is still an interview so keep the conversations professional and be aware of what you say.

Etiquette: Be aware of your posture on the table. Body language, even while sitting, marks a big portion of your communication. Here are a few suggestions: Keep your elbows off the table, don’t slouch - you can even lean in a bit to show interest in the conversation, be mindful of personal space, have the napkin ready at all times, don't eat with your mouth open, keep it polite and friendly with the wait staff, ensure your phone is switched to silent and visit the restroom before you get into the interview to avoid disruptions.

Bill: As you were invited by the interviewer, you would not generally be expected to pay. But be prepared for any situation though, and be courteous and offer if there is an opportunity. If you do pay the bill, it's a pretty good indicator of a less than stellar company culture ;) An exception here is if you asked for the meetup, in which case you should pay the bill. Wrap the conversation when the bill is being paid and ensure you are clear about the next steps. Needless to say, show that you are truly thankful for the meal and the conversation.

Interviewing over lunch/coffee is a great sign, as it shows they are genuinely interested in knowing you. Cherish the opportunity and have a great time (and a great meal!)

Hope you enjoyed and learnt a bit from this write-up! Always, feel free to write to us for anything 😊 Till then!

"Excellent individuals don't believe in excellence - only in constant improvement and constant change."

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Corporate Ready Test, Corpversity and its Related Ventures are Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Use LinkedIn as a tool to kick-start your career!

          In our last blog, we familiarized ourselves with the importance of networking in building a career, ways to prepare for networking, myths surrounding it etc. for a clear pathway to tap your network successfully and access the "Hidden Job Market".

As an added layer, a simple technique can be used to seal the deal and bag the job you want. This involves a combination of using LinkedIn effectively and tapping into your inner courage to put yourself out there and reach out to the right connections.

LinkedIn has become a must have tool for any career oriented individual in today’s market. Remember to set yourself up for success by building your LinkedIn profile out to the last detail (including your summary and your 120 character headline!) Leverage your resume, and use the same covenants we followed there.

With your profile in order, understanding how connections work on LinkedIn can get the tool working for you:

People in your LinkedIn network are called connections. A connection can be a 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, 3rd-degree connections, or fellow members of your LinkedIn groups.

A 1st-degree connection is someone you're directly connected to, either because you accepted their direct invitation to connect or vice versa. These connections can be easily contacted with a message on LinkedIn.
A 2nd-degree connection is someone who is not directly connected to you but is connected to one or more of your 1st-degree connections. You can send an invitation to them by clicking the Connect button on their profile page, or by contacting them through InMail - a premium feature for paying members of LinkedIn. Unless you are a recruiter, I’d say the paid feature wouldn’t be of much value for fresh grads.
A 3rd-degree connection is someone who is connected to your 2nd-degree connections. There are two degrees of separation between you and your 3rd-degree connection.
·       If their first and last names are fully displayed, you can send them an invitation by simply clicking Connect.
·       If their first name and the first letter of their last name is displayed, you cannot Connect with them, just isn't an option due to their connection preferences. However, you can contact them through an InMail if you have LinkedIn Premium.
An icon next to their name in search results or on their profile indicates the type of connection you have with them.

Now, about fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups - These contacts are considered part of your network because you are both members of the same LinkedIn group (there are various groups you can join on LinkedIn ranging from college alumni to people of the same profession. Many of these groups are on an invite-only basis). The Highlights section of a member profile displays the group(s) you both are a part of and you can contact them by sending a message on LinkedIn or through the group.
LinkedIn Member (Out of Network) are those who fall outside the categories listed above. As always, you can contact these folks too through an InMail if you are a paying LinkedIn member. There is no option to filter and search specifically for members falling under this category.

Now as we know, building an effective network of connections is always helpful. For that, connect with everyone you know, now! Ensure you know them in some tangible manner, so it's not completely random, but given this is a professional network- not a social one – it can go beyond friends & family, to classmates, professors, peers, people you met in seminars and so on! If your connection is more of an acquaintance with a background that could match your interests, it may be worthwhile adding a note to your invitations. LinkedIn provides an option to include such a note in invitations (with a default message that’d be wise to customize before sending out).

As a student, you may know just 30-40 people and a handful of professionals in the working world. But don’t despair. You are on the right track as once these 30-40 contacts become your 1st-degree connections on LinkedIn, their network of connections opens up to you as 2nd-degree connections that you can now reach out to!

What does this mean for you? You have access to numerous connections with each of your 30 or so connections having their own set of connections which could be 1 or 30 or 40 or 100 or even 1000. Multiply that by 30, and that’s the field of contacts you have access to as they become your second-degree connections! And what’s more, these 2nd-degree connections, in turn, have each of their networks exposed to you as 3rd-degree connections. These connections can easily become 2nd degree if your original list of 2nd-degree connections accept your direct invite and become 1st-degree contacts. You see how this goes - connecting with people helps & your network is NOT as small as you think which is a wonderful reason to be excited :)

While going on a spree of connecting with the 2nd and the 3rd-degree connections to ask for jobs may be tempting, know that opening your network does not make it okay to simply send connection requests to your 2nd and 3rd-degree connections in hopes of a job. What you’d want to do, is strategically approaching them through your 1st-degree network! And here’s how.

Start by searching for open jobs. Simply search for jobs on the LinkedIn search bar using relevant keywords like you would with Google search. Add in the title, department, location etc. to narrow your search.  You can even set up regular alerts on LinkedIn for the jobs matching your filters.

Read and understand the job description of postings that interest you, and save them. You’ll see the shiny apply button, but don’t click that just yet.

• Look through the common connections you may have. LinkedIn automatically filters and shows any of your direct 1st degree connections, or your 2nd or 3rd-degree connection who works at the organization where this job is available. This is conveniently available right on the job description page, only to you.
• If there are some common connection(s) listed, send an invite to the most relevant connection listed on the job post, and ask if you can chat with them about the opening as you are interested in the job, and see if they would mind referring you to the role. If you know the person and are a connection, make the message personal. If the person is an acquaintance or a stranger, keep the message formal, courteous and actionable.

Remember, your odds of getting an interview if you just applying are 1 in 60, but if you know someone from that organization, the odds rise greatly to 1 in 6.

Hesitant to message 2nd or 3rd-degree connections? Don’t know them well enough, or just plain shy? Just see if any of your 1st-degree connections, who are connected to that relevant contact, can e-introduce you on LinkedIn messaging and you can take it from there!

The simple yet effective way to get closer to a job is just through writing and talking to the right people! It takes guts and efforts to talk to or approach people for help with a job. But if you can overcome that fear of approaching and simply asking people, LinkedIn is one of the best tools that make jobs and the right contacts visible to you and in turn, makes your profile visible to people that matter!

Hope you enjoyed and learned a bit about LinkedIn as a networking tool from the read! In our next blog, we will go even further and look into how you can ace telephone/video/lunch interviews! Stay tuned :)

"If you are facing the right direction, all you have to do is keep walking"

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Corporate Ready Test, Corpversity and its Related Ventures are Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wait! There is a "Hidden Job Market"?

          In our last blog, we familiarized ourselves on the ways you can network, how you can prepare for it and even busted some myths surrounding it. The next step, as promised earlier, is to unveil the "Hidden Job Market" and find out how networking can help you tap into it successfully.

Did you know, over half the jobs out in the market are not advertised, included in placement drives or shown on company websites? They are opportunities that are virtually unknown, and subsequently, highly untapped and are part of what is known as "The Hidden Job Market".

The Hidden Job Market has existed for long and came into being quite by accident. Let me explain. Let's say I am a manager of a fast-growing online payments firm. One of my engineers, Aarti, walks into my office and quits her job. It might either be that she’s going to pursue her Masters, or is moving cities for personal reasons. Whatever the reason, I am obligated to wish her well and send her on her way. What awaits me? The immediate concern of needing to replace this person, right?

Now, what I and millions of other decision makers do to address this concern is see if we can either:
  • Manage without this headcount for a bit and temporarily shift some work to other engineers who are looking to do more. OR
  • If everyone is strapped on bandwidth, move or shuffle people from related departments and provide training to get them up to speed. See if we can make the most of Aarti’s remaining time (thanks to the required notice period) at the job and have her full support in transitioning to those replacing her.
Rather than take the tedious and many-a-times expensive route of creating a job description, posting the role on job boards and sifting through numerous resumes, managers literally ask colleagues and contacts around them “Do you know someone who can fill Aarti's position?”

What does this mean for you? There are several opportunities out there that might fit you well but are not part of the postings you see. Don’t stick to job boards alone, expand your horizons and explore the market. But how can you get to know about these opportunities? That’s where the now-familiar networking comes into play. 

Let's say some months ago you networked with a contact, sharing your interests (roles/industries/nature of position) and past skills gained. Turns out your interests and skills largely match Aarti’s role. Also turns out, your contact is part of my team!! Who do you think the contact will think of when the manager asks "Do you know someone who can fill this position?' – You’re in luck!

As you can see, making yourself visible to people through networking can help you land a job that you may have never known of otherwise, or even had a chance at. There are tons of people who move positions every day, and their roles are taken care of without even touching the open market. Managers and directors look to their staff to help fill these positions in many cases. And like it or not, it comes down to who knows who at the right place, at the right time. Companies prefer and even pay employees a referral bonus if their lead converts, to encourage referrals! There are several reasons companies opt for this method:
  • It is cheaper: It takes surprising amounts of resources and money to go through job boards, review, narrow down and select the right candidate.
  • It is quicker: Job boards require procedures and several rounds of interview to whet the person that’s not required when it’s a referral. Referrals are assumed to have a certain level of fit and competency thanks to the employee knowing the candidate.
  • It is less hassle i.e. you get a few good leads that are trusted vs. say 1000 applications which take time/effort to go through, it makes for a much simpler process.
  • The lead is trusted as it is a recommendation from an employee. Workplaces trust and believe employees know the company well enough to pre-asses a referral before recommending them for a position, effectively associating their own reputation with that of the candidate’s.

If I don’t get good recommendations from my colleague, I’d tap into the industry boards, councils, even friends & neighbors in search of a good candidate. And as you can see, if you and your work/career interests are known and like in these circles, you could be recommended by someone from the network of contacts and so it goes!

If nothing works & I still turn up empty, I’d consider putting out the word to websites/ recruitment agencies etc. This is not to say it's rare, in fact, more hiring managers and recruiters are using online boards and websites to look for talent, but referral and word of mouth it’s still largely considered the best and is the most prevalent method of finding the right, trusted candidate for roles in the “Hidden Job Market”.

Now that you know how things work within a company’s hiring process, you know better than to ignore networking.

Hope you enjoyed this read! In our next blog, we will look into how useful a tool LinkedIn can be! Stay tuned :)

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” 
― Madonna

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Corporate Ready Test, Corpversity, and its Related Ventures are Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

So, what's all the fuss about networking?

          As you near graduation, you start to get advice on how best to get closer to your dream job – and an often repeated one is "networking". Your peers talk about it, your professors urge you to get into it, you also see it written about online as the way to go to be shiny and successful. But many are still left confused on what you need to do and even intimidated by going about networking successfully. In the next 3 blogs, we will break this concept down into actionable and digestible bits and tackle the following broad queries:
  • What is networking?
  • What’s not networking?
  • What does it help you achieve?
  • Where can you network?
  • How can you prep for it?
  • What’s the Hidden Job Market?
  • How do I get started? - Good stuff about LinkedIn!

We will also share simple exercises so you can convert your thoughts and learnings into action! Let's dive in :)


Many students I met find it easier to simply visit company websites, apply online and send in their resume. Why bother networking? It’s is a lot of work and besides, you’re not really a people person.

While there’s nothing wrong with looking for opportunities online, the pack may be moving ahead leaving you behind. Given the stats, you stand a 1 in 60 chance to land an interview, and that’s just the first step of the process. With networking, if done well, the odds are significantly greater at 1 in 6. Besides, with networking, you end up making a possibly lasting, personal impression and even tapping the hidden job market (details in our next blog!)

So, what is Networking?
Networking may be a new age concept, but it follows the ever-true idea of making yourself visible and having memorable interactions with people you come across in everyday situations to achieve a certain objective or just form a working relationship. It is more relevant than ever in today’s world.

Why do people do it?
To break an age-old myth off the bat- Getting a job is just ONE of the many reasons/objectives people network! Wondering what the other reasons are? Some of them may surprise you. People network to:

  • Learn about new jobs/fields/industries and be in the know, and make informed, smart decisions about their careers when the time comes
  • Seek guidance from seasoned contacts about their industry/field/job based on their experience
  • Learn more about opportunities to target or shortlist jobs/companies based on industry experts
  • Get introduced to their extended contacts to in turn connect with them for either a job opportunity/referral or general advice
  • Seek references and recommendations
  • Ask general advice and discuss one's success stories
  • Increase visibility and presence in the interested field’s community, to be thought of for future opportunities the contact may come across
  • Help out others by paying it forward and spreading the expertise gained from networking
  • Talk about potential business ideas and find potential start-up partners /investors /mentors or stakeholders in a different capacity
  • Seek business funding passively or actively
  • Get help in finding the right talent for an opportunity, in recruitment and hiring (It works the other way too!)
  • Raise donations for a certain cause
  • Simply get to know more people, increase the circle of contacts who can be tapped and have great conversations :)

To place this in a broad framework, networking is simply connecting and talking with people formally, informally or sometimes impromptu, most often within your industry or interested domains and usually outside your closest circle of friends, family and colleagues.

What does networking look like?
Many assume that networking usually involves making yourself visible and successfully conversing in one of those intimidating formal events where you are thrown in a banquet hall full of groomed and uptight professionals, all holding wine and snackables (known to regulars as “networking food”), waiting for you to ask them for a job. That assumption is not only untrue in most networking situations, but can be dangerous for your nerves if you see it in such light.

While formal events are most commonly categorized as “networking events” meant specifically for this purpose (and I promise, is milder & friendlier than the intimidation-hall style many imagine;)), networking can happen in a variety of situations, many of which you may have not even realized. Here are examples of how networking could look for students:
  • Connecting with a guest lecturer at your college after their talk to ask questions, share your takeaways etc. This is a great networking opportunity to make yourself visible. Down the line you may even be applying for a job in their company, you never know!
  • A college fest where you connect with like-minded people over a project and voila, your bright minds may end up collaborating on a start-up idea!
  • You bump into a college alumnus who works in the company (you maybe aspiring to get into). Seize the opportunity (if they have the time/are up for the chat) to explore her/his knowledge on upcoming opportunities, their thoughts on working for the company, how they made it there etc. If all goes well, they may even turn out to recommend you in the coming months! Having said that, be conscious of their time and energy.
  • A more obvious one is when you attempt to get in touch with a hiring manager to discuss a job opening in his team/department. Ensure you have your queries ready and treat it like an interview.
  • A bold attempt to identify real business efficiencies and present your solution to your dream company. For all you know, they may invite you for a chat and things could work out.
  • A request to your professors/family/friends/neighbors/family of friends seeking contacts in a particular field/industry where you aim to get in touch with those contacts for a job (or) for general discussion and advice. The contact could as well be in your circle already.

What is it Not?
Networking does not have to be a switch that needs to be turned on at a specific time and place, it is can simply be the art of having smart, interesting conversations effortlessly, anywhere and anytime two people get into a conversation. Yes anywhere. Because you can sometimes find yourself in the middle of situations where you maybe get to sit next to someone you always wanted to work with on a flight, you get stuck in an elevator with a CEO you admire or your neighbor turns out to be an industry guru capable of mentoring you on your career path!

I’d like to think of networking as a bit like dating (please don't take this literally and start hitting on your contacts!). You don’t want to come off too forceful, forward or blunt. Nor do you want to fake it just so you can get what you need and move on. What it definitely is NOT is blatantly asking for “So…umm… I want a job”, "Can you get me a job". It’s okay to want a job, but be aware of how you come across to the contact: desperate? overbearing? You want to ensure the contact is comfortable with you.
I’d avoid  “So I am looking, let me know if you have anything open” or “Any job will do”. The question is so open ended, they might not know what you want/where to being and might even wonder if you lack focus or interest in a particular field (is it just about the money?) Without a starting point, people may tell you "I will for sure" but they will forget thanks to the ambiguity.


Networking is a lot of work but the results are sweet. Preparing for a networking situation need not be as complex as many believe. You simply need to:
  • Be aware of yourself, your behavior, actions and what you are capable of.
  • Always have a few good stories on your abilities at the ready (Keep STAR in mind, only here your content will be conversational rather than structured for a resume)
The 1st two will especially come in handy in your impromptu situations.
  • If you are aware of an upcoming networking situation, you’ve got time to prep: think of what you definitively want out of the meeting/session/event. Are you seeking some funding? Connections/referral for a job? A co-founder? Some great hires? Remember, no one likes vague requests or statements like "so…umm… I want a job" or "I am not sure what I want to do in life". Save this for your next chat with your best friend. Be polite, mindful and pace yourself as you ease into the conversation. Give your full, undivided attention to the answer and the person. Everyone appreciates being listened to and what’s more, flattered to be asked for advice/help/expertise.
  • Provide the required context if you are leading up to a question.
  • If you are informal networking situations, make sure you are on time and carry a pen and a notepad to take notes of names. If you have business cards (many MBA programs encourage that), take them with you! No laptops, no resumes, no business plans. Remember to keep it light and simple in the first meeting. Your brain should do all the talking here :)
  • Whether formal or impromptu, be thankful to the person for their time and always write back afterward with your appreciation for their advice, and anything you found positive about the conversation. This is key to good networking. Not only to be gracious but to continue your correspondence and follow up on your conversation/requirement and next steps!

To network successfully, getting over the initial fear is vital. Practice a few of your stories facing the mirror or with a friend, have a positive attitude and a calm, relaxed and focused mind while networking. And there you are, all that’s left is to simply go for it. 

What is the worst that could happen? You could get ignored, they could directly say no or your conversation flops. So what? No love lost, and you’ll learn and do it better the next time ;) What's the best that could happen? You could gain some valuable advice, make lasting contacts, meet your future business partner, bag your dream job and so much more! The sky is the limit.

Go get ‘em. And remember to enjoy yourself out there.

Hope you enjoyed reading and learned something new :) In my upcoming blogs, we discuss the virtues of the "the hidden job market", meandering LinkedIn and more. We are also working on continuing with the video series for you soon! In the meanwhile:

Prepare yourself for networking by:
  • Thinking of ONE objective you want to achieve (a job, advice, connections, mentor, funding etc.) and write down the specifics. If it is a job - What, which industry, which title, when, what location (multiple?) etc. Be aware of what you want.
  • Prepare a few stories to highlight who you are and how you bring values you’ve picked up. Write this in bullets or on note cards. It will help ;)
  • Think of the ways you can network to reach your goal. Make a list of people/events/situations that have the potential to get you a step closer to your objective (College event, professors, online research etc.) with a specific timeline. While you cannot control impromptu meets, you can plan the rest :)
  • Have a handy Thank you email ready for use after every networking attempt. Definitely customize the message based on how the conversations went, avoid sending the same content to everyone. You may be seen as insincere if they see the same message being sent to another contact.
  • Invest in a good pen/pocket diary.
  • Wondering about your attire? If it is a formal event, follow the given dress code. If informal (or) self-initiated (coffee/lunch/catch up), dress smart. A casual coffee chat may not require a suit-and–tie, but a formal event might.

With that, you are set to start networking!

Write to us about your experience at We would love to hear from you!

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” 

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Corporate Ready Test, Corpversity and its Related Ventures are Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Stop being so humble in interviews! Use "I" NOT "We"

          After reading the headline, you must be wondering "isn't that counter-intuitive?", "Shouldn't I use - we - to give people/my team due credit for their contributions?"

The underlying issue is not about giving people credit but is about MASKING what YOU contributed to a certain project, assignment, talk, code, launch, solution etc.

I've interviewed multiple candidates over the years and I notice everyone abuses "We". People use it far too often while describing their work. That nullifies the impact of their contribution and starts to hurt their credibility.

How? When you are interviewing, the job is for you and not your team/peers, right? So shouldn't the answer also focus on your contribution to a work situation & not what "We" did?

The interviewer is only interested in one thing - What did you do to succeed (or even fail, it does not matter) on your team? What did you contribute to the company you worked for/college you studied at? What skills you applied to get the overall results?

It is true, anything you do involves team effort & achievements are mostly collective. But while statements like:
  • We worked on project A breaking a new revenue record in 2015 (or)
  • We launched this new website that got the 10th best traffic in the country etc.
…sound great, you don't realize the person interviewing you:
a) already knows it is a joint effort (else what you did is superhuman and she/he will probe more anyway)
b) really wants to know if you contributed at all to that massive launch or the successful revenue record or that groundbreaking code.

Of course, if you continue your humble trend, you not only are giving the interviewer scarce information to make good decisions but are also leading the interviewer to wonder if you actually did things that matter or are just riding on someone else's collective success.

The solution is NOT to start adding "I" to everything and taking credit from people who did the work but thinking of your part of the work you want to talk about.

Flipping the above example:

Instead of saying the humble yet hurting "We worked on project A breaking a new revenue record in 2015" or stealing credit from a team effort saying "I worked on project A breaking a new revenue record in 2015", you can reflect on what you did and maybe say "I worked on pre-sales presentation for Project A that broke a new revenue record in 2015" which showcases your specific contribution i.e. building pre-sales material!

Pro Tip: When preparing for interviews,
A) Thoroughly read through job descriptions and ensure you know what skills you need to get that job. Example a sales job in Company X mentions you require: Pre-sales, cold calling, presentation skills and deal closing experience to be successful. Be aware of these skills and keep that list handy!
B) Now, list all achievements you have had in your previous work/internship/study experience. It could be team achievements (or) at times even solo performances!
C) Separate the "I or Yourself" from these achievements. See where all you did pre-sales (or) cold calling (or) a successful presentation etc. and build stories accordingly. Use the famous S.T.A.R. technique to polish your stories!

Your team may have crushed revenue every quarter, but only what you did matters for the interviewer!

Remember, do not steal credit, but give yourself credit where it is due. Otherwise, you will come across as a person who was at the right place at the right time.

If you've earned it, proudly say:
I launched
I did
I built
I sold
I crushed!

Hope you enjoyed MY write up ;) In the upcoming blogs, you will get a mix of some interesting business networking tips. We will also shortly continue with the video series! In the meanwhile:

Are you guilty of meaninglessly sprinkling "we" in your interviews? Have you been trying hard to come across as humble only to hurt your credibility?

If yes, it's time to shift gears to the not-so-humble "I". In your next interview/interview-practice use "I" and passively observe your:
  • answer delivery,
  • reaction from interviewer/observer,
  • confidence.

Write to us about your new experience at We would love to hear from you and further add pointers!

“Do your best, and be a little better than you are.” 

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Corporate Ready Test, Corpversity and its Related Ventures are Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Top productivity tools/techniques & other neat stuff

      Do you want to break free from the shackles of procrastination? Or, are you just looking to make your life more efficient? Check out our rapid-fire YouTube playlist and build your edge!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Your resume needs its buddies! Learn more about Cover letters & Reference Letters

            The last few blogs geared you up to build an impactful resume with the right format. In this edition, we get into complementary documents that go with your resume - Cover Letters & Reference Sheets, with which your application will be well-rounded! After all, your resume needs its buddies ;)


Providing the recruiter with your resume alone is like skipping the "Details" section on your online profile in terms of background context! Though it’s not mandatory for many companies, including a cover letter provides the recruiter with the right context, your network, and reasons to join the firm, helping your chances of getting an interview.

How can I create an effective cover letter?
A cover letter is a great way to provide your hiring manager with insights on your additional information as to why you are a great match for the open position and the efforts you have taken to get to know the position (e.g. networked with their employees). It is a fluent way of communicating information usually shared in the interview, ahead of time. Thoughts about:
  • Why are you interested in the position? Have you taken efforts to learn more about the role?
  • How does the company fit into your current career path?
  • Any company values that resonate with you, your views and ideals?
  • What specific values have you learnt and how does that add to the company?

How is a cover letter different from a resume?
There are some key differences between a cover letter and your resume. The resume states facts - about you, your achievements, details of positions and qualifications held, experience timeline etc. A cover letter, on the other hand, helps communicate information that is more subjective in nature with actions you may have taken to go above and beyond for this specific role. It’s an opportunity to explain why you are a fit for the role at hand. The information in the cover letter goes hand in hand with facts from your resume, in a way the documents complement each other and strengthen your brand.

Note that while the information on both corroborates each other, it does not mean duplication. While we strongly encourage you to weave a consistent story across your resume & cover letter, it does not reflect well to simply restate accomplishments, qualifications or any other facts from your resume verbatim, one is not a backup or substitute for another. The best practice is to create tailored content for the document you are creating. Keep in mind, resumes are the primary document that the recruiter will absolutely expect to see, followed by the cover letter.

Cover Letter Format (Spacing is key):

Pre-Cover letter Homework: Please do your due diligence and research about the company, the recruiter/hiring manager you are writing to and the role to help you draft a customized, relatable letter!


Para 1: Briefly introduce yourself and explain the purpose of this letter. Make it interesting & unique so it will capture their attention! Showcase your awareness of the reader's company & mention any touchpoints that have led you to this application
Para 2 (and 3 if needed): Briefly describe the top reasons you’d be uniquely qualified and fit for the role. Consider your relatability to the company’s culture etc. 
Para 4: What’s next? Based on what you are looking for next, request for a catch-up, a call, pre-screening or an interview. Appreciate their time and consideration and express your excitement in moving forward.

Full Name

Sending it over an email: There are several ways in which a cover letter can be shared- In person (a long lost method), send it over a post, including it in an online application form, attached to your email, include it in your email body?  While sharing physical copies in-person or over a post is no longer practiced, it ultimately depends on several aspects. When it comes down to it, I recommend adding it in the body of the email. It cuts down on the need for the recruiter to download the attachment to open & read another document, especially given the flood of applicants they usually sift through. You can attach the cover letter mirroring the email body in pdf format onto the email for their convenience (some companies may need to save a copy of all your documents offline). If you do this, please convey the reasoning to keep them informed.

However, they may request you to attach the cover letter. In this case, do not include the same content from the letter on the body of the email. Keep the email short, with a few lines including who you are, the position you have applied for, attachments enclosed (i.e. your resume, cover letter etc.) and a line conveying your excitement and appreciation for their time (taken to review your email & related contents).

Further crucial points:
  • Ultimately, the hiring company's specifications trump all best practices. If they specifically request you to attach your Cover Letter, attach it. If they instruct you to share only a resume, do so accordingly. If a cover letter is optional, it’s always best to include one to err on the side of caution, covering all your basis.
  • To address your cover letter: Make a valiant effort to search for the most relevant recruiter/hiring manager to include. If you cannot, your last resort can be 'Dear Hiring Manager'. Avoid generic phrases like 'Dear sir' or 'to whom it may concern'.
  • The cover letter is not about 'me', 'me', 'me'. It's about skills that you bring to the table that can add to the company and make an impact to the organization. While you can mention what you may want to gain out of your employment experience, don’t make it your focus.
  • Keep it to less than a standard A4 page.

Adhere to the above and you are golden. Now moving on to the other supporting document: Letter of references. 


References go without saying, are an important part of your application. But including them as a part of your resume eats up valuable space and lengthens the resume. Moreover, it disrespects the implied privacy of the referrer as you invariably share your resume with several companies, and have it accessible to anyone on job portals. For this and many other reasons as mentioned in our previous blogs, it is best to share a dedicated document listing your references.

Key best practices:
  • Number of referees: A best practice is to have one or two referees for each stage of your professional life- be it college, a project (fests, dissertations), team (cabinet, editorial, camp) or professional experience (one or two for each role held). Keep it to 1 page
  • Type of Referees: List relevant people who have worked closely with you who can genuinely vouch for your skills. Avoid extremely high-level contacts (included just for their title) and personal contacts (uncle or parents). Remember, quantity does not trump quality.
  • Permission: Request your referees for permission to include them and discuss your job search, resume & skills with your prospective referees in advance. This is to ensure they are comfortable with you disclosing their contact details as well as endorsing you.
  • Carry a few copies of the list to your interviews for good measure and provide it if asked for during the interview process.

Reference Sheet format: Include basic details of your potential referees on a sheet of A4 -

Your Name (Bigger Font)
Your Address, Phone No. E Mail ID

References (Bigger font/Bold)

Contact 1, Title of Contact 1
Company where Contact 1 works now
Relationship with Contact 1 e.g. Manager, Peer, Customer, Supplier etc.
Phone Number
Email ID
Notes: e.g. Best way (phone/email etc.) and time (after 6pm etc.) to reach them.
… and so on for a few more contacts!  

With this blog, we come to the end of the resume series. Congrats on getting through! You have armed yourself with information and best practices on resumes & their buddies!! Stay tuned for our next set of blogs on practical use cases of Microsoft tools and business-related computing to make your life easy. In the meanwhile:

Leverage this blog and build your cover letter & references sheet! Feel like procrastinating? Snap back & just do it by knowing that you can truly set yourself apart from the rest with a well-crafted cover letter and genuine references. Share the completed sheets with us at to have it evaluated and get additional suggestions. And now, take a breather, because you’re indeed prepared with the complete package to score an interview!

Still stuck at the resume? Not to worry! Please visit and get your complete resume scanned, all for a nominal price!

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” - Albert Einstein

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Corporate Ready Test, Corpversity and its Related Ventures are Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved.