Complementing Domain Skills with Domain Expertise

A Must for Students

The intense competition that people face in life in their academic pursuits and professions makes it essential that they are a step ahead to forge ahead. This is easier said than done and involves planning and action from an early stage in life. It is debatable whether people who guide and mentor students and young professionals have shaken off conventional beliefs on how to prepare them for the rigours and challenges they will face in life, be it their professional life or their personality. It takes generations to get rid of beliefs and practices that are firmly entrenched in human minds. Under these conditions, suitable interventions to correct course become important.

If you agree with this analysis it is easy for you to see why our students who graduate by the thousands every year are unprepared for decent employment. It is true that certain sectors may be facing a glut as far as availability of positions is concerned. That apart, would they be ready, if jobs were available. The stark reality is obvious when we consider and realize the fact that the overwhelming majority of engineering graduates are not “employable” when that come out of universities and colleges. If we analyses the reasons dispassionately we will come to the conclusion that one of the main reasons for this unfortunate state of affairs is their inability to project themselves as a “complete” candidate, when it relates to job interviews and campus placement efforts. Academicians should accept the fact that domain knowledge is only half the story. The other half deals with behaviour, etiquette and communication, to name only a few. They should also accept that professional trainers who know the requirements of corporates are better suited to train students in such soft skills.

“Soft skills” is a generic term covering a wide range of traits that pertain to how we come across as a professional who can function effectively in an atmosphere that is commonly found in workplaces and business interactions. It is difficult to list out all these since they are many in number. For the purposes of this paper and to get the message across, let us discuss the relevance of some of the most important of them, like:

·         Communication: Written and oral communication, presentation skills and listening skills
·         Work Ethic: being on time, self-motivation, willingness to work, showing initiative
·         Etiquette: Manners, using words like “thank you” and “please”
·         Integrity: Honesty, owning up, taking responsibility, showing high morals
·         Professionalism: Business-like, well dressed, poised

·         Teamwork qualities: Getting along with others, putting team’s and company’s interests above individual’s
·         Compliance: Adhering to compliance requirements of the organization

These are only a few of the soft skills professionals should practise and imbibe to enhance one’s image and people’s perception of them. It goes without saying that communicating well in the company of colleagues, without being tongue tied and the ability to speak to a qualified group without “stage fright” is very important as is the ability to listen and understand the other point of view and respect it, even if you don’t agree with it. Professionalism, following and displaying a work ethic and adherence to compliance requirements are essentials for people to like working with you. Etiquette shows the world he quality of your grooming. Teamwork is essential for efficient operations, where working for oneself can be disastrous and counterproductive. Finally, a person is known and respected for his honesty, integrity and his courage to own up his mistakes and failings and learn from them.

Some of these traits come partly with one’s upbringing, but they must be fine-tuned and complemented by others, which have to be imparted with professional coaching early in one’s life and career for it to be lasting and to aid development of an individual.

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