02 Jan 2016 19:26 IST

As yet another New Year rolls in…

…focus on building talent, plan for a career, assess the reality and hope for the best

At the outset, wish you a very Happy New Year and hope that this year is filled with positive moments.

So, what will 2016 be like is a question that crops up now, especially with regard to management students and fresh MBA graduates. This is usually in the context of whether placements would be better, salaries higher and so on.

The economic trends seems to be positive and several factors like the Make In India initiative, the e-commerce boom, and the overall stability in the economy are the reasons for this upbeat sentiment. Depending on what report you are reading, 40-80 per cent of companies are expected to hire. Salary hikes are expected to be in the range of 10-15 per cent on an average and even up to 30 per cent for top performers. However, this might not translate into a higher pay packet for fresh hires.

Retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, supply-chain and logistics and related service sectors are expected to grow and would require talent. One important perspective that has to be kept in mind is that all of this involves a lot of hope.

Expectations vs Reality

Reality might be very different. A recent example is of what happened in 2008. Towards the end of 2007 there was lot of hope and expectations that 2008 will be better. However, by March 2008 the stock markets had dropped, sentiment was collapsing and there was panic. This reference would help us remember that all these futuristic crystal gazing has a high element of hope built into it.

The reality of 2008 and the subsequent years were as follows:

Businesses slowed down and a few even had to shut down. Even then well-managed businesses did not shut down nor did they slow down as badly as others. Some of the businesses actually grew during this period, which only validates the reality that most businesses are cyclical.

Talent matters

Good talent had no trouble getting jobs or being placed. The average salary for fresher’s ranged from four-five lakh as compared to the current average of approximately nine lakh. This increase is largely due to inflation and an overall raise in compensation levels.

Therefore the fact is that talent will always find takers, even during tough times. So, the focus should be on becoming such a talent which has value and will be in demand. Apart from the academic degree — in fact more than a degree — organisations expect good talent to have a few skills. These include interpersonal skills, communication skills, being open to learning and doing it fast.

Plan ahead

My personal view is that one should not bother about the forecasts for the coming year and instead work on the set of skills which will always have value. Do a SWOT for yourself and identify your weak areas. Have a plan for 2016 during which these weaknesses can be overcome and can either become your strength or at least minimised. Identify the areas that offer opportunities which you can leverage and prepare a plan for 2016 to pursue such opportunities.

Keep in mind that a career stretches for 25-30 years. One year out of that is marginal and don’t break your head too much about what might happen in 2016. Career is not a 100-m dash, it is a marathon. If the year turns out to be positive, leverage all the opportunities and keep going.

Regardless, continue to hope that 2016 will be an awesome year and that positive thought will definitely add weight to all your efforts.

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