Why it’s a must to have a mentor today

Why it’s a must to have a mentor today

What do Bill Gates, Christian Dior, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They were all mentees at one point in their life; a fact they credited for their success.

The mentor-mentee relationship is one that has stood the test of time at the workplace. The mentor guides, gives advice and supports the mentee, helping hone his or her abilities and skills. Much like the guru-shishya relationship, which has always been a part of Indian culture.

Here’s why you need to work at getting yourself a mentor:

S/he offers a wealth and range of experience

US politician John C. Crosby got it right: “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” A seasoned mentor has seen more of the world – and the market – than you have. Bolstering your experience with theirs can help you work more smartly, thinking in ways that never occurred to you earlier. Their wealth of knowledge can get you up to speed faster and shorten the learning curve.

They’ll get you past starting trouble

Dreams are a dime a dozen, but we often worry about converting them into goals. Life coach and speaker Dan Gheesling admits that whatever it is “that you want to accomplish in life, a mentor is going to kick start you on the path to achieve it”. A mentor can provide a spark to push you to take that first step.

S/he can stimulate personal and professional growth

Having been there, done that, mentors work as disciplinarians who create necessary boundaries that you can’t set for your own self. Leadership expert and author John C. Maxwell believes one of the greatest values of mentors “is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination”. A good mentor can help set your priorities, sharpen your focus, solidify your work ethic and nurture personal growth.

They offer encouragement and guide you along the path

Oprah Winfrey famously said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” The presence of a mentor makes it tougher for you to “cave in”, physically and emotionally. They function as cheerleaders and soundboards, offering hope and support when things don’t seem to be going according to plan.

They can observe and tell where you need to improve

Unless someone tells you brutally about your problem areas and weaknesses, chances are you won’t even acknowledge them, forget working on them. Celebrated filmmaker George Lucas once said, “Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults that we would like. It’s the only way we grow.”

A mentor can open the door to networks you can’t easily access

Bring connected, within and outside your organisation, is critical to achieving success and ensuring growth. Building and nurturing relationships for work isn’t easy, but a seasoned mentor often has built connections and can help you make the most of their hard-won networks.

A mentor is a free and priceless resource for life

A mentoring relationship typically grows in an organic manner through connections within your industry and networks. A mentor is not in it for the money and when you get one, s/he is yours for life. You may move up and on, but your mentor will always be looking out for you and offering insights beyond your knowledge.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.


What your dog’s breed says about your work personality

What your dog’s breed says about your work personality

If you can’t do without Bruno or Rover, you aren’t alone. No wonder that plenty of companies and start-ups are allowing employees to bring their pets to work. The list of pet-friendly offices worldwide includes Google, Etsy and Ben & Jerry’s. The trend is catching on in India too, with start-ups such as InMobi, Chumbak and DriveU allowing pets into the office.

It’s a fact that four-legged Fido can do a lot of good to the office environment. A study by Virginia Commonwealth University, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, revealed that people who bring their dogs into the workplace are less stressed, and that sense of job satisfaction extends to people who come into contact with the pet. Over time, this can reduce employee absenteeism, low morale and burnout.

But what do you do if your workplace hasn’t jumped on to the pet-friendly bandwagon? Wait for June 23, Bring Your Dog to Work Day, when you can happily take your furry friend to your cubicle. This day, created by Pet Sitters International, was first celebrated in 1999 and celebrates the companionship dogs provide to promote adoptions from local shelters, rescue groups and humane societies.

Most often than not, people often have a favourite breed, which they end up bringing home. Continued research has shown that pet owners often share their dogs’ personalities. A study at Bath Spa University in the United Kingdom has revealed that you can read a person’s personality from their dog and that “certain personality types are subconsciously drawn to certain breeds”.

So as you prep your pooch for his day at work, do you know what your dog’s breed is saying about you and your style of working?

Sporting Dogs
Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Spaniels

Sporting dogs are the most common types of dogs people choose to bring home. Those who like them tend to be friendly, agreeable, gentle, easy to please and high spirited.

At work: You’re intelligent, hard working and serious about work but also enjoy playing the fool. Confrontation is not your thing.

Herding Dogs
German Shepherds, Collies and Sheepdogs

People who pick herding dogs tend to be extroverted. They’re confident, courageous, balanced, able to work a crowd easily and ready to lend a helping hand.

At work: You’re fearless, but not looking for trouble. Eager and alert, you’re extremely outgoing.

Hound Dogs
Beagles, Greyhounds, Bassett Hounds, Dachshunds

If you ain’t nothing but a hound dog, that’s good news. Hound dog owners tend to be emotionally more stable. They are calm, committed, consistent, and have a reasonable degree of self-esteem.

At work: Deadlines and other stresses fail to ruffle you and you go about things proactively. That’s why people often turn to you during crisis for your take.

Toy Dogs
Chihuahuas, Poodles and Pugs

Chihuahuas popping out of the purses of starlets have given toy dogs a bad name. Fact is that people who own toy dogs are more likely to be intelligent, creative and conscientious.

At work: You’re agreeable, spunky, open to new experiences and more likely to be an out-of-the-box thinker. Your even temper and vivacious personality makes you a crowd pleaser.

Utility Dogs
Dalmatians and Bulldogs

People with utility dogs tend to be extroverted and extra conscientious – they’ll always be willing to go the extra mile. They have gentle dispositions, and tend to be calm, friendly and dignified.

At work: You are equable and resolute, even when facing a mountain of files. Your easy-going nature and deadline-oriented nature makes you a team favourite.

Working Dogs
Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes and Rottweilers

Taking care of huge, strong dogs needs an intelligent and sharp mind. So people living with working dogs tend to be agreeable, composed, energetic, quick and extremely active.

At work: You enjoy challenges, physical and mental, and tend to be a speedy worker. You have an even temperament, and are alert and extremely loyal.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.


5 ways an advanced degree can help push forward your career

5 ways an advanced degree can help push forward your career

Benjamin Franklin famously said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

The correlation between a good education and career advancement is no secret. And now there’s more evidence backing the advantages of an advanced degree.

According to the recently released Monster Salary Index, higher education, especially a master’s degree, provides a significant wage advantage in India. “On average, employees holding a bachelor’s degree earn Rs 173.7 less per hour (45.4%) than employees with master’s degree. Employees with secondary education earn even less, exactly Rs 262.8 less per hour (69.2%),” the report specifies.

In previous years 2014 and 2015, the difference between secondary education and master’s degree employee was around 61%.

Being a continuous learner, be it by acquiring certifications, earning diplomas, degrees or an executive education, adds immense value to you and your career.

We list down 5 ways an advanced degree can help push forward your career:

  1. It gives your resume a significant edge

The global job marketplace is increasingly competitive, and an advanced degree can make you stand out amid the sea of job applicants. Plenty of positions are available for those without advanced degrees, but employers tend to welcome the technical, transferable and vocational skills gained through higher education.

  1. It improves your chances of career advancement

All employed individuals stand a good chance of career advancement if they work hard, are consistent and show results. However, umpteen times, those who hold advanced degrees tend to get offered newer responsibilities – and consequently promotions – before others on the team.

  1. It helps you grow your professional network

Grad and post-grad schools emphasis connecting with people professionally. The courses expose you to a network of people who are successful in their fields. Some faculty members also have industry experience along with teaching credentials. Internships, part and parcel of most advanced courses, offer the chance to tap into an extensive network.

  1. It can lead the way to new job opportunities

Expanding and specialising your knowledge helps you develop expertise and is the perfect way to open up new job opportunities. So a master’s degree in math could lead you to banking, finance or a teaching career while a master’s degree in architecture could help you focus on town planning, landscape design or construction design. A master’s degree gives you versatility in your professional life, makes you more marketable and increases the possibility of a career change.

  1. It can translate into greater earning potential

Money isn’t everything, but it is a major factor in career and personal decisions. Earning an advanced degree may up your earning potential significantly, especially in certain sectors. You are more likely to achieve a higher rate of pay and a better position as you are seen as a low-risk, high-yield employee. Employers are much more likely to offer you a higher position when you start, translating into an increased salary from the beginning.

Other payoffs of an advanced degree program include a sense of accomplishment, and increased respect and credibility among colleagues and employers.

Clearly, an advanced degree is a very good idea – for you, your career and your bank account. Even if you can’t afford to take a break or wait to head into the workforce, there’s a way out. Studying while working full-time is a possibility; all you need is commitment.

Keen to further your career with new courses and certifications? Click here to get started.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.



How will GST affect your salary and benefits?

How will GST affect your salary and benefits?

The government may have billed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as a game-changer, but many employees are worried about how this tax will change the benefits game for them. GST has subsumed most indirect taxes such as VAT, service tax, octroi, luxury tax, special additional duty (SAD) and central sales tax levied by Centre and states.

The switchover puts goods and services, barring a few such as petroleum and alcohol, under a four-tier tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28% besides applicable cess.

But how does the GST rollout actually affect employees?

In a study on employer-employee transactions under the new tax regime, consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said GST would be payable if the cash value of gifts provided to an employee during a financial year exceeds Rs 50,000. The term ‘gift’ has not been clarified under GST law. However, it is said to be a sum “made without consideration, is voluntary and is made occasionally”.

But what about the other perks and benefits that employees receive? We give you the lowdown on what will come under the GST ambit and what won’t:

Housing: GST will not be applicable if free housing for the employee is mentioned in the terms of the contract between the employer and employee and is a part of the cost-to-company (C2C).


Meals: There isn’t such thing as a free lunch, but top companies often offer their employees meals at a subsidised rate. GST will not be applicable if the caterer supplies food directly to employees, and an invoice (subsidised) is raised to the company. However, this needs an agreement to this effect to be signed between the company and the caterer.


Cab service: It’s common to provide cab pick-ups-and-drop offs or at least drops if employees work late shifts. However, this will also invite GST under the new regime. Cab facility is a related party transaction and the employee is not eligible to claim input tax credit.


Vehicles: Cars for official and personal use are often given to senior staff. Employers will have no GST liability in this case as it is not considered a “supply” under the new tax regime. Cars leased by the company from a dealer and given to employees will also be exempt from GST.


Garage Sale: If your company is selling off old laptops at throwaway prices, think twice before you pick one up. The sale of used laptops /printers/office supplies comes under the ambit of GST. “Used laptops are given by the company to employees on FoC (Full Operational Capability) basis or at subsidized value. Such transactions would be treated as supply and accordingly, liable to GST,” the PwC analysis said.


Health check-ups: Corporates often provide an annual health checkup facility to employees, but this will not have any GST liability since there is no underlying “supply” per se by the company.


Other benefits: Perks that are part of the offer letter such as cash allowance given to staff on successful reference (up to Rs 50,000), mobile handsets, long service awards, employee welfare schemes, off-sites/town halls, relocation benefits, temporary accommodation and free gym services will be out of GST net.


Some things may be clear, but many remain ambiguous at this stage. Over the year, HR departments will need to work with employees and the higher management to figure out how to deal with this evolving complex reality.

Keep more of your money in your pocket by using various tax saving strategies during the year. Find expert advice here.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.

How do you create a Plan B for your career?

How do you create a Plan B for your career?


Jobs may have been a long-term proposition once, but the modern workplace has upended that. Be it corporate changes, poor financial performance or changing work practices, jobs and consequently careers have come under the chopping block. For instance, India’s multibillion-dollar information technology industry is bracing for challenging times with the onset of automation and visa rule changes in a key market like the US. Downsizing has been rampant this year, with both startups and corporates giving staff pink slips.

Anne Kreamer, author of Risk/Reward, which deals with navigating the chaotic work climate, says: “There is zero loyalty or security.” Clearly, the only certainty in the working world is uncertainty.

But there’s no need to despair if your Plan A didn’t work. After all, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet. All you need to do is have a back-up plan handy. We tell you how you can keep working on Plan B so that it’s ready to go at all times.

  1. Update your resume and social media

Rejigging your resume seems like a waste of time when you’re in a job that you’re enjoying, but crisis has a habit of sneaking up on you and it’s important to be prepared. Make things easier on yourself by updating your accomplishments and skills every quarter. A “brag” folder in your inbox is perfect for storing super client/boss feedback for when you may need it. Repost the updated CV on job sites and also make relevant changes on social media sites.

  1. Keep working on your network

Everyone knows that the key to career success lies in networking. It doesn’t do to become complacent if you’re not in the market for a job; a superb network is a dealmaker for Plan B. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford professor of organizational behaviour, in his ebook writes that networking is “crucial for getting things accomplished”. Participate in shared activities at the workplace, sign up for networking meets and attend school reunions. Work on expanding your network organically and ensure that it isn’t inbred.

  1. Hone your existing skills

It’s your existing skill set that got you your current job, so keep refining it. Your work, like you, continues to evolve and your skills need to keep pace. If you’re into IT, crack into the next set of applications that no one knows about. If you’re a fitness trainer, get a new certification. Don’t forget to polish your soft skills, be it communication, teamwork, adaptability or conflict resolution. Think of yourself as an ongoing project and keep trying to better yourself.

  1. Be open to new things

You may be an architect, but if your main interest is comedy writing, there’s no reason why you should not pursue it on the side. Keep yourself open to new experiences – hobbies, side projects, learning new skills or pursuing online courses – to stay agile during a period of uncertainty. Kreamer writes: “You are going to be in a much better position if you have broadened your network, if you have relationships in a variety of fields, if you’ve done a bunch of things and failed at them. Then you have resiliency.”

  1. Make a list of dream companies

Even if you are extremely happy in your current job, it’s never a good idea to settle. Aspiring for more is a sure-shot way to progress and grow. Compiling a list of dream companies with their websites, any contacts you have there and links to their jobs pages is a great idea. It gives you somewhere to get started – a quality somewhere – in case you need to action Plan B. Revisit your spreadsheet once in a while to know if any interesting openings are available.

  1. Collect all essential data

In these times, layoffs often involve people being asked to go – going so far as to be told to vacate the premises the same day. Stay on top of your data – work samples, files, documents, photos – and all the things that can further your career. Back up all that you’re allowed to by your employment policies on to a personal hard disk every quarter.

Apart from these tips, experts suggest having a ready-to-send email template. You can, after a few modifications, shoot it off to friends and people in your network in case of an emergency.

Don’t give up if Plan A didn’t pan out; turn your focus to Plan B. If you need help tweaking your resume or reaching out to potential employers, get professional help here.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.


7 tricks to land a great summer internship

7 tricks to land a great summer internship

Paid or unpaid, an internship is a foot in the door towards a real job after you graduate. Apart from looking great on your resume, an internship gives you the chance to gain new skills, network and make connections, establish relationships with mentors, give you a good introduction to the industry’s etiquette and culture, and an opportunity to “test drive” your career.
But the current shifting economy and evolving work environment mean internships aren’t easy to land.

Ellen Gordon Reeves, author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? Finding, Landing and Keeping Your First Real Job, believes that the pressure “is on and competition is fierce.”
This makes it extremely important to network strategically. Reeves’ has a bit of advice: “Stop sending your resumes into cyberspace. It’s a black hole.”

Apart from this, we suggest you try this seven-step action plan for landing a great summer internship.

1. Look in all the right places
If you’re looking only at job search sites, you aren’t doing enough. Many companies and industries often have their own job boards and postings, so check those for positions that don’t appear on job sites. University and college professors could also be in the know of industry-specific internship hotspots. Your web of relationships is an extremely powerful tool and can help you land your dream internship. So wield it.

Tip: Tap your parents’ network – friends, colleagues and others. They could help you find just the right internship.

2. Join a career-specific social networking site
Social networking sites aren’t all play, no work. Even if you don’t have any experience to brag about! After all, the people you need to impress are there, aren’t they? Create a profile and showcase the varied things you have done – that volunteering stint with street children, the thesis topic you worked on, the extra work you took on at college. It may not seem like much, but employers are sure to appreciate the effort to network.

Tip: A little bit of embellishment is fine, but don’t bluff. Helping out at a blood bank is different from saving lives.

3. Never copy-paste a template cover letter
It may be the first time that you’re sending out an internship request, but desist from using a template cover letter. Any potential employer who’s seen a few resumes can tell it’s a template. Draw inspiration from a well-written cover letter, but use it only as a guide to pen a letter that shows your style and is tailored to the company.

Tip: Your cover letter should sell your skills, experience and abilities instead of emphasising things that are lacking.

4. Let your resume set you apart
Every potential employer or recruiter has seen thousands of resumes, so make sure that yours stands out. Creative resumes – be it an amazing infographic or a standout piece of art – have much more potential of attracting an employer’s eye and getting you an internship offer.

Tip: Creativity is fine, but don’t forget to list down your achievements and skills on the resume.

5. Clean up your online persona
You can get away with showing off your entire life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but that’s fine only when you’re a student. If you’re looking for a step up into the professional world, it’s time to clean up your online image. Remove all photos, tweets or posts that are remotely controversial. Instead, show off what a potential employer would like to read – blog posts, interesting articles and innovative ideas.

Tip: Impress a potential employer by showing, not telling. Your own blog could be the perfect way to do this.

6. Work on acing the interview
Every employer knows that good resume or not, an undergraduate is lacking in accomplishments and work history. That’s why the interview is extremely important. Carol Christen, co-author of What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens, a career guide for young people, believes young people are going to be hired “more often on personality traits than on knowledge or skills”. She says it take as many as nine interviews for students to get comfortable so practise.

Tip: If college career counsellors aren’t open to mock interviews, consider asking relatives or friends.

7. It’s not about the money, honey
Ryan Kahn, career coach and author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad, believes that finding an internship can be worth every undergraduate’s while. “I am huge advocate for unpaid internships. They’re a great way to test out an industry. Just for a couple of days a week, you can gain the experience to decide whether you want to spend the rest of your career in that field,” he said in an interview.

Tip: Think of your internship as a stepping stone to success. At this point in life, the money doesn’t matter as much as connections and experience.
Keep in mind that companies devoting time and resources to finding, selecting and training interns look for a return on their investment. It may be in the present or it might accrue in the future, but there’s no denying the benefits that a great internship can bring you.

Searching for your first job can be an intimidating experience. To give you a boost, we’ve put together a Graduate Handbook that covers all the essential job search tips you’ll need.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.