Q. I am a 28-year-old sales executive with a small consumer goods
company. An MBA in finance from a second-rung B-school, I am thinking
of switching to finance. Now, how do I explain to interviewers why
I got into sales instead of finance (I had no good offers in the
latter) in the first place?
A. Now that you have
been in sales for three years, it is not going to be easy to suddenly
switch to finance. You can continue with marketing and try for a
product management or advertising job, else, you could join the
sales division of a bank or financial services company, and then
get into operations. Alternatively, you can look for a finance job
in a relatively smaller company. It will be tricky to say that you
wanted to try sales since that would open a Pandora's box of questions.
It will be best to be honest and explain that you didn't land a
finance land at that point in time and no option but to try your
hand at sales.
I am a management graduate from XLRI. I
joined the credit cards division of a multinational bank but quit
after three years to found an internet company. I have since moved
on and would like to join a dotcom, but feel that my prospective
employers will see me as a quitter. How do I present my experience
in the best light and what questions should I be prepared to answer
in the interview?
Although you have not explained why you quit
your earlier jobs, let me assure you that you will not be labelled
a quitter. There may be many reasons why you might have quit and
none of them necessarily indicate that you are a quitter. During
the interview, you will be asked about your work profile, the things
you learned, and your achievements and mistakes. You may also be
asked why you left your corporate job and started a dotcom and why
you left the start-up. Your answer will be crucial in establishing
your motivation and commitment.
These days, new recruits hired at any level get higher salaries
because, apparently, their experience is extremely valuable to a
company. But how does an insider negotiate his pay? Is job-hopping
the answer to my problem? I have been working in my current company
for the past eight years and enjoy complete job satisfaction. How
do I handle the situation?
This was a very serious problem till companies
realised it and from time to time made salary corrections in order
to balance remuneration of the existing employees with the new recruits.
Your company obviously does not belong to the league of companies
that has done so. If you are satisfied with your work and don't
want to quit, you should speak to your boss or someone in the hr
department. If you have already raised the issue to no avail you
need to look for a job. This is unfortunate since you enjoy the
work so much but in the long term staying on may lead to more frustration.
I am a management graduate and have been
a part of the consumer durables industry for the past 10 years.
In these 10 years, I have worked as a marketing executive in six
different companies. How do I explain this to my prospective employers?
Do you think my choice of industry is wrong and that this has led
to such frequent changes in jobs? Should I try my luck in another
industry, say fast moving consumer goods?
There is no reason to conclude that you are
or are not cut out for the consumer durables industry. What you
should do at this stage is ask yourself what is it that you enjoy
about your job and what it is that you don't. Also ask yourself
what has been behind your frequent moves. Is there a common thread
running through the six job switches? Once you have answered these
questions, see whether the reasons have anything to do with the
industry. If that is indeed the case, then, and only then you need
to change your industry. However, make sure you do not switch to
a similar industry. Although you have not mentioned the reasons
for your frequent job changes, I assume that they were not the result
of sudden whims and you have a logical explanation. This is something
that you will have to present to your prospective employers. To
assure your prospective employer, you could even admit that you
realise you have changed too many jobs and would like to settle
down now. If your explanation has a ring of sincerity about it,
it will certainly be accepted.
Tarun Sheth, a senior consultant
at the Mumbai-based recruitment and training consultancy firm Shilputsi,
addresses your career concerns every fortnight. Write to Help,Tarun!!!
c/o Business Today, F-26, Connaught Place, New Delhi-110001.
|Debashish Roy, VP (HR), Colgate-Palmolive India
Roy talks to BT's
on the increasing importance of cross-functional shifts in career
Q. Are companies encouraging cross-functional
A. Yes. Most companies realise the advantages
of all-round experience and give employees the opportunity to acquire
diverse competencies and skills thus enabling them to enrich their
How necessary are these shifts for those
aiming to go up the corporate ladder?
Cross-functional shifts inculcate general management
skills in high-potential employees for them to go on to senior positions
that require a good understanding of the business dynamics.
Do companies look for cross-functional experience
Cross-functional experience is always an asset
in any senior management or leadership role.
What are the more common shifts in the industry?
The most common shifts are from sales to marketing.
The other shifts are from finance to hr, marketing to hr, and hr
to corporate communications. However, it needs to be recognised
that these shifts are not a trend or a fad, but planned career moves
based on individual aptitude and company needs.
At what point in his career should an executive
seek a shift?
Most companies allow cross-functional shifts
only after the employee has proved himself. Some make it compulsory
for management trainees to go through cross-functional training
prior to joining duty.
In-house moves that made big careers.
Adlakha, VP (Consumer Cards)
American Express Travel Related Services India
Shift: Credit Cards to Strategic Planning to Business
Planning to Finance to Marketing
My experience across functions in Amex has not only helped
me master various components of leadership, but has also taught
me to study situations first and then work out an action plan.
Exposure to a variety of disciplines has contributed towards
my understanding of the company and business better.
Mundra, VP & Country Branch Operations Head, Global
Corporate & Investment Bank
Shift: Sales to Service to Marketing to Projects to
Product Management to Operations
I believe that to prepare oneself for larger responsibilities
in an organisation, one needs to acquire various skill sets.
Seniority is not just about expertise in a single field. One
needs to manage all aspects, be it financial, customers, people,
or processes. My stints in consumer and corporate banking
have provided me with experience across businesses and functions
and given me the confidence to handle general management responsibilities.
Iyer, VP (People & Process)
Shift: HR to Strategic Planning & Marketing to
HR & Corporate Communications to People & Process
My current designation is actually a combination of HR, which
is my area of expertise, and quality. Sasken's open organisation
culture gives one the opportunity to move across functions,
which, in turn, gives a wide exposure to the business dynamics
of the company and the HR needs of its employees.
Hughes Software Systems
Shift: Engineering to Product Management to Business
Development to Operations (Sales, Engineering, Quality Management)
My background in core engineering has always given me a technical
edge but my stints in different functions have honed my competitive
skills over the years. It has also exposed me to various functions
of the organisation. In the process, I have learned to take
on challenges and deliver results.