Author: Mayanka

Organisational and Social Psychologist working on organisation development, learning, knowledge, change, leadership, culture, team dynamics. book eater. tarot reader. traveler. friend. social media nerd.

Keeping pace with shifts in HR world: Infographic Resume

This is the first in series of articles presenting my views on the gap between what can be and what is in the HR or Talent world.

I am looking out for work opportunities actively at this point. I have sent my resume to several HR folks and to several head hunters in the process. Let me begin by explaining my resume. I have a single page resume divided into two parts – infographic timeline of my education and experience. This includes where I have worked or studied, when and what. The other side provides glimpse of range of my skills and key projects in core areas of work. This has tools and techniques I have used in my work, projects categorized by HR function, my social and industry contributions and my interests (beyond work and I mention my blog on this).

I know that the resume catches attention. I was asked to send a two page text resume because some recruiters found my current resume too confusing. The first page has all of the above except the timeline. That is because I refused to cave in to recruiters’ ask to share detailed description of my work on each job I have held in the last 12 years. I refused to be judged by conventional standards of role definitions and have highlighted what I have done. I have converted the timeline into text talking about my work history and education with what my role in each organization was.

As HR professional, I see merit in knowing how applicant’s career has progressed over time. However, the offer is still based on last designation and salary held. That is quite conflicted. This decision is not not based on other experiences the person brings to the new role or the right compensation for work involved in new role. Its always about progression according to industry standards. Even as HR professional the term industry standards has me often confused. I will leave that topic to another day.

The readiness of our traditional HR recruiters to pace with creativity in resume writing requires mindset shift. I list three things we as HR professionals need to do to become progressive.

1. Manage the disruptive. Disruptive ideas bring innovation to organizations. We talk about breaking biases and avoid hiring similar people in a team. We need to consider disruptive folks who bring a fresh perspective. A wise person said – “If you continue doing things the same way and expect different results, you must be stupid”. Organizations need diversity and not just for statistics but for the value it brings. I remember one of my work colleague and a good friend confide in me about diversity in his team. He said he was all for more women on team and he managed to have the highest diversity of 70% of women on his team. He told me that 80% of these women were either on maternity leave or were getting married. His team’s productivity was at lowest, those still working were overloaded and were demotivated. There were new fathers on the team who did not have similar luxury to spend time at home with the child or be with their wives. Instead they were working more than ever when they should have at least taken it easy at work. Teams require diversity in life stage, in mindset and thought process.

2. Get over the conservative considerations. If we continue to look at the resumes the same way and put tick mark on – years on required skillset, team size managed, no gaps in education or work etc. I have had someone ask me that my first three jobs, I switched in a span of 1.5 year each. In the last 9 years, I have only been with 2 companies. I still don’t understand how my reasons at the start of my career will influence my decisions now. Is there an assumption that we never grow up? Also, we live in an age where many people have two careers. We have enough techies venturing into music and forming their local bands. We have enough bankers who love photography. We have enough retailers who are shaping social media via detailed or microblogging. This world has changed. We need to change too. A resume needs to convey applicant’s ability to work. Willingness is assessed during the interview process. It is important to understand applicant’s motivation to work but finding out why they took a break in their studies 15 years back or why they quit a company within 6 months, 10 years ago does not define their current motivations. They are not in same stage of life, economic environment, maturity levels or even their aspirations.

3. Embrace and advocate the new. We as HR professionals not only need to embrace and adopt new practices, we need to advocate them. We need to drive culture change and pace up with the growth in industry and with generations.

I want to also talk about why I am advocating infographic resume.

Visual judgement: All of us have a huge visual component in our decision making. We make judgements on looks, dressing, expressions, body language, presentation etc. Infographic resume simplifies the scanning process via visual representation of skills and experiences.

Resume is summary and interview is details: When we look at resumes, we typically look for key words in skillset we want for a job and a role. Infographic showcases the same effectively. We don’t need to scan the entire resume to pick and highlight the keywords.

As mentioned earlier, we also need to create this shift in organization with our business professionals who interview specially on technical ability of the prospective hire to do the job.


India’s daughter – should we watch it? I don’t care!

I am one of those few who saw the banned documentary “India’s Daughter” before the content was taken off for India.

It saddens me that the debate today is on whether to watch or to not watch a documentary.
I don’t have a view on whether it should or should not be banned. That is not my concern. I DON’T CARE.

What is this documentary about? It tells story of Jyoti Singh and her abusers. It is like another documentary, sharing thoughts of Jyoti’s parents and someone who knew her and sharing thoughts of accused and their family. It presents opinions and some statistics like a documentary would. No, it does not talk descriptively about rape of a 5 year old as being shouted by Arnab Goswani on Times Now. No, there is nothing on it that seems to threaten anyone’s privacy. What happened to Monica Lewinsky was surely bringing her private life to public. This documentary is not. In fact if I have to evaluate this documentary, it is just an average one in how it even presents its case. They have not mentioned what the abusers were thinking, whether they had planned to do this or they just saw her and one of them decided to take a go. The documentary surely puts India in a bad light. From the land of elephants and snake charmers to a land of slums, now India becomes the land of rape.

I don’t care whether this documentary is or is not be banned.

I care about what is happening in my country. This is not the culture that ever has or ever should promote crime against anyone in any form. There is something wrong and all the crimes reported are symptoms of bigger problems. I am only talking about one of the most heinous crimes ever – rape.

Rape is a symptom of bigger problem and this has been articulated in softest of voices by few people in all the television debates on this documentary for the past 2-3 days.

Rape is not just about sexual satisfaction. Sexual satisfaction is available. It is available with enough red lights in various parts of the world. Yes I mention world not India because this problem is not only in India. It is a disease the world over and I could find this without putting a lot of effort; this data is consolidated on wiki already –
And those who blame such heinous acts to women enticing them or ‘filmi culture’, have to just look within their own homes. For every reported case, there are several sexual assaults at home that go unreported. They also have no answer to rape of 5 year old, of 80 year old, in marriage, by relatives and neighbors and of young boys.

Rape is not about enticement or sexual satisfaction. It is more than that. Some research suggests rape is just a show of power. Or to achieve what is not reachable, like in case of the Uber rape case. In case of Jyoti, the boys just wanted to party and have fun.

Rape is not part of a culture, of any culture! It is work of a sick mind.

The culture of treating woman like a flower that should not be crushed and protected is long gone.

There are women who are blessed like me to be raised in a family of powerful women without any bias between my brother (or any boy) or me and to be married to a man who is free of any such bias. The outrage on Jyoti’s case happened because we are moving towards a society where there are many women like me. We are independent, work, can earn as much as any man does (except for the workplace bias on salary), have a social life, party and do not depend on anyone to take care of ourselves. Jyoti was one such progressive woman from a progressive family. She had a bright future which is well…

If this progressiveness threatens some men like the two lawyers of the abusers, they need to deal with it.

Media instead of debating the documentary can play meaningful role by creating awareness. Their job is TRP and not to bring about social change, isn’t it? And then they talk about power of media.

What we need is to keep progressing and changing mindset of one person at a time when we can. We will not stop and we have enough men and women in this society who will support us.

My problem with Kejriwal

Indian politics has taken front row even with those who decided to stay away, even those who decided to support brain drain and went out of the country.

These are people I relate with because I was never concerned with politics. I grew up hearing how bad our systems are and how to stay away from politicians and police unless I wanted to become an IAS officer. Administrative services come with authority and prestige. I grew up seeing my school and college mates focus on engineering or management, medical or back jobs to find stability and make a life for themselves. I grew up seeing everyone wanting to move out of the country to find a “better” life. Many of my Indian friends are scattered all over the world, living the American or Australian or Singaporean dream.

Something happened to get everyone to turn towards and take interest in Indian politics. It was the anna movement. Youth today seems to love activism. Revolutions and protests have become the ‘in thing’ across the world and we Indians were not to be left behind considering our Gandhian legacy. There are serious reasons for any protest or activism.
We have moved up in our hierarchy of needs as per Maslow’s definition – The increasing stability in middle class youth created by a fair amount of security in finding a new job or source of money and heritage created by parents who have property or other investments. This safety net is another reason youth today is able to look beyond the basic food water shelter needs.

I am writing about politics because I am aam and there are bunch of people claiming to represent me, the aam people. I am not aadmi, I am aurat and want to be gender neutral. Unless the Aam Aadmi Party really is to represent only the common ‘aadmi’. Well, during one of the speeches they did talk about bringing safety “aapki behno, biwio” etc. “ke liye”. Without talking too much about gender bias in liguistics, I want to talk about few things I am cynical about in party that claims to represent me.

1. Free stuff: There should be no free stuff unless necessary and everyone should be accountable. I can go on civic rant about people dirtying water supply, roads, environment because they pay tax and these are ‘public’ spaces. Look at minority reservation – it has lead to accepting mediocracy and in some cases poorest of performance to lead critical positions in the country. Entitlement takes away accountability. The logic of free power and free water is downright ridiculous. There is no free lunches and free power and water is paid off with votes. Other parties give money to get votes, Kejriwal offers free stuff to get votes. People need to learn to earn instead of taking things for granted! I read this article today which I felt has more logically articulated my concerns with offering freebees.

2. Self-righteousness: I have ethical issues with Kejriwal. He projects himself in a certain way – any celebrity, politician, any public figure does that. There is nothing wrong about it. Ethical problem is when you shout out loud saying you are the purest thing in political world and it cleaarly shows otherwise. If we do relative analysis on honesty and morality, there is a possibility he will win. On second thought, I am sure there are many more who are better than him but have enough humility to not shout it all the time. I and many more like me are tired of Kejriwal’s self-victimisation on everything. Kejriwal is doing what any other politician does – “I am the hero who will save this country from vilians”. He is cashing on the hero mentality that people unfortunately are not getting over. We have grown up with legends and heros always save the day. Kejriwal is projecting himself as hero risen from common man out of torturous rule. He is same old politician with short term benefits and lacking long term vision and view.

We need a change, we need alternative politics and we need strong leadership. We need leadership of culture change. Culture change that is incremental, authentic and with long term vision.

A new year resolution

Should you or should you not have a new year resolution?

Everywhere I look I read about the phenomenon of resolutions. The top one on my facebook is people giving up drinking post year end binge.

I see articles, infographics, images, videos on resolutions that are short lived, on top resolutions made by people. The few common ones include losing weight, drinking less, working out, eating healthy, learning something new, dedicating more time to a hobby. This list can go on and all of us will relate to the wish to do most of the things listed here.

What is it about end of a year or starting of another that makes us wanting to change?

We all know the answer, it is beginning of something. It happens on our birthdays specially when we touch a milestone we are not quite eager to touch (read: any age post 24). It happens when we switch our job or buy something new or move to a new house. Anything new urges us to change. We resolve to do more new things when one is already in motion.

Some studies say that humans are not naturally inclined to change. So, when something changes we have the urge to roll in with the change. Our desire to conform to image we have created for ourselves in our head surfaces. We want to become better. We want to meet the standards which are perceived to be the right way of life. We are eager to change everything we can and make it correct. Even though many of these resolutions are short lived.

Why do we then make new years resolution. The answer again is simple and single  word – Hope.

Resolutions bring hopefulness. We hope for a better world for ourselves. We hope that we will one day succeed. My school made us sing the song ‘we shall overcome’ quite often and now when I look back at the meaning of the song I see perseverance and hope it instils in us. Resolutions are all about hoping to become what you want to.

Keeping up the spirit of resolutions – making and breaking, I resolve to be more regular with writing. It may be short lived but this resolution brings in hopefulness that one day I will succeed in writing as often as I wish to.

Happy New Year everyone!


What is your legacy?

This question surfaces in our lives in one or another form.

What is the purpose of your life?

What will people remember you for?

What will your obituary read?

What will your tombstone read?

What is your legacy?

I have thought over this for years now, fighting to create my unique identity, working hard to differentiate myself, trying to compete and punishing myself when I don’t do enough. As I touch mid 30s this year, something dawned on me.

This is from conversation I had with someone senior in my profession. He once asked me, while we were out for office networking dinner over drinks, what do you want to do in life (he meant with my work). I answered with three things and one of them was to leave a legacy behind. Few minutes further into the conversation, he said you will never be able to do these. I looked at him but he did not explain himself to me.

What happened next is important. With lack of answer on why I will never be able to do what defines success to me, my reflective self took over. I went quiet and did not stop thinking on why he said what he did. Was it because of my personality or because his experience enabled him to judge how far I would be able to reach or was it just malice. I could never find the answer.

My optimistic self did not let me give up for the fear of losing.

Today after over a year of that conversation, I was reflecting on my legacy. What do I want to leave behind me that defines or defined me. The answer was not what I expected.

The answer came to me from my three year old nephew. His success comes to him in creating something of his legos, constructing train track or even eating his food with spoon without dropping anything outside the plate. It is so simple. We want to create or do build or find something and when we achieve that we put next milestone in front of us. Parents often say that their children are their legacy. Entrepreneurs find their legacy in their startup. And then parents become grandparents and grandchildren become their legacy. And entrepreneurs find a new venture or set a new milestone.

The answer I found was that my legacy may not be for me to decide. What others inherit of me or keep of my work is what will define what I leave behind. I just need to be myself.

Life is too short to worry about our legacy, it is about cherishing what we have and being ourselves. Our thoughts and actions define our potential legacy, we will leave for those who want to adopt and carry it forward.