Conversation about Careers, Equality and Respect

Having equal respect for the variety is the key.

As Women’s Day as approaching, familiar conversations about gender and women empowerment would be coming up. While equality remains a common point of conversation while talking about these issues, it is also worth examining what are we genuinely looking for when it comes to equality, and if there are areas where we need to understand if equality is something that is the genuine need, or perhaps something more nuanced.

Respect and Equality:

The way men and women have to take up roles and responsibilities in a family setting, typically is not the same. While conversations about redefining gender roles and having a more ‘equal’ atmosphere abound, the reality is that the genders are different, and how a woman might handle a conflict, raise a child or manage her work will be different than how a man does.

Equality doesn’t simply denote ‘sameness’; it should and denotes equal respect. Perhaps, the need then should be to pay equal respect to approaches that a man and a woman might take to their responsibilities instead of simply saying things like ‘men and women are equal’. Men and women are different, with different ways of approaching personal and professional lives, and it is the differences that need to be equally respected.

The Different Approaches to Career:

Take for example the way a woman’s career trajectory is often looked at. Many times, life-stages like motherhood are considered impediments to her career! Not to mention how men are most of the times denied the importance of paternity leaves. How ‘gendered’ is our notion of a career! Organisations and personnel connected to management might benefit by understanding the difference in approaches to career, specific to the demands the two genders are faced with. An article by Harvard Business Review brings to notice some crucial points to keep in mind when it comes to questions about careers of women:

  • Pausing one’s career to look after domestic demands is not a bad thing. In fact, it is sometimes necessary and even in that pause, development doesn’t stop. Skills from time-management to personnel management are developed through the domestic duties that women often traditionally end up taking.
  • A slow pace is still progress. Say Mrs. A had a child, and in balancing her professional life, and looking after a small child, her career’s pace got slowed down. She remained in one post for around 8-9 years. Does that mean she would have no opportunity ahead? Does that mean she shouldn’t resume at a faster pace when the child has grown up enough? Does a slow pace mean a complete impasse? Of course not. A career can still be fruitful and successful, even with a slow pace. One can take pauses while climbing the ladder.

In other words, the time and intensity with which women can engage with their careers will be different than how a man does. As a result, the approach they take will also be different. That difference in approach, rather than being seen of a lesser value, and as makeshift, should be seen as an approach that is as necessary, valid and respected.

In an age of uncertainty, and of times when both men and women are faced with crises that challenge them to be better versions of themselves, it makes sense that we all act in support of each other, rather than competing unnecessarily. Variation in approaches in problem-solving, whether personal or professional, should be explored with an open mind, and a curiosity, rather than rivalry, animosity or the need to overly simplify ‘equality’. The first step lies in establishing respect for the differences.

Team UHR extends warm wishes for Women’s Day in advance!

Africa Beckons You!

The pandemic era has seen shifts in hiring and employment trends. One saw the rise of online, and later hybrid working. Offices got empty, and the only traffic that increased was the online traffic on platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, Slack and so on. This was the ‘new normal’ for many months.

Even when the ‘old normal’ returned to a great extent, with hybrid working, and later a total return to the office, many employees just didn’t see the point in going back. What the job seekers sought has changed over these couple of years, and as a result, one has seen changes in hiring and employment trends. We have seen the Great Resignation; we have seen talent shortages; and we have seen standards of job satisfaction go through a shift.

Amidst the talent shortages, and rethinking about careers and employee experiences, Africa as a continent appears to have a great potential in terms of hiring and filling the talent gap, as an article by People Matters puts forth. And as an extension, a great future. These statistics and insights additionally also help us debunk some stereotypical myths about the place. Let us have a look how.

Some Statistics and Some Stereotypes:

A report by the World Bank mentions how the working age population of Africa is likely to grow by 450 million people, or in other words, by 70% by 2035. Investing in this continent is more than likely to help one find an enormous talent pool.

What kind of skills and competencies seem to be emerging here? Before we delve into that in the next point, let us acknowledge that there is this one stereotype about the continent about how the informal sector is dominant. There is more nuance to this: while it is true that some regions of the Sub-Saharan Africa have around 85% of informal workers, and the entire continent in itself has that number at around 83%, this only adds in more opportunity for investment in the talent pool.

Not to forget the diversity within the continent which needs to be considered while looking at such statistics. This takes us to the next point.

Diversity and Digital Revolution:

One major drawback of the stereotype surrounding Africa is that people forget it is a continent with multiple countries and a diverse geography and culture. This awareness about the diversity can be translated into the levels and kinds of skills needed as well- each of the region will require specific kinds of skills. As the article by People Matters mentions, for example, the percentage of digital skills required for specific regions will be different: 50% to 55% jobs in Kenya will require digital skills, whereas that number will be 35% to 45% of jobs in regions like Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Rwanda, and 20 % to 25% in Mozambique. In any case, different regions need different kinds of skills and competencies, and that awareness is necessary, whether one wants to invest in the talent market, or one’s future- planning to find a job in the continent.

The momentum to invest in the talent has started- let us see how.

The Momentum:

Keeping in mind the potential in filling the talent gap that the continent offers, many of the well-known companies have started to invest in the continent. As the article cited above gives us the numbers- Microsoft has invested $100 billion to open technology development centre in Kenya and Nigeria. Microsoft has also expanded its operations in Ghana.

Google has also set up an AI lab in Ghana, and has announced that their product development centre will be set up in Kenya. Vodafone has also set up ‘Centres of Excellence’ in places like Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt, aiming to develop robotics, IoT and AI-based competencies.

It is a continent that has a lot of opportunities to offer. Opportunities to invest in businesses, the talent as well opportunities to invest in one’s future. So, check with us, we might have something relevant for you, in Africa!

Part Two: Are you Going to Interview A Quiet Candidate?

are you interviewing a qc

In part one, we talked how a candidate might appear quiet and passive owing to reasons like:

  • Their general nature. An introvert appears quiet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have nothing to say. In fact, they can have a lot to say if one talks about the right thing, here when one talks about the job.
  • Life situations
  • Recent tragedy

We saw how it is important to get over the general assumption that a talkative, enthusiastic candidate is a good candidate, and that being generally quiet is a bad quality.

We talked about the false assumption that a lack of confidence or self-esteem doesn’t necessarily amount to incompetency.

Dismissing someone because they are “too quiet” during their interview without giving them a chance can lend unfairness to the process.

Under Pressure: 

But interviews are tough to take. The interviewer has the pressure to make the right decision, with a limited amount of information and background about the candidate at hand. Sometimes, the interview is more than enough but sometimes, there is this inkling feeling: what if I pass over a really good and deserving candidate?

We bring you the final part of the Quiet Candidate series, this time for someone who is interviewing a person seemingly of few words.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while interviewing someone who just doesn’t seem to utter a word.


Interview, Not an Interrogation:

Many candidates, especially those on the anxious side may feel intimidated by the thought of having to go for an interview. In such cases, you can remember as an interviewer to convey them that they are here because your organisation is genuinely interested in their skills, accomplishments, and what they can offer, etc. Conveying that one is not going to be interrogated but actually being talked and listened to might help ease the nervousness a bit.


Minds Off the Interview:

It is a good idea as an interviewer to lay out the details of the job. When the details are laid out, the interviewee might get a more precise idea about what the job would involve, and whether they would be able to do it or not. You will thus help the candidate in taking their minds off the interview, loosen up a bit and actually begin talking.


Assume Out Loud:

If the job needs the person to be talkative, vivacious or at least socially adept, let the candidate know.

And if you feel like the candidate lacks social skills to handle the position, convey that feeling politely. The need to prove your assumption wrong may actually make the candidate talk about their past accomplishments and strengths.

But make sure you aren’t using an accusatory or condescending tone.


Walk to the Conclusion:

It is important to remember that the application went a step ahead onto the interview for a reason. Remember this before jumping to conclusions. While this is not saying to not rely on your skills to assess someone, don’t take just the “talking” factor into consideration while making the final decision.


Find Other Sources:

If you have a feeling a candidate can do much better than their interview, it is a good idea to talk to the references listed to get a more clear idea and convert the feeling into something more concrete.

One might also get more information about the life of the person, which often helps to make sense of certain oddities in behaviour. Word of God may have a certain weight to it, but words of former employers, former colleagues, professors, teachers are pretty helpful if you want a wider picture of the candidate.


Instincts, experience, attention to numerous details, not hanging on to just one aspect, are some key words to remember while interviewing someone who appears quiet and reserved. You better think twice before making any decision!

Part One: Are you A Quiet Candidate?

Are you a quiet candidate image


Interviews can be tough for those who are generally quiet, soft-spoken, anxious or are not sure about what to say. Introverts are people of few words, especially on occasions that may feel like mere formality to them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have nothing to say.

Furthermore, life situations, a recent tragedy, constant rejections etc,. could also make an otherwise vivacious person into someone who appears tired and awkward. Such people might come across as mediocre, passive candidates.

It is important to get over the general assumption that a talkative, enthusiastic candidate is a good candidate, and that being generally quiet is a bad quality.

Moreover, it is worth taking note that lack of confidence is not the same as a lack of self-esteem, and that a lack of both does not necessarily mean someone is bad at their job.

Tricky Business: 

But interviews are tricky, especially for someone who is not comfortable with the spoken word. There is a pressure to convey the right things, in the right words, in a limited space of time. That too, without sounding pushy or inauthentic.

What can you do if you fear you will come across as a quiet candidate?

We bring you part one of the bi-article series of the Quiet Candidate. Here are some psychological tips to remember which may be used as starting points for thinking about more practical solutions.


Listeners First, Interviewers Later:

Remembering that the interviewer is interested in what skills you can offer, in what ways you can contribute to the organisation/institution etc.,  is a good strategy to bring out the flow of words and getting rid of the anxiety surrounding the concept of interview itself. Remember, you are not going for an interrogation. A panel of people genuinely wants to listen and talk to you!


Job > Interview:

As a candidate, you can try your best to make yourself see beyond the interview: the job. As basic as it sounds, thinking about what the job may entail, the roles involved may keep you from dwelling on the interview. Thinking beyond the immediate short-term may help you to find better things to think and talk about. Over-thinking can drive you crazy but long-term thinking can give you perspective and a sense of calm.



Go through the job role. See if it falls within your comfort-zone, and if it doesn’t ask yourself how much prepared and willing are you to move out of your zone. And make sure you talk about that preparedness and willingness during the interview.

If you would not prefer a job which has a lot of talking to do, or a lot of social-interaction, then do not apply for it. Use your knowledge of self and see what else can work. Or apply only after thoroughly weighing the pros and cons. Sometimes, climbing a tree is not a great option when the ability lies in swimming through the waves! But if it is a case where you have to apply for the job, the next point can be useful.


Say it:

Some jobs require one to be talkative or at least socially adept. It is very easy for the external observer to misunderstand being quiet as being mediocre.

As a quiet candidate, if you  feel like the interview is not conveying your skills, you can say that you aren’t usually this quiet. Such a remark might be used as a cue, to begin talking about your past accomplishments or strengths, and thus give a sense of direction to the interview.


Remember the Why:

An application progressed to an interview for a reason. It was deemed good enough. Remembering the why’s would ensure there is not too much anxiety.

You may use this as an affirmation. Furthermore, recalling by a simple “why” the reason you thought the position appealed to you and why you felt you should apply, can help you find points to talk about.


References Are Important:

As a candidate it is necessary to list out reliable, relevant references. While many people often consider this section of their CV a mere formality, it is not so. Rather, what someone else has to say about you may become important when/if your words aren’t enough, and here is when hiring managers often get in touch with your references. Former colleagues, former employers, professors, friends, teachers are great sources of creating a detailed picture of you, which might not have been apparent in the interview.

While it is not possible to control what others assume, it is certainly possible to communicate clearly. And it is certainly, certainly possible to have conviction in your skills, and transmute that confidence in your bearing. So, if you are the quiet candidate, you can heave a sigh of relief that interviewers are indeed deliberating over you!

Part two coming soon!

Recruitment Story: Networking Skills That Pay

Rec story 3


We live in an unimaginably connected world. It truly feels like a small world at times. But how many of us are actually mindful about our connections? Of course, it is not possible to know how and to whom you are connected without some sort of communication and revelation. You cannot know your sister goes to a school where your friend’s cousin is her classmate, unless someone tells you about it. You cannot know a client of yours knows a candidate you placed in a different firm ten years ago, unless you see them as mutual connections on social media.

And sometimes, connections pay- literally and figuratively. The impetus networking skills have gained over the years is the proof. Networking, making connections is an important task. LinkedIn wouldn’t be so important otherwise.

Moreover, it is a greater skill to make use of that networking and connections, at the right time.

We are back with a recruitment story, this time, with the theme of the importance of making right and timely use of your networks.

One of our Team Leaders was in touch with a candidate who had been selected for a senior position at a particular company abroad. The candidate, let us call him Mr. X, was having a hard time getting his resignation accepted at his then current job. Seeing no other alternative, he ghosted that company. He left, just like that.

He not only ghosted the company he was then working at, but also the company he was supposed to join.

So now, the client company was left hanging. The candidate had also met the management once, and they were sure he would join once his notice period came to an end.

The client told our Team Leader about the issue.

The Team Leader’s calls, messages, emails went unanswered, unreachable too.

A classic case of ghosting had unfolded! What to do now, we wondered.

The Team Leader explored her networks. She browsed LinkedIn incessantly to find some common connection, some person, maybe who lived in the same country, city as Mr. X. She started looking for people who might be even remotely connected in any way to him.

She found out one connection, someone she knew, let us call him Mr. Y. Apparently, he and Mr. X  both were employees in one company at some point of time, but in different countries. The timings of their tenure matched, but could it be possible that Y would know X? Probably no, probably yes.

Besides, she had contacted a former colleague of Mr. X, and he had the same contact information. What are the odds that this Mr. Y would have anything new to say?

At such times, it becomes important to rely on your guesswork, and take chances.

Our Team Leader anyway contacted Mr. Y, and eventually asked him if he knew Mr. X.

Turns out, they were in fact, good friends. What’s more, Mr. Y said he had talked to Mr. X  just recently. They were in touch!

Our Team Leader talked about the issue to Mr. Y. He said he wouldn’t be able to give her Mr. X’s new contact information but he will communicate the issue to him, and will tell him to give a call.

There was no call for some time though. The Team Leader waited.

Finally, Mr. X called. The ghost had been found!

He communicated the problem he was facing with his resignation to our Team Leader. He also told her that there was a health emergency in his family, and he wouldn’t be able to join the client company at the date that had been decided. The Team Leader understood his predicament, and communicated this to the client company.

Eventually, the issues were sorted, he attended to the health emergency well. He attended the training sessions but as per his requirement, his joining date was extended.

What are the lessons to learn here?

Firstly, the Team Leader’s perseverance and resourcefulness.

She made full use of LinkedIn. Many of us ignore the tools we have at hand.

How many of us have that presence of mind? It is important to know where to look, and whom to ask. Knowledge-acquisition process would become haphazard if we didn’t know these basic questions.  And she kept looking despite failure at the first connection.

The Team Leader also took a chance. She didn’t dismiss any trace of a link. It is truly necessary to be open to possibilities. We should know that one really never knows.

These qualities, and the commitment helped her retain a long-term client, a very important thing in the recruitment industry. And most importantly, communication played a major role. To find solution(s) to any problem, one needs to know that there is a problem in the first place.

This is one recruitment story where making the right use of technological resources, networking, and communication skills made a difference. Kudos to Mrs. Rina Arun, the Team Leader in the story!