Build Your Brand the Storytelling Way

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Many of us would remember huddling in groups as someone would tell fascinating fables about clever crows, overconfident rabbits, conniving monkeys.

Folk-tales, myths about Gods, ghost-stories are embedded in our cultural memories.

Some would also remember the stories (smart solutions actually) about Akbar and Birbal, Krishnadev  Rai and Tenali Rama.

We learn by listening to stories. Storytelling is a great way to grab attention and engage: we are hardwired to listen this way.

Unfortunately,  fiction, imagination, even lying are associated with storytelling, not facts, information, statistics.

Without realising we utilize the art of storytelling in a more or less degree in various ways.

Yes, yes, even in professional settings!

Storytelling is essentially an act of narrating. We are all narrators. We look back at past events (even something that unfolded five minutes ago), and tell what happened, pretty much as if we are telling a story.

Imagine you are in a meeting. You think a strategy might work. But how do you substantiate? “Facts” and statistics could be incomplete. You remember reading about how this one company did which was something similar to your idea. So you tell that company’s story to support your claims.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher considered a well-structured Beginning, Middle and End essential to drama (story basically.)

This sounds almost comically obvious, but imagine this in professional terms.

In the notoriously short attention-span everyone has, wouldn’t it be necessary to make the Beginning of your CV as engaging as possible?

While narrating, it is necessary to know what and what not to include. Isn’t that what we do while constructing our CVs every time we apply somewhere?

Just like a good story, your “CV-tory” could change minds, simplify, communicate. It is the story of your (professional) life. The poster of the brand “you.”

In fact the recently used video and audio resumes further show the potential of the CV as a storytelling device.

You are the main character here, with well-practiced and perfectly delivered lines. And you must have the maximum impact on your “audience”: your recruiters/employers.

Interviews are storytelling sessions of sorts we engage in.

We choose particular details about our professional lives to tell the interviewer,  to make the “story” convey our eligibility. This story brands you.

Again, you must include everything in proper order for maximum impact. Relevance is important, isn’t it? Imagine talking about a great achievement of yours, at the Beginning of your interview. Wouldn’t that create a better level of engagement, rather than saying it towards the End when the interviewer has already made an impression about you in mind?

Good books, movies, plays have the power to move, so do good CVs, interviews and presentations.

Anecdotes are another form of storytelling we engage in our communications. They often counter biases and prejudices.

“I have been to that country, and it’s definitely not the way everyone thinks it is…”

“I heard it’s a great place to work at..”

Companies are making it a point to make their and their employees’ success-stories public. Storytelling has become a way to brand organisations.

Stories about successful people, stories we read about in daily newspapers, our lessons from our pasts: there are countless instances where stories motivate, teach, market and brand.

A “good story” crystallises thoughts, articulates them well. Stories give strategising a sense of direction, they tell us about the good and the bad ideas.

Stories are everywhere and so is storytelling if we keep our eyes, ears and minds open.



Behind the Workaholism

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The work culture of any corporate enterprise differs, and there are factors like the industry concerned, whether it is privately owned or state owned, and many other such variables. The policies they follow, the brand they wish to establish are all elements which determine a company’s work culture.

  Workaholic and workaholism are some words which have of late entered the professional vocabulary. And the phenomenon is something that has entered in the corporate culture, regardless of the policies, though obviously not in equal degrees.

  Firstly, it is necessary to understand the difference between a workaholic and someone who works extensively for long hours.

  A workaholic is a person with a compulsive need to work. Simply put, he or she just cannot “switch off”. Even when not working, this person can only think about work and work-related things. Personal relationships and health often suffer because of this compulsion.

  On the other hand, someone might work for extremely long hours. But if he or she is able to disconnect and not constantly think about work when not on the job, we can’t consider this person a workaholic.

Even if one loves the job, it is necessary to cut off for some time.

We must realise that the blame should not be put on the person concerned.

  Over the years, the corporate culture has shaped up in a certain way.

  Firstly, with technology becoming mainstream and almost a necessity, it has become easier to “carry” work around. One can just open up a laptop and do what they were doing in the office. This way, it becomes difficult to “switch off” since work and work-related things are literally within an arm’s reach and just a few clicks away, anytime.

 Coupled with this, imagine the need we are constantly force-fed with: the need to be productive.

Not just of the corporate culture, but a general characteristic of our times is the need to constantly “do” something.

Anything that doesn’t give you stress and workload gets considered useless.

“What’s the point of working if you are not busy all the time?” seems to be the misleading policy so many live by.

It is necessary to remember that a busy worker is not necessarily a productive worker.

Long working hours are not to be equated with productive working hours.

   20th century saw the rise of the workaholic culture, with more and more people acting like “working machines”. And these were the role models the 21st century generations have access to. The rise in social media addictions did not work very well into the mix. Add to it, the success which could be “seen” sells on social media. And unfortunately, “the grind” has become a tangible marker of such a success, and also the only road to success.

  Bad health, personal relationships suffering are only considered as part and parcel of this grind, or worse, mere obstacles to “success”.

In such a milieu, it is a tough job to not become a workaholic.

   It is a good sign that many countries, especially the European ones are now reducing the work hours of employees to ensure there is a work-life balance, Denmark being a famous example. According to the OECD Better Life report, they have a better work-life balance than any country, with majority of workers spending two thirds of their day in eating, sleeping and indulging in leisurely pursuits.

   It is necessary that companies take steps to bring changes in the corporate culture to ensure overall well-being of employees.

  The image of a “driven and ambitious” person, motivated to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, with all the focus in the world on the job, no matter what may come, actually comes with its costs and risks. The crisp formal attire, might hide cardiovascular and stress-induced chronic ailments.

Behind the calm, confident, controlled expressions on the face may lie missed birthday parties and parent-teacher meetings, unresolved issues with a loved one, half-hearted family outings with the mind being at work, exasperated by the “waste of time”.

Leadership in Little Things


There is the picture of a larger than life figure leading an army.

Sometimes there is an archetypal visual of a booming war cry.

 In a more contemporary imagination, we imagine world political leaders in their suits and blazers, shaking hands and signing treaties.

But being a leader doesn’t necessarily entail any of the above mentioned grandeur!

Leading teams in an office environment is definitely not about leading armies and countries. But there are some qualities which all leaders, in all environments display.

 Leadership is reflected in the minutiae of our lives.

 Leadership is not about force. In fact, what author Daniel Goleman has to say about an essential quality of a leader has nothing to do with bossing people around at all.

Goleman considers ‘Emotional Intelligence’ as the quality which puts a leader apart. Some seemingly simple characteristics of a person with high EI are:

  • Empathy. The ability to put yourself in other’s shoes.
  • Self-awareness and self-regulation. Being aware of one’s emotions and in control of them, especially during crises.
  • An ability to handle interpersonal relationships in a balanced way.

One has to realise that true leadership lies in the gestures and actions. Possessing a quality is one thing, acting over it is what makes a leader.

Let us look at the quality in the context of a workplace

  It is true that some designations, have “leadership” attached to it, for example a manager, director, etc. But a leader as such could be anyone, irrespective of their post. It’s the actions that show leadership qualities.

 Some projects often involve efforts of many people. A leader here is someone who:

  • Sets immediate and ultimate goal: it could be as small as setting up an unofficial deadline for all team-members.
  • Organises the roles of all those involved in the project.
  • Doesn’t simply “assign” responsibilities. Rather, he or she shapes the conversation in such a way that there is an element of choice of the team-members.
  • Appreciates and gives credit to everyone’s contribution.
  • Encourages to communicate ideas, no matter how bizarre one might feel they are.

   He or she listens to what each one has to say and then through dialogue and consultation brings each member to pick the responsibility which perfectly matches their capabilities.

  A good leader is almost always chosen unofficially and without any sort of announcement. There is a sort of unspoken, unanimous agreement working here.

  Meetings are tricky. Sometimes they might turn boring, or employees may feel they are pointless. A leader would be someone who:

  • Makes a suggestion about an agenda if the meeting seems to lack direction.
  • Keeps a tab whether everyone has said what they wanted to say.
  • Takes charge if someone is feeling hesitant in communicating.
  • Keeps a tab on the structure of the meeting: when did it begin, when will it end, what would this meeting cover and what the previous one did.

Leadership involves finding a purpose for everyone, through collaboration.

It is not about exercising power but about empowering your colleagues.

It is not about rivalries and ego-tussles. It is about creating an environment with good participation, dialogue, and flow of ideas. It is about making your colleagues comfortable and at the same time, making sure no one feels hesitant to step out of the comfort zone, including yourself.

Do You Need A Resume Or A CV?



You are done with your education, and you now feel ready to take on the  world of work.

Or you are just planning to get back to working after that much needed  sabbatical.

Your little one now goes to school and you finally feel you have enough time to rejoin the office after years.

BUT… there’s always a BUT, isn’t it?

The companies ask for a CV. You see the menacingly familiar word ‘resume’ all over the place. You have no idea how to go about creating it. You vaguely remember learning to create something like that in school, but that was years ago! Feeling overwhelmed to some extent is natural but that  shouldn’t drag you down, right? Especially right at the supposedly first step.


Preparing a resume and/or a CV (yes, the two are a bit different: we will get  to it soon) could be a daunting task for many. After all, to a great extent  “it  gives you away.”

So, here is a little guide as to what all you should look out for and what all you could include while making a CV.


First things first, let us get our concepts clear! Earlier there used to be a huge difference between a CV and a resume. But now the only difference is essentially of the length. Both include a summary of your work experience and education; only, the resume is ideally supposed to be just a page long. A  CV, short for  ‘curriculum vitae’  could be a little more detailed, with two or  three pages.


‘Resumes’ are used in the United States, Canada and Australia. CVs are  used everywhere in the world including the UK, New Zealand, Asia and the  European Union.

If this is a bit too complicated to understand, the good news is that the two terms are used in an interchangeable manner in India, New Zealand and South Africa.  You could now just focus on creating a CV and tweak it according to the country where you have applied.  (Source)

Now, let us get to creating one!

You need to list down your skills, that is, your key expertise. These are what the recruiters would screen through.

Your work experience needs to be added. You begin with the latest, then the one before, then the one before (you get the drill, right?) and right up  to your first job.


You also include your work tenure. You have to be particular here:include not just the duration but the years of joining and quitting. Make sure to include the location. Basically, where on Earth have you been when you were at this job?

Also, if you have had a particularly short stint at a role or you have had to change jobs too frequently, include your reasons. You don’t want to come  off as a job hopper to the recruiters! Make sure to convey your reliability  this way so that there is no fear that you would suddenly quit or stop  showing up at work.


You have to include your job responsibility. What all you handle at your  current job/ what did you handle at your previous job. Make sure to write  only your responsibilities and not blindly copy-paste the ones you might  come across from sampled CVs.

Essentially, you subtly sell and market yourself. It is a job “market” after  all.


You continue the self selling and the marketing and list down your educational qualifications. You write down your degree, the institution where you did  your degree from, the year you finished your degree.


You include your contact details: your name, very very obviously, but it’s always a good idea to check such a seemingly basic thing. Your E-Mail I.D, contact number, address, Skype I.D  have to be there.

Your age, and date of birth are important because certain jobs do have age limits.


The subtle self-marketing continues as you list down the languages you know.


You tell your prospective employers what a well-rounded personality you have as you list down your other skills, and your interest areas.

It is important that you are honest. Do not copy and paste. Imagine if everyone copied and pasted a few samples. Every other CV would end up looking the same. We certainly don’t want that, do we? A personalised CV is a lot more attractive.


Check, double check, triple check your spellings, punctuation and grammar. You may or may not be applying for the job of a proof-reader but you must use that skill for scanning though your own CV. Ask your trusted friends and family to go over the document. An external observer could spot mistakes you might have overlooked.

Check the layout. Make sure it looks professional and tidy. Imagine your reaction if you were the employer and a CV such as yours came to you.

The format should be that of Word and PDF. Provide the necessary links and URLs.


Draft and re-draft your CV if needed.


Once you have got a hang of it, and if you want to notch it up a bit, you could check out the concept of video-resumes. They directly showcase your communication skills, personality and your overall presentation. Although you must make sure that they are accepted where you are planning to apply.

Video or no video, using a neat photograph of yours accompanying your CV  is a good idea.


Lastly, what not to do: if you don’t have some essential job requirements, you shouldn’t apply. You could be under-qualified or over-qualified for the role. Besides this fact, in case some of your experience matched very well to the job role, then you may apply stating this fact , and highlighting it. Here, you do the self marketing and selling a little loudly and clearly.

Do not list completely unrelated skills. The skills you talk about on your CV should always be relevant to the role you are applying for. This is where tailoring comes in. For every role you should ensure you are highlighting the skills it requires and remove any completely irrelevant skills or experience.


It is always a good idea to research online as you go on creating your CV. Make sure you create something original. Use the samples just as samples.

Again, try to use your imagination and see if you would be pleased as an employer/recruiter if you received a CV such as yours.


Good luck!

How to Find a Balance Between AI and Humans in Recruitment


Unsurprisingly, this idea has seemingly become the lynchpin of the sales pitch for more than a few HR technology companies, a never-ending stream of dialogue surrounding the benefits of “removing the human element” from recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and training. The list goes on and on.

With this emerging trend that seems to be resonating well within the recruiting industry, it is time for a rethink. In theory, the concept makes sense: reduce manual time spent on low-value processes and increase time and attention on the strategic. Using technology is also helping reduce bias in recruiting. For example, tools we have at our disposal can “de-bias” job postings and that’s the right thing to do.

But speed should be the main criteria that technology tools offer to a recruiter. This point has been used by a growing number of vendors to sell the notion that technology (and eventual dehumanization) is the only way to make a valid decision in recruitment.

Here are three points these vendors need to consider:

1.They misunderstand the demands of today’s workforce

We use new tech to become more in touch with present-day job seekers and new hires. Of course, tech-savviness is a must-have for any recruiter today. But the problem is that there is something “experts” proposing the elimination of the human element in favour of speed fail to get. They fail to understand the most basic needs and desires of the millennials and, arguably, those of candidates in general.

While it is true that the emerging workforce is very reliant on social media and instant communications, with many preferring electronic communication over face-to-face, the concept of removing the human element seems to be looking only at the “instant” and completely ignoring the “communication”.

With all these advances in recruitment AI, tools and tech, we are tempted to focus only on speed and neglect candidate experience. We forget that real communication is the benchmark of quality candidate experience.

Imagine the frustration a candidate would experience repeatedly getting the same spammed messages from a recruiter with the same message sent to another ten recruiters before because they are using the same software that generates templates for every candidate. Why would anyone want to dehumanize the recruiting process and candidate experience?

Yes, today’s candidates want an instant response, but remember they expect communication to be a two-way thing. Regardless of the medium being used, there is always dialogue. There is back-and-forth with a living, breathing human.

That human may not be sitting across the table from them, but it would be a huge mistake to assume that any candidate would prefer instant one-size-fits-all generic email in lieu of customized responses. At the very least, your automated responses should be written with the recruiter’s tone of voice and company brand in mind with human strategizing in the content.

Yes, the A.I. and chatbots will bring benefits to our lives, but so far the technology is still new and not perfect by any means.

Communication with Chatbot (just an example)

Bot: Welcome, I am Alex, chatbot of company Acme. How can I help you?

Me: Can you give me the name of the recruiter responsible for the Hiring Manager role at SF?

Bot: I am sorry, I don’t understand. Can you rephrase your question?

Me: Can you give me the contact details for the recruitment team at your company?

Bot: I am sorry, I don’t understand. Can you rephrase your question?

Me: Can you tell me what the company’s EVP is?

Bot: I am sorry, I don’t understand. Can you rephrase your question?

Not the right candidate experience that I was looking for.

2.  They forget that emotional intelligence is still of the utmost importance
One stressful aspect for recruiters in the hiring process is planning the interview. In a positive light, there are a number of great tools out there that are fantastic for arming recruiters with additional information and insight as they are walking into an interview. These tools range in function from providing poignant (legally vetted) interview questions to helping understand what specific body language means. The A.I. behind is able to evaluate candidates and prepare a report for the recruiter.

However, what these technologies should not do is to solely dictate who does or does not get a job without a human appraisal. Solely entrusting a computer as the ultimate decision authority on a candidate’s ability to perform their job ignores the fact that, to date, there is no software in the world that can reliably measure, judge or understand human emotional intelligence. Maybe you are going to tell me that recruiters will never only trust the decision of some program. But, in reality, many people believe the fake news, just because they are too lazy to double-check facts.

Attempting to utilize currently existing technology in this function would be a vast waste of resources and offer no guaranteed results. The solutions we use today must provide guidance on the interview process and act as what they are—a tool for screening to help guide effective hiring decisions.

3. They still carry a false illusion of speed
Nowadays, recruiters, even well-meaning ones, get a bad name. It has reached a point where speed is more important than the accuracy and hard work. Spammy inmails and a lack of respect for job seekers and candidates have become the order of the day. Accompanied by the diseases of ineffective following up and biases like ageism, job seekers form negative opinions of the recruitment process.

But we can’t totally blame the recruiters here. When they move too fast, they make mistakes. They know that being the first to approach a candidate and present an offer is important. Being the second will not count as a hire in their KPIs. Many new tools were bought just to support the illusion of speed. In reality, they could quickly find the candidate, schedule the interview, but in many cases, the hiring manager will say to the recruiter the magical sentence, “Good candidate, but I would like to see one more.”

Speed is important, but sometimes it does not go hand in hand with a good candidate experience. Even with all the technology that recruiters have at their disposal they still treat candidates poorly. They do nothing more than run a resume through a software program looking for the right keywords matching the requirements of their open roles. And what surprises me is that, with all the cool ATS that companies are using, they are unable to send every candidate that applied a rejection email after they close the role. Tools are only as good as the people who are using them.

A call for change

I know that it looks like I am against A.I., but the opposite is true. I am big A.I. fan, I also built few chatbots. I just want to point out that we are focusing our attention on that technology with the hope that it will solve our problems. But people are missing the point that these tools are only there to help us, not to fix all problems that a company has. The best A.I. or chatbot on the planet will not fix toxic company culture.

Of course, we use cutting-edge tools to streamline our recruiting processes, greatly easing those complex legal/compliance issues. Additionally, technology will be of immense help in attracting great candidates and narrow down the applicant pool to the candidate with the best job fit. But if you are planning to create a bias-free recruiting process, the tools can only help you to solve one part of the equation. The second part, which is more important, is to create a culture that encourages leaders and hiring managers to recognize their own unconscious biases and foster an inclusive environment.

Most importantly, we should not forget the importance of basic human interaction and emotional intelligence. And as we continue to incorporate more innovative technologies to enhance human interactions and candidate experience, let’s keep in mind that it’s a delicate balance to achieve.