One of my guiding principles here at Cube Rules is focusing on career management for the 40-million knowledge workers across the planet, not just here in the United States where I live. I’ve consistently tried to convey these career principles using a global perspective because the career field is now a sphere.
But, there’s nothing like working with someone who is closer to what is happening on the ground in different parts of the planet to give all of us a perspective. To that end, I’m starting some guest posts that will provide some different viewpoints about career management from different parts of the globe.
Today starts that effort with Mrityunjay Kumar, who writes about career management in India on his blog Perspectives on Career Management. Mrityunjay is a software engineer by training and a manager in an IT company by profession. I’m privileged to have Mrityunjay write two posts on career management in India and this one is the first!
In this post, I want to explore what career management means to people in India and the reasons behind why it has evolved this way. Understanding a bit of history can help us understand future trends. In a subsequent post, I will explore how this has proved detrimental to career management/counseling as an industry. I will also provide some ideas on how to do well in spite of such advice not being readily available.
Most of the job growth in Indian industries has happened in the last 10-15 years (post-liberalization era). This has largely been driven by services and export expansion and growth, which has fueled a knowledge-driven economy. Most of this growth has benefited the Indian middle class families who have long invested in their child’s education. Growth in ‘knowledge-based jobs’ created great opportunities of these educated youths, creating a ‘new middle class’.
Given that this economic phase is so new, there are very few success stories and role models for these new careerists, and hence they resort to their parents’ experiences, including the fact that Indian culture places lots of emphasis on respect for elders and their experience. Friends and family have acted as career counselors for most of the youngsters in this era and continue to do so (more on this here). However, this means careers and choices of the current economy get compared to those of the old economy. Also, the previous generation has seen poverty much more closely, creating a survival instinct and craving for economic stability that kicks into every advice they give to these new economy careerists.
Here are some characteristics of Indian career model as shaped by these realities:
Of course, there are some ‘new careerists’ who avoid this career model:
In an ideal world, such distinctions between ‘new careerists’ and other workers wouldn’t be as acute as is seen in India. Career management/counseling services can also help bridge such gaps by aligning strengths to jobs and enabling information access. How these services have fared in India, and how one can succeed in spite of them, will be the topic of next post. Stay tuned.