Check before you ‘Alt+S’

 

These days a lot of things are just a click away, your credit card payment, money transfer, a movie download, gifts to loved ones, some porn 🙂 and even some bad manners.
 

 

Remember how we spent all those classes in school learning how to write business letters? And remember how we struggled to memorize the letter format of from, to, date, dear sir, subject, body, salutation, name and designation? And no matter how well we learnt the formal letter format, our hands still trembled when it came to writing real letters to Principals, Teachers or job applications.

We were still confused – “do ‘from and date’ go to the right?” “Should I include ref: after subject?” “Should the subject be underlined?” “Does the salutation at the end come to the right or left?” “Do I say thanks or regards or thanks and regards?” “Are all these formats just fancy stuff they teach in school or do we really have to follow them?”

But we took them pretty seriously. For me, the worry of losing marks in an exam paid off in real life situations as I always had this habit of referring back to my textbooks before I wrote a formal letter, just to make sure!

I guess things changed quite a lot as we got introduced to the Internet and emails. With all the smileys, font colors and sizes, bolds and underlines, the letter writing act became a lot lighter, ‘kooler’! J Making spelling mistakes became a part of the style and lingo. Using ‘…’ instead of commas or semi colons became the in-thing.

No doubt emails are known for their speed, reliability and versatility, but are we forgetting that it is just a modern version of letter writing? Don’t we realize that formal letter writing is still needed for impressive business communication?

From what I see at work, not many companies are training their staff on email etiquette. Sometimes we fail to understand that what we communicate is a reflection of our feelings, and expressing everything we feel is not exactly the best way to do business. Because written communication is a risky affair; we are not sure if the receiver reads our bit the way we want him to. And emails and all the options that come with it, makes the process all the more tricky!

I know, we cannot be perfect, but we sure can learn a great deal from keeping note of the certain things that annoy us in emails we receive and the certain things we learn from annoyed receivers of our mails!

These are my top 7 annoying factors in a work mail –

1) Using capital letters in messages

2) Using red color fonts

3) Using multi-colored fonts

4) Adding “…..” as fillers

5) Very long subject sentences

6) Using too many abbreviations

7) Using high priority all the time

Even Scott Adams has put a good spin on email communications thru Dilbert. Check this out –

 

 

I know business schools lay stress on communication which involves emailing but I am not too sure if our high schools have updated this as a part of their written communication lessons. I think they should. Emailing has become such a common communication tool even for school goers that learning the Netiquette at an early age can help strengthen the basics to a great extent.

Here are a few references I found useful –

http://www.emailreplies.com/
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA012054101033.aspx
So next time you hit the send button, pause for a moment and imagine yourself as the recipient. If you don’t get put off by it, chances are others wouldn’t either! Happy emailing!

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US- IT job market situation – part 2

 

Nowadays, I find that a large chunk of traffic to my blog comes from H1 job market related information searches.

First of all, I love this feature by wordpress that lists the traffic source and the exact search phrases if it is through a search engine. I guess most blog providers do offer this facility. Seriously, hats off to them! It helps a blogger know what kind of information his visitors seek and what percentage of his visitors seek that information thereby enabling him trigger his forthcoming posts in that direction. I had also received a comment from a visitor seeking more information on the current state of the IT job market.

Now coming to the point, it is really interesting to see how attentive people are, to events in the US and how concerned they are about the scheme of things that may have effect on their American dream.

In March, I had written a post on the IT contract job market situation in the US as a result of the slowdown that I (like many others) have been noticing. The past few months have not been the best for IT job seekers in the US, be it contract or permanent. The reasons certainly track back to the mortgage meltdown and the consequent slowdown in the American economy. The slowdown has affected many companies across industries that have led them to cut down in projects/project allocation and overall spending which in turn has been having its effect on hiring.

From my experience in marketing consultants, the situation does not seem to have gotten better yet. Like I mentioned in my earlier posts, we can see an evident increase in companies that prefer hiring people with skills and experience in multiple technologies thereby saving the cost of hiring multiple people. Not many people are prepared for this kind of a demand; hence, consulting rates have gone down.

On the other hand, because the number of H1 visas processed has been increasing on a yearly basis, the supply of resources for any particular IT position is generally high.

In the meantime, we are also seeing positions going on hold or hiring being held up for unexplainable reasons (unexplainable by recruiters/ outsourced hiring companies). I am guessing the reasons could be as I mentioned earlier, scrapping of projects or cost cutting initiatives.

I would not like to inject any negative feelings or approach that may hinder one’s decision on what future course of action they would like to stick to, because my post is really not worth that much. But I would like to inform readers about the factors they might want to take into account for making an informed decision in considering coming to the US for a fulltime or contract job.

As I would prefer doing, writing down or just copy-pasting the following 10 questions and trying to answer them might be helpful –

  1. Why am I currently looking to move to the US? What could be the benefits as against staying back in India?
  2. What is my current area of expertise/ technology?
  3. Am I an expert? How can I differentiate myself against the hundreds of people in the same field of technology/expertise?
  4. In the present market situation, what are the basic and additional skills being asked for by companies who are hiring people in this technology?
  5. Which industries are hiring the most? Do I have experience in those industries? If not, in my area, are my chances good even if I don’t have industry specific experience?
  6. Can I consider coming on an H1/L1 from my current company and then move when the market is better?
  7. Does my intended profile require very good communication skills? Or does it ask for more technical certifications and versatility? Which should I focus more on? (Of course both are necessary for any kind of job, but the degree of compromise from the hirers may vary depending on the need and nature of the profile)
  8.  What is my flexibility with regard to rate, location, working hours?
  9. Do I know people who are in the US now, and are seeking jobs in the same area of technology as I am? Can I contact them for inputs?
  10. Do I have an alternative option or exit plan in case things don’t work out as planned (that is, I don’t end up with a job until a certain period of time)?

I have heard from experienced people that at least a couple of years ago, one didn’t really need to think too deep into how things would turn out during their job search in the US. The market was doing so well that there was a confidence that things would fall in place sooner or later.

I can say for certain that it is not that easy now.

I am sure answering the above questions carefully after good research can surely help one make a more informed decision and build confidence in oneself about his decision. One can check out popular job sites like dice, monster and careerbuilder and do a detailed analysis of the jobs pertaining to one’s area of interest. Getting first hand information from friends or relatives who already are in the US will also help a great deal.

Of course, there may be more questions that may need to be answered. I will surely add more if I can think of any. Meanwhile, people who find the above information useful (or not), please feel free to leave your thoughts, suggestions and opinions.

Good luck!

 

Musing or amusing?

 

 

I fall into this category of people who think that they are so far away from being perfect and that there needs to be a constant (as in, all the time and forever) review of themselves and people around them in order to get to that goal; the category of people who love to listen, read and ponder about life, situations, psychology, philosophy, principles and inspiration.

When I was a kid and I became aware (at least I thought so) that these thoughts dominated my “think time”, unlike other girls of my age who thought a lot about how to dress up Barbie, I felt I was gifted! Like I was going to be a next generation Vivekananda or Gandhi! I remember sometimes I behaved like I was a saint, telling my brother that if he lied, god with a capital G would punish him.

I even attempted to read huge philosophical books that my father bought; I thought big words didn’t really matter since I could easily grasp the context and message (because I was ‘gifted’!)

After 10 pages of knowing the truth (with the capital T), reaching out to god (with a capital G) and understanding the self (with a capital S) I would just close the book once and for all, forcing myself to realize that I already have it in me, then why read? But at that age, philosophy is a keyword that I learnt; and I liked it you know, sounded sophisticated for my age!

I grew up listening to class discussions and extempore by friends, slowly recognizing that my philosophical thoughts weren’t really growing beyond a level and that a lot of kids around me picked up the concept lot faster than I did! What was going on? I thought I was gifted! Are they too? Should I have read 10 more pages of the big fat books? Why am I not able to speak?

Since then, my idea (now, strategy) about being philosophical changed a little bit. Quotes still inspired me, but simpler ones. I chose to avoid the capital letters and go by the ‘do good and be good’ types. I was self-enforcing the idea that there was no capital or small letter god and no heaven or hell; its all about what you are and what you can do for the people around you. It is about character, nature, morality. No, not personality, but individuality.

I didn’t need to talk about good stuff as long as I was “doing” them.

Oh, and I still liked those books, but I didn’t call them philosophical anymore, I called them “inspirational”.

Years passed by and it was time to get married. When I met my husband, and we were trying to carry out a casual conversation during our preliminary rounds of interaction, I was confronted with the usual question “So, what kind of books do you like to read?”

Oh yes, I was ready for this. “Inspirational, motivational books” I said.

“Oh, you mean self help books, good good”, comes the reply.

What? self help books is what they call them now? What does that mean and why is that so? Is that a new terminology? Where was I?

Is it the self with a small or a capital S? Because, if it’s the capital S then I can understand but if it is small, come on, why would they do that? It is not that I need help for myself. I don’t need help at all. “I am what I am”!!

I hated that term. I still do. It is like saying, “nobody else can help you so why don’t you help yourself, please.”

Hmm alas! My strategy has changed again. I read less of what the world now calls self help books and have shifted to bio and autobiographies. These can be motivational; these can be inspirational too right?

I look back and realize that over the years, all that I considered musing has been nothing less than amusing!