Soft Power: The Building Blocks Of Employment!

For many years now, I have been hearing the same thing again and yet again. The thing is simple and comprises of a statement which is followed by a question! “I have been applying to so many jobs but there is no new update! How do I get a job man?” This is a problem that is faced by almost everybody in India and people of every age. Are you one of them? If you are then keep reading, and if you are not, believe me, you are going to learn something new!

We have to understand the fundamentals behind this “thing”. As per AISHE, which stands for All India Survey on Higher Education, in the Year 2018-2019 2,98,29,075 students enrolled in some undergraduate studies in India, this basically means that in a perfect world (assuming), after an average study of 4 years (another assumption), 2,98,29,075 students will be graduating. If we, as Indians, expect the Government to create that many jobs in the next four years, then we are just fooling ourselves. And, I say this not because Government is not working towards creating jobs as much as they can, but the fact that they are creating over two crore jobs in a span of four years while providing jobs to previous year graduates too is impossible.

So, it all comes down to the race! A race which determines who is better than everybody else. There was a time when people used to tell me that “You have to be better than just the one sitting next to you!” but in reality, this statement is completely wrong. These days I tell people that “You have to be better than everybody else!” Now, this is where the challenge begins for you.

We have to ask ourselves, what can we do to be picked out from the crowd in an instant? And, believe me, faking credentials in your resume is not going to work! We have to remember, we are in India where for the last many years, students are learning the same thing, being taught the same thing, and we are even using the same books! That’s worrisome, because it means, not just you have the same skill set as your classmate but the same skill set as your senior and as your junior. There is a huge probability that the job that you are aiming for, might slip your hands and be given to your junior. Has it happened before? Yes, it has, and it will again!

This is where I bring the concept of “Soft Power“! The concept is very simple, convert your soft skills such as fluency in English, or public speaking confidence, or presentation skills, or even debating skills, to Soft Power which basically are key points that will make you stand out from the rest of your competitors. I have browsed through thousands of resumes and in every resume I have seen words “Skills” and people will write the weirdest stuff in it to put up about six points that will include “Fluent in English”, “Hardworking”, “Quick Learner”, “Ability to work in Teams”, “Time Management” and the like. And here comes the disappointment, all of these so-called “skills” are nothing but fake.

A guy who says he is “Fluent in English” does not know how to speak English at all, doesn’t know the difference between Principal and Principle, does not know the principal difference between Need and Want. (P.S. If you think that my use of principal in the previous statement is wrong, please do look up the meaning of principal here.) Similarly, quick learners cannot write A to Z in reverse order in 30 seconds or less (Can you?), and the “ability to work in teams” don’t even remember their contribution in their senior project group submission!

Soft Power is “the one” group of skills that you possess as an Individual that sets you apart from the rest. You basically need to create a set of skills that you are comfortable with, you may not know them already but may desire them in yourself! It is like picking up flowers to create a bouquet. Every Soft Power is basically a soft skill you can learn given patience, time, and practice. Remember, depending on which soft skill you have picked up for yourself, it should follow the following pattern:

  • The minimum number of soft skills required to convert into Soft Power is 8.
  • Out of 8 soft skills, 2 soft skills should be generalized such as Language Proficiency or Hard work.
  • 2 soft skills should be easily learned skills such as Working in Teams, or Public Speaking.
  • 3 soft skills should be of moderate toughness such as Quick Learning, or Presentation Skills,
  • and, 1 skill should be of very high difficulty such as Time Management.

The ability to present these Soft Powers in real life is very important! Just writing empty words in your resume does not help you in any way. These Soft Powers make you stand out from the rest and pinpoints your prospective employer towards you in hopes that you have what he is looking for. Because, he is looking for much more than your education, your certificates, and your fancy college name. He is looking for a dependable subordinate that he can trust with his own job. And believe me, that is exactly what he is looking for, somebody he can pass work to!

Remember, “One man’s need is another man’s opportunity!” People think that this statement applies for Employee who is in need of a job and an Employer who sees it as an opportunity but just shift your mind to this. If you are in need of a job and he is looking for an opportunity from you, why don’t you change the situation into your favour by making him believe that he needs you! You have to make him believe that he needs your Soft Powers and you have the opportunity to set the pace from that point onward in employment negotiations.

Created by Udit Garg

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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