Hard Work and “Hardly Working” – differentiating for Employability

Sometimes my thoughts appear to be radical and offensive to some people. I agree that differences of opinion exist, and I will move on.

In my long career in IT, I have interviewed many resources, some of whom are experienced and a majority of whom are fresh graduates. I always want to recruit candidates who have a good attitude, an urge, and skill for learning, and are hard workers. Most of the time, when I want to check if they are hardworking, the standard answer I get is, “If required, I will work hard.” When a candidate responds to this, it is obvious that they are positive about hard work and really want to give their best when a situation demands it. But I always feel these are the people who do not understand what hard work is, and these are the people who “hardly work.” 

There is a specific, unwritten syndrome among many college graduates about working very hard during exams. Yes, most of the parents also refer to their children by saying that their son or daughter is working very hard for the exams. And I think this syndrome is very much there in most middle-class families, where the parents ensure that their children work very hard during and before the exams. 

Because of this, we always think that working during examination time, day in and day out, is hard work. 

Let us look at a very simple example of an office boy who is working to clean office tables, chairs, and computers. Assume his working hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If the office boy happily and merrily goes around the office chit-chatting with the staff, maintaining good relations with all staff members, and tries to finish his job between 4 PM and 5 PM, working “very hard” the last hour, And between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., he works minute by minute, trying to clean all the tables, chairs, and computers. So for a person who happens to notice him between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., he appears to be a sincere and very hard-working individual. Do we consider this to be hard-working?

I consider this “hardly working.” Some people might argue that anyway, he is cleaning all the tables, chairs, and computers within one hour. What is your problem if he cleans all the tables, chairs, and computers as part of his job? But keep in mind that there is a quality issue on the way. The work is done in the “least possible way.” If he had started his work at 9 a.m. itself, he should have done the work diligently and might have cleaned the items much better than in one hour. The very reason he has been given 8 hours is to ensure he does his job thoroughly and diligently. And he cannot do the cleaning thoroughly and diligently in one hour if the company has allocated 8 hours. 

Let us apply this to our studies. The students who work hard during exam days and get good marks think that they are smart. However, they are basically killing the best possible mind-development exercise that will be useful for their entire lives. As you get into an engineering or bachelor’s degree, you are supposed to graduate from “monitored kid” to “self-guided adult.” 

As adults, we should first understand that we will not have a teacher next to us for the rest of our lives, explaining the textbooks and checking our learning with a predefined exam paper. So the goal of graduation is to understand a subject, explore the subject, experiment with the subject, and apply the subject so that learning of the subject is complete. The professor or lecturer will be just a facilitator and should not be a teacher. 

When a student reads the books completely from day one of his graduation periods, his mind matures to understand new words, concepts, etc. over a period of time. And as he reads more books, he will develop the ability to learn and apply new concepts on his/her own. And these simple skills need to be nurtured and developed fully during these 3 to 4 years of the graduation period. Hard work in the true sense is learning these subjects from beginning to end and developing the ability to communicate about them orally and in writing. People believe that working for exams just before and during exams is difficult to work because they overlook this simple and fundamental aspect of learning during graduation. Actually, it is against the requirements of employability. 

When you are an employee of a company, the company expects you to learn new things on your own, and you will not be able to pick up this skill quickly. Because it is not a skill of reading but a skill of learning about new topics. So you will be under tremendous pressure to learn this technique. 

On the one hand, you were unable to motivate your body and soul to read and learn during your college days, despite having all of your life to learn; how can you now? Does your company motivate you? The company pays you money and expects you to deliver, not try to motivate you to learn “how to learn,” etc. 

Most companies do not recruit based on your scores. They only give you eligibility to get into the selection process. However, your selection will be based solely on how much you have learned, how confident you are in your subjects, how much outside knowledge you have acquired, and so on. In all of these things, you will fail if you are just cracking your exams during exam time. On top of that, if you are able to crack an interview and join a company, again, the expectations will be to ensure you learn. So anyway, you will be losing out on the game. 

So passing the exams by reading just before the exam and during the exam is not a smart thing to do and is not at all hard work. It is hardly working and will have an impact on employability in the IT sector for high-value jobs.

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