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Mind Your “Profession Tongue’ – The Unlearning from Akbar Birbal Stories

Preface: Akbar The Great was the Mogul Emperor who ruled India from 1560 to 1605. He himself was illiterate, but he invited several learned people in his court. Among these people was Birbal, his most favorite minister because of his wit and intellect. There are number of folklore on Birbal in India. As an Executive Search & Recruitment professional during last two decades of my professional, I have tried to Unlearn (learn new lessons) from these stories and tried to use it in my profession to the benefit of my client and talented individuals I have met and interviewed.


One day a multilingual Brahmin (a learned person) happened to visit Akbar’s court. The Brahmin had heard a lot about the wise men who advised Akbar and so, addressing the Court, he said, “I challenge you to find out my mother tongue. If you fail to do so, you will have to accept defeat.”

The courtiers asked the Brahmin several questions in different languages and the Brahmin replied to them in the language that he was spoken to. He spoke all languages very fluently as if they were his mother tongue. The courtiers could not guess his mother tongue. And in the last Birbal was asked to try it. Birbal casually walked to the Brahmin and kept on staring him in his eyes but said nothing. Few moments went by and there was pin drop silence in the court. Suddenly Birbal lifted his hand and slapped the Brahmin with lightning speed. Brahmin yelled ‘What nonsense is this? What kind of behavior is this? How can you do this to me in Akbar’s court” and Brahmin yelled in Tamil. Then Birbal very humbly and with folded hand bowed to Akbar and said “My Lord, before I tell you the mother tongue of the Brahmin, I want to apologize to the Respected Brahmin for slapping him. It was only a trick to find his Mother Tongue. And if Brahmin wishes he can also slap me. “Have you found out what is the mother tongue of Brahmin” asked the emperor. “Yes Sire I have just found that the Brahmin’s Mother Tongue is Tamil” replied Birbal. “Tell us Birbal, how did you guess the Brahmin’s mother tongue?” asked Akbar “Very simple, Sire! A man will speak his mother tongue when he is in distress or shocked or awkward situation. When I suddenly slapped Brahmin he cried in Tamil hence his Mother tongue is Tamil”. Brahmin accepted his defeat and also forgave Birbal.

The Unlearning

A person writes and speaks the language of his profession or vocation in his resumes and in conversation. We named it “Profession Tongue “

Professional Observation:

As an Executive Search / Recruitment Professional when I read resumes I read it not in English or Hindi or in the language resume is written but in “Profession Tongue”. I would like to see if the person has used the right professional expression; appropriate terminology for his level, function and the industry. “Profession tongue” is different than mother tongue. When one speaks one’s mother tongue incorrectly it does not make much difference. However professionally, you can’t be forgiven if you chose wrong terms / words or make false or highly exaggerated and irrelevant claims. While speaking Profession Tongue you need to appreciate the difference between Jealous & envy or Hate & dislike, book Keeping & Accounting or Brand Management & Product Management.   Such errors get very prominently highlighted when expressed in Profession Tongue in the resume.

Most of the resumes are normally found to be longer than desired. Some are just short of an auto biography full of micro details that one finds difficult to finish.   Sometimes one also gets resumes with little or no details that make no sense.  Length of resume is inversely proportionate to seniority in management level of the person whose resume it is. . Ideal length is between one to maximum three A4 size pages. But most important is that a resume must express true level of understanding and speak an appropriate ‘Profession Tongue’. Can you accept a general practitioner claiming to have done number of neurosurgeries successfully? One can understand bandaging or putting stitches on the skull for a deep cut but not conducting neurosurgeries.

Some persons do have a genuine handicap of expressing themselves .So they take help and assistance of others to write their resumes. These days we get many resumes written by a professional resume writing services or sites. Such resumes look aesthetic but more often lack the substance. Sometimes you get a resume of an accountant based at a Plant Site that mentions Financial Planning, Investment Strategy, M&A as person’s achievement and key strengths. With little bit of probing and observation one can even make out which Resume writing service or site was used.  It is not difficult because each writer has its own pet style and format. These writers have their favorite words & proverbs which they use liberally in the resumes they write. In pursuit of making resume look better, resume writing services end up using most of the adjectives in the dictionary and are habituated in mentioning skills, roles and result areas that are much higher than the actual working level of that individual. Such resumes may have been written in flawless English but use most wrong Profession Tongue. It becomes laughable when couple of friends or colleagues happen to use same Resume Writing Service or site and end up applying to the same job in unison. Then one finds the differences in their resumes are their names, address and contact details. If one must use a resume writing service, ensure that it speaks only what you know and should not highlight the follies of resume writer. It is my observation that self-written resume use more balanced Profession Tongue than written by Resume writing services or sites.

For Executive Search Professionals or talent Acquisition departments resume management is a daunting task. Resumes fly in from all directions. It requires data entry of resume which is very cumbersome process. Most of us use an applicant tracking system which has some resume parsing facility that automatically culls/extract data from a resume. One of my ventures SURPaaS Collaborative Technologies is developing a very unique Universal Recruitment Platform – SURPaaS. It also has a resume parser. Unlike other parsers that are Keyword and grammar based, the algorithm of this parser is Profession Tongue. Does it work? Yes! The parser is in position to analyse to a great extent to which industry, function or level the resume belongs to. Going forward it can be made more accurate. Can the parser detect the anomalies of resume writer? Not yet but in near future it would be a reality. I am sure SURPaaS is not the only one experimenting in this area.

There’s no crime In being ambitious and targeting opportunity beyond one‘s current expertise or competences. It is your birth right. Many of us are talented enough to learn beyond their practical experience or management level and learn from others’ knowledge. Such person, if writes few lines giving a balanced reasoning on why should he/she be considered for the position in question, will make better impact even on a most conservative hiring manager or Executive Search Professional. Use Profession Tongue in your resume that you are confident, capable & knowledgeable enough to discuss explain and debate. Or be prepared to be slapped with rejection at the resume level itself or face humiliating situation during the interview.  Humiliating because interrogating (yes Interrogating) technique of the Interviewer is more likely to be similar to Birbal ‘S technique in the story. First make you feel relaxed then out of a sudden slap you with a most awkward question to catch you off-guard.

The Unlearning – ‘AAA’ Personality Traits

The Preface: Akbar The Great was the Mogul Emperor who ruled India from 1560 to 1605. He himself was illiterate, but he invited several learned people in his court. Among these people, Birbal washis most favorite minister because of his wit and intellect. There are number of folklore on Birbal in India. As an Executive Search & Recruitment professional during last two decades, I Unlearned (learned new lessons) a lot from these stories and tried to use it in my profession for the benefit of my clients and talented individuals I met and interviewed.

The Story

Apart from his sharp intellect, Birbal was also a devotee of Sri Rama and would not miss his prayers at any cost. Wherever Akbar went, he used to take Birbal along with him. During one such instance, they took a route through a dense forest. They lost their way and both were totally exhausted and famished. So they decided to rest for a while. Akbar wanted to look around the place to see if he could find a house to get some food. Birbal asked Akbar to excuse him and went on to his prayer. Akbar looked at Birbal and preached “Mere chanting of the names of the Lord will not fetch you food. You have to put in your own efforts. You cannot achieve anything otherwise’.

Akbar left in pursuit of food. In a little while he spotted a house. The inmates of the house were overjoyed to see the Emperor coming to their doorstep for food. They treated him to the best of their capacity. Akbar finished his meal and took a little food for Birbal too. He gave Birbal the food. “See Birbal, I told you.I made some effort to find food and I got it. You were just sitting and chanting Rama Nama and you did not get any food.”

After finishing the meal given by Akbar, Birbal looked up at Akbar and said, “I have just now experienced the power of Rama Nama, like never before. You are the ruler of the land. But today even you had to beg for food. And look at me, I was just chanting Lord’s Name here and the Rama Nama made the Emperor himself to get me the food. Such is the power of Rama Nama!”

The Unlearning:

Most take the credit for resolving a crisis during which they had factually done nothing except for praying to their GOD.

Professional Observation

As an Executive Search Professional after having identified the individual,it is very important to differentiate these traits otherwise it can prove detrimental  At MAGNA Global we give lot of importance to these aspects to safeguard the interest of our clients. How can we be reasonably sure that the person we are recommending to our clients is the actually the one with right traits? After lot of hit and trial, I devised some matrices for evaluating Managerial and Leadership positions. One of them is named as ‘AAA’ Traits.

  1. 1st A – Anticipation – A Manager / Leader must be able to anticipate forthcoming problem or needs. In this story both Birbal & Akbar failed to anticipate the need for carrying the food with them in their journey.
  2. 2nd A – Act – They must act in time to avert or resolve it. In this case, Birbal failed to act at all though it seems to be his prime responsibility. Akbar took upon himself and lead from the front to resolve the crisis.
  3. 3rd A- Align – Akbar is yet to align the organization to find permanent solution to solution

By questioning prospective probable on AAA traits, during the interview & selection processes, one can reasonably judge the capabilities of the individuals.

Some examples are:


  1. Why were you or your company not able to anticipate the problem / need in advance? When did you actually realize the likely hood of the problem?

One who is used to anticipate will start giving many logically deduced indicators and explain the reasons for failure. One who is not used to anticipation will generally start putting the blame on someone else.

  1. How did you act? What made you to take a particular direction in response to the situation? E.g. in this story how did you decide which direction to take to find food (Of course, searching on Google cannot be the answer).

One who is the acting type will enumerate number of ways & means at his/her disposal to avoid or resolve the crisis. And you know what other kind does!

  1. Align – How did you ensure that it does not happen again in future or does not happen unexpectedly? This is true leadership trait. Managerial level can only give operational solution. The type of answers will decide their capability and maturity level.

In this story Akbar is yet to find permanent solution to align which he did later on by putting service posts with water and food along the journey path.


This matrix can also be used for self-evaluation. I suggest rate yourself objectively and in an unbiased manner (on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 being the lowest & 5 being the highest) and see how you Score on AAA Matrices. The best way to do is to take at least 5 situations/ anecdotes from your professional, personal & social sphere in the recent past and rank yourself on AAA matrix. Find out which ‘A’ you excelled and which you ‘A’ you did not do well. If a pattern emerges then that a particular “A” you seem to be lacking or excelling. That will give you a way to improve. How to improve is another question which is outside the purview of this article and frankly also beyond purview of my specialization.Rate others while selecting and see how it works for you. Ratio of each A will be different from position to position, role to role and from organization to organization. We are also trying to embed these matrices in the assessment module of my new venture Universal Recruitment platform – SURPaaS. I am sharing my Unlearning experience with a hope that it will help others and sincerely request critical comments to improve it further.

Why Organizations Outsource HR Duties

Every company either small, big or a startup needs to enforce human resource laws and policies to secure their employees. So, does this mean the organization should have an HR department implemented inside the entity?

For fast growing businesses the major problem for them might be managing the needs of their workforce in time. A popular trend in many of the business organizations today is outsourcing of the HR department for managing hiring and recruitment process.

According to Jan Kruchoski, principal-in-charge, CliftonLarsonAllen Search LLC in an article by Dan Emerson on stated that it entirely depends on an organization when they want to hire an HR leader. Jan also said that a highly focused professional service firm may want to make that calculation earlier than a small manufacturing business with shift workers, who may not want a full-time HR specialist.
A Minneapolis based HR consultant, Arlene Vernon highlighted the need for companies that often hire entry-level employees needs to have an in- house HR leader to handle job descriptions, employee orientation, managing benefits and maintaining personnel files.

Some of the common functions of an outsourced HR department in small businesses are mostly payroll, preparing necessary documents for the employees, keeping record of employee details etc. Companies who do not have an HR department mostly face problems while firing an employee because firing an employee requires written policies and documentations. If you fail to provide the supporting papers for that decision, it can make an employer accountable for paying unemployment benefits and potentially trigger legal liability. So, it becomes very essential to have an HR specialist who can manage the hiring and firing of employees either on-staff or outsourced, as said by Vernon.

Ken Viggers, HR management services director in RSM McGladrey’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa, expressed his views on the same saying that when organizations contain at least 50employees they often outsource functions to a contract HR manager. However, companies having 100 or more employees require a full-time, in-house HR manager. HR generalists are responsible for doing those types of jobs.

By |December 3rd, 2014|Standard Post|0 Comments|

The unlearning from Akbar Birbal Story

The Most Common Profession

Akbar’s Question:
One day Akbar resolved to find out which profession was the most Common Profession in his capital. He asked the
courtiers; some said trade, others said masonry, but the general consensus was on soldiering.

Birbal’s Answer:
When Birbal’s turn came, he arose from his seat, bowed before Akbar and said, “Your Majesty, in my opinion the most
popular profession is medicine.” This was surprising as one could count the number of physicians in the city. The court
physician was furious and said that Birbal had no clue about how difficult it was to train in this profession and advise
people on medical problems.

Birbal smiled and said, “I can prove my statement, Your Majesty, if you come with me tomorrow morning.”

Akbar agreed, and the next morning met Birbal on a major crossroad in the city.
Birbal had a bandage on one hand. Akbar looked at it and asked what the matter was. Birbal said, “I cut my hand while
chopping fruits for breakfast. Please, Your Majesty, you will have to write down the names of all the physicians we come

“I will do that Birbal, but be sure to wash that wound well and apply some ointment on it,” said Akbar.

I will, Your Majesty, but only after I have proven my statement,” said Birbal.

They sat at the busy crossroad all through the day. Birbal was a well-known personality, so everyone who passed by
asked Birbal about his injury and advised him about some medication or the other. As the day wore on, the list grew long
and by afternoon Akbar was tired of writing names, so he suggested they go home.
Birbal asked for the list and said, “My Lord, you forgot to write your own name at the top of the list. You were the first
one to advise me!”

Unlearning from story:
What is free or cheap or commonly available, need not be most suited. When it’s critical, there’s no alternative to Professional help.

Professional observation:
In the similar vein of story, as per professional observation, in today’s world, after Medicine profession, second most common Profession is Recruiting or Talent Search. Any common man/woman starting from house wife to CEO has an idea how to search a talent. Everyone tells you how he/ she had found talent successfully and advises you to do the same.

But the experienced & competent recruitment consultants india / search Professional is worried how to find new ways to hunt good candidates for their clients. They (Professional Searcher) don’t talk of solution before knowing facts & understanding the constraints. Professional Searchers know that they are requisitioned only when in-house or common efforts do not yield results. Professional Searcher knows that in this fast paced world. Searcher’s competence lies not in learning but constantly unlearning .

We, at Magna, try hard to unlearn of the art of searching. Despite of doing many tough searches in the past, we still find ourselves nothing but bright students of science of Search. Talent Search – A science which is yet to be fully discovered. We are not the largest Executive Search company in the world but we are definitely among the top tough search ones. We advise our customer to refer us only when in-house efforts does not yield results or when Other Recruiter fails

By |December 3rd, 2014|Standard Post|0 Comments|

The Dos and Don’ts of hiring talent from your competitors

While the job market is stronger than it has been in years, the search for qualified talent is growing more and more challenging. Employers want to hire candidates that have theright experience, are familiar with their industry, and are a culture-fit. So for many managers, the only seemingly feasible way to find this perfect candidate is to hire them from competitors. While hiring from one’s competitors may seem like a simple recruiting solution, there are certain aspects, like non-compete agreements, that need to be considered beforehand. To help you determine whether hiring talent from your competitor is the right move for your company, consider these dos and don’ts:


People who are doing well in a role and are happy with their company are not going to risk leaving and becoming dissatisfied with their new position. This means that you are going to have to provide an incentive if you want a competitor’s employee to come work for you. The easiest incentive you can provide is a salary increase. It shows the candidate that you are truly interested and believe they are worth the investment. However, if increased compensation is not in your budget, there are other ways to incentivize a career move. For example, you can offer equity in your company like many early stage technology companies have done when cash was tight and prospects were huge.


Non-compete agreements are issued, amongst other reasons, to prevent employees from competing against their original employer in the event they leave. In other words, many non-competes are meant to prevent, or at least discourage, you from hiring your competitor’s talent. While some companies choose to disregard these agreements, it is imperative you have an attorney look over a candidate’s non-compete prior to issuing an offer letter. The repercussions vary based on how strict a company enforces their non-compete agreements, but in some cases lawsuits will be taken against both the employee and the new employer. So before even thinking about offering a candidate a job, make sure they 1.) don’t have a non-compete agreement and 2.) if they do, consult with an attorney before you find yourself in hot water.


Hiring a successful candidate from a competitor does not mean they will immediately be successful with your company. Just like any other new employee, they will need time to ramp up and to go through training in order to thrive. Like most training programs, they should gain a complete understanding of the company, what differentiates the company from their previous employer, the systems and tools needed to go about daily operations, and the company culture as a whole. By providing them the same training as any other new employee, you’re setting them up for success. Before deciding to hire talent from a competitor, it is important to sit down and evaluate whether it is the right choice for your company. While the benefits of hiring successful employees from your competitors can be immense, the risks are just as great.