Sunday, July 28, 2013

DO YOU WANT TO JOIN THE NAVY (or ARMY) - TRUTH vs HYPE - CAREER GUIDANCE IN A NUTSHELL

CAREER GUIDANCE IN A NUTSHELL

DO YOU WANT TO JOIN THE NAVY (or ARMY)
Musings on
TRUTH vs HYPE IN RECRUITMENT ADVERTISEMENTS
By
VIKRAM KARVE

NAVY RECRUITMENT ADVERTISEMENT ON TV – TRUTH versus HYPE

Is the Navy terribly short of officers?

It seems so.

The Navy seems pretty desperate to recruit officers.

Otherwise why should the Navy position a recruitment advertisement on a Marathi TV Soap Channel in the middle of a prime time family tearjerker drama serial watched mainly by mushy housewives and nostalgic grannies?

Why target middle-aged housewives and grandmothers?

Do you expect them to join the navy?

Or do you think the ladies will be so inspired by the “romance and adventure” of naval life depicted in the ad that they will send their children and grandchildren into the navy?

Of course, the advertisement is all hype – what is shown in the ad is quite different from the reality of naval life.

DANGERS OF HYPE

Advertising is all about perception.

What you show or say in an ad is not that important.

What is important is the perception the ad creates in the mind of the audience.

Hyped up recruitment advertisements may create unrealistic perceptions about the life of a naval officer.

This may give rise to hugely inflated and quixotic expectations.

Having great expectations may lead to disillusionment when hype disappears and reality dawns – when you actually join the navy and experience the tough “rough and tumble” ground reality and trials and tribulations of naval life.

NAVY RECRUITMENT ADS – PERCEPTION and EXPECTATION

Recruitment Advertisements must be true-to-life and must aim to create authentic perceptions about a career and life in the navy.

This will ensure that prospective recruits have:

1. True understanding of naval life

2. Reasonable and realistic expectations

This will result in job satisfaction.

After reading a recruitment ad, one youth got the impression that you get free spacious married accommodation in the navy.

Well, firstly the married accommodation is not free (at least it wasn’t free when I was in the navy) – you are charged a substantial rent (called license fee) for your house.

Secondly, at every transfer, you have to wait in a queue for many months before you get your entitled house (during my time the waiting period in some stations was upto 2 years) – till then you and your family have to rough it out and keep shifting in various “B” type and “C” type accommodations all over town, some of which are quite decrepit and horrible.

And when you finally get your entitled house, by the time you settle in, it is time for your next transfer!

In fact, salary perks, service conditions and career prospects of the civil services are much more attractive than the defence services.

A young girl was impressed by the amount of leave the navy gives.

“Wow,” she said, “60 days annual leave and 20 days casual leave – that is 80 days leave in one year.”

I did not want to disappoint her, so I did not tell her, that in the navy, leave is a privilege not a right, and, in fact, it is very difficult to get leave when you want it.

Also, will any naval veteran officer please tell me how many times he or she has availed the full leave entitlement of 80 days in one year.

During my career, on many occasions, leave was restricted by local orders, sometimes to 45 days and once even to 30 days, and that too, in splits.

In fact, not getting suitable leave is one of the biggest factors of discontentment in the services.

An ad may say: “Join the Navy and See the World”.

The fact of the matter is that many other careers afford a better opportunity to see the world.

DO YOU WANT TO JOIN THE NAVY or DEFENCE SERVICES ?

There is a danger with all the hype they show in those glitzy navy recruitment ads – when reality dawns disillusionment sets in.

That is why I tell young people – “Join the Navy. It is a good way of life. But it is an important decision which will change your life forever – so join with your eyes open. Don’t get taken in by all the hype in the recruitment ads.”

The pros and cons, the trials and tribulations, the plus and minus of service life are best known to those who actually serve in the defence forces.

If you are thinking of joining the navy, or the army or air force, the best thing to do is to go and meet young defence officers of the army, navy and air force. They will give you a true picture of what is the current scenario in the forces.

If you are in Pune, go across to NDA (National Defence Academy), see the place, meet some cadets and ask them about the regimentation of early military life.

Go across to Army units, to Air Force Stations, to Naval Ships and Establishments, and see for yourself.

Talk to young officers, discuss the present day service conditions and career prospects, and ask them for advice. Talk to spouses and families too.

You must go across to military units and see for yourself.

As they say: “One look is better than a thousand reports”.

Before you take a decision to join the navy, or the military, think carefully.

Remember, the navy (or army) is not like other jobs.

The navy is lifetime employment – once you join the navy it is very difficult to leave.

For permanent commission, the minimum period you will have to serve is till your supersession for promotion which may take 18 years or so (and if you get promoted to keep serving till superannuation) and for short service commission you will have to serve till your contract is over, which is 10 years nowadays, I am told.

So, if you are an ambitious upwardly mobile “job hopper” then the navy is surely not the place for you. In the navy, career progress is gradual and career prospects are modest as compared to the industry.

NAVY CAREER GUIDANCE IN A NUTSHELL

To come back to the moot point, if I were to design a recruitment advertisement for the navy I would highlight 7 points of naval life:

1. HOLISTIC LIFE with CAMARADERIE

2. REGIMENTATION and DISCIPLINED LIFESTYLE

3. TOUGH TRAINING and DEDICATED LONG TERM CAREER with HARDSHIP at times.

4. “JACK OF ALL TRADES” CAREER PATH

5. REASONABLE SALARY AND DECENT PERKS

6. PERIPATETIC ROVING LIFESTYLE with attendant pros and cons

and, most importantly

7. PATRIOTIC “SERVICE BEFORE SELF” philosophy  


WHAT IS THE “USP” OF THE DEFENCE SERVICES ?

But frankly, I strongly feel that there is no need for the navy (or army) to advertise for recruitment, especially those hyped up ads on TV.

The officers and men are the best advertisement for the service.

A Naval Officer will tell you what the “USP” of the Navy is (and it is likewise for Army or Air Force).

So if you are a young man or woman wanting to join the navy (or army or air force) – go and meet some young officers, talk to them, observe them, and ask yourself: “Do I want to be like them? Do I want to live the life they are living?”


If the answer is “yes” then go ahead and join the navy.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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