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In-Depth Jobs


volume 34, 23-29, November 2019

Preparing for specialist officer

Job in Banks

Arti S

Those who appeared in the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) General Banking Officer preliminary  examination have got their results and successful candidates should be getting ready to appear in the main examination. Now the opportunity has come for those who are keen to become specialist officers in public sector banks whose offices and branches are spread all over the country.

We all know that banks require officer and clerical employees to offer their services to public. In case of officers we mostly think of general banking officers as while visiting a bank branch, we're most likely to come across such officers only. Specialist officers are usually posted in administrative offices of these banks and we don't get to see many of them.

Banks have openings for  both generalist and specialist officers. For specialist officers you need to have studied the subject of specialization, whereas graduates in any discipline can apply for the generalists' positions. Another interesting thing to note that is while all those eligible for specialist officers are also eligible (in terms of qualification) for generalist positions but its reverse is not true.

There are lesser vacancies for specialist officers but the number of applicants is also less. So the level of competition is not much different in the selection process for general banking or specialist officers.

Becoming specialist or generalist is a choice applicable in career and also in life. It depends on your aptitude, aspirations and preferences. As regards career path for  specialist officers  in government banks, opportunity to move to general banking is available after putting in certain number of years as specialist officers, as per the policy of individual banks. However for a general banking officer it is not always easy to move to specialised functions.

Now banks are also taking people with super and micro specializations. Such require-ment is few and far between and talent pool for such positions is limited. Much more vacancies can be found in broad specializations like Agriculture, Human resource, Information technology, Law, Marketing and Language. Most  government owned banks have specialist positions  of Agriculture officer, Human resource (HR) officer Information technology (IT) officer, Law officer, Marketing officer and Rajbhasha officer at entry level i.e. in Junior Management Grade Scale I. Eligibility norms  for these positions and functions of such officers are described below-

Agriculture Officer: In some banks this position has a nomenclature of Rural Development Officer, Agriculture Field Officer or Agriculture Development Officer. Agriculture is a vast subject and B.Sc. (Ag) is the most common graduate qualification in agriculture. Of course this qualification makes a candidate eligible for the post  but many other qualifications are considered as well. These include degree in Animal husbandry, Fisheries science, Horticulture, Veterinary science, Forestry, Agri-forestry, Pisciculture, Food technology, Sericulture, Dairy science/ Technology, Agriculture Marketing, Cooperation & Banking, Agricultural engineering and Agricultural business management.

As we all know banks are required to play a significant role in implementation of  many government schemes particularly rural development schemes. Banks have to make sure that a certain percentage of their credit goes to  agriculture which is divided in many categories  viz. direct agriculture, indirect agriculture and activities allied to agriculture. Then there is credit for agro-industries and agri-clinics. Agriculture officers  look after this portfolio of a bank branch and later at administrative level. They visit rural households, farm/landed property etc. to prepare inspection report which is put with loan documents. Preparing and processing of loan documents, monitoring of loan accounts and recovery of loans are included in their responsibilities. They also contribute in formation  of Self-help groups and promoting financial literacy . Agriculture officers  coordinate with business correspondents attached to their branch to make them play their role effectively. With some experience they can also be appointed as manager of a bank branch.

Human Resource Officer: Requirement of Human resource or HR officers exist in every medium and large organization and so is with banks. Personnel officer is also a designation given to these officers. Those who have  chosen HR as specialization in their Master of Business Administration (MBA) or  Master of  Management Studies (MMS) Degree may apply for this specialist post in banks. Postgraduate Diploma (PGDM) holders in Management with such specialization are also considered eligible. Other qualific-ations considered are Postgraduate Diploma  in Personnel management/ Industrial relations/Labour law. All these courses should be 2 years full time.

As HR officer you'll work at any of the administrative office of the bank and attend to regular HR work like transfer and placement, performance appraisal, salary/compensation and benefits, employee relations, training nominations, employee development etc. Afterwards you may expect to head the HR function in a regional/zonal office.

Law Officer: To apply for Law  or legal officer, you need to have a LLB degree which is obtained after graduation (BA/B.Com. etc.) or as a five years integrated course at National Law universities and other institutes. To become eligible you should also be enrolled as an advocate at a bar council.

In banking business contracts are made with depositors, borrowers and suppliers. Opinion of law officers matter when there is any breach of such contract or legal dispute arises. Employees and bank also form a legal relation and when needed you'll be required to define and interpret such relationship, prepare draft of notices given to employees etc. You also need to work in liaison with external lawyers engaged by your bank.

Marketing Officer : For decades banks  relied mostly  on walk in business but now gradually these are turning into aggressive marketers. Any of the qualifications like MBA /MMS/PGDM with marketing as specialisation makes you eligible to apply for the post of Marketing officer. Here also the course duration of two years and its being full time are pre-requisites.

As marketing officer you'll help the bank to achieve its targets  in different segments of  its business and in selling of third party products. You'll be aware that now banks also work as agents of insurance and  mutual fund companies to earn commission. In addition to contributing  in growth of business marketing officers help devise new schemes, organize business mobilization camps and take initiatives for brand/ image building

Information Technology Officer: Now banking all over the world has gone digital with heavy use of technology and you need people to manage this technology. To get into the role of  Information technology i.e. IT  officer you need to be a graduate or post graduate in Engineering or Technology in Computer science/ Computer applications/ Electronics and Communication or Telecommunication or Instrumentation/Information Technology. Graduates having passed  DOEACC B Level examination are also eligible.

As an IT officer  you'll look after the technology system in the bank either at micro or macro level. You  may have to play a role in procurement of software and hardware, ensuring that outsourced  technological services run well. You'll be involved in computer trouble shooting and implementation of business continuity planning. Database management, cyber security are the other work areas.

Rajbhasha Officer: Rajbhasha officers are also known as  Official  Language officers or Hindi officers. The prescribed qualification for them is  a Postgraduate degree in Hindi with English as a subject at graduation level or Postgraduate degree in English with Hindi as a subject at graduation level. Those having done their Masters in Sanskrit and graduation with Hindi and English may also apply.

The positions of Rajbhasha officers exist in every Central government department and Public Sector Organization as official language act is available to them. As Rajbhasha officer, you'll  be instrumental in facilitating this implementation. One major job would be translation of documents etc. from English to Hindi and vice-versa. Organizing Hindi workshops and guiding employees to do their work in Hindi are other duties of Rajbhasha officers.

Selection Process: All the eligible applicants will be first required to appear in  a preliminary examination conducted online where you'll be required to mark your answers on the computer screen. For the posts of Law and Rajbhasha  officer  the preliminary test will comprise of Reasoning, English language and General awareness with special reference to Banking industry. For IT, HR, Marketing and Agriculture officer General awareness has been replaced with quantitative aptitude. Except for the segment of English, questions can be answered either in Hindi or English.

Though qualifying list for main examination will be based on total score, it's necessary to obtain prescribed cut off marks in each individual segment of reasoning, English, General awareness or quantitative aptitude, as the case may be.

The main examination covers only one segment which is professional knowledge in the area of specialization. So applicants for the position of Law officer would be required to answer law related questions  and so on. For Rajbhasha  officers  the segment will be divided into objective and descriptive parts, for others  there would be only  objective questions.

Preliminary examination is only a qualifying examination. For interview candidates will be shortlisted only on the basis of their score in Main examination.

Preparing for different segments: Your initial focus should be to do your best in the preliminary examination as only then you'll continue to be in the race.

Test of  English language will cover comprehension, word meaning, synonyms and antonyms, checking correctness or otherwise of sentences and identifying the part containing the mistake(s), arranging random sentences to form a meaningful paragraph, filling sentences with suitable words etc. A good book on general English covering these may be referred to for preparation. Go through solved examples of comprehension and then practice yourself.

Test of  reasoning may have text and image based questions. There are certain types of questions which are often asked and can be solved  by adopting a particular method. Take this question-Some juices are fruits, No fruit is a potato, Some potatoes are cakes. After this information some conclusions will be offered and you'll be asked to choose the conclusions that follow.  Questions are solved by drawing circles representing given information. You've to get into the core of questions and make sure that your attention is not diverted to irrelevant options. For example in a question with information-Some leaders are honest. Satyapriya is a leader; the following options were given-Satyapriya is honest/ Satyapriya is dishonest/Some leaders are dishonest/Satyapriya is definitely honest/ None of these answers. The answer is some leaders are dishonest. Satyapriya doesn't have to come in the answer just because being mentioned  in the question.

In General awareness questions may relate to new developments in business, economy and banking, government initiatives, bank mergers, business books/ authors, national and global business summits etc. Regular reading of at least one financial newspaper and business magazine will keep you updated and help you do well in this part. Also a general knowledge book is needed.

Quantitative aptitude questions may not be simple and straight and may need more than just calculation. In a particular type  of questions series of alphabets may be given and the question may be like- which is the fourth element from the third element when counted from left. Another type of question can be - 20 litres of water is added to 80 litres of pure milk. After selling one fourth of this mixture, sufficient water is added to replenish the said quantity. What is the new proportion? You need to revise your understanding of basic maths to do well here.

As regards professional knowledge you've to refresh what you studied in your HR/Marketing/Law / Agriculture course, as is the case. More focus is to be given on common and popular theories. For example in HR,  questions may relate to motivation theories, industrial regulations (like Maternity bill etc.). Your textbooks are the best resource here. In case of Rajbhasha, candidates need to be good in translation (English to Hindi & Hindi to English), comprehension, word knowledge, idioms and phrases and should know the constitutional provisions relating to languages along with Official Language Act & Rules.

If you can  get hold of previous examination question papers, your job would be easier as you may prepare on the basis of their pattern. These papers can be found in competitive magazines, websites and guides. Also  the information booklet provided by examination conducting body  should be studied carefully. Practising and solving model question papers will improve your accuracy and speed which form the foundation of success in such examinations.

(The author is an academician. email artmumb98@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal.

(Image Courtesy : Google)