Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What Is The Best Career Advice?

Mashable.com run an article on the above subject recently. They are not industry-specific but applicable across the industry whether you are in the finance, IT, engineering or media. I suppose the examples given are by people who had already been in the working world for a while and they had been proven useful over time.
I would like to add two more principles that I think are particularly helpful from my observation.
Be credible – people like to deal with people that are reliable. Be the “go-to” person. Build your reputation based on that. You might have skills or talent but if you lack credibility, no one wants to have anything to do with you in the long run.

Be helpful – this seems to be so easy but trust me, some people underestimated the power of lending a hand to help someone who is in need. “I owe you one, mate” – you would not know the meaning or power of your act until you desperately needed a favor yourself. But if you do not start sowing when you can, you won’t be able to reap it in the future.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Job Hunting Techniques That Destroy Hiring Chances

It’s no fun to be out of job or unemployed. I don’t claim I know better but looking at some of the job hunting techniques used by some job seekers, I realize desperation can sometimes drive people to do things that harm their career or hiring opportunity instead of helping them.

The following are some of the glaring ones that I observe recently.

Send out resume to employers/head hunters in one email

Some job seekers resort to sending out masses of unsolicited resumes. They thought by sending as many resumes to as many people as possible, the chances of getting an interview will increase. It’s not totally fruitless if some planning is in place. However, what is a BIG No-No is sending a cover letter with resume to potential employers and head hunters in one email, with the recipients of the email display for all to see. Yes, what I meant was they don’t even bother to use the bcc. This is disastrous.

Apply every job advertised by the company

To increase their odds, they apply for every single job advertised by the same company. With online job portals, it’s just a matter of clicks. But by doing so, they only managed to achieve one thing: annoy the Hiring Manager. In other words, even if they do fit into one of the positions, they might be overlooked because of this silly act. Job seekers need to be focused; be targeted. The right approach is to pick the job that fits their skills and experience.

Use Only One Resume and Cover Letter

There were so many occasions when I read a cover letter that was attention to another employer and when confronted, they did not even react with shock as though this is a common anomaly. Job search should be a serious business. If no attention is paid to such details, how do you expect employers to trust them for the jobs that need even greater attention and precision? Sure, with emails and online job portals, job hunting has never been more convenient, yet if no deep thinking or deliberation is dedicated to carve a proper and targeted letter, this exercise is futile to say the least.

Job seekers need to plan ahead and use job search techniques well.

If you are unemployed, avoid the above. Do not let desperation takes over and destroy your chances of being short listed as a potential candidate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Accept A Job Offer

You received the good news - you are hired! Are you going to sign on the dotted lines and call a party for celebration immediately or take some time to do a bit of thinking work first? Although we hate to admit it, most often than not, we allow our emotions to get the better of us and rule most decisions. If you find yourself accepting an offer when… “I think I’ll take the offer since the hiring manager is so gorgeous”, then this is a red flag. Knowing this is part of our human flaws, we should develop some kind of formula to help us to be as objective as possible so that our decision will be a “thought-through one” backed by good common sense.

So what are some of the relevant questions you should be asking? Perhaps this list will be helpful.

  1. Is the job scope what I’m looking for?
  2. Can I perform the job? [to be found incompetent can be a stressful ordeal]
  3. How stable is the company? Have I done enough research?
  4. Can I work with my immediate superior [usually the Interviewer]? Do I think we have a good working chemistry?
  5. Is the location appropriate? Can I see myself traveling to the office day in day out in the next few years and will not be affected by the distance?
  6. Does this job provide me the opportunity for growth? If I have to leave the job in two years time, what kind of opportunities await me? [similar to if you are buying a new car, the question is,  what’s the resale value?]
  7. Am I fine with the business philosophy or ethics practiced by the company?
  8. Is the package offered a fair and reasonable one?
  9. I started out hunting a new job with this reason – is this being answered upon me taking this offer?
If your answer is “Yes” to all or at least 80% of the questions, then you should open your champagne to celebrate. But if you answered “Yes” only to 50% or less, this opportunity is probably a questionable one. If that’s the case, take some time to evaluate again. This exercise seems simple and sensible enough and the questions are by no means exhaustive. You might want to add a few more that are unique to your situation. The purpose of this approach is simply to make you think.

Do not accept an offer without much thinking and when another better offer comes along, you change your mind. That’s bad job ethics. Never accept an offer when you are not sure you are going to start work for certain.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This Is The Best Time To Find Jobs

It’s November going to be December soon. This is the time when the schools are on holiday and most professionals will also take the opportunity to clear their leave by taking long vacation. In the recruitment world, this is usually the quiet season.

But if you are a job seeker, is this the time to wrap your arms around and do nothing?

Some companies and HR Dept. with outstanding vacancies have to ensure KPIs or targets met by filling up the vacancies before year-end. So, what better time to get yourself noticed when time is running short for the Hiring Managers?

Some companies with policy of “use it or lose it” budgets, might also want to quickly speed up their hiring process before year end. If you happened to be the guy that fits the job, you might be offered right away.

Your chances are higher is also partly due to lesser competition. Many job holders might want to wait for year-end bonus before they decide to make any move.

Precisely when so many temporarily stop their job search, it makes this time of the year a good if not better time to double your job seeking efforts.

The advice is this: don’t take a break from job hunting at this time of the year. For all you know, the unexpected holiday gift may be in the form of a new job offer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Really Annoys Me… (telling this to Hiring Managers)

Time and again, we hear grouses from employers about the lack of ethics on the part of the job applicants. I think we should sometimes turn the table around and find out what the other side has to say. And mind you, they have their portion of complaints too.

So here you go… the things the Hiring Managers/Employers do that annoy the job applicants.

1. Was told during the interview that the applicant’s experience does not match with the job scope. You got to be kidding? And ends with this, “I’m sorry. I was too busy. No time to read your resume beforehand.” A “Sorry” is not quite good enough, don’t you think so?

2. Being interviewed by several people at different times and questions asked were repeated. At the end of the day, the applicant suffered from a hoarse “sexy” voice. C’mon, can the employer plan ahead and get their act together?

3. Called in for second interview and was told the company can’t match the asking pay and therefore can’t offer the job to him/her. This is a waste of time and needless to say, giving false hopes to candidates as most often than not, a second interview usually ends with the deal sealed. On another hand, it’s amusing because a rejection can always be done via a phone call or email. Is the employer trying to be courteous? Then you got it wrong!

4. Verbally offered the applicant the job but changed their mind after that. Whatever explanation given after, no amount of justification can mend the damage. If an employer can’t keep his word, that speaks a lot about the company.

5. The classic one has to be this: made to WAIT for a job interview, not 10 minutes but it can be as long as an hour. Where’s the respect? I think employers should not justify their action by saying it’s a test of patience. Lousy excuse.

I believe job search ethics apply both ways. If you want the applicant to respect your time and be punctual, you should do the same too as the Hiring Manager. Agree?

Do you have an annoying experience to share with us?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flexi Work Is The Future?

Talk about flexi work has been around for some time now but the execution is slow in coming. Why? I think it’s a situation of when things don’t need fixing, you do nothing. 

But when talent is scarce to come by and the ones you want to keep decided spending time with family makes more sense at certain point of their lives, employers need to give “flexi hours” a real good look. 

And frankly, it’s not so hard to implement flexi work, thanks to technology. So if your work can be done with a phone, computer, internet line - that basically qualifies you for flexi work. 

A few years ago, one of my Consultants decided to cut down on her working hours as she wished to spend more time with her young children. I have no problem introducing flexi work because the nature of our work is such that it’s possible to work from home. If a meet up either with client or candidate needs to be done, it’s possible to schedule the appointment that suits both parties and not necessarily needs to be at the office.  As for other tasks such as research and screening of candidates, the Consultant can perform them via a computer with internet access and a mobile phone, and all these can be done in the comfort of one’s home. So it was a win-win situation for us. My Consultant gets what she wanted and I managed to keep a good staff.

So when your job is valued on piece-meal basis or by the results you generate (and the process of how you get it done is immaterial) then flexi work makes huge sense. Think Writers, Programmers, Consultants and Designers.

But certainly not all jobs qualify and make the case for flexi work. We can’t expect a job like Receptionist to qualify for that. If a job is office-bound, i.e., you are hired to be present at the office or the site so called your work place, such as Product Promoter or Retail Shop Sales Assistant, then flexi work might not be applicable. 

The other factor that’s worth a mention would be those that have proven to be reliable in an environment in which no or limited supervision is required. And that can only be established when an employee had proven himself/herself over a course of time. 

But as we progress and with our work revolving around technology more and more each day, and as people begin to advocate better work-life balance, i.e., quality life, the idea of flexi work will be increasingly accepted and embraced.

Recently, a portal flexworklife.my was just launched in Malaysia. It said in their website its aim is to build a network of employers and talents to optimize work-life integration while maximising work efficiency and enhancing employee engagement. There are some job opportunities which offer flexible working arrangements being put up. If this is what you hope to explore, go check out.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When Is It The Time To Move On?

A group in Linkedin by the name of Connect: Professional Women’s Network,Powered by Citi recently has a discussion on the subject above and managed to garner a number of great responses. 

I think it’s a valid question because we do ask ourselves sometimes. Probably the fact you are reading this, this question is at the top of your mind now. I think it’s great to know the signs or indicators because moving on is a huge decision when the answer might just be a short vacation.

So, what's the best gauge? 

Perhaps the following responses might give us some clues:-

  • In general- a good indicator is- "Am I getting energy from this job or losing it?"
  • When you are bored more often than not....when you are not using the creativity of which you are capable....when you can afford it. It's always good to blend practical decision making with job satisfaction percentage.
  • Prior to setting up my own business, for me it was when I no longer felt challenged in what I was doing and found that I was getting bored and restless.
  • Realizing I am losing more than I am getting from work. This happens over a course of years. When I feel like work is draining me in a negative way, it's time to assess the situation.
  • When you show up for work, and have no more ideas for the company or the office itself. If everything has truly dried up, and you risk becoming a robot at work, time to move on.
  • I believe when you feel you can no longer do what you do best the majority of the time and you don't feel as though you are learning and growing in that role, or in that organization, it may be time to move on. Also pay attention to your internal clues will tell you. If you feel drained and the thought of going to work really weighs on you, it may be time.
  • I always encourage people to look for signs that they are valued more outside their company than inside. When your company takes your skills or contributions for granted or doesn't seem to value what you bring to the table as much as people you collaborate with externally, it may be time to start conversations with those who value you more.
  • The proportion of time spent using strengths is a good indicator of whether or not one is personally fulfilled in work. When the majority of the time--not just a day or week, but the overall pattern of work hours--is spent on areas other than strengths, it's time to find a different role, different company or different career. There needs to be an alignment of head, heart and gut for a position to work well. If one is out of line, it's time to make a change.
  • I have 2 triggers both learned over a long life of mostly great jobs.
    1. When it is clear that your skills aren't appreciated at the level you need personally.
    2. When your skills and compensation level don't match. The appreciation sometimes has more value than the money. Maybe the best indicator is when all you get from an annual review is another job title. If you are getting more responsibility and no compensation then something is wrong.
  • When you realize your values and those of your employer have diverged so wildly, there is no possible way to continue on the same path. When you are getting the accolades, but not the promotion. When you are offered no opportunity to grow into the role you know you can excel at, because your supervisor won't recognize your potential in anything but the niche you've already been assigned in his/her mind.
  • When the job is no longer fun. When getting up and going into work gets harder and less enjoyable and becomes more like a task and just walking through the door makes you unhappy, then it is time for a change.
  • You move on when you get up in the morning and think Oh S---! I have to do this again!
  • Satisfaction comes in many forms. I realize that financial security is not my big motivator, and perhaps that is because I've not had the experience of living on the edge financially. I am very conscious of the limitations of time, and I consider the use of my time as an important measure. If this is my last day, how do I want to live it?
  • I like the "Grow and Go" technique. Whenever I feel that I have gained sufficient knowledge to do all that my position requires and it no longer presents a challenge to me, then it's time to move on to the next level. If that's not possible where I am, then it means looking outside of the firm. I don't think a person should stay in a position until they are bored, depleted, or doing just enough to get by.
  • For me, it starts with prayer and the direction God is taking me. If I'm working for someone else it's when I know that I've given everything I have into it and am still hitting a wall. I've honored my leaders... I've given the best of myself into a role and in the job... I've done all I know to do to stand strong. I haven't quit or given up just because it was hard. I went beyond my emotions and kept trying to "make it work". --Years ago someone told me if you don't have peace don't "do this or that". In a "role" or "job" when I no longer have peace that I'm in the right place for my life, and I can sincerely say I've given it everything, it's time to go. All of that is wrapped up in what God is speaking to me at the time.
  • Life is not about being stagnant, we have so much to live for and strive for and all we have to do is keep trying new things, venture out, find your spot in the glory of the sun as it shines on your lovely being!
From the comments above, there seems to be a consensus on the point when you feel bored, undervalued and not challenged, then it’s time to pack your bag and go.

Don't underestimate ourselves - we can out-grow our jobs!

But that’s the “push’ factors, those that affect your current position. On the other hand, we can have “pull” factors, say in the form of an amazing opportunity that is too good to be missed out. That is definitely a sign we should deeply consider.