Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Biggest Career Mistakes You Can Make

There are certainly a lot of advice out there on the career mistakes we can make and some of them are pretty sound. A good piece of advice came from Deepak Chopra, here. So I’m going to list down his three points plus two more from my own.

1. Setting low expectations 

While some people are gifted with “roaring self-confidence,” most are insecure and uncertain, he explains. “They want to feel safe, and they think that by lowering their expectations, a sense of security will come to them. It isn’t true.” He says setting your expectations too low may keep you trapped in a job that has a low possibility of turning into anything worthwhile. “For every copy boy who becomes editor of the newspaper, every tour guide in Hollywood who sells a blockbuster script, there are hundreds more who remain stuck in those jobs,” Chopra says. “It’s not really the job that keeps anyone stuck; it’s the psychological limitation of setting your expectations too low.”

2. The certainty trap 

“Life is uncertain, and the vast majority of people feel so uneasy about this that they seize on certainty when they shouldn’t,” he says. Especially when it comes to our careers, so many people are inclined to take the easiest and most comfortable path — they pursue a job that others expect them to pursue, base their decisions on others’ opinions, and avoid risk-taking at all costs. “Yet real success is built upon making peace with uncertainty, turning the unknown into a field of creative possibilities,” Chopra explains. “Personal uncertainty is hard, undoubtedly. It takes a conscious effort to place yourself in a position where things are open-ended. But if you don’t, the other alternative is being in a position that’s closed off.”

3. Not seeing how much you will grow 

When a professional applies for a job, they typically try to prove to the employer that they can handle the role and its responsibilities. But this isn’t necessarily the best approach. “This ritual is empty, a piece of drama that’s supposed to show confidence,” Chopra says. “In reality, great careers are built on growth.” Instead of showing that you already know how to handle the job, you should strive to prove that you have the skills and experience necessary to succeed, but point out that it’ll require some learning and growth on your end. Then make it clear that you’re ready for this type of challenge. “Seeing your own potential to grow isn’t easy, especially when you are young. But it’s a mistake not to see that you will grow, meaning that your future self, although out of reach, has an enormous amount to offer,” Chopra says.

4. Jumping from industry to industry, too often 

Do you know how much time is needed to learn and get yourself familiar with an industry? Well, it varies from industry to industry but one thing is certain, it takes time. Very often, I hear remarks from Sales Professionals along this line, “The industry doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that I have good selling skills and hence, give me anything to sell, I can do it.” As much as I like that confidence, to be able to perform well in an industry means you must know it well enough – knowledge gives you confidence! But more importantly, your contacts and network! If you change industry, most often than not, you can’t leverage on your past contacts anymore. I will say, what a pity! It means starting all over again. The contacts in this context are more valuable than the skills you possess. So plan your career move carefully.


5. Thinking too much about the money 

Money is and should be one of the factors to consider when making a career move. However, if that’s the only thing to consider, then that’s a huge career mistake. I recall a remark by my friend with a business/accounts degree some time back. Upon his graduation, if he had joined an audit/tax consultancy, his starting salary would be a mere RM700 whereas joining a bank, the starting pay was RM1400. He had chosen the latter, solely because of higher pay. No offence to those that are working in the bank but many years later, my friend regretted he had joined the bank as he felt stuck - his 10-15 years of experience in the hire-purchase department somehow is not demanded in any other organization apart from the same industry, while his other course mate that started out as a Tax or Audit Trainee is now Chief Financial Officer in a big corporation and has the flexibility of moving from one company to another if wished to. The point is NOT about not working in banks but to give priority to the type of work you would enjoy doing or good at, rather than the money alone.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Make Learning Your Passion

Management expert Philip B. Crosby once said, "There is a theory of human behaviour that says people subconsciously retard their own intellectual growth. They come to rely on cliches and habits. Once they reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world, they stop learning and their mind runs on idle for the rest of their days. They may progress organisationally, they may be ambitious and eager, and they may even work night and day. But they learn no more."

I think what he said is so true especially if one had secured or reached the position they dreamt of. They may be thinking, "since I had reached my destination, I can then relaxed." That's when one is in a comfort zone without realising it. And that's when you don't allow yourself to learn anymore.

A lot of us who has been working for a while might also be at that stage. Say, holding the same position in a comfortably secured company, you felt you are in the best place, do whatever that's required day in day out, don't get into conflict with anyone and wished you hold onto your job till the retirement day. That's when you won't see the need to upgrade your skills or learn new things.

It's important to realise early that when you are stagnant, you are actually regressing. We have no choice but to move forward. Even when the job scope might still be the same, we have to find new ways to do things differently or creatively.

Personally, I discover one of the ways to cultivate that learning habit is to try it out in your own life. Don't wait for the management to pass you something to pick up. Start picking up a new interest or hobby so that your mind is trained to absorb new knowledge and skills at all times.

I recall picking up golfing some time back. It was a tough sports for me but in the process of picking up the game, I train my mind to learn all the tricks of golfing and it keeps my mind alert and get me to observe things that I might not have noticed previously. It helps in my job. Later on, I picked up photography and it has been one of the most rewarding learning experiences for me. And of late, I began to dabble on baking. Mind you, the process of learning is tough. I failed twice before I made my first successful loaf of bread and gone through bouts of frustration when I can't get a cake rise properly but hey, I do have a lot of fun throughout the whole process. And one of the greatest rewards is when you got it, the feeling is immeasurable, that sense of achievement will boost your confidence to try other things too.

I'm going to keep desiring learning, no matter what my new endeavour might be. I hope you feel the same too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Booming Industries For Job Seekers To Take Note

A while ago, Forbes.com released the latest list of the richest men/women in Malaysia. We like to look at the list and be in awe of them. 



But lets not just look at the names and stop there. For job seekers that are looking to be part of a successful and hopefully an enduring career, the businesses that they represent might provide some hints on where you want to send your next job application.

The type of business/industry they represent:-
  1. Palm Oil
  2. Shipping
  3. Property
  4. Telecommunication
  5. Casinos
  6. Banking
  7. Real Estate
  8. Construction
  9. Power
  10. Oil & Gas
  11. Automobile
  12. IT Software
  13. Chemicals
  14. Manufacturing - Synthetic Gloves, Food
  15. Ports
  16. Airlines
  17. Timber
  18. Retail
  19. Insurance
  20. Lotteries

It’s interesting to note that 17 out of the 50 names are involved in property or real estate business. 

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.