Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are You A Risky Investment?

As a job seeker, have you ever wondered why you were not hired when you believed from the bottom of your heart that you are the right guy for the job? You looked at the list of responsibilities and you fulfill all the criteria. So, what’s wrong?

Believe it or not, Hiring Managers fear making a bad hire so much so if a candidate has an equal number of good reasons to be hired and not to hire, the final decision is that the candidate will never get hired. Why? Because the Hiring Manager would rather be safe – he would rather choose a candidate that might not be the most excellent one but has fewer risks.

“Risk? I can be a risk to an employer?”

Most job seekers are not aware about this “risky business”. Sometimes, the very thing that you think make you excellent are actually your biggest liabilities.

Check the list below. These are some common “risk factors” that hiring managers are wary about:

1. Running your own business (and you think your diverse experience is your asset)

2. Being out of job for a long period of time – say six months and longer (ability to start work immediately is not always a huge plus after all)

3. Holding too many jobs or holding different positions in a short period of time. (are you sure you were versatile? Or was it pure fickle-mindedness?)

4. Women who joined back the workforce after a long time being home-makers (they probably not sure whether or not you are ready to adjust to their high-pressure environment immediately)

5. Worked in a large company and interviewing in a small company (something doesn’t connect here. What is the real motivation?)

6. Being in a job or a company for a long time but did not get a good increment or promotion (they are not seeing loyalty in me? Probably not)

7. Reason for leaving cited as “personal” and you refuse to elaborate (it’s a minor thing, they should not pay too much attention to it. That’s where you are wrong!)

8. Citing management problem as reason for leaving in your past two employments (the fact you can see through some huge problems in the management might not seat well with them either)

9. Saying things like, “I’m not really looking for a change but if better opportunity comes along, why not?” (trying to project hard to get? They probably think you are not entirely excited about the job)

10. Going through a divorce (they see an unhappy employee)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Retiring at 60 - I Want To or I Need To?

Both MTUC and MEF had agreed to a proposed mandatory retirement age for private sector workers to be set at 60. Of course, this piece of news drew a lot of debate from both employees as well as employers. Some welcome them believing it’s high time we increase the age as life span of human beings had also increased over the years due to better medical health. Of course, employers might not be that happy. It looks like getting the deadwood out is going to be a great hurdle now. Others believe it’s a ploy by the government since this might have an implication on their EPF savings withdrawal.

Conclusion: it’s good news to some but bad to others.

In the past two years, I had an interesting observation. Never before in my recruitment career had I received more applications in their 50s and 60s than of late. I remember the first time I received an application from a 65 year old man, I exclaimed in disbelief! It shows the Malaysian population is aging and with the privilege of education, people with tertiary education might have retired but their minds are still very alert and they feel they still have the capacity left in them to continue working.

But something else begs explanation.

Why do people in that age group wanted to do a full-time job? Full-time as in 5 days a week, 8 hours a day.

My parents that are still alive, in that age group and are physically healthy won’t be keen on a full-time job. They contribute their energy by helping out in the family and others on part-time capacity. For example, my dad helps out in the residents committee that actually requires quite a fair bit of his time and commitment and doing some pastoral work on behalf of the church by visiting those that are sick in the hospital. But a full time job? Nah…

So, my best guess is that those who seek full-time employment at that age group probably need the extra cash. I know I'm not too far from the truth. I have a friend who is single and she is in her late 50s. She openly admitted that without children, she simply does not have the extra income for daily sustenance and she thanks God for good health as she is able to work as an English Lecturer on contract basis. She loves her job but if given a choice, would she enjoy slogging herself marking papers till late at night? Perhaps not.

Looking for part-time jobs in Malaysia

Looking for full-time jobs in Malaysia

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tell Me A Story, Please

I listen to sermons on almost every Sunday. Some were ordeals that I have to endure as I struggle to stay awake but some have the capacity to keep my mind fully engaged till I get lost in time. Yes, the preachers have everything to do with it. Some are more gifted than the others, I must say. But one thing I noted: An average preacher is able to make his sermon engaging if he used stories. Our ears are somehow tuned to stories. As simple as that.

Guess what, it’s the same with job interviews. Candidates need to learn this secret: TELL STORIES! In case you do not know by now, most of the interviewing questions are formatted based on “behavioral interviewing”. What it means is this: that it is a belief that your past is an indication of what you are or do in the future in similar situation.

Question: How do you manage stress?

Don’t say, “I think I will do this….” Instead, relate a story in the past how you did it. “A few months ago, I was overwhelmed with a few project deadlines and they really affected me. When I realized that I was under tremendous pressure, I did…..”

If you need some clues on how to make your story more appealing, follow these rules:

1. What was the situation?

2. Relate what, why and how you did or solve it.

3. What was the outcome or the learning experience.

The third point is obviously important because you might not have a successful outcome from your story. Say, you collapsed the last time you were under stress. But like any good sermon, end with a positive note – a learning lesson for the future.

So for the next job interview, be prepared with a few good stories in your pocket. Seize every opportunity to tell stories. Good luck, folks!

Some questions are too tough? Get tips to how best to handle them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Am I Having A Mid-life Crisis?

I’m sure feel I'm in one. Otherwise, I won’t be blogging about it, would I? Ironically, I used to jokingly tell my friends four years ago that I'm in a mid-life crisis when they spotted me driving a new roadster...yeah, i needed a change. mid-life crisis, what else? That was supposed to brush off any further questioning.

Four years today this phrase came back to haunt me. Probably I’m getting old. Of course, age has to do with it. In fact, age has everything to do with it! I google searched on mid life crisis symptoms and found this interesting page .

I like the points listed that acts like a checklist. So I went through the points one after another and see how I fit in.

Lets see..

The first point…No longer “knowing” the person staring back at you in the mirror

"Knowing?" I got a slight problem with this. I don’t even "look" at the mirror that often nowadays. The one I used for make-up in the morning has a spoiled bulb. The light that I ever get is behind my back. So it’s a dim affair in the morning. In the office, forget about the mirror. It is so tiny that the only thing I ever spotted was the white hair sticking out unto my forehead. Shucks! Time to dye my hair again…and that’s the only time I seriously look and it's my hair I'm staring. Well, I was not born with white hair. So, it makes sense, no longer "knowing" this person. A tick here. Next..

2. Worrying about where your life is going

I know where my life is going - the numbers are climbing. Well, who isn't? Worrying? Now, who has time for that? No tick.

3. Feeling frustrated with just about everything

Feeling frustrated, yes. About everything? I would have died long ago if "everything". Tick or no tick. Oh my, this is tough.

4. Experiencing feelings of regret

Of course there are regrets. I have been alive and kicking all these years not hiding in a closet...harlo? Alright, half tick.

5. Focusing on what you are losing. It feels as though you are standing on shifting sands, that your best years are behind you and that everything is changing.

Gosh, menopause came into mind. So shall I give a tick?

6. Feeling almost 'invisible'. You may feel stripped of your identity and purpose and find it increasingly difficult to be 'seen' when you no longer attract instant admiration.

“no longer attract instant admiration” LOL I can't even remember an experience of instant admiration. So, where is the point of comparison? A tick or no tick this one?

7. Thinking that time is running out. Midlife is that time when you metaphorically turn a corner and see the finishing post for the first time!

Oh, I have trained myself to have the end in mind all the time! And I hope I'm not being delusional. Or am I?

8. Questioning the meaning of life. Midlife has been defined as the time when you reach the top of the ladder only to find it's leaning against the wrong wall. If you keep asking yourself 'Is this it?', then chances are your ladder is indeed against the wrong wall.

Alright, I confessed. I do asked this question sometimes. But I didn’t know I’m leaning on a wall. Am I not supposed to break down walls? Ok, this is lame but seriously, one makes the best of whatever wall given as long as the wall is not on the brink of collapse. I refuse to tick this one. You can say I didn't get it right. But I'm standing my ground.

9. Feeling trapped.

Thank God I’m not inside a lift...phew!

10. Wanting to make some changes but not know where to begin. Feeling overwhelmed saps your power and keeps you stuck, helpless and fearful of making the 'wrong' choices. The way to move out of the paralysis is to stop 'getting ready' and start 'doing'. Take responsibility for making change happen, no matter how small and remind yourself how good it feels to be in control.

This is tricky. I need more time...

End of checklist.

The author of the page finally said what may feel like a crisis is in fact an inevitable and natural life stage characterized by internal change and reorientation. I really like that. So, it’s a stage or phase of life one has to go through. I conclude now that mid life crisis is a misused term. What crisis? I probably just need a vacation...:p

Friday, July 15, 2011

BN Youth Job Fair Offers 7,000 Employment Opportunities

The BN Youth Job Fair 2011, starting July 15 at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Convention Centre, Hotel Zenith here would offer 7,000 employment opportunities.

Umno Youth, young workers secretariat chairman, Nazir Hussin Akhtar Husin said, 150 private sector and government linked companies (GLC) would be taking part in the three-day fair.

"The BN Youth Job Fair will be opened by Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, and is on from 10am till 8pm," he told reporters here.

"Future graduates can also register under the 1Malaysia Training Scheme. Diploma holders will receive a RM900 monthly allowance and those with degrees, RM1,200," he said.

"If the GLCs are satisfied with the candidate after the one year training, they would be absorbed as permanent employees," he added.

"A complaints counter will also be opened from 9.30am till 7pm to provide advice on work related issues," he said.

Source: Bernama

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nadal vs Federer: Rivalry Inspires Greatness

It started with Pat Rafter – my interest in watching tennis. Or shall I say it started when I was playing evening tennis once a week in the late 90s. Whichever comes first doesn’t matter as I’ve to profess I’m a die-hard fan of grand slam finals - certainly when Federer is playing. I started to park myself in Federer’s camp since he defeated Pete Sampras in 2001. I admire his one handed back-hand and his artistry and elegance on court. He is able to bring beauty and grace to tennis that sets him apart from the rest of the power players.

I also like Nadal, not so much his playing style but I admire his tenacity and competitive spirit. I think he is the only player I know that would run for every ball. I like his humility and the way he downplayed his greatness. So, we are very fortunate to have two great players in this era, probably the best in tennis history to ever grace the stage and to watch them play against each other is a real treat to all tennis fans. And every time they play each other, the match is never a let down because these players give their all to the game. And most of the matches can be considered epics that fans would watch again and again. One of them is undoubtedly the Wimbledon Final 2008.

The French Open 2011 Final over the last weekend was almost an epic too. What I can draw from this match was whenever one of them has been broken serve, he will step up a notch higher in the next game and under pressure, came out better with remarkable shot making that simply made me speechless. You can say that’s what champions do, ever ready to perform under tremendous pressure. I say rivalry or competition draws out the best from them. They have the greatness within them and as they faced their toughest opponent, they push themselves hard to throw their best and whatever left out of them. Greatness is produced in such circumstances.

A match like Nadal vs Federer inspires us to see the good side of competition. Imagine if one player decided to give up early. No greatness would be witnessed. Organizations and individuals should therefore not shun competition but embrace it. We should not be afraid to challenge ourselves to think out of the box, to out-do and out-smart one another. Of course, it’s hard work too. One reporter asked Federer what did he do to win Djokovic in the semi-final. His reply, “I certainly wasn’t lying on some beach.”

The tougher the competition, the better it is. That’s how greatness is born!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Job Site Versus Employment Agency

For a job seeker, use both. You should not limit yourself to only one channel. In fact, you should try all relevant channels - apply direct, through your connections, job fairs and etc.

But as an employer, which is better?

Well, as a former HR Manager and now owning a job site as well as a recruitment agency, I’ll say it depends. The nature of the vacancy, budget and time are three main factors you should be concerned with. If I were a HR Manager again, I’ll use both because the main objective is to get the best talent. So, why should I restrict myself to a certain source or method of hiring?

Let’s look at some pertinent differences and find out the benefits and disadvantages of both methods.

Job sites or online job portals usually offer a job posting or resume access package or a combination of both. You post/repost a job. If you are lucky, you get a system that does pre-screening for you. You can either login or get your applications via email. You check through the applications, short list the ones you think are suitable and interview them accordingly. It’s DIY all the way although some sites offer help in posting the jobs on behalf of employers.

Job Site’s benefits:
• Cheap
• Get direct candidates
• Able to promote company’s brand to a large audience

• Time consuming going through all the applications
• No guarantee period offered

An employment or recruitment agency usually assigns a Consultant to take charge of your account. You provide all the necessary details such as job description and requirements, and even some information that may appear sensitive to be put inside a job advertisement. The Consultant work on the job by checking out their database, post the jobs online and whatever means they can find. The goal is short list candidates that meet the criteria of the job. Candidates will be interviewed or assessed accordingly (e.g. personality assessment or test) before they are forwarded to their clients/employers. In other words, taking over the “leg” work of a Human Resource Practitioner of a company.

Employment Agency’s benefits:
• Save time
• Pay only upon successful hire
• Guarantee period offered – free replacement if found not suitable or candidate resigned within a stipulated period

• More expensive than using a job site
• Service given not up to par

As you can see, both have their benefits and disadvantages. My advice is to use both but having said that, some common or general positions are best advertised on job sites as it’s cost effective.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Easy Money, Hard Money

"I want a job that is easy and can get as much money as possible. Tell me how to get that kind of job."

It's not irrational to think of money. After all, we do work for the money.

But it's irrational to think that money can come easily without you sweating for it. So, my answer to the above question is, "Be a gambler." It's easy and you do get a lot of money. But it's a high risk affair. High risks, high returns. Everyone knows it. Easy money, high uncertainty.

People like some amount of certainty (even though nothing is really certain but we like to think we are in control)

And that makes up more than half of world's population. These people study and they work hard and sweat to earn a living. "I trade in these skills and number of hours in return for this number of cash." Agreed. Signed. Certainty. Low risks, low returns.

Easy money with certainty? Fat chance.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Is The Generation You Are Part Of Really...Take This Test

This is extracted from Though it's an old article, I find it really interesting to use digital media engagement to assess which generation we are truly from. She interviewed Margaret Weigel, who has worked at Harvard and MIT doing research on digital media engagement. Weigel thinks that we should not judge people rigidly by the years they were born. She says, "If we want to define people by categories, it should be by behaviors because this is something each of us chooses."

So here is a test. Add up your points and find out what generation you're really a part of:

Do you have your own web page? (1 point)

Have you made a web page for someone else? (2 points)

Do you IM your friends? (1 point)

Do you text your friends? (2 points)

Do you watch videos on YouTube? (1 point)

Do you remix video files from the Internet? (2 points)

Have you paid for and downloaded music from the Internet? (1 point)

Do you know where to download free (illegal) music from the Internet? (2 points)

Do you blog for professional reasons? (1 point)

Do you blog as a way to keep an online diary? (2 points)

Have you visited MySpace at least five times? (1 point)

Do you communicate with friends on Facebook? (2 points)

Do you use email to communicate with your parents? (1 point)

Did you text to communicate with your parents? (2 points)

Do you take photos with your phone? (1 point)

Do you share your photos from your phone with your friends? (2 points)

0-1 point – Baby Boomer

2-6 points – Generation Jones

6- 12 points – Generation X

12 or over – Generation Y

Whoa score: 14. I might have scored more if I shared the same written language with my parents. My parents primary language is Chinese but mine is English. We simply don't write to each other. It's weird, I know..:P

So, what's your score? Do you think this is a good indicator?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Job Hunting Ethics: Candidate No Show

Candidate: Hey, thanks so much for helping me to get an interview. I know you've done a lot to help me...

2 days later - On the day of interview...

My client: What happened to your candidate? She did not turn up!

I called. I smsed. I emailed - and this is what I wrote...

Dear xxxx,

Trying to contact you via your hand phone but no reply yet. XXXXX notified me that you did not turn up for interview today. Would really like to know the reason. I trust you have a good reason because you seems to be interested in the post based on our past conversations. So, I find it strange that you did not turn up.

Kindly call me when you read this mail.

I would really appreciate it.

Thank you…:)

No reply whatsoever. I gave her another day. Usually in such cases, there are two possibilities. The first one is the candidate has a change of mind, something like a bride having cold feet last minute and decided to ditch the whole thing. Or it could be a genuine situation in which the candidate had an accident and was lying unconscious somewhere and thus, unable to make contact (In my entire recruiting career, only one case fell in the latter).

And it's rather easy to verify whether it's the first possibility or not. Use a different mobile phone to make the call.

In this case, I was rather disappointed that the call was answered and more disappointed when the line went dead upon hearing my voice.

Have some guts, girl! Say it and own it!

Why was it so difficult for the candidate to make a call and say she is no more interested?

This is not just a case of poor job hunting ethics, it's simply rude - lack of basic courtesy. Period.

If you can't keep an appointment with a friend, is it normal to get into a disappearing act?

No, you don't.

But I guess it is no big deal if it's an acquaintance. And of course, one incident like this won't hurt your career so much, would it?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Perfect Job?

I will be happy if I can just get my perfect job..

I will be happy if I can just find my perfect man..

We desire perfection. The day must go by as I had planned and when it did,'s a perfect day! If it does not, it is simply a lousy day! So, what we are saying is this - "perfect" is when the result falls within our expectations. Anything less is imperfect!

But what if our expectations are flawed? That we do not have all the clues to know what is perfect for us.

A simple example is getting a perfect man. Most of us set out in life to look for the perfect man. When do we know whether the man is the "perfect man" for us or not? Is the measurement based on the fact a couple's ability to stay together till death do them apart? Is that it? Or do we really know for sure? Come to think of it, there's a lot of risks involved. At the point of decision, we simply weigh what's at stake and take a calculated risk or in most cases, simply based on a gut feeling. Do we know for sure? I guess not.

So, do we know what's the perfect job for us? We probably use the same approach.

Yes, we take our chances. All the time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BN Youth Job Fair 2011

BN Youth wants to make a difference this year. To ensure the young generation is provided with enough job opportunities, the idea of organizing the largest career fair event ever came up. This job fair is going to take place from March 25th to 27th 2011. They are expecting 500,000 job seekers to flock to Putra World Trade Centre on these three dates and hope to break the Guinness World Record - an ambitious feat but not possible.

The companies participating in the fair are from various industries ranging from manufacturing, agriculture, services, hospitality, banking, engineering, IT, medical to civil service.

So to all the unemployed and job seekers that are looking for better opportunities, besides applying jobs via online, print media or through referrals, a good avenue is through career fairs such as this. Yes, if I were you, I’ll make sure I’ve a date with BN Youth Job Fair 2011 on these dates.

Besides meeting with prospective employers, there are other attractions that include on-the-spot creation of video resumes, resume clinics, internship opportunities, career talks and a 'skill enhancement corner'.

As always, admission to the event is free.

Good luck, job seekers!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Little Bit Of Love Doesn't Hurt

Today is Valentine’s Day! How the celebration was originated, no one really have all the facts but it’s now deem as a special day for lovers to show their affection and to express love to the special someone.

And some expanded the meaning of this day to include expressing appreciation and gratitude between good friends, bosses and colleagues and even between companies and their customers.

And why not?

Any gesture of kindness – whether a word of appreciation, a card, gifts and etc are welcomed by anyone. No one would resist more love. In any case, it’s the lack of it that we should be worried about.

A little bit of love doesn't hurt.

So, if you want to do something special for your colleague or bosses, go do it. The act might be as simple as saying a word of encouragement but it might just do its magic of brightening up someone’s day!

So, happy valentine’s day, readers! And thank you for stopping by….:)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Being An Expert Takes More Than Talent

How many of us can boldly claim we are experts in our fields? According to my Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, expert means, “person with special knowledge, skill or training in a particular field”. By looking at its meaning, we can assume an expert does not just appear from the womb. Rather, the knowledge and skills are obtained over time.

I happened to work closely (on voluntary basis) with a Christian scholar, Dr Ron Choong whom everyone that met him will marveled at - for the amount of knowledge and intellect he possessed especially in the field of theology and science will blow your mind away. “Is he always that gifted (talented)?” some had enquired before. We marveled at his amazing memory – the ability to remember dates, events and difficult jargons. Well, having the opportunity to know him personally, he will modestly tell you there’s no secret at all. It’s not because he possessed this super duper brain that can store more megabytes than normal people. Rather, he will tell you it involves lots of sweat and hours of toiling. It’s about being disciplined with your mind and your time!

And it’s not purely hard work alone. For hard work doesn’t lasts if one does not has an interest or passion in the subject. And it does not stop there. What if there are obstacles along the way? Do you hang on there or quit the minute you smell trouble? Your decision depends on the amount of motivation and passion you had developed for the subject.

Conclusion: it’s a combination of talent, time, hard work, passion and resolve to become an expert in your field!

It’s no joke to be an expert after all.

Useful readings:-

Unlocking Your Potential

How To Make Yourself More Marketable