Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Am I Too Old To Change My Career?

I just had lunch with someone that needs counseling in her career. No, career counseling is not my full-time job, it was merely a favor. But it sets me thinking - it's easy for someone in their 20s or 30s to discover they are in a wrong career and make a switch. No sweat. Well, not so if you are older. Well at least that’s what that had been perceived. To a certain extent, it’s true. I tell you why.

In my job, our clients aka employers will usually specify the age range for their posts. So unless it’s a senior position in which management experience matters more, they usually won’t want to see anyone 45 and above. Ouch! Yes, it hurts.

And so if you are 45 and felt you had enough of accounting and wanted to do some programming work instead, even with a relevant qualification, employers have second thoughts of employing you. Alright, this example seems a bit far-fetched, but, I think you get my point.

But there are careers that are easier to switch to. For example, anything that can capitalize your past practical experience - think Lecturers, Trainers, Financial Advisors, Management Consultants.

Is that it? Can’t I do something I am passionate about which has no direct relevance to my current profession? Is age really such a big issue? 

It is if you think it is.

To me, nothing including age can truly stop someone with passion to pursue something he or she loves. Yes, I’m talking about starting something on your own. Perhaps no one wants to hire a Programmer who used to be an Accountant. Well, it’s their loss then because you are going to write some powerful programs and sell them away. In that case, age is not even an issue.

I read somewhere about a man who did his medical degree when he was in his 60s. When asked by his friends why he’s still doing it as he would most probably be hitting 70 when he graduated. “Well, I’ll be 70 eventually but I would rather be a 70 year old Doctor than just 70.” I say, that’s some great attitude there.

What limits us is our mindset. I like to believe if we set our mind on something, any age is a perfect age!

So you 40 and above, up for a career change? It’s never too late to do anything. Never.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tips On Working With Headhunters Or Recruiters

Today, it’s common for job seekers to apply jobs advertised by a recruitment agency or get a call from a Headhunter on a job opportunity. With the exception of some, most employment agencies or Headhunters in Malaysia do not impose a job search fee on candidates. Therefore, they do not owe the candidates the obligation of finding them a job.

But, that doesn’t mean you should not consider them as partners in your job hunting. In fact, if you are a job seeker now, you should seriously consider working with a few Headhunters. There is no guarantee of a better job but the chances are increased tremendously. Bear in mind, some jobs are only accessible by Headhunters. And besides, a good word put by a trusted Headhunter to their client carries much more weight as compared to if you applied the job on your own.

So work with your Headhunters and follow these tips:-  

1. Be open

Be honest as much as possible about your experiences, achievements, preferences and any other information that are essential in your job search. And when asked about the current or expected salary, be willing to share truthfully. I sometimes scratch my head on why some candidates are so secretive about it. Most assignments given to the Headhunters include the salary range/budget and it’s important to know whether there is a match or not. So if you decided to hold back this piece of information, you are not helping yourself.

And you should not be hiding some information from the headhunter when you are more than willing to spill it during the interview with the employer. Feedback from the employer after the interview adds as important information to the Headhunters for your next job opportunity. You must realize that your relationship with your Headhunter does not end with one job interview or for that matter, one successful offer.

2. Express your strengths and expertise accurately

One candidate remarked, “you are the Headhunter and had viewed my resume, won’t you be able to tell me my strengths?” Now hold on a second, if this is what you think a Headhunter should be doing, you are dead wrong. It is not a Headhunter’s role to tell you what you’re good at. You are supposed to tell them that. In other words, you should have a pretty good idea of what you are good at and be able to express it well to the Headhunters. The Headhunter is interested to know whether there is a match of your strengths with the criteria of the job. So help the Headhunter to help you.

3. Be nice, show you have good manners

Well, probably it’s the Headhunter’s responsibility to do what he/she is doing since he/she gets a good commission out of a successful hire anyway. But seriously, showing some good old manners should not be too much to ask. Remember, this little things count. Actions like a simple thank you say something about your attitude and who wouldn’t like to deal with a polite and grateful person.

On the other hand, please do not bombard your Headhunter with emails and smses requesting update on the latest jobs or status every other day until it becomes annoying. You might be desperate but be careful, you are sending a message that you are easily anxious, signs of an insecure person.  

4. Be flexible

This is related to compensation. It’s difficult to work with candidates that are rigid with their package. And don’t blame the Headhunter if you don’t hear from them after that.

Good luck!  :)

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