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?

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. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can Your Boss Call Or Message You When You Are On Holiday?

“I know you are on vacation, but can I get hold of you if I need to check on something?” 

Sounds familiar?

Many years ago when I first started working, hand phones are a rarity. They belong only to a privileged few. So if I’m on holiday, I’m on... holiday, literally. No phone calls, no messages. The office can get burnt down for all I care and I won’t be penalized if I got to know it only after my holiday. 

Those days are gone. And I kinda miss it, darn!

With the advancement of technology, the gain is connectivity, the loss is privacy. 

Most of us would agree it can be annoying when your boss called while you are in the middle of sipping your freshly squeezed orange juice on the beach. It’s anti-climax because you want your mind to be transported to another world without your boss stalking you. 

So, is it legal for your boss to even call you?

Let’s be clear about one thing. The Labour Laws do not provide a clause to ban employers from calling their staff during their holiday. At the same time, it does not say you have to answer all calls from your boss regardless whether you are on holiday or not.

So, it’s up to you to work things out. Logically if you are a responsible staff, you want to stay responsible regardless whether you are on vacation or not. Hence, you might want to pick up the call. 

But honestly, everyone wants to have a peaceful holiday, a getaway from everything familiar even for just a couple of days. So, how best to approach this?

A suggestion would be to tell your boss that you are on vacation whereby your access to phone calls and messages would be limited. Hopefully, he will get the “real” message. So if you decide not to answer the call or read the message even though the phone was all the while right beside you, you are not going to be held responsible for being irresponsible. 

Yet…it’s still annoying to know there is an unanswered call or unread message. It’s a bother, to say the least. And yes, your holiday is in essence interrupted.

Well, looks like the only way to have a “no interruption” holiday is DO NOT bring your hand phone along. 

But seriously in this time in this century, that’s almost unthinkable.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Can I Bring My Parents Or Boyfriend/Girlfriend To Job Interviews?

The following is an article posted in with input from Employers and Recruiters/Consultants. I was one of them being interviewed. So boys and girls, if you are not sure whether it's a good idea to bring your dad, mommy or boyfriend/girlfriend to go together with you for your next job interview, please read this. You won't regret it, I promise :)

With growing fear of crime, employers say they do not mind candidates bringing a companion to job interviews, but not an entourage or agent'.

A 22-year-old fresh graduate could not believe it when she received an e-mail last September offering her RM400 a day for a sales promoter job she had applied for through a website. She was asked to attend an interview at a hotel if she was interested. When she got there, however, instead of getting hired, the first-time job applicant got raped and robbed.

This is not the first case either. The police revealed that just a month earlier, another fresh graduate fell prey to a similar scam.

With crime like this posing a threat to young people, albeit isolated, it is no surprise that parents are starting to tag along to their children's job interviews.

According to a recent survey by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) on parental involvement in the recruiting process, some 28 companies out of 201 interviewed said they have had parents attend job interviews with the applicants.

While it is not yet a common practice most employers say they have heard of it happening but have not experienced it parenting trends indicate that it might be a growing phenomenon.

This is the reality today, opines Serm Teck Choon, head of MyStarJob Network Sdn Bhd, which runs The Star's career portal Our children are growing up in a different environment, so many are sheltered, says Serm. “In the past, we can just take a bus even from outside town to attend a job interview. Society has changed. Now, it may not be as safe as before, that is why there is a tendency for parents to go for interviews with their children,” he says.

He admits that his experience as a parent makes him empathize with them. "I have often wondered if these parents took leave from their own workplace to accompany their children, or if I would do the same for my child in the future.” Serm believes it is not fair for employers to judge the candidates straight away (when they see them with their parents in the reception area).

What is more important is their ability for the post applied, he stresses, “It will have to go down to their performance during the interview, as well as their qualifications and training. Internship experience gives a glimpse of your ability and interest. When it comes to the crunch, that can be the deciding factor of whether you get hired over another candidate with the same qualifications as you.”

Supratechnic (M) Sdn Bhd Human Resource Manager Sue Lim agrees that employers should not be prejudiced against parents tagging along with their children at job interviews. However, they should not overrun the prospective employer's office.“I don't blame them, mainly because there are too many social problems faced by the community now like rape and snatch thieves. They (parents) still can come with the children but just wait inside the car outside the company's compound!” she says.

For Melissa Norman, managing director (Singapore and Malaysia) at recruitment consultancy Kelly Services, it is an issue that needs to be tolerated as the “tag alongs” have become a common sight at their offices nationwide. “From our daily experiences conducting interviews at Kelly Services' 14 branches nationwide, there are many candidates who come to our office accompanied by their parents, family members or friends.”

Fortunately, in most cases, the people who accompany the interviewee do not disrupt or interfere in the interview process, says Norman.

She points out that when parents or friends who accompany the candidate interrupt or respond on behalf of the candidate, it reflects poorly on the candidate that he/she is someone who is not capable of making decisions, cannot communicate well, is not able to work independently and relies on the opinions and thoughts of others too much. There are, however, cases of candidates getting the help and advice of their parents or companion to fill up their registration forms for the interview, she notes.

There are also those who would ask the interviewer (after the interview) how soon the candidate would receive a reply on being selected for the job.” While Norman does not mind candidates turning up with their parents at their office, she takes issue if he or she comes for the job interview with an “entourage”. “Attending the interview accompanied by someone is acceptable but it should be limited to only one person,” she stresses.

The visibility of the group will not help the prospective employee anyway, she highlights: it will create prejudice against the candidate, particularly if the friends or family members misbehave. As Norman puts it, the employer will try to get an insight of the candidate's lifestyle, behaviour and attitude based on the people he or she mixes with. Worse, she cautions, is if the group is noisy while waiting for the candidate. “This will not augur well for the candidate.”

People who accompany the candidate for interviews should sit quietly at the reception area and wait patiently as interviews can be lengthy at times due to some testing of skills or profiling test required during the interview process. Speaking loudly on mobile phones, complaining about the interview process being too long, asking to be involved or to be seated at the interview room is not acceptable attitude, says Norman.

A marketing manager at a lifestyle media company who declines to be named agrees, sharing her experience when her office reception area was transformed into a noisy pot lepak (hangout spot) during an internship interview.

The candidate, a college student, brought along his posse of friends because “he needed a ride to the office”, she tells. “They were chatting and laughing loudly, as if they were in a caf They had no respect for the workplace. It really annoyed me.” The student, not surprisingly, did not get the internship.

Serm stresses that parents or anyone else who want to accompany a candidate to a job interview need to abide by a few “rules”. “Parents, especially, have to control themselves. They cannot interfere in the interview process.” To Serm, the biggest misdeed that any parent can ever commit for their children is “try to sit in the interview”.

A human resource manager who only wants to be known as DD concurs. “You would think these candidates are stars with the parents acting like their talent agents, controlling them and dictating terms if we want to hire them. One parent not only tried to barge into the interview room, she even wanted to interview me to see if I was a suitable employer!”

Hussain Ally, project manager at Mydin Mohamed Holdings Berhad, also believes strongly that the interview room should be off-limits to parents. “If parents sit in with their children during the interview, we will get the impression that the candidates lack confidence and are not independent.

Would we want employees who lack self-confidence to even attend a job interview on his or her own? Sometimes it is the candidate who chooses to hide behind their parents, passively encouraging them to interfere in the interview.”

He feels that once a parent is given too much say at the initial stage, which is the interview stage, they will not stop from “getting involved” even after their children are hired. “We have had parents who get extremely upset to see their university graduate son arranging songkok during Raya, or carrying things and working late. “They say: I sent you to university not to arrange songkok!' or She is supposed to do office work!' I don't want my son to work late' but we are in retail, so we need to do the inventory and work overtime sometimes.”

Sinsee Ho, senior consulting manager with  Agensi Pekerjaan Jobsmart Sdn Bhd which runs job portal Allyhunt, has blogged about turn-offs in the job search and bringing parents is one of them.

“I understand parents want to be supportive as applicants, especially fresh graduates, might be nervous attending their first interviews. But it's a big turn-off in the job search. So don't do it.

“The message sent to recruiters or employers is that you are not independent and if you can't attend an interview on your own, how can you possibly be given a job to do?”

What parents can do, she adds, is to help applicants by providing some relevant advice before the interview.

“If they are professionals themselves, they can help by doing some role-playing or going through some common job interview questions at home with their children to prepare them. At the end of the day, preparation is the key and if the applicants have done the necessary preparation, they will do well. But bringing their parents along won't get them the job.”

To read the rest of the article, please head to here

I must add that due to the high crime rate, parents' or partners' concern is highly legitimate. My advise is do your homework before the interview by checking the background of the company to ensure it is a legitimate set-up and on the day of the interview, just drop your child or partner to the office of the employer but return to pick him/her up once the interview is done. That shall do it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Is Marisa Mayer Going Backwards With Her Telecommuting Policy?

All Yahoo employees must work in the office by June this year, so said the new CEO of Yahoo, Marisa Mayer. In the past decade with the advancement of technology, telecommuting has been applauded as breaking the traditional 9-5 clock system.

I remember when I first started working the first thing I was introduced in my orientation was the punch card system. Every morning, this little event of making sure my punch card produces black print sweat me out quite a bit especially if my bus was running late. I would be rushing like a mad lady if I discovered that I might get a red print. Needless to say, it’s stressful. I’m so glad those days were over.

With the advancement of technology, telecommuting was introduced. It was good news to many especially for jobs that do not require physical presence in the office all the time. To me, this idea is progressive and liberating. We are after all adults that know our job and what it takes to do a good job. If we do not meet the standards or targets set, the consequences are clear. We don’t need a “referee” to look over our shoulders all the time and certainly the reason of not performing if ever is not due to not enough time spent in the office!

One of the best benefits of telecommuting is that it saved a lot of time – it makes so much sense especially when work can be done in the comfort of a home or anywhere else besides the office – not to mention the stress from beating the traffic and as a result, more time can be spent with family and etc. If a worker can generate same results, i.e., no effect on the job performance, why telecommuting is a bad idea now?

I’m not sure whether Yahoo has done a feasibility study before they came out with this policy or not. If they have hard evidence that concluded telecommuting was bad for business, I would like to hear it.

So far the only rationale of why the shift is that they believe by having everyone in the office, they will have many "fun" new initiatives, people feel "energy and buzz" when they work in the office, and some of the "best" work is done when you run into someone in the hallway. This sounds more like “we wish this will happen if everyone is around.”

I don’t deny physical meetings are powerful and the connection generated from such can rarely be replaced by a virtual set-up. It’s like the Recruiters conducting a face-to-face interview – it certainly gives us more information as compared to a tele-interview or via a google hangout.

However, in our context of work, there are some work like programming and writing that are best done in a place that the individual feels most comfortable – more likely achieved in the comfort of his home. Why restrict that? Of course, there is some type of work in which regular communication with colleagues help, say marketing. And therefore, meet up in the office and brainstorm! Why can’t there be options and flexibility? It’s an irony to see a technology company taking this step.

From the hiring strategy perspective, it might not augur well when companies like Virgin encourages people to work wherever they work best, whether that be from home or from the office.

So, if you are a talent, which company will you choose to work - Yahoo or Virgin?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Social Networks - Your New Referee

It's more or less confirmed social networks are here to stay. Like TV, we switch them on at a regular basis. And unlike TV in which you are the passive spectator, this invites you to be an active participant. It's the best lifestyle invention ever, a great avenue to broadcast your ideas, photos, videos and whatever stuff to a ready audience.

But as in every invention, they are merely tools and whether they bring us good or harm would be entirely up to the user. By now, we have already heard so much about how Facebook can ruin your career. And Zul of Skorcareer had put up a great article on this, in which I had the honor to contribute a small part. So do read up if you have no clue on how it can destroy your career.

What I would like to add on is that social networks had in a way acted as your new referee without the need of the employers asking you to furnish one. Traditionally and it's still in practice today, employers ask for references from potential candidates, and they are usually people who had worked with the candidates before. They make the call, ask some questions and that's more or less a background check is completed on a candidate. But now, social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin provide a new dimension of background checks. A status update, a comment, or even a profile picture can tell so much about a person's personality, behavior and preferences. In a way, the world is a scary place to live in now. Privacy is gonna be a coveted pursuit one day.

Yes, there are settings you can configure to have some privacy. Do all you want but I figure the earlier we settle with the fact that our lives are no longer private once we have a social network account and active in it, the better it is. So whatever nonsense you and I had posted in the past, we just have to live with it. And accept this fact early - there is no clear line between your private and professional self. The line is getting blurrier as I speak. So you can't really say, I was writing that as a my personal self and now, from my professional self. It's no longer work like that anymore.

But if you truly value your professional self, you might want that part of you to shine a bit more and there's where the promotion of self through social networks can truly help your career. Seriously, it's a great way to advertise you - and furthermore, its FREE. So if you understand personal branding well, use it smartly to your professional advantage.

Love or hate social networks but they are here to stay and they will be used as one of the best reference points by employers. And you can't stop them.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Are You Yelling At Me? (CAPS a Big NO NO)


Some time ago, I received the above via sms from a candidate. At first glance, I felt I was being yelled at. My instinct told me she’s not in a happy mood. But when I did make the phone call, it wasn’t so. It was the CAPS she used that had given me that impression.

I asked around and noticed many people concur with me that texting or writing in caps seems to give that impression. And it’s true. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of this. And sometimes the consequences can be costly. You might lose a job offer because of that. Recently, I have a candidate who met almost all the job criteria and was about to be offered until he replied an sms to the potential employer…


In addition to his lack of professionalism, his fate was more or less sealed. 

Caps actually makes reading more difficult but having said that, it has its place though. We commonly use it if we wished to emphasize a word (not the whole page of content) to depict it’s importance. And that’s about the only usage of caps I can think of.

Interestingly, I found a handwriting analyst and he has some interesting discovery about people who “write” in CAPS.

These people do not like to disclose anything about themselves to others. They are uncomfortable talking about their personal lives — at least in interpersonal relationships. They do not want others to know about themselves. Often, such writers do not express their emotions in public.

Usually, all-caps handwriting lacks connection between letters, which indicates that the writer does not like to relate to people at a personal level. Also, such writers are quite egotistic. They hold strong opinions and it’s very tough to get  them to see another point of view. They emphasize a lot on their day-to-day lives, rather than spending some time planning their future.

Perhaps you enjoy writing in CAPS and you don’t care what people think but if you are writing to represent your professional self, my advice is to avoid this style for your own good.