Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Resume Dilemmas

Have you ever wondered how much your effort in preparing your resume and cover letter will benefit you in finding your dream job? Hah.. You're not alone in this if you're wondering, many times job seekers put so much effort in preparing their resume hoping it would land them their dream job. One thing I can say is that it is not a bad thing at all in fact go all out when preparing your resume just don't over doing it by turning it into a testament of how wonderful you are. Of course you have to put in everything that would help you in securing an interview with the company; relevant experiences and achievements. This article is a continuation from our previous article on Rule 2

Here are some tips based on our own experiences and what we have gathered from our research that can be used in preparing your resume:

1. Straight forward. The truth is the recruiters do not have time to read every single word in your resume. Elaborate your past experiences just enough for the person reading it to understand. Start by drafting RELEVANT information you need to include in your resume. In terms of education for Malaysians, SPM up to recent academic achievement is sufficient. Include only RELEVANT extra-curricular activities that has helped you to nurture RELEVANT skills at work. The keyword is RELEVANT if you haven't noticed.
2. Be different. A way to do this is by writing an interesting cover letter. Write about adventurous past experiences you had and how it has made you realize certain things in life and values you hold close to your heart or a dream you want to fulfill and relate it to why you are passionate about the job or how it will be able to help you achieve a bigger dream of yours. Be honest and truthful about it, nothing is more interesting than a writing from the heart. Remember to not over doing it by ranting.

3. Get structured. Arrange the information starting with the most recent ones. A good flow is by starting with personal information followed by academic achievement, working experiences including responsibilities and achievements (can be divided into permanent and part-time), and other related skills respectively.

4. A professional picture is optional. Some organizations prefer if you include a picture in your resume and some don't, you may first ask the recruiter if they need one. Please ensure it's professional, clear and non-provoking.

5. Use a professional email. Refer to Rule 2

6. Spell check. This is a must! Do not send out your resume unless you have had gone through it for a few times and have at least another person that you trust to go through it. Even better if that person has a good grasp in the language you are using.

To answer the question earlier on whether a good resume will find you your dream job the answer is NO. It will open up opportunities but it takes more than a good resume for you land your dream job. It's your performance during the job interview that will determine that. Getting your dream job requires preparation before, during and after interview. Be prepared at all times, how prepared you may ask? Prepare to expect the expected ;) Refer to The 10 Rules to Nail Your Dream Job for more tips in nailing your dream job:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Unemployed... or Unemployable?"

Hi all, was doing my daily news reading, and I decided that this article belongs on the site. I have rarely read such an honest and yet complete account of the unemployment climate in the country. I hope there's something everyone could learn from this, I'm sure many make mistakes as mentioned in the article. It's not meant to poke fun or offend, so take it with a pinch of salt!

"Flipping through the job listing sections, there are hundreds of companies waiting for the right employees. Yet the rates of unemployed graduates are still terrifyingly high: We're talking tens of thousands of jobless graduates. It is an employee's market, but there are no employees. This then, begs the question: Are our graduates unemployed... or just plain unemployable? Put down that PS3, we're about to give you the harsh reality, and boy, it ain't gonna be pretty.

By Pauline Wong

Have you ever insulted the company you were applying for? No? Another fresh graduate did - when he told the interviewer he would like to be CEO of the company as the company is 'nobody' in the market.

Have you ever turned down a well-paying job because you have no transport to get there? No? Well, 82 out of 100 of graduates who were offered jobs by a prominent local company did.

From the lackadaisical attitude of graduates to wanting luxury, comfort and the 'easy life', fresh graduates these days are spoilt for choice in the job market, but are too spoilt to take the job.

Despite the endless number of articles, tips and advice found online or in books on how to have the perfect interview, graduates crash-and-burn in a fiery mess during interviews, or even before the interview.

From being fussy, or to talking about money too soon, employers have seen and heard it all - and they are not too happy with what they've seen.

Fresh Graduates: Unemployed, or Unemployable?

In 2008, a survey showed that as many as 60,000 graduates are currently still unemployed. As of 2009, various news articles put the estimate of unemployed graduates at anywhere between 80,000 and 100,000.

Sarah F. is an employee training consultant and has helped train and place fresh graduates with some of the biggest local companies and multinational companies in Malaysia. Having interviewed thousands of candidates, she is not surprised at the high unemployment rates.

"There is a lot of difference between the Gen Y employees now than employees before," she said. "In the past, the older generation grew up being told that they need to get a job and work their way up, even if they have to take two buses just to get to work every day."

It is now the employees market, she said. "Employers are desperate. It's the truth. Employees can pick and choose the jobs they want."

But now, said Sarah, the Gen Y employee is demanding.

"They want money, they want lots of time to themselves, comfort, and they feel that they have a right to say what they feel and think. They want the easy life, they don't want to work their way up and they are not willing to make sacrifices. I'll explain why I say this: The first: I've had graduates come in and the first thing they ask me is the location of the workplace. They will then ask me if there is transport there (either public or company) and if I say no, then they will not even consider taking the job."

She cites one example of a mass-hire by a very well-known company: This company wanted to hire over 100 fresh graduates, but of the 100 they offered, only 18 accepted the job offer. The rest had turned it down mostly due to transport issues.

"But this company is located in the heart of KL, and they were willing to pay more than RM2,300 for a fresh graduate. I was at a loss for words!"

After we cross the 'hurdle' of transport, she said, the next they ask is whether they will have to stay back after working hours.

"They ask me: Is it 9 to 5? They will tell me that they do not want to stay back and work overtime, and they do not want to work weekends. A large majority of graduates are like that and it worries me. I want to tell them the realities of life, and that nothing ever comes easy."

She has also seen too many fresh graduates who are too laidback, with no sense of urgency.

"In another similar mass-hire, two grads came up to me and asked if they could use the printer in the administration office. The reason? They had not printed out their resumes for an interview that was to take place in about an hour. I was shocked by their lackadaisical attitude - shouldn't you have printed them last night, I asked. They told me that they were too tired, and didn't have time to print it out the day before."

When she asked them to go to the shop nearby, they blankly told her that a 'friend' had said the shop was closed. It turned out that the shop wasn't closed - they just didn't bother to check and was hoping for an easy way out.

"Don't they want a job? Don't they care? What are they still doing sitting around when there is an interview going on?"

The No-Show

In the worst case scenarios, some simply don't show up.

"I once arranged for an interview for a candidate who was very eager for a better job. But on the day of the interview, he simply didn't show up. When I called the next day, he told me he had lost his way to the interview location and decided to just go home."

I was baffled, she said. "I asked him why he didn't just call to say he had lost his way, and he said he was 'scared'. I had no idea what he was scared of."

Similarly, some just don't show up entirely and tell her that their parents had said 'very far away, better work closer to home.'

Worse than not showing up, however, is turning up to the interview like it were an exam.

"A reputable company was looking for fresh graduates, and they interviewed one candidate who kept looking down as she answered the questions. It turned out she had prepared notes and answers to the questions and was looking down at her notepad. This didn't happen to one candidate - it happened with a string of them!"

"Come on, it is not an examination. Just show up, dress appropriately, talk naturally and tell the interviewer your strengths, weaknesses and what you're good at."

Cringe-worthy Interviews

But even with the numerous tips and do's and don'ts one can find on the internet, some candidates do such cringe-worthy things they defy belief.

"A friend of mine, who is in HR, told me that one candidate asked for a higher pay, around RM2,500. She said fine, okay, perhaps you can explain why you need more money?"

One would expect an answer of family financial commitments and such, but this candidate had other excuses.

"He said: "I need a higher pay because I need to go to Starbucks, man! A cup of coffee costs RM12, and I need to go there to hang out with my friends. If I don't get a higher pay I won't be able to go there anymore. I mean, I need to go there at least three times a week." It didn't help that he had actually slouched all through the interview."

Another candidate had impressed his interviewers right up to the moment he insulted them.

"When asked where he saw himself in three years, he confidently said: CEO. The interviewers were taken aback, but well, ambition is good. Until of course, he answered that he wanted to be CEO of their company because their company was 'no good, and is nobody in the market'."

The company in question, said Sarah, is number one in its industry. Luckily for the candidate, the interviewer was gracious enough to tell him never to repeat that again, and that he needed to get his facts straight before saying something like that. Clearly, he did not get the job.

And yet another story: A candidate Sarah interviewed for her own company actually said: "Yes I can work in a team, but if another member of my team is leader instead of me, I will work with him but make sure I pull him down so I may go up."

Communication Breakdown

Another huge, huge problem that needs to be looked into immediately is the command of language, especially English.

"The fact is: Almost all companies want candidates who can speak English well, or at least well enough. Things in our education system should have improved but they seemed to have gotten worse to the point where I wondered how they graduated in the first place."

"Some candidates can barely understand a word of English. Some of them just don't think about the importance of a good command of English until they come out to the working world and see the reality."

This is not reflective of all graduates, of course, stressed Sarah. Many candidates make an effort to improve their English but sometimes it's just too little too late, and she feels sorry for them.

"Resume writing is another hurdle that comes from a poor command of English. I still encounter resumes written in short-forms and leet-speak, like 'u', 'r' and 'ur'. If you think it's just one or two, no, eight out of 10 resumes I get are like that."

That is what's out there in the market now.

"If you ask me, between unemployed or unemployable, I would say that a lot of our graduates are unemployable. And that is the truth."

Rohayah Ahmad, Manager and Hiring Consultant at also shared that biggest barrier that graduates falter over is the most basic of all: Communication skills.

"Communicative skills are the main issue, from what we notice of candidates who are not hired. As fresh graduates with no experience, the ability to communicate well and having a good command of English is the determining factor to getting hired," she said. "We do our level best to screen our candidates before short-listing them for interviews (with our clients) but the fact remains that being able to speak and write well in English is only half the battle."

The other half is won by showing up and doing well in the interview.

Making an Impression

Similar to what was shared by Sarah, Rohayah also cites the attitude of candidates as a problem.

"They are demanding, especially about pay, and about work hours. They are fussy about the kind of job scope they will be getting." Many graduates do not carry themselves well. "They sit slouched, they dress badly, they pick up phone calls during an interview and worst of all, some of them even have bad breath!"

Some candidates do not print out hard copies of their resumes, and these things all go to creating an impression to the interviewer. "The way you dress and speak tell the interviewer about you and your personality."

Even something as simple as being asked to sit goes towards giving off the right or wrong impression.

"If your interviewer does not ask you to sit down, don't. Don't just come in and sit down without being invited to. Or ask if you can, if the interviewer forgets. And give a firm handshake. The handshake is more important than you think."

A limp handshake and a slouched demeanour screams sloppy, unorganised or worse, disrespectful.

The Conclusion

It isn't that there are no opportunites out there. It is whether the candidates want to seize them and get the job. So many websites like, or Yahoo! Jobs give useful tips on how to behave during an interview or how to write the correct resume.

And there are positives to the Gen Y employee that all employers are coming around to accept: They are more outspoken, braver, and not afraid to tell you what they want.

So don't let this be the good advice that you didn't take, and learn from the mistakes in this story to snag that job you want."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Staying Positive!

Hey hey! I stumbled upon the following article from one of the blogs in the "Top 25 HR Blogs" link on the right hand tab of this blog. I found it to be very helpful from my experience helping out job searchers, and although I have similar ideas to the writer, I decided that he probably has summed it all up so well that I don't really have anything more to chime in!

10 Tips For Job Searchers

We all know that being mentally strong and emotionally fit is crucial in any walk of life. Whether it’s in business, sport or your career. But how do you stay positive when going through a long, challenging job search?

Here are 10 tips which may help:

1. Give yourself permission to be “all over the place”:

Being emotionally up and down is perfectly normal when going through a career transition or any major change process. So give yourself permission to have a “bad day” or even the occasional “bad week.” It’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with you! If it starts to become more than a few days, start using the tips below to avoid going into a downward spiral.

2. Do some exercise:

Any form of physical exercise or relaxation technique gives you an immediate shot of endorphins (the so called “happy hormone”) which gives you more energy and confidence. It doesn’t matter what it is – a 20-minute walk, a quick run, a game of tennis, some yoga or simply 60 seconds of deep breathing will instantly make you feel better. So try and do something on a regular basis.

3. Control those ‘voices’:

All of us talk to ourselves. There’s a constant chatterbox and dialogue underway in our heads - and very often the things you tell yourself are not usually very encouraging (“You idiot, you should have done xyz”, “Why didn’t you say abc”, “You need to be more confident, “Why are you so lazy?”)

You say these things to yourself all the time – yet if someone walked up to you and said them to your face, you’d be hugely offended. So start taking control of the voice – and start talking in a more encouraging way - you’ll instantly feel good and start taking all the actions you need to take.

4. Ask yourself better questions:

“What went well today? What are the 3 things I did really well in that interview? What lessons can I learn from that last conversation? What are my top 5 achievements this week? What am I excited about right now? What’s great about this problem? What’s not quite perfect yet? What step can I take today to help me move forward?”

All these questions shift your mindset and your emotions - and so encourage you to take the right actions. Whereas asking yourself “Why will no one interview me?” “When will my luck change?” “Why are they not calling me back?” actually makes you feel worse - and so makes you reluctant to take the very actions you need to create opportunities.

5. Don’t stress about stuff you can’t control:

I can’t control the weather – so I don’t worry or complain about it. It’s a complete waste of mental energy. But I can influence how the weather impacts me by watching the weather forecasts or by carrying an umbrella if it’s going to rain. I can also take 100% control over choosing my reaction and mood if I do get soaked by a sudden downpour.

Similarly, you can’t control the economy or the job market – so quit worrying about them. Instead, focus 100% of your mental energy and time on choosing your reaction to the market and those actions which you can control or influence. It’s far more productive and you’ll feel far better for it.

6. Reduce your consumption to main stream press and media:

The recession, ‘double-dips’ and redundancies are big stories and big business for media outlets. The more dramatic the story, the higher the circulation, viewing figures and online hits – all of which fuels advertising revenues which are already squeezed during a downturn. ‘Bad news sells’ as they say.

So whilst you need to be informed about the market place and the world, you don’t need to be inundated. You don’t need to listen to the same story about “the worst job market in 20 years” over and over again. Overloading yourself with bad news simply makes you more anxious and fearful - which stops you taking the very actions you need to take to make progress at such a time.

7. Minimize your exposure to BMWs:

BMWs = B*tchers, Moaners and Whiners! These are the people who constantly moan and complain about anything and everything. We all know people like this and it’s not always easy to avoid them when they are friends, family or colleagues. But when you’re a little fragile emotionally, such negativity will be poisonous to you and your job search.

So reduce your exposure to negative people, whilst increasing your exposure to positive people who energize you, who spend their time thinking about solutions and opportunities instead of just problems.

And if you’re a BMW yourself, spend less time with yourself and more time on the other 9 points in this article!

8. Celebrate the small successes:

When you’re climbing uphill in the middle of a terrible storm (often with some baggage), you absolutely need to pat yourself on the back with every small success. Focusing on the small wins gives you the energy and confidence to tackle the bigger challenges that you know still lie ahead. So get into the habit of celebrating the small wins.

9. Count your blessings:

There are 6.8 billion people living on this planet. And I’m pretty confident that most people reading this article are likely to be in the top 5% of that population in terms of material wealth, health, living conditions, opportunities and education. So whilst we’re experiencing tough times economically, we still have a lot to be grateful for.

In fact there are 20 million homeless people in Pakistan and a group of Chilean miners who would love to be in your shoes and have the ‘problems’ you’ve got. So keep a perspective on things.

10. Print off this article:

You may be inspired and encouraged by reading these tips, but in a few hours time you’ll forget. So print this page off and put it somewhere where you will see it frequently- on your desk, in your wallet or even saved as an icon on your computer or smart phone.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Career Information - Human Resource

A company's greatest asset is its staffs, the people who drive the functions and operations of the company. This is the approach that is adopted in the modernising of the Human Resource (HR) department of companies, resulting in the analytical and systematic approach to managing the people of the company (human resources).

Ten or twenty years ago, Human Resources personnel worked behind the scenes to ensure personnel records were in order and employee benefits were being properly administered. Today's Human Resources personnel don't only handle small administrative tasks, but is responsible for crucial staffing matters in major corporations.

New information and discoveries from researches and studies in the field of human resource management shift the traditional administrative role of HR to a more sensitive and human-centred one which tries to determine what really works with employees. One of the major aspects of HR maintenance involves employee recruitment, training and development as a function of human capital management.

The nurturing of employees ensure optimal contribution from them. This is done via training and development, which are key aspects of human resources. The department also scouts the job market for the best talent available to add to the organisation's value. Besides these, HR is also concerned with labour relations between employers and their employees, monitoring of office interactions to find ways to improve on employee management, matters concerning employee benefits as well as other concerns relating to the workforce of the company.

Most HR personnels work in an office, working 35-40 hours per week unless involved with contract negotiations where extra hours are to be expected. Some may travel quite a bit, such as recruiters who have to travel to campuses and meetings for interviews or trainers who would be giving courses outside the office in conference venues.

To pursue a career path in Human Resources, one doesn't necessarily need to have a degree in Human Resources. Majoring in Business Administration, Psychology, Labor Relations and Personnel Administration, as well as degrees in Social and Behavioral Sciences, can also be beneficial. Experience is a key element in progressing up the ranks in the HR sector.

One's career path may begin from a basic level of being an HR Assistant earning between RM1,500-2,000 progressing to the lucrative position of Senior HR Manager yielding a potential RM12,000 per month.

A career in this field would be ideal for someone who is a "people's person", possessing integrity to handle crisis in a smooth, discreet manner. Perhaps more importantly, a person keen on HR must be a person with empathy to promote the comfort and satisfaction of an organisation's workforce in maintaining harmony.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Career Information - Business Analyst

In a very general sense, a Business Analyst (BA) is someone who analyses the operations and design of an organisation, in order to come up with solutions to the organisation's problems. The Business Analyst is the information technology worker who lives in two worlds, one being the business world and the other being the software development world. The BA will analyse the organisation's business model to determine how it integrates with technology. The idea is to determine the organisation's business needs or objectives, and then improve the effectiveness of IT in meeting those needs/objectives. They are able to elicit these business requirements using interviews, document analysis, requirements workshops, surveys, site visits, business process descriptions, use cases, scenarios, business analysis, task and workflow analysis.

There are no fixed paths as to how someone becomes a Business Analyst yet, but often the BA has a technical background, whether having worked as a programmer or engineer, or having completed a Computer Science degree. Some may move into the position from a business role utilising their subject matter expertise and their analytical skills to qualify themselves for the job requirements. Business Analysts may also overlap into roles such as project manager or consultant. A BA does not always work in IT-related projects, as BA skills are often required in marketing and financial roles as well.

The International Institute of Business Analysis provides a certification program for business analysts (Certified Business Analyst Professional or CBAP), as well as providing a body of knowledge for the field (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge or BABOK).

Data reports that in a junior position, the salary range per month is between RM2,500-3,500, and as one progresses up to a management level, a pay of more than RM7,000 is likely.

Compared to a computer programmer, BAs would spend less time on coding programmes, devoting more time to interacting with business users. Thus, there is a higher emphasis on interpersonal skills than technical computer programming skills.

The position would be ideal for IT graduates with a mind for business analysis, who also prefers a more social working environment.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Career Information - Financial Analyst

Financial analysis is about interpreting complicated financial information in order to provide guidance to businesses that are in need of a solid financial plan. Compared to a personal accountant, analysts are more specialised, usually in a particular area of expertise, such as a region, specific industry, or product. A personal accountant would be handling work at an individual basis.

An analyst is expected to work well in teams, being able to think critically, ability to work with numbers and having financial insight to interpret data in ways that can be easily understood.

The environment an analyst would typically find themselves in is a standard office, or in some cases, working from home, occasionally travelling to meet investors and potential clients, or scheduling weekend meetings.

In order to be an analyst, one would need to possess a bachelor's degree in finance, business administration, accounting, economics, or statistics is recommended, and some competitive careers can require a master's degree or certification. A common syllabus would include subjects like accounting fundamentals, business valuation, international financial management, and concepts of financial reporting. Analysts may pursue a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to further enhance their knowledge and skills to enhance their competency. Strong selling and communication skills are also important, particularly for those considering self-employment.

As the current generation of Baby Boomers in the workplace approach retirement age, there is an increased potential of people making investments, which is expected to create substantial growth in demand for financial analysts. Despite this, competition is expected to be very tough for these positions and limited to those with formal training. A strong education background is essential and an MBA or formal certification is recommended to have an advantage in landing a job as a financial analyst.

The average salary per month is approximately between RM3,000-5,000, although fresh graduates may start from a lower pay range before getting confirmed and gaining enough experience on the job.

Overall, financial analysis is a challenging field that would reward those who are passionate and skilled at number crunching. The increasing amount of opportunities due to the changing work environment is also a factor to consider in pursuing a career as a financial analyst.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Career Information - Customer Service

Hello and welcome to our series of articles containing information about the more common job areas in the current market! To kick things off, let's focus on a rapidly growing, Customer Service. While traditionally viewed in a bad light (subjective; depending on how much one enjoys dealing with angry complaints), it is without a doubt increasing in demand, and employers have been making packages more interesting (e.g. salary, benefits, flexibility) in recruiting for this position.

Customer service, simply put, means interacting with customers to provide information regarding inquiries about products or services as well as to handle and resolve complaints. Occasionally, one who is in customer service would also have to play a support role in making sales. These interactions take place by telephone; by e-mail, fax, or regular mail correspondence; or even in person.

Most customer service work takes place in a call/customer contact centre. The world of a customer service employee in a call centre revolves around working with computers and telephones. That said, teamwork and communication with others is important as there are numerous incidents that require extra guidance from the supervisor or from a different department that would know the technical aspects to assist customers better.

Working hours can differ too, and as extended or 24 hours operation becomes more popular in call centres, shift work is common in the industry, with weekend or holiday work being necessary sometimes. A non-call center personnel would be placed in an office or a help desk to deal with customers face-to-face, working standard office hours according to the company.

Nearly 1 out of 5 customer service representatives work part time, due to its flexible hours, thus creating opportunities for seasonal work.

Most entry-level jobs in the area require only a diploma, but the standards are rising as demand grows. Basic to intermediate computer knowledge, good interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, excellent verbal communication and listening skills are the standard criteria for a customer service personnel. Having a friendly personality and a professional manner, on top of having patience would be important as it is a direct point of contact for customers. Speaking more than one language is also considered a plus.

Training requirements vary by industry, mostly some training prior to beginning work, and training continues once on the job.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent. Customer service is one area that various companies in all sorts of industries would require to perform their operations smoothly. Thus, there is a great demand, and a variety of industries to choose from. Experienced workers can move up within the company into supervisory or managerial positions or they may move into other departments. Call centres located offshore for Western corporations, increase job opportunities in countries like ours. Demand in customer service is also generally resistant to major fluctuations in economy.

Average salary for the fresh entrant is reported to be between RM1500-2800, where bigger companies would naturally be able to pay in the higher range. As one climbs the ladder into customer service management or even as a trainer, they could earn up to more than RM6,000.

Although dealing with difficult customers can be trying, but being able to help resolve problems can be very rewarding. The nature of working in a team also promotes a close-knit culture at work. As a result, working in customer service can be a very good experience for a starting point, or even as an area to climb the ladder in.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to Nail That Job - In Stylish Fashion

As promised, I will be sharing some tips to make your job search process a whole lot less confusing. One area that is actually quite simple but yet raises a lot of questions is the area of Dressing and Appearance.

To put this as gently as I can, I have seen numerous fresh-faced graduates who possess real quality, but the impression that they portray through their dressing is just BLEH! I understand that there is a lot of room for creative and expressive dressing in universities and colleges but the job interview is the most important event (no, not prom, silly!) to dress Up and dress Right!

The right interview attire is no rocket science, really. The most essential thing to remember is to Keep it Smart and Simple (KISS)! Your dressing is never meant to get in the way of your presentation, make sure it is discreet, not Loud! Take a look at the following image samples off a simple Google Search:

If there is a common theme among the pictures, it is definitely that simplicity is king. For Muslim females, a hijab/tudung with a plain and tasteful design would ensure that you portray a professional yet sensible image.

Here are some thoughts off the top of my head:
  • Your personality (conduct, interpersonal skills, preparedness, articulation) should be the main focus of the interviewer NOT your interview attire; if that's the case, it is usually because of a mistake made in your dressing.
  • Certain industries or job areas where interaction with customers is more crucial are more critical about your dressing.
  • Even when the company has a casual dress code, unless given specific instructions to do so, DON'T show up casual!
  • Prior consultation with professionals within the industry or inquiring the employer directly (and nicely) would be very good research on your part.
General guidelines for dressing up
Gents and Ladies:
  • Long-sleeved shirt/blouse (white, pastel colors)
  • Iron/Press everything!
  • Clean and polished shoes (as conservative as possible, no 'new age' designs please!)
  • Hair neatly groomed
  • Trimmed and clean fingernails
  • Lightly scented
  • Empty pockets - bulges are an eyesore
  • Fresh breath (but don't chew on gum or candy during the interview!)
  • Be mindful of cigarette scent if you are a smoker
  • A professional light briefcase or portfolio will be handy (remember to organise documents chronologically)
  • Remove non-traditional body piercings (e.g. nose, eyebrow, lip)
  • Body odour is very very important - Deodorise and keep yourself fresh!

  • 2-piece business suit (dark coloured, black, dark blue or grey preferably)
  • Don't roll up your sleeves
  • Silk tie with simple design (leave polka dots or funky shapes alone)
  • Match plain tie to a shirt with patterns or designs - a patterned tie on a patterned shirt is too distracting
  • Tie's length - touching the waist of the pants
  • Dark coloured pants, socks and shoes - leave Michael Jackson's white socks at home, even though we all love him
  • Appropriate length socks - so that skin is not visible when sitting
  • Hanky (handkerchief) is useful to have around to swipe that sweat off your forehead when you're panicking
  • No sports watch
  • Only wedding ring, no other bling-blings!

  • 3-piece business suit, no dresses (dark coloured, black, dark blue or grey preferably)
  • No revealing blouses/shirts
  • Headscarf or traditional hijab/tudung must be neat and simple - no patterns is preferred
  • Appropriate skirt length - knee length while standing is best, longer skirts should not be too narrow
  • Hosiery should be skin-shade or as close as possible, and without any patterns
  • Closed-toe shoes/pumps that are comfortable
  • Briefcase or a professional tote bag is much more professional than a purse - match colour to your shoes
  • Light makeup is better than all-natural, just make sure it is not excessive
  • Choose conservative accessories - a creative industry may allow more room for expression
  • No more than one ring per hand
  • No more than one set of ear rings

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On The Road: The 10 Rules to Nail Your Dream Job - Part 2

Hey all! Here's the Part 2 of the roadshow series! Wonder if you could spot any familiar faces? ;)

On April's Fools Day, the roadshow was at Monash University again, this time the audience consist specifically of Mechanical Engineering students. Ray Lim and Nadia Muadzam were the speakers for this edition, conducting a mock interview session towards the end of the presentation to demonstrate and point out some of the major as well as some finer details in an actual interview.

The following day, the roadshow stops by University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)'s Petaling Jaya campus, in possibly the most intimate and casual setting as there was a small audience and rapport was easily established.

The next stop for the roadshow was at Sunway University College, Nadia Muadzam speaking to an auditorium packed with hungry undergraduates at noon time. The crew reflected on how grateful they were for an eager and attentive crowd, but perhaps not as grateful as the crowd as they head off to lunch!

The last venue for The 10 Rules to Nail Your Dream Job's roadshow in April was at Mara University of Technology. The audience was a specialised group of undergraduates, majoring in Electrical Engineering.

That ends the roadshow series for The 10 Rules to Nail Your Dream Job for January-April, but keep checking back as we will be putting up more articles and relevant information to guide you through the transition phase of study-work! Be a follower of the page and pass along the link to share with your friends!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On The Road: The 10 Rules to Nail Your Dream Job - Part 1

Hi again guys! The following mini-series will be about the roadshows conducted for undergraduates at college campuses, an extension of the tips here about "10 Rules to Nail Your Dream Job" as part of Akar Insan's CSR initiatives.

The roadshow kicked off with the first stop at International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in mid-January, with 42 undergraduates from various faculties of IIUM taking part.

It is not too much to say that the session with AIESEC Malaysia is perhaps by far the most hyped. 29 AIESEC members attended the talk held in the excellently-equipped University Malaya and Akar Insan's CEO Mr. Aidil Yunus was speaker for the night!

A week before the Chinese New Year holidays, the roadshow rolls on to Multimedia University (MMU) in Cyberjaya. The speaker for this event was Ray Lim, making his 10 Rules speaking debut.

The beautiful campus of Nottingham University plays host to the next installment of 10 Rules. Their spacey Teaching Block hall housed the record attendance of the 10 Rules roadshow so far; 75 enthused undergraduates poured in to listen to Mr Aidil Yunus' delivery of the workshop.

Ray Lim speaks to the crowd of University Malaya in his second outing as speaker and in the second roadshow visit to UM's campus.

The roadshow rolls on to Monash University, a campus that will be visted a couple more times in Part 2. About 30 undergraduates made up the audience, comprising of the most diversed crowd so far in terms of nationality and race. It is the ultimate goal to reach out to all undergraduates regardless of demographic, and this stop was definitely fulfilling for all involved.

That's all for Part 1 spanning from January to March, catch Part 2 for the following months programs!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to survive your first day at work? (Part 2)

Last night I was watching the match between Arsenal and Barcelona with some hardcore fans of both clubs. We were enjoying the game when suddenly one of my friends gave us something to ponder upon; both team have quite a number of players aged around 19 and 22 and earned hunders of thousands of dollars per week, I say this again, per week. That sparks a big conversation until we did not pay attention to the game until it was half time.

During the break, while my friend are still debating arguing and questioning about it, my brain was working hard to think how did they started their career until they are able to earn sooo much; how was their first day as a footballer? Is it the same with us who went to the office, or they just go to the field, play, rest and train all the way until the next game kick off. Did they feel the same nervousness we felt that runs through each and every single of our cell on our first day of work, or they just enjoy kicking and dribbling the ball? Urrgghhhh, I wouldn't know it unless I pursue the road of footballers (which will never happened at this age).

Walking back into the reality, I whispered to my innerself, “c'mon dude, every working human sure have their first day at work, it's just that different 'world' will treat them differently”. Eventhough I know it is just me trying to comfort myself, but the truth is that working in the air-conditioned office is much challenging than being a footballer sweating yourself on the field.

Okay enough cr**ing about this football stuff. If you are reading this that means you have read the earlier part of my writing about the tips to survive your first day of work. And I have promised to post on the later part of the tips. Here we go....

Most of newbies in office will either given the most easiest task for their first assignment or something that is totally new and they have no idea at all how to do it. But mine is the easiest I guess. My first task is to search for CVs, a lot of it,( FYI my company is in HR industry, so searching for CVs is not weird). I accept the task with a smile on my face. Eventhough it is pretty simple, but searching for CV sometimes can annoy you; try it and you will know why. Without prior knowledge on CV search, simple task can turn ugly. But I manage to avoid that by asking for help from my collegues. You know what, people actually like to help others. If you thought that they won't help you, then you thought wrong. Helping others will make them feel good about themselves. I remember what my boss told me this morning about not being a snob. Because once you be one, people will start thinking of you as a know-it-all person and they will stop helping you => you future is dark.

Note 5: Play safe; ask questions. You're new and it's better to do something right the first time around with help than have to do it over and over again without any help. You might ended up drying your brain out. AND don't be a snob. Ask for help with a smile on top of it.

Working first time in new environment, I have no idea on the company work style and pace. What I do know is that each organization have their own and in each firm, they will have their own shops politics i.e. gossips. Yes everybody loves gossip. And I do know enough to stay out of this because it is not wise to join in on my first day. The only thing that I have to do now is doing my job at the same pace as my colleagues did.

Note 6: Pace your work to that of fellow employees. And stay away from the shops politics.

After a few hours on the laptop looking for CVs, buying my boss his triple shot of espresso and doing few other task, it was break time. Owh owh owh my stomach's shouting to me...”please feed me please feed me”... now, this is the hard; where in the world am I going to have my lunch..sigh.. I'd never been here before except during the interview. Ok don't insult me for not knowing the area well even though I had wrote about checking everything before leaving for office. It is my first day at work and I didn't have someone nice enough to tell me all the tips I need for my first day... ;p
But I have to eat no matter what and in order to do that I have to join my new colleagues. Honestly, this is the crucial part in surviving the first day of work. You have to mingle around and get to know each other. Do not separate yourself from the people in the office during the break because this is the time for you to do the observation, an important observation indeed.

Note 7: Use your break wisely. Observe; who hangs out with who? Where do they eat? Who smokes, who doesn’t.

Finally, after 10 long hour, it's quitting time. Call it a day. Its over for today. It has been a tiresome day but I truly enjoying every seconds of it (no scolding from boss or no colleagues piss on me) and I made it through the day without any major gaffe. My manager ask me to join her for a drink; she's buying. I know that I should not refuse but something tells me that I am still being assessed. I refused her nicely and clock out.

That's all from my experience. There are few more tips that I have not yet mention because I did not need it in my first day. But it does not mean that it won't do any good for you. So for my next entry, I will tell you the rest of the tips; the do's and don'ts on your first day at work