Issues @ Work Job Search Tips

Table of Content
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. Understanding the PEAKS Factors (Part I) Understanding the PEAKS Factors, Part II Tips for Effective Time Management Tips on Effective Communication The First Employment for Job Seekers Career Choice According to Temperament What are Your Strength and Weaknesses? How to get a new job – fast! Job Hunting with Least Effort Job Search: Selling yourself with a "Wow" Three top tips to get a job in the USA Five insider tips for getting a job in the USA Tools & Tips for your Job Search Salary Negotiations Making impressions: no second chance! Job Fairs - How to work a job fair Job Fairs - How to prepare? Finding The First Job Myths and Realities in Job Search Networking In Job Search First Job Hunting Choosing Your Career Path Guidelines for Salary Negotiations My first resume: a guide for fresh grads The power of packaging Curriculum Vitae for Fresh Graduates Internships: How Important Are They? Winning at Behavioural Interviews Success at Interview—The Zagorski Way Attending A Job Interview What can I do to improve my job-interviewing skills? Tips for Job Seekers What The Interviewer Is Looking For Managing ‘bad’ interview questions Interview 101 - How do you beat the competition? Best Compilation List Have You Thought About Your Answers Lately?


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1. Understanding the PEAKS Factors (Part I)
by K.L. Ang
The PEAKS factors are based on the Big Five Factor Model, with the original model developed in 1963. Having the Big Five Factor Model as the base, the Career Profile is able to demonstrate personality traits in a person by describing a person’s tendency to react to certain situations or to one-self. The objective of this article is to explore further into the PEAKS factors in the Career Profile and help you to have a better grasp of what the PEAKS really have to offer. The PEAKS factors are shown in the first five pages of the Mirror report.

The PEAKS Factors
Purpose This personality factor describes whether you are an organized and systematic person or someone who is spontaneous and flexible. Not being organized and systematic does not mean that one is messy, undisciplined or without a sense of direction. A low score in the Purpose factor simply means that you are a spontaneous person who prefers a more flexible approach to life and work. You still get things done but through your own ways, at your own time and pace without having strict rules or guidelines to follow. A slight difference in interpretation can change the meaning of a sentence altogether, as shown above, and is a very important point to keep in mind when reading through the Career Profile reports. Insider tip: Do not interpret messages from a negative point of view When you read through your personal description on the Purpose factor, you may encounter sentences that thread on the centre line of being organized and spontaneous. E.g. You appreciate order but you are not bound by it This means that you are somewhat a neutral (so are most of us!). You often try to set regulations and structure in your work but at times you have the urge to do what your gut feelings tell you. Discipline will be the key aspect that determines your ability to sustain your rigid ways. The more disciplined you are at being organized, the less you will deviate away from it. However, being organized and systematic gives rise to the possibility of turning into routines. That is why most people who are very organized are less enthusiastic and show less flair in the things they do. Discipline can still thrive even while in a spontaneous state. Try to set a specific goal in mind and work towards it. Therefore while you are constantly swapping your attention between different tasks, your mind would still be focused on the ultimate objective. Being too spontaneous can also lead to unfinished tasks and too much of a laid back attitude. The ideal approach to this is to have a balance of both and knowing when to be organized or laid back.


Energy This factor is pretty straightforward to understand – it is either you like working with people or you do not. People who have high Energy scores are bubbly, active, and are eager to meet and interact with people, even with those they do not know. They make good salespersons because normally people can tell whether someone is a people-person or not. In contrast, there are people who are reserved and quiet. They prefer to think about the thoughts running in their minds rather than talk to others. These people, with low Energy scores, are people who prefer not to be around large groups of people. One of the most important keys in interpreting the Career Profile is not to think that high scores for a factor means that you are good in it and vice versa. Insider tip: It is not about being good or bad at something, it is about whether you are type A or type B (just like blood). Different people (companies) will need different types of blood. Thus, high scores for Energy means you like to interact and communicate with people. But having low scores does not mean you do not like to and you are bad at communicating and interacting. You just prefer not. It is good to have the best of both worlds, but sometimes, the extreme is needed as well. There are certain occupations that require one to work in solitude without having any or little interaction with others, e.g. security officers and astronauts. If everyone is supposed to enjoy meeting people, then no one will be filling such vacancies. Surely you have wondered how these people can endure the feeling of being alone for long periods. Well, maybe they just like it that way. On the other hand, some companies do require those who are able to sustain the good feeling of meeting people all the time. When was the last time you really want to meet someone you just saw and had the opportunity to do so? The first conversation that was full with enthusiasm and interest? Can you do it all the time and to everyone you meet? If you can, then To Sustainability. Watch out for Part II of this article! Has this article been of help to you? We would like to hear feedback from you. there are plenty of be companies who would like to hire you right now! continued…

There are three more factors to come in the forms of Affirmation, Knowledge, and

2. Understanding the PEAKS Factors, Part II
by K.L. Ang
In Part I, we discussed about how the first two factors in PEAKS - Purpose and Energy - play their roles in determining your career growth and direction. Purpose denotes your tendency to be rigid and organize or flexible and spontaneous. Energy, on the other hand, signifies your preference to either working in groups or in solitude.


The objective of this article is to explore further into the PEAKS factors in the Career Profile and help you to have a better grasp of what the PEAKS really have to offer. The PEAKS factors are shown in the first five pages of the Mirror report. Affirmation Are you someone who would prefer to avoid conflict or take it by the horns? It is easier to say that you are a neutral but there is always that tendency to tilt more towards one side. People who have high scores in Affirmation are those who other people enjoy working with because they tend to be compliant and non-conflictive as work becomes less complicated with fewer disagreements and differences. High Affirmation-scoring people make good employees, at least from an employers’ point of view. Not only do they not challenge authority, they willingly accept it with trust and confidence. However, the disadvantage of being too agreeable is that, more often than not, others might exploit such faith. Agreeable people have the tendency not to voice out their opinions and keep their thoughts to themselves although the situation prevailing is unfair to them. Few can disagree that there is only so much that one can take in before the bubble bursts. Low Affirmation-scoring people are challengers who will not hesitate to voice out their concerns and opinions. They never allow themselves to be at a disadvantage and will happily confront structures and systems that they think should be changed or improved. These people are valued for their competitiveness and aggressiveness. But being too honest with your thoughts might get you into hot water, especially when you are challenging authorities and systems. If done wrongly, it could cause disunity in the company/department. That is why we are always advised to keep our cool and have a proper consideration of the available facts and what we should do next before making false accusations. Knowledge Creativity is a very sought-after quality in every company and big pays are often handed out to those who can show exceptional ability in churning out high levels of creativity. Creativity is the reason why consumers fork out money to buy the things they want, amidst all the variety of options available. If you score high in Knowledge, it means you are a naturally creative person. You are more adventurous and more willing to try new things – may it be food, experience, clothing, holidays, etc. So how do you know whether you are creative or not? Most of the time, you just know you are. Creativity is not a structured process; rather, it is born from the unconscious mind. Insider tip: Creativity cannot be thought out. It just happens. One of the miracles of our brain


Being a creative person, you would naturally shy away from structure and routine. What you need to do is to nurture your creativity by doing things differently, think from outside the box – even the impossible! – and try not to the same, old, tried-and-tested things. Having mentioned that, if you score low for Knowledge, it does not mean the end of the world for you. You have the ability to think in a structured and systematic manner (ring a bell? Yes, the Purpose factor). Your mind rarely wanders away and is always focused on every task that is presented to you. Imagine your brain working like a flow chart, moving from one part to the following part and you already have all the steps figured out. All that is left is execution. Part of the reason for this is that you have the tendency to stick to tried-and-tested methods, systems or any aspect of life. Being adventurous is not your cup of tea. Sustainability Handling stress is part of our daily tasks, be it work stress, family, peer or financial. A sufficient amount of stress is good as it pushes us to work harder or put in more effort in the things we do. Scoring high in Sustainability means you can handle stress without being unnerved and over-worried. You often feel that you have control over matters at hand and solutions to issues/problems would eventually be worked out. At times, you may even view stress as a challenge and you are usually more than up for it. Nevertheless, overconfidence can overshadow your judgment and moments of weakness may appear. The potential impact of an issue may be underestimated and thus would lead to unexpected disappointment and frustration. Being at the other end of Sustainability, it shows that you tend to be more concerned and alert when under stress. Emotions run high when you are completing tasks but it is also your passion that drives you ahead and strive harder. You are like a magnifying glass - a small win can be a big victory and a minor failure feels like a major defeat – that is how sensitive you may get. Insider tip: Life is a journey. Along the way mistakes are made. What is more important is not what we lose but what we have learned. One of the ways to managing stress is to clearly define the border lines between work and personal issues. It should not be blurred or crossed, unless you are willing to go through some really tough times. Having a cool head helps in every situation, whether you are being provoked or in a frustrating state of affairs. Remember that stress is normally caused by the things that we think cannot be solved or is difficult to. If you put your mind to it, everything is possible.


Working within your limits
by Sophia Su
In a knowledge-based economy, the people we hire are our most important assets. Yet for many people the reality of life is an organisation where they do not feel they are being treated as the most important asset. The reality of working in today's contemporary organisation is that employees have little work-life balance and this spills over into their attitudes, behaviour and the values they hold in the workplace. Work-life balance has become a major issue in the workplace in many countries. Almost everyone does some form of work-life planning. Engaging in a formal work-life planning process in a structured disciplined manner will greatly help in overcoming the 'cat and mouse' game that often goes on between supervisor and subordinate. It would also create more responsibility and empathy in the workplace. The benefits of work-life balance Policies that afford a work-life balance for everyone is good for the workplace. In fact, some small businesses save simply by using family friendly work policies. And the results are promising. There is a reduction in casual absence, better staff retention, easier recruitment and improvements in the morale, commitment and productivity of the employees. Is there a future for work-life balance? In Singapore, for instance, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong has noted that "Singaporeans do want a balance in their lives." Deputy Prime Minister BG Lee Hsien Loong has said that the civil service is leading the way by adopting family friendly measures at the work place. It already has measures to help working mothers in the civil service. In addition, the civil service recently announced measures like allowing telecommuting -- where practical, as an alternative working arrangement, particularly for parents with young children, and flexi-time work arrangements -- as long as there is no loss of productivity or lapse in service standards to the public. BG Lee also added that experience has shown that well-designed and effectively implemented family-friendly policies strengthen businesses. This is because they boost productivity and lower costs by improving retention, reducing absenteeism and enhancing worker commitment. It is noteworthy for employers to remember that if they make an effort to balance the demands of every employee's life with those at the workplace, the organisation will become a happier, more efficient and thereby more productive workplace.

Tired of a never-ending work day? Need more QUALITY time with your family and yourself? How do you achieve it? Well here are five simple suggestions to help you work a little less and enjoy life a little more.


1. Set aside lunch time as personal time. Instead of working through lunch and with colleagues, spend the time on yourself. Call an old friend, have lunch with the wife, get your haircut, exercise at the fitness centre or browse through the local bookshop. In short, take some time to rest and relax away from the office setting. The short respite will do you wonders, and you will feel re-charged. 2. Set reasonable deadlines Not everything needs to be finished yesterday. Prioritize your work, and give yourself a sensible amount of time to accomplish a task, including a little extra time so that you can reasonable account for unforeseen contingencies. You will feel more relaxed, and your work will be better. 3. Say no to assignments on occasion It is ultimately not the quantity of your work but the quality that counts. Consider taking on fewer assignments so that you can meet your deadlines promptly and produce better work. When you say, "I am sorry. I cannot take on a new assignment right now as I am already fully committed to a project", your statement implies that you are upfront, reasonable and dependable. Offer a feasible date when you can take on the task to show that you are not a shirker. 4. Commit to personal appointments Give equal priority and importance to your family as you do your work commitments. Put them on your same calendar. If you plan to block off lunch with your spouse on a particular day, don't give the time up for a work engagement. 5. Set definite stop lines Have you worked overtime, and told yourself "just another hour" only to find yourself still at the workplace two hours later? That's the time to apply the stop lines. Put a brake on your work. Set a fixed time beyond which you will not work and stick to it.

Tips for Effective Time Management Heed these time-saving tips and put yourself in control of your work and personal life! Are you always on the run? Coming to work earlier and leaving later? Working even on Saturdays and Sundays? Perenially fatigued, harassed and irritable? Time to slow down, say your concerned family and friends. But wait. It may not be a case of being overworked as much as a simple case of poor time management. Heed these time-saving tips and put yourself in control of your work and personal life!


Make a plan. Planning is the key to time management. But don’t just make a great-looking plan, implement it and stick to it! Be sure it’s a realistic one that provides for the usual interruptions, distractions and delays.


Believe you’re entitled to some personal time. Take a holistic approach to planning. Incorporate time for family and friends, hobbies, exercises and


outings rather than giving them whatever scraps of time are left. Leisure time is never wasted time, but precious personal space that allows you to put your life in perspective and recharge your batteries to perform better at work.


Don’t be a perfectionist. Complete projects within the time frame you’ve setand deliver. Wanting to do a great job is one thing; being obsessed about it to the point of going over the details again and again and missing your deadline is another.


Learn to say no. Inability to refuse more projects, invitations and responsibilities is a major cause of work pileup and torpedoes your carefully laid-out plans.


Know your priorities. Make a list of your priorities and label them according to importance and urgency. Tackle the most important first, hopefully move on to the medium-priority projects and do the low-priority items when and if you have the time. -- Reprinted from the Summit Publishing Co., Inc. newsletter "@summit atbp."

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Tips on Effective Communication
by Ngeow Yoke Meng The success of an employee lies not only in his professionalism and hard work, but also his personal network and contacts with others. Despite advancement in information technology, communication skills mastered by employee remains the core element for effective transmission of information. In daily life, especially in interpersonal conversation, communication breakdown often causes misunderstanding and misconception among people. It is rather surprising that communication breakdown is seldom caused by cultural or language differences. Some of us do find difficulty communicating to our superiors and subordinates who obviously speak the same language and share the same culture like we do. Nevertheless, effective communication does take place within peer group and between close friends, where mutual understanding and willingness to listen form a vital part of the communication process. Here are tips to overcome the problem of communication breakdown:

Message, not messenger.

Sometimes we tend to have a preconceived opinion about someone before we truly understand the messages conveyed by that person. If we areprejudiced towards a colleague, we are quite unlikely to listen to his message with full attention and magnanimity. Besides


personal preference, we often judge our messenger by his appropriate manner and attitude, his outer appearance, facial expression and even body language. Since all these could also affect our acceptance of his message, we should be remind ourselves that message, and not messenger, is the reason for communication.

Context, not just text.

Problems, events and occurrence happen by cause and effect, rather than in isolation. There are causal relationships between one problem with another, one event with another. If we concentrate on just the text, say, flexible working hours suggested by the employer which request all staff to come to work either early morning or just before noon, we will not be able to appreciate the context, say, his genuine intention to help his staff avoid traffic congestion to and from work. It is therefore important to ask "why do you say that?" as we want to know not just how people think, but also why they think so.

Listen first, evaluate later

We should all try to understand the messenger's viewpoint, interpret his stand or needs, rephrase what he has just said, ask him questions, clear our doubts before evaluating his point of view. Evaluation can be made after the conversation ends if no urgent decision is needed. Do not prompt into judgment, decision and conclusion when we are not sure about what has been said.

Written, not necessarily oral

People with an emotional personality, or those who hardly listen carefully to others are difficult to communicative with verbally. It is therefore advisable to write them a memo or a letter before any conversation. People who can express themselves better in writing than in oral should also use this method to minimize mistakes.

Get wired

Use simple, precise language to convey message so that it can be understood without much effort. Jargons and formal language create distance rather than closeness among those who communicate. One the other hand, when both parties are not communicating on the same ground, they'll probably talk to one another without getting wired. The effect for such simultaneous monologue is, unfortunately, zero.

Get feedback


The sending of messages is only the first step in the communication process. Employer and superior should encourage feedback to their order or instruction. Feedback helps to correct what is wrong, and affirm what is right. What's more, it also eradicates complaints, rumors and excuses for not being able to deliver promises.

Mutual trust and respect

Two persons who communicate with mutual trust and respect will find themselves less defensive about own ideas and therefore truly "communicating". This makes their conversation more interactive, dynamic and effective. Messages are fully understood because the messengers are almost equally sincere in exchanging ideas.

Level of communicators

We are aware of the difference between the ways we speak to our superior and our subordinate. In bottom-up communication, it is advisable that we make our points clear and precise, and pay attention to the superior's comment. As for top-down communication, we should always describe matters in detail while not forgetting to obtain feedback to our ideas.

The First Employment for Job Seekers
by Ngeow Yoke Meng
There are quite a number of conventional ways to discover job vacancies:

• • • • • • • •

applying directly to employer or personnel manager. sending resumes and application letter to company via Internet and mail. contacting family members, friends or anybody who may know about job leads. answering job vacancy advertisements published in print media. checking public employment agency and recruitment center listing of job vacancies. using college career counseling and placement office referrals. attending career fairs sponsored by organization. applying and taking tests for civil service positions in government.

However, the more aggressive job seekers may find that they should not just wait passively to hear from companies or employment agencies. Instead of seeking jobs, they can actually create job opportunities by talking to people who have the power to hire. Fresh graduates or job seekers without any work experience may feel shy to ask around but remember: if you fail, there is nothing to lose (because you have nothing to lose anyway) You are at the best position to do this if you have a specialized skill which is much needed in a company to better its products or services. Try to reach the person in charge of recruitment to listen to you. Explain to them how you can contribute with the knowledge and experience you


have. By doing so you will create a new job in a new company which is tailor-made, just for you. If you are looking for the very first job in life which means you have no work experience at all, try to emphasize on occasional or part-time jobs which you took up during school vacations or even co-curriculum activities which you participated in. If you are not in a hurry to find the first employment, try doing some research and take time to ask people which occupational field you should join. Time and energy invested should be worthwhile for you when you finally find the job that suits you well. Finally, try to interview persons in charge of personnel, recruitment or those who work with employment agencies. Get information that are relevant to your field of interest and make the right choice.

Career Choice According to Temperament
by Lola Sikula, Fullerton College
Your temperament style affects the way you choose a career. Consider the following explanations: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Extraverts are career generalists who tend to use their skills in a wide variety of ways. Introverts are career specialists who tend to use their skills in a narrower range but in greater depth. Sensing types like their career to be continuous. They see their career as a ladder and look for the nest step based on the experience they already have. Intuitives are oriented toward career change. They are likely to be inspired by the words "You can be anything you want to be". Thinking types have a career track in mind, one with a starting point and a goal. Their goal is usually to attain a certain amount of money, prestige or influence. Feeling types adopt personal growth as their goal. Whether they leave or stay in a job depends upon whether they feel like doing so. Judging types make plans for their careers. They hesitate to make moves that are not in their original plan without first establishing a new plan. Perceptives prefer to take advantage of career opportunities and respond quickly to unexpected openings, useful connections, good breaks, or brighter lights. What type are you? Can you pick yourself out from the preceding descriptions? Determine your own personality type by choosing one preference from each of the polarities, for


instance: if you belong to category 1, 4, 6, 8, you are likely to have personality described under this category.
Categories and descriptions adopted from Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI):

1357 1358 1367 1368 1457 1458 1467 1468 2357 2358 2367 2368 2457 2458 2467 2468

logical, decisive, systematic,objective, efficient, direct, practical, organized, impersonal, responsible,structured, conscientious. activity-oriented, adaptable, fun-loving, versatile, energetic, alert, spontaneous, pragmatic, easygoing, persuasive, outgoing, quick. conscientious, loyal, sociable,personable, responsible, harmonious, cooperative, tactful, thorough, responsive,sympathetic, traditional. enthusiastic, adaptable,playful, friendly, vivacious, sociable, talkative, cooperative, easygoing, tolerant, outgoing, pleasant. logical, decisive, playful, tough, strategic, critical, controlled, challenging, straightforward, objective, fair, theoretical. enterprising, independent, outspoken, strategic, creative, adaptive, challenging, analytical, clever, resourceful, questioning, theoretical. loyal, idealistic, personable, verbal, responsible, expressive, enthusiastic, energetic, diplomatic, concerned, supportive, congenial creative, curious, enthusiastic, versatile, spontaneous, expressive, independent, friendly, perceptive, energetic, imaginative, restless. factual, thorough, systematic, dependable, steadfast, practical, organized, realistic, duty bond, sensible, painstaking, reliable. logical, expedient, practical, realistic, factual, analytical, applied, independent, adventurous, spontaneous, adaptable, self-determined. detailed, conscientious, traditional, loyal, patient, practical, organized, serviceminded, devoted, protective, meticulous, responsible. caring, gentle, modest, adaptable, sensitive, observant, cooperative, loyal, trusting, spontaneous, understanding, harmonious. independent, logical, critical, original, systems-minded, firm, visionary, theoretical, demanding, private, global, autonomous. logical, skeptical, cognitive, detached, theoretical, reserved, precise, independent, speculative, original, autonomous, self-determined. committed, loyal, compassionate, creative, intense, deep, determined, conceptual, sensitive, reserved, holistic, idealistic. compassionate, gentle, virtuous, adaptable, committed, curious, creative, loyal, devoted, deep, reticent, empathetic.

How to get a new job – fast!
by Atul Mathur


Here is a true story of someone who got a new job in six days by tapping the job market, which most job seekers don’t see. Day 1: A friend of mine, Mr Helpful, asked me if I could help a friend of his, Mr Smart, by forwarding his resume to some of my friends. I said: "Okay, please send Mr Smart's resume to me." Day 2: Mr Helpful sent Mr Smart's resume to me, which I forwarded straightaway to two of my friends, Mr Hire and Mr Fire. Day 3: Mr Hire, who works for a US multinational, called Mr Smart and invited him to come for an interview. Days 4 & 5 (weekend): No action! Day 6: Mr Smart appeared at the interview and got the job! It all happened in less than a week. There is, however, nothing miraculous about it. Miracles, by definition, are not supposed to happen every day. The way Mr Smart got the job is how the majority (yes, majority!) of jobs get filled up in the job market – every day! According to some estimates, about 70-80% of jobs are filled up in this manner – without ever being advertised. Welcome to the invisible job market! As a job seeker, you may think the best way to get a job is to look for ads in the newspapers, magazines and job search web sites, send in applications and then wait for interview calls. The reality is that the job market you see in the newspapers and on the Internet is only about 20-30% of the total job market. The larger job market remains invisible. For every vacancy you see in a newspaper or on the Internet, there are three or four that you do not see and will never see. If you want to get a job fast, focus a larger (not all!) proportion of your efforts to tap the invisible job market. And that means doing something as simple as Mr Smart did: Telling those you know that you are looking for a job and sincerely asking them to help you. This is also known as "networking." The approach of involving others works because it is like adding 20 or 30 more eyes to our own two while searching for a job. It makes the search easier and faster. There are two more ways you can tap the invisible job market: 1. 2. Approach potential employers directly even if they have not advertised any vacancies. Approach recruitment agencies.

If you have been looking for a job for quite some time without success, try changing your strategy. Start focusing on the invisible job market. Your search may end faster than you can imagine. Copyright © 2006 by Atul Mathur

Atul Mathur is a career coach and the author of two ebooks The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction. Web site:

Job Hunting with Least Effort
by Atul Mathur

What would you do in the following situations? ONE: You have to go up to the 10th floor in an office tower. You have two options: 1. 2. Go by stairs Take an elevator


TWO: You want to increase the volume of your TV. You have two options: 1. 2. Get up and go to the TV to do it Use a remote.

THREE: You want to withdraw money. You have two options: 1. 2. Go inside the bank and withdraw money Use an ATM outside the bank

There is nothing tricky about these questions and the answers are so obvious. Do you, however, see the not-so-obvious phenomenon underlying the everyday choices? “People like to spend least effort to accomplish their objectives.” This is the Law of Least Effort. You can see its evidence in every facet of daily life in the form of Internet banking, washing machines, ready-made foods and so on. The natural tendency to spend least effort is so strong that most of the technologies, products and services are aimed at helping people do just that: minimise the effort! The Law of Least Effort also applies to the job market. The only catch is that it works against job seekers when they follow the path of least effort. And it works in their favour if they somehow enable employers to follow the path of least effort. Here is how it works. Resume: Job seekers often prepare one standard resume and send it to multiple employers, hoping it might click somewhere. This is a classic example of job seekers spending least effort. When these one-size-fits-all resumes reach employers, they also spend least effort. They usually ignore all resumes except those which are especially tailored to their unique needs. Who loses? The job seeker who did not put in more effort by studying potential employer’s needs and tailoring the resume accordingly. So, avoid mass mailing of standard resumes. Even if you decide to tailor your resume to a potential employer’s needs, but do not take care to make it short and sharp, it works against you. When long, vague resumes, stuffed with superfluous information, reach employers, they have to spend more effort in figuring out the suitability of a candidate. Again, if a resume demands more effort on the employer’s part, it is likely to go to the rejection pile. Keep out unnecessary details from your resume, make it simple, credible and short — two to three pages maximum. When you spend more effort to craft your resume, you save employer’s effort, and they would like it. Interview: When job seekers appear at interviews without preparation, it again makes employers spend more effort. They have to explain the job requirements and dig out all the relevant information from the candidates to assess their suitability. What employers would prefer is someone who has done the homework by studying job requirements and can show them how he or she fits into them. Least effort for them! Job hunt: Job seekers mostly focus on vacancies advertised in the newspapers. For employers, however, the route of advertising vacancies, then receiving a large number of applications and interviewing scores of candidates is a route of “more effort.” They would prefer if someone could cut short this process. As a job seeker, if you can get in touch with potential employers either through contacts or directly, you save them the extra effort (and money, too). That is the reason many smart people get jobs by simply networking and seeking help from their friends or showing the guts to approach employers directly even when they have not advertised a vacancy. Basically, to enjoy success in the job market, ask yourself, "How can I help potential employer take the path of least effort?" Invariably, this would mean putting in more effort on your side. But that extra effort is worth it. Job market rewards those who help employers spend least effort at every stage of recruitment. Copyright © 2006 by Atul Mathur


Job Search: Selling yourself with a "Wow"
by Sacha DeVoretz, Reprinted with permission

Blaine, Washington - America is probably the most heavily marketed-to society in history. Every day, in print, on television and even on the Internet, there's deluge of advertising, all carefully designed to capture consumers' attention. Persuasive product messaging is key to any company's effort in "building a brand" that is both desirable and completely unique. In a tough U.S. job market, employment seekers will have to do some of the same brand-building that traditional product advertisers do. Those applicants who want to stand out from the pack must promote their salable skills and experiences using the same American brand-centric "wow" techniques that marketers employ. You are selling a product, and the product is you. This "wow" principle is even more important for you if you are applying for a position from outside of America. Your competitors may be applying for the position from within the USA, and the applicants from within the States will most likely be more appealing to the employer as it is more convenient for them to hire a person who is already in the country and is ready to start work. For this reason alone, it is very important for you to sell yourself to the employer in the best possible manner and present yourself as the BEST candidate for the job. Marketing yourself with what I call the "wow factor" is a delicate task. The initial spark for product branding is: The Right Product With The Right Message. You must use this mantra when you market yourself to an employer, as you are the advertising campaign for yourself. Before you "wow" anyone, you first have to be sure of what it is you are selling, and who you are selling it to. You must find out what your "consumer" - the Employer - is seeking from an employee and design your "wow" campaign toward getting yourself that important first interview. So before you apply for any job, try to learn as much as possible about the company you're seeking employment with. Use the Internet to find their corporate website or search for cached news stories about their successes, and their failures. Make a file on the company so that you know what they do, who they appeal to, and what their needs are. After you've done your research, you may want to try to arrange an informational interview as a casual employment seeker. These types of interviews are not always easy to set up outside of the traditional corporate recruitment campaign, but if there's a sympathetic person in a particular department you'd like to find employment with or in the company's human resources department, you should jump at the opportunity to learn more. Use your investigative knowledge to discover or confirm who their "ideal" employee is, what their department or organizational needs are, etc. This is what advertisers would call a Market Survey. From there, it's a matter of designing your advertising - your "wow" campaign -- to attract the employer's attention. From your informational interview and research, you'll have a pretty clear idea of exactly how to design your employment campaign to directly appeal to the company or industry. Use the details you've gleaned from your research to assemble a cohesive and impressive cover letter and American-style resume. Successful "wow" employment campaigns will cut through the clutter of other job applicants. Things like creating your own website that you can direct potential employers to is a trendy idea. Online, you can display your statistics, your portfolio of accomplishments, even a pictorial history of successful projects you worked on. A website doesn't replace a resume and portfolio, but instead reinforces it, and allows the employer to potentially spend some more time with "you" on their own time, at their convenience, learning more about you. This kind of web presence not only explains just what you do, but also shows that you have the good organizational skills needed to build and launch the site, the creative talents you have to offer to the job, and your determination to speak to the employer on a business-to-business level. Another winning, if less visual and more direct, way of reaching potential employers is to advertise yourself like a product in trade or professional association publications. This can be an expensive proposition, but if you pick your placement carefully and economically, you will be speaking directly to an audience that is prepared to appreciate your skills and talent. Many of these industry-specific newsletters and magazines offer low-cost or free classified listings for job seekers. Every stage of your job search is a part of your branding campaign to make a good impression on the employer. At all points in the job application process, you and your efforts are being critiqued. It is important to always be at your best and always be your true self. This kind of brand building or self-


marketing will serve your purpose to "wow" the employer, and most likely get you the job interview you want.

Three top tips to get a job in the USA
by Sacha DeVoretz, Reprinted with permission

In the American market, your resume and job interview needs to both SHOW and TELL your qualifications as visually as possible. It’s your job to give energy to your resume and make your skills come alive in the mind of an employer. As a foreign applicant, you are automatically at a perceived disadvantage as there are many Americans with the same qualifications and experience who are acclimatized to the US workplace ethos, ready to be hired - today. That’s why you need to counterbalance this prejudice: to prove yourself, your worth, and that you are worth waiting for. Think about a job you really want and how you would show that you are right for the job. How you would tell your story? Here are some tips: “SHOW” YOU CARE: You must know everything you possibly can about the company BEFORE you apply. Do your homework. Most companies today have a corporate website with the details of the business's history, philosophy, product lines, achievements and marketing focus. Read through the entire website and tailor your resume and cover letter to the strengths, pride and products of the company. What do you see as their short and long-term goals? These are answers that employers love to see and hear – that you’ve actually put some thought and research into their business. SHOW them that you understand their firm and care enough to think about their needs; and think about how you can help their product or trade lines for them by hiring you. Make your case! “TELL” THEM WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR: Your resume and cover letter must be the best possible presentation you can make. A cover letter’s primary purpose is to act as an employer’s introduction to your resume, and to you. SHOW and TELL them why they should even consider you – especially since you are so far away from America.

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Your cover letter should have a subtle yet strong selling message – a point-by-point detail that tells the American employer that, by hiring you, they’ll benefit from your previous successes and experiences. You must use American expressions and terminology. Use statistics and measurements that show what you were able to achieve for former employers. Appeal to their interests, but don’t use the cover letter to criticize their business model. Instead, show how you would complement their company’s goals and ideals.

Speak in the language that they want to read – the language of success, achievement and profit. Make your cover letter compelling enough that they would want to meet this success story – you -- in person. Or at least want to read the rest of your resume. “SHOW” IT IN THE INTERVIEW: The American Company loved your resume and cover letter. Now they want to talk to you. When you land your job interview, either in person, over the telephone or even through the computer, prepare answers that again detail your specific accomplishments and tasks. TELL them what they want to hear, but anticipate how they’d want to hear it.

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SHOW you understand the company’s objectives and know how your skills play into those objectives, and how you are eager to do more and learn more. American employers love job applicants who have confidence. Make a list of the successes that you are proud of, and that you think are key to their business. The trick is to fold your success stories into their line of questioning. Try to take their questions and turn them into a discussion of the similar environments you have worked in, the similar tasks you have done, the triumphs you have achieved and your drive and determination to work up to the top of your field. How do you do this? By practice. Just remember to make your answers concise and to-the-point. It’s not easy when you have a lot of story to tell, but practice with a friend. Write out pretend interview questions and then make


up mock answers. TELL your story through the most imaginative, persuasive words you can in the most economical way you can SHOW it. As you are going to be showing and telling about your vocational experiences, the easiest exercise to sharpen your interviewing skills is to put yourself inside the mind of the American Employer. As an employer, you would be looking for someone who can fit in quickly, start to contribute right away, is confident in his or her approach to the tasks at hand, fits in with colleagues and is a team player who works to realize the company's goals. When you convey these ideas in your cover letter, resume and in the job interview – by showing and telling them in persuasive and clear ways – your chances for success will improve dramatically.

Five insider tips for getting a job in the USA
by Sacha DeVoretz, Reprinted with permission

Marketing yourself effectively in the language and style that employers understand is often the key to an international job seeker's success in the USA. Many foreign job seekers may not know the best way to market themselves to a typical US employer. Here are five of the top tips to supercharge anyone’s job search in the USA:

Your CV Must Be “American-ized” – American companies expect your Curriculum Vitae to be re-written as a standard “US-style” resume. Any other format will be confusing to the employer and could result in your resume being discarded. American resumes should detail your education, employment history and achievements as in your CV, but in “American English" spelling and grammar. Job seekers should not forget to use the correct American terminologies for their profession as well. Using a distinctly American spell-check program and researching similar US technical terms online will help keep your document understandable. If your CV isn’t Americanized, you might as well not even bother applying; the American employer will find a standard CV confusing and may not take the time to read it. Be Proud Of Your Accomplishments – In a competitive job market, American employers need a really good reason to hire you over a similarly-qualified applicant. You may not be used to boasting about your accomplishments, but in America your prior successes really count. Think about the last time you successfully completed a project or helped create a “happy-customer” transaction. Make a list of at least three success stories, and be prepared to tell the American employer about them. Employers in the USA love to see statistics, too. List specific statistics related to your work accomplishments in your resume. This will really boost your resume’s credibility. Keep Your Resume Concise And To The Point – There is an old American saying: time is money. This is no truer than when an employer is looking at your resume. An “American Resume” should be no more than two pages long and be easy to read. Above all, do not state the same information twice. If you have performed the same job for a number of employers or if you have tended to work in the same industry job after job, try to rephrase the job descriptions or find new terms to describe your tasks. This keeps the reader interested, and the resume interesting! Attach A Cover Letter And Make It Great – Cover Letters are a one page “soft” or friendly introduction to your resume in the USA, and the same principles of brevity in a resume must also be applied in a cover letter. American cover letters are not personal letters of introduction, but instead highlight your professional skills and outline how you can contribute to the success of the organization you are applying to. And it isn’t just about being brief; you must be persuasive and to the point in your introduction. A cover letter is a sales tool… for you. Don’t be boring! Employers want dynamic employees, so don’t give them a reason not to interview you. You need to write your cover letter with the goal of enticing the reader – the employer - to find out more about you. A good cover letter will automatically give you a better chance of having your resume read and considered. Be Yourself – American employers are looking for a person who will be a good fit for the job. When you are applying for a job to the USA and are many miles away, it may be tempting to overstate your skill or expertise level just to tip reader’s interest in your favor. A good resume always clearly states your credentials and expertise for the position – but stays on the safe side of hyperbole. Employers may be able to find 100 job candidates who are suitable for the job but they are also looking for a ‘real’ person who can deliver the skills and talent that their resume promises.

America is a complex collection of established workplace attitudes and employment language that may seem very foreign to the international job seeker.


Some of the challenges an international job seeker faces may be readily apparent, understandable, even universal - while others are not quite so obvious. To be successful in the USA, you must have the jobsearch tools and the know-how to compete head-to-head successfully with an American applicant. If you would like more information about current USA job news and more effective insider tips for landing a job in the USA, please visit This article © All Worldwide Rights Reserved. 2004 Sacha DeVoretz and

Tools & Tips for your Job Search
Filling Application Forms Job applications are legal documents, so it is vital that information provided here is backed up with documentation at the interview. Companies do carry out background checks, so false details will disqualify your application immediately. CV-liar detectives are the rage in the US already! Resume Do's & Don’t's

If you already have a few years working experience, listing “Objective” and “Education” at the top of your resume is no longer appropriate. For mid-career professionals, the effective format is to start with a brief overview (one or two sentences) of your professional strengths - for example, project management, leadership or communication skills. This allows the employer to have a good idea of how you can contribute in your new position professionally. You have job or position hopped more than a few times. So you decide to list the companies and positions but leave out the dates. Think again. It is likely that your resume is sorted chronologically. The conspicuous lack of dates will cause recruiters to be suspicious. A better solution is to reformat your resume to emphasize your strong points and de-emphasize your weaknesses by avoiding a chronological format. It is wise not to include the sordid details of why you left your last job. Even if you were fired unjustly, it's better to reflect the positive aspects of your prior positions than dwell on the negative. Employers tend to see how you feedback on your previous employers as a reflection of your potential relationship with your next one. If it is at all necessary, some situations can be best explained in person (if you are asked during an interview). You are in such a hurry to find a new job that you rush through your resume and send it out to the first batch of job ads found online. Even if you are trying to make today's deadline, don't let yourself get sloppy. Achieving the deadline won't make up for the fact that your application resume is unprofessional and full of errors. You'll be sure to make a BAD impression, and that’s what you are trying to avoid. So it pays to complete your resume carefully. You have listed your responsibilities under each job title, but what will separate you from the crowd? A great resume should include your achievements and your company's accomplishments in which you were actively involved. For instance, if you brought 20 new clients that increased the company's sales by $300,000, include that in your resume. Don't be afraid to toot your horn a little, but be honest. Only your mom would read through every job you have had since you still had braces. Prospective employers want to know only the relevant experience you've had in the past decade, and they want to know it fast. Highlight the most recent and appropriate jobs into a strong and brief resume. Not only will your resume appear more decisive, but it will be more memorable. KISS - Keep It Short & Sweet!

Wrapping Up the Interview

At the end of an interview, it is important to summarize what has been covered to make sure there was nothing forgotten or misunderstood. When the interviewer asks if you have any other questions, don't forget to respond in kind and ask if he or she has any further questions for you. Now go out there and impress them! Business Cards Rule! Always thank the interviewer for his / her time and ask for a business card. It will ensure that your thank-you letter contains correctly spelled name(s) and proper title(s). It also gives you the necessary information for future correspondence, the person's direct number,


and other useful information. If you have a business card handy, be sure to hand the interviewer yours. This way, he / she is more likely to remember you and can contact you right away without having to plow through a stack of resumes. Focus Yourself! Now that you're ready for that next big career move, don't just start applying to every job ad you see. In order to ensure that you have a better chance for interviews, focus yourself on the most suitable jobs. Check out your options. Do you have the level of experience, qualification or skills needed for the position? Sending 10 resumes to 10 targeted positions will better your chances of success than zapping out 50 resumes blindly. And remember, always keep track of whom you send your resumes to and the positions applied for so when you DO get a phone call for an interview, you won't fumble trying to remember who it is you're talking to! Now go on out there and hit your targets! Negotiating Multiple Offers Always be open and honest with potential employers. The company's recruitment drive is not a cheap process, so don't take their offers lightly. It is unwise to use one company's job offer (which you probably don't want anyway) to give you leverage against another's offer. It my seem like you're holding out for more money or that you're holding one company ransom against what the other is offering. Where you do have competing job offers and a potential employer asks, be honest about your intentions. Consider this the first step in creating a professional relationship with your future employer. Even if you do not accept the company's offer, you can initiate a good relationship with them that you might need for a rainy day! Separate Email Addresses> If you're searching for another job whilst still employed, it may not be wise to use your company’s email to contact potential employers. Get a separate email address from a web based server such as:,, Its free and accessible from any PC, anytime, anywhere. And it’s confidential!

Salary Negotiations •
When to do it? Most of the time, this only comes up at the end of an interview or in the second or third interview. The reason being that it only becomes a discussion point when both parties are pretty sure they will be working together. So don't bring it up prematurely until you get a good feel that you have the employer very interested in you, or they bring it up first! Being prepared and having information is vital in negotiating your salary and other terms of your employment. You should note that employment negotiations are not like bartering or buying a car. You may end up working with your negotiator on a daily basis if things go well, so even though you'll want the best deal possible, you should proceed in a diplomatic manner. Figuring out where you stand relative to other candidates for that position is vital to your negotiation strategy. If you're at the final interview and feel you're top in the running for the position, you should be able to negotiate according to your terms. If, however, you know you're only one in a pool of potentials, salary terms could be the deciding factor in hiring you, so think carefully before you aim too high. Lie during your negotiations and you have a potential of getting caught and losing all your credibility. Even if you get hired, you will jeopardize your future career as the employer knows that you had lied. Always be prepared; determine which areas may be problematic before you get to the negotiating table. Practise on your negotiation arguments. During negotiations, consider the value of the whole package and not just your salary. Be creative about making tradeoffs to increase the value of the entire compensation and benefits package, for example, flexi-working hours, stock options, annual leave, medical coverage, etc. You may be able to trade something rigidly regulated (ie, pay level) in the company for something with which the company is more flexible (ie, working hours). Don't approach negotiations with the objective of winning a game. Take control of your competitive streak in case your drive to win clouds your ultimate goal, which is to get the job for the right compensation. Even if you win the negotiations, make sure you leave the interviewer with a sense of "win-win" - getting your talent and skills for a fair rate.

Salary negotiations are essentially the prelude to your career in that company. How you manage your initial contact via the negotiations will be the start point of how you will be perceived in that company. If you negotiated effectively, you can start your new job confidently knowing you've achieved the best deal for both you and the company. Further, there will be increased opportunities for negotiations of your package in the future if you excel at your job.


Making impressions: no second chance!
Important rule of job interviews: you’ll never be given a second chance to make a first impression. The first interview with a company is all-important, for it will make or break your opportunity to progress to a second interview or get a job offer. Here are some tips to help you score at your first meeting and increase your chances for a next one.

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Dress good. No flamboyant dressing! Go conservative. For example, white long sleeve shirts with a tie for men. For ladies, wear minimal jewelry. Make-up should be restrained, fingernails nails clean, neat and not brightly polished. Smell good. Watch what you eat before the interview and keep a breath mint on hand. Never chew gum during an interview. Also, have a good bath before you go, and wear light perfume or cologne. Time it well. Don’t plan an interview before work or during lunch if your time does not permit it. Allow more time for the interview than you think you need to avoid feeling rushed. Be conscious of your body language. Look the interviewer in the eye. Remain professional in posture and demeanour. Sit up straight and control your nervous habits. Speak clearly and enthusiastically about your skills, knowledge, and abilities. Answer all questions to the point, and don't reveal more information than necessary. Be pleasant, but not overly friendly. You are interviewing for a job, so remain professional. Listen carefully. Don't interrupt the speaker. If you need to take notes, ask for permission. Sometimes, there may be long pauses during the interview. Don’t let it make you feel uncomfortable. Always be positive. Never run down your previous employer. Be prepared for questions that can make you look bad, like "Tell me about a weakness." <Do your homework. There’s always the Internet. Learn as much about the company as possible. If possible, brush up on the industry by reading the newspapers or industry publications. >Don’t be late. If you're not familiar with the location of the company, get a map. Try to look over the area to find the location a few days before the interview. Etiquette. Know what to do if lunch or dinner is part of the interview.

Write a thank you note. Be professional until the end. Give them a “thank you” note once the interview is over. Ask for the interviewer’s business cards so that you know how to spell their names and addresses properly.

Job Fairs - How to work a job fair
by Koon Mei Ching

Last month, you read about job fairs and how to prepare for them. This month, we shall get down to the nitty-gritty about what to do at a job fair and after it is over. First of all, arrive early so you can scope out the place and avoid getting flustered. From your preparation, you would have worked out a priority list on which companies you will like to meet. At the fair, you will see a layout plan for the company booths at the entrance - if not from the fair website, already. You may need to readjust your plan according to what is logical based on the layout, so take a note of it. With this plan, start making your way through the booths. Avoid just picking up brochures and dropping off your CV at the booths. Take time to talk to your selected employers - even if there are many other people crowding around the booth. If it is not yet your time to talk, take the opportunity to listen to what others are asking the recruiters, you will often get very sound advice and good insight into the company. Should you be able to meet the recruiter personally, show enthusiasm and interest. Give a firm handshake, maintain eye contact and run through your prepared "pitch" for yourself. Let the employers know that you're serious about seeking out opportunities with them and take the opportunity to get answers to the questions you prepared. Use your research to appear confident and knowledgeable about the company. Recruiters are often impressed with people who have done their homework - it shows conscientiousness and motivation. The question to avoid is, "What do you do?" If you have to ask, the recruiter will feel that you're just wasting their time. Instead, ask questions about the opportunities available, what they are looking for in a


successful candidate, what the recruitment process is etc. (Avoid asking questions about salary as it is too premature at this point.) Be prepared to discuss what exactly it is you are looking for in an opportunity, where you are willing to work and what your most relevant skills are. Use the short time you have with a recruiter to give them as good an impression of you as possible and get as much valuable information out of them in return. Ask they if are accepting resumes, and if so, leave yours with them. Before you leave, pick up any company recruitment brochure available and make sure you also get the recruiter's business card as you will want to follow up on interesting leads. During the entire job fair, you will likely be waiting in line at various points in time. If so, use the opportunity to network with others. Make new contacts and look out for information that they got about companies they met. You may find out about some companies that were not on your original list, but sound interesting enough to consider. Finally, leaving the fair is not the end of the entire process. Your post-fair actions are just as important as during the event. With the business cards you have collected and the notes you have made, you should write or email personal “thank you” notes to each of the recruiters you met. This is not only courtesy, but gives the recruiter the impression that you are really serious about the opportunity and that you appreciated their time. Make note of any particular conversation you had about the opportunity and that will really put you on top of the pile! With that, you're ready to rock and roll!

Job Fairs - How to prepare?
by Koon Mei Ching

A job fair is an event for many companies within a certain geographical location to meet and recruit potential candidates in one convenient location - usually a large hotel or exhibition centre. The job fair will offer job hunters the chance to go to a "one-stop shopping mall" that offers representatives from 50-100 companies who are searching for pre-employment (internship) or full-time job candidates. The representatives will usually offer information about general career opportunities as well as specific vacancy information to visitors. Often, they will also conduct on-the-spot interviews should they find an appropriate candidate. So why go? Whether you are actively looking for a job or merely browsing around for opportunities, the job fair is an extremely good opportunity for you to meet with a lot of companies (usually big ones) who are in the market of hiring. On top of that, it is usually free to job applicants and the event allows you to check out many options in a very short frame of time and in one location. Other benefits include the ability to gain valuable interview experience, increase your chances of interviewing with an employer (and not just be another CV in their overflowing inbox), receive job search advice from seasoned recruiters and develop your network of contacts. How to prepare Because there will be hundreds, if not thousands of others who will be hunting for prospects in the same event, it is always prudent to prepare yourself fully. Firstly, review the list of companies attending the job fair and filter down a selection of companies you would be interested to meet (realistically, you will be unable to meet all the companies there, anyway!). Research these companies on the job fair website or the companies’ respective career websites. Next, set out your strategy for working the job fair. Prioritise the employers you will want to speak to, identify the kind of information you will require from them and specify your objectives for attending the job fair. With that in mind, you can now review your resume against these objectives and refine it to best reflect the capabilities for your intended job. Make sure it is as current as possible and check it twice for spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. Then, make at least 20-30 copies - if you are intending to meet more employers than that, make enough copies for them and an additional 10 more, in case you meet other interesting prospects. Another important tip is to develop a quick yet concise 1-2 minute "pitch" for yourself. Think of it as your own commercial where you are the product that you are trying to sell to companies. It should introduce yourself, express why you are interested in the company or job area, and briefly relate your background to the company's vacancy requirements or industry area. In addition to that, you should also prepare four to five questions to ask companies to answer the questions that you will need answered to help you decide if they are right for you.


Now the obvious: Dress professionally for the event. Even though it may not be a proper interview and office environment, impressions do not count any less in a job fair. They are still potential employers who are seeking to find the most impressive candidates from among thousands. Find out next month how to work a job fair and what to do after the fair is over.

Finding The First Job
by Ngeow Yoke Meng

In the current job market where unemployment rate is high, fresh graduates and school leavers should be realistic in their search for jobs. They should not have high hope in getting the 'right' job at their first attempt, but should aim to gain worthwhile experience from their first job. Indeed, the chances of finding the 'right' job at the first time are small, unless for graduates whose qualifications decide specifically what kind of job they are going to do after graduation. In the real work life, we see many people change their jobs several times particularly during the early part of their career. As long as one does not change his job every often, e.g. every year or less, changing a job can be seen as a healthy scenario, which means his skill or experience is much needed despite the economic downturn. However, in order to get worthwhile experiences at work, a job seeker is advised to stay at least three years upon his acceptance of any job offer. Preparing Yourself For The Competitive Job Market

Do not think you can solve problems that arise in job search all by yourself. The price to pay for ignorance or passive attitude is too high to bear. You may end up not getting any job offer after attending many interviews and sending out many resumes. Without proper guidance, you will find not only frustration, but constant failure in your job search. Fresh graduates should get career counselling or professional advice from the university about techniques to apply for jobs, which organisation to contact, arranging interviews, organising visits, or making contacts with the personnel in charge. If you are not so sure about what you want to become, try to discuss with parents and friends who know your characters. Tell them which career you want to go in for, why you chose to pursue a certain degree or course, what makes you think you can do better than others in certain jobs, what is your future plan besides working for an organisation, and ask their opinions about your plan. All these are important bearings that help you focus in your career, so do not shy away from talking about them. Besides your plan, your interests and hobbies outside your studies are important indicators of what you want to achieve in career and in life. And since you are fresh from campus and have no previous work experience, this is one of the many yardsticks which a prospective employer has of judging your initiative and your ability, apart from your academic achievement. Particularly valuable are those activities in which you had some organising functions, and where you had to get along with and work with others. Examples of such activities are various clubs, sports team, debating society, youth group, college magazine, voluntary service and charity work. Unless you are ask to comment on certain political issues, try to keep off the subject of political activities as this could set up a strong prejudice against you. Last but not least, see yourself as a unique person with desirable characters – someone who is honest, hardworking, responsible, caring, helpful, disciplined and open-minded. Only when you see yourself as a valuable person, you can have pride in yourself and convince others of your value. After all, being jobless at this downturn of economy is not necessarily your own fault. See things positively so that you open up yourself to more options while learning painfully from your job searching experiences.

Myths and Realities in Job Search
by Ngeow Yoke Meng

Conducting an effective job search requires a clear understanding of the job market and the know how to use some of the skills and techniques. Here are some myths and misconceptions concerning the effective methods for achieving success, followed by corresponding realities. Myth 1: Anyone can find a job in today's low unemployment job market. Reality: The job market of Malaysia has been the employees' market for the recent years. However, it does


not follow that anyone who possesses intelligence and concrete work skills can effortlessly find a good job. Having positive attitudes and self-esteem, abilities of setting goals and solving problems, skills of interpersonal communications may help in succeeding job search. But more importantly, he must know where to find a job a post-industrial and high-tech society. The visible job market in which vacancies are advertised in media channels is highly fragmented and chaotic. On the other hand, the hidden job market in which vacancies are not advertised but passing through word-of-mouth, is still unknown to most job seekers. Myth 2: Employers hire the best qualified candidates. Inexperienced job seekers do not stand a good chance in the competitive job market. Reality: Employers seldom hire the best qualified candidates because "qualifications" are difficult to define and measure in any job interview. Personal traits and other virtuous aspects of an individual such as being purposeful, persistent, pleasant, competent, intelligent, honest, independent, confident and wellmannered, can possibly be measured in a job interview. Employers want value for their money and do not hire people for no reason. Being an inexperienced applicant, do not emphasize your own demands and never volunteer your weaknesses by saying "I'm sorry I don't have such experience..." On the contrary, you should define employer's goals or needs as your skills and strengths, and you might end up in the driver's seat. Myth 3: Job seekers should not try to use contacts or connections to get a job. Reality: Employers hire people who can contribute more than they worth. Employers care less whether applicants make use of contacts or have connections with whom they know. Moreover, if an applicant is strongly recommended by someone the employer knows and trusts, his chances of getting a job is higher than one without. Standing in line for a job often reduces possibilities of being selected, or even being noticed. If for one reason or another job seekers prefer to apply through front door like everyone else when he can use personal contacts, it is because they just want to test their luck. They are probably not serious enough in getting a job. uperiors

Relationship with Colleagues

Relationship with Subordinates

Networking In Job Search
by Ngeow Yoke Meng

JobStreet Job seekers must take greater initiative to establish human networks in their search for a job. Given an employment market where the supply exceeds the demand for labour, companies tend to pay particular attention to candidates who are recommended by people they know or trust. Rationally, from companies' point of view, good people often know other good people. It is therefore safer and easier to recruit someone who, by words-of-mouth, is believed to be trustworthy, hardworking and committed to his job. From job seekers' point of view, good people often know about the good jobs. Hence, it is more likely to find a good job through someone they know. A job seeker who has a better networking skill is more likely to meet his career needs within a shorter period. More importantly, there is expectedly less hassle for him in the entire recruiting process. A network is a group of social and work acquaintances who know who we are, what we want to do, our personality, potentials, limitations, and even our dreams. In short, a network is anyone who might be in a position to assist us in our job search. Identifying our existing network and establishing contacts with them are effective ways to seek for or maintain a rewarding and meaningful career. Who are the networks around us? Networks can be found in formal professional organizations as well as informal social groups such as

• • •

immediate family members, e.g. parents, brothers, sisters extended family members, e.g. in-laws, cousins, uncles parents' friends and associates


• • • • • • • • • •

neighbours schoolmates/classmates/roommates lecturers/teachers/mentors co-workers/superiors/subordinates people from place of worship people having the same hobby social club members/friends sports team members fellow volunteers incidental acquaintances, e.g. bus stop companions, car-pool companions, shop attendants

How to approach these network? In order for others to offer a job, or arrange for a job interview, you need to tell them what you wish to achieve and when you are available for the job offer. Here are some simple guidelines:

• • • • • • •

Start with people whom you feel comfortable to talk to, someone familiar who is helpful, friendly, resourceful, ready to listen and interested to know about your needs. Keep a record of the name, telephone number, e-mail or business address of the people you know who work in your area of interests and talk to them. Gradually expand the networking to other related professions to increase the chances of getting a job. Spread the news to as many people as possible and let them know you are ready for job interview or willing to start work immediately. Do not hesitate to seek help even if you have been retrenched. People understand that you should not be blamed given the current economic situation. If you feel uncomfortable to ask for a favour from a person, try asking about the nature of his career, instead of vacancies at his workplace. Be tactful when you are asking for relevant job information from someone you have not met. Do not mention about job application during the appointment. Write him a thank you card to remind him of your existence.

Never mention about salary scale if you have not been offered a job. Let the negotiation take place during job interview, not when you are networking with others.

First Job Hunting
by SC Chen

“Yahoo, I have finally graduated!” So goes the typical exclamation of someone who is garbed in the graduation robe with the certificate in his hand. After those final days of slogging and burning midnight oil preparing for the exams, it has finally come to this moment - yes, welcome to the real world. You are now qualified to join the jobseekers’ market and start looking for your first job. Speaking from personal experience, working life should hold a wealth of opportunities for you to learn about interaction between human and work and more so, whatever you learn within the four walls of the lecture hall, it may not be applicable in the working place. So, you need to open up your mind and heart to explore the world around you. Nowadays, graduates hold qualifications that allow them to enjoy greater choices in the types of jobs that they can apply for. As much thoughts and mulling may have been put into the selection of the course that you have chosen to study, it is also imperative that you work out your plan in your first job hunt. Before you pull out the ‘classified’ pages from the newspaper or pay a visit to website, it is good to take some time to understand the meaning of ‘work’. The concept of work has sometimes, been misconstrued as a tough way of making a living. “I want to buy a car, pay off my house, quit my job and never work again!” It is quite ironic that we can’t wait to graduate to become a working adult. Then, we begin to take work as a weekly grind and try to endure only by relishing the anticipation of the workless


weekend. And, after a few years, we start to plan for our retirement. Well, young graduates, work may not always be easy, but it is certainly a part of your life that you will learn the value of responsibility, the value of accomplishment and the value of dignity. These values which your universities do not teach you. Getting the right perspective of ‘work’ will help you to strive towards achieving these values instead of merely working for a paycheck, and hopefully, you will be promoted later and get a bigger paycheck. Therefore, prepare your mindset to learn these values from your first job: Value of Responsibility Your job or profession helps you to develop a sense of responsibility. Although we learn a certain level of responsibility from our family circle and also in colleges or universities, nowhere do we learn it to the degree as that from the working place. Job descriptions, defined duties, performance expectations, deadlines - they all exert their positive pressures on us. Either you meet the requirements or you may lose your job. Therefore, your job forces you to accept the challenges of responsible adulthood. Value of Accomplishment What is accomplishment? It is the sense of satisfaction that your hard work has finally brought you pleasure. Just like you have accomplished your graduateship and given you the sense of success, it helps to build up your self-esteem and confidence for your next assignment - your first job. Whilst your responsibilities will increase and tasks become complicated, your previous success and accomplishment will move you to work harder. You will learn the joy of a job well done. Value of Dignity Dignity means self-respect. It is important that we fill our days with pleasant, meaningful activities. Diligent labour or work helps to produce dignity in us who are committed to it. Whether you end up being an executive who reads the market accurately, or a lecturer who delivers a well-prepared paper or an accountant whose book balances, you can experience dignity. Therefore, choose your first job well and be committed to it, and you will reap the rewards. How can you project yourself to be the right candidate for your prospective employer? Remember, you are a fresh graduate with no or minimal working experience. A quick scan through the newspaper easily tells us that most positions require a certain level of working experience from the job applicants. So, what are your chances of getting a job? Well, there are positions in the professional firms that provide working opportunities for fresh graduates in the accounting, taxation, secretarial or legal line. You may try for a management trainee position where you will be trained for various management aspects in an organisation. Here are some pointers to help you to be competitive in the job market: Basic Resume Minimums According to the human resource expertise, short-listing suitable candidates for interviews can be quite a challenging task, especially with the piles of written applications sent by applicants via post and on top of them, online applications via It may either take a lot of luck or a power-packed, eyecatching letter from you that will do the trick of getting short-listed! So, how do you compose this masterpiece? Keep your resume short and concise. Type your resume in simple English laying out the background information, for example, personal particulars, educational achievements and co-curricular activities. A letter of reference from the educators would be an advantage. A four-page A4-sized printout of the letter plus the resume would be neat. Submit copies of your certificates only if requested to do so. Do Your Homework In today’s competitive global economic situation and job conditions, graduates need to keep themselves up-to-date with the nation’s Vision 2020 and any changes in policies as well as continual assessment of companies’ performances through the business write-ups in the newspapers. If you are called for interview, do a quick research on the company via its website so that you will have an edge over other candidates with your knowledge on the company. Interviewing Skills Give yourself sufficient time to prepare yourself for the interview, that is, arrive about 15 minutes earlier than the time for the appointment. This is to give you sufficient time to fill up the job application form. Interviewers may like to find out more about you in the following areas, so be prepared:


• • • •

Personal background Education qualification Five-year career goal Other skills, for example, computer literacy or command of other languages

Work on your spoken and written English as most business transactions and communication are conducted in the said language. Watch Your Attitude Attitude, to me, is more important than education, money, circumstances, appearances, skills or giftedness. It will make or break a company and therefore, employers look for workers with right attitude. Our attitudes are our most important asset and based on a study by a US consulting firm with the personnel directors of a selection of American largest companies on their reasons for firing an employee, the results were interesting and underscore the importance of attitude in the business world: incompetence (30%) and attitude problem (52%) ranging from dishonesty and lying, negative attitude, lack of motivation, communication problem and failure to follow instruction. It is the attitude that makes the difference. Impress the interviewer with your positive attributes. Never Give Up Be willing to work for the experience sake even if it is not your preferred job. Honour the opportunities, disciplines and pressures of the working place as they play a primary role in your continuous learning, growth and maturity process. Once you secure your first job, remember that the early lessons that you learn in the crucible of the working place are frequently transferable to other parts of life.

Choosing Your Career Path
by Danny Pancho

Your career choice should depend on your perceived happiness on the job, the potential rewards, and your chances of success. This may or may not have anything to do with your college degree. It used to be that your college course dictated the path your career would take. Such no longer holds true today, thanks largely to technological breakthroughs, increased job diversity, changing skills requirements and short-term learning opportunities. Agri-business graduates can now find work as web programmers, nurses as encoders, engineers as HR professionals, commerce graduates as hotel staff, and tourism graduates as bank tellers. Nowadays, only specialized careers such as law, medicine, engineering and the like have stringent educational requirements. Increasingly, companies are starting to treat college education as just a basic foundation for employee skills building through training and development at work. If you can communicate well, can do your math, and have good comprehension and analytical skills, you have a pretty fair chance of landing a very good job whatever your degree. This development now poses a dilemma to a lot of graduates. Take a job you have prepared four or five years for in college? Or explore non-degree-related possibilities? If you decide to explore, what are your chances of success? To help you find the answers, you first have to ask the right questions:

What are my real interests and penchant in life? Will I be happy if I take this job? Many people enter college unsure of what they want to be in life, and this is a pity since the college years strongly impact on adult life. They take up a particular course for a number of reasons. There’s parental influence (‘’My father is a lawyer so I want to be a lawyer too.”). Another is peer pressure (“All my barkada are taking up engineering.”). There’s the perception that it’s a cool course to take. If you took a course you wanted -- and you believe you will enjoy doing something along that line all your life -then by all means hunt for a job related to your degree. But if it was not a good choice for you -- and a related job would make you miserable and unhappy -- then consider applying for the job you really like even though unrelated. If you are not equipped with the right skills, consider taking specialized non-degree courses. That little investment will spell a lifetime of difference. A prospective employer may even give you credit for self-honesty and for having the guts to make a correction early.


When we opened a web production company a couple of years ago, one of the applicants for web designer was a lady who finished accounting and worked at a large bank. She loved the Internet so much she took special courses in web design after office hours, and later designed and developed her own personal web page. Her skills were raw and limited compared to the other applicants. However, her interest and commitment to learn shone through and she was hired. In a few months, proper training and exposure enabled her to surpass her more skillful and experienced co-workers in job performance. Will this career be financially rewarding? One deciding factor for selecting a course is financial viability. This factor triggered mass enrollments for nursing, physical therapy, computer programming and other hot majors at one time or another. Later, oversupply and dwindling demand forced graduates in saturated fields to make a career shift. Ask yourself if your chosen career is still financially viable. Your answer, together with those to the other questions above, will guide you down the right path. Do I have an advantage or a handicap? What are my chances of success? If you decide to take an unrelated job, check out the competition. Will your degree be a handicap or an edge? An engineering graduate going into HR management may have fewer people skills compared to a psychology graduate. However, he will do well in HR systems such as compensation because of his strong background in math. In fact, many engineers who excelled in the HR profession generally had their start in compensation. Meanwhile, some entry-level jobs offer an equal start to everyone regardless of course. Clerical, secretarial and administrative tasks are very similar across departments, mostly involving data input, report preparation, record-keeping, coordination. If you are content to stay in such jobs all your life, then there’s no need to worry about whether you have a competitive edge or not. But if you want advancement, then this is something to look into. Taken together, here is how the questions can be used to guide you:

Are you happy with your course and do you look forward to a career connected to it? If you answer yes, do you think you will be happy with the potential monetary rewards? If you believe you will be, then you could pursue this path. If you don’t want a course-related career, then look at your other options. Evaluate whether there exists a level playing field in your job of interest, and whether you have a competitive advantage or a handicap. If there’s equal opportunity and your degree gives you an advantage, you could take this route. But if you feel at a disadvantage, then assess your chances of catching up and making it -- and whether you’re willing to take that chance. If you are, you could choose this path. If you are not, look for more alternatives and start over this line of questioning again until you come up with a positive response. In the final analysis, your career choice should depend on your perceived happiness on the job, the potential rewards, and your chances of success. Don’t accept a job just because it matches your course or is the first one available. Make an earnest soul search first so you make an informed decision that you won’t regret later on.

Guidelines for Salary Negotiations
For many graduates, salary negotiations can be a difficult experience. Yes, you want the job and you need more money, but you are afraid to be more assertive with your prospective employer. To add to this, how do you negotiate a higher salary or improved fringe benefits if, as a recent university or college graduate, you have little or no experience? The answer is that while you don't always get what you want, it is important to understand the negotiating process and how it works. Then, start integrating yourself into a more active role, if only to feel more in control and perhaps make more money in the process. Let's start by understanding what negotiation is. Very simply, it's meeting and discussing a subject with another person in order to reach an agreement. The art of negotiation is based upon mutual agreement of issues, not confrontation. The end result should be a win-win situation for both parties.


While salary negotiation begins after the interview process, it really starts with the initial interview. Because it's what you tell the company about yourself, your accomplishments and what you can do for them that will increase your value when the time comes to offer you a job. Use active words in the interview to describe your accomplishments such as: I initiated, I oversaw, I created, I took charge of, I followed up on, I actively contributed to, and I developed. The ability to handle details, multiple projects or excellent time management and follow up skills will also contribute to your value. Negotiating is not merely to tell them that you want more money. You will need to have answers to certain questions prior to discussing your salary, to know if there is even a chance to get more. Among the questions to which you should have answers are:

• • •

What is the salary range of the job in question? What is the lowest salary that I will consider? What makes me worth a higher salary?

Some places you might go to get salary information are people who work in that industry or at that company, libraries, job hunting web sites on the Internet, trade associations and trade publications. Even if you know the answers to these questions, there will most likely be some objections to your request for more money. Among those:

• • • •

you don't have enough experience other employees aren't making more the budget won't permit it and, of course, the ever popular that's what we're paying new hires.

Think about how you would respond to these objections in a way that continues the discussion on a positive note without backing yourself into a corner. Remember that you are asking questions, not delivering an ultimatum. For example, to answer the "other employees aren't making more" statement, you might say: "I see. (You pause a little.) What is the range for this position? What would it take to get to that higher level within that range?" Remember you're looking for a way to reach a common accord and often you have to ask a few questions to see if there might be a way to reach an accommodation. In many cases, especially at this level, the person offering you the position has already gotten approval from someone else, so you have to give them a pretty good rationale to go back and ask for more money.

My first resume: a guide for fresh grads
The key to effective resume writing is knowing what your strong points are. By drawing attention to experiences that highlight these strengths -- academic, extra-curricular or even volunteer work -- your resume can be a powerful tool to land you that much coveted first job. Jing Santamaria graduates this March with a degree in management from a large Manila university. While excited about leaving school behind, she can't erase niggling fears about her chances in today's tough job market. Can she compete with thousands of other jobhunters, many of whom can boast of years of professional experience, impressive track record and work skills she doesn't have? Many new graduates are feeling a lot like Jing these days. But there's no need to fret. With a little creative thinking, you can greatly enhance you employment chances. The first thing to do is draft a power resume that will grab hiring managers' attention. "The resume provides the job applicant the proverbial 'foot-in-the-door' that could later lead to an interview," says Mr Ernesto O. Cecilia, immediate past president of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines or PMAP. "If you want the prospective employer to be interested in you as a possible employee, you better compose an effective resume. Otherwise, your 'bio-data' will end up with others in the trashcan." So how does a new college graduate go about making that sellout resume?


The power of packaging

If you'd been a working student, your job experience-no matter how lowly you think it is-comes in handy. It all depends on how you package it. For instance, translate your six-month stint at Jollibee into effective resumespeak: "Gained valuable service-oriented experience at a fast-paced, high-volume business." Or, how would you describe your part-time job at a paging company? "Developed communication skills and customer-relations experience at a well-established telecom company." By choosing your words with care, you can show prospective employers that despite the lack of experience at a genuine career, you're not exactly wet behind the ears in the work environment. And even without any work background, you can still apply this packaging ploy to describe your school life and how it relates to the position you're applying for. Show that though not an expert yet, you have some experience that could be useful in the workplace. Dina, who's worked as a TV news reporter for a year now, did exactly that. In her resume, she highlighted her stint as a TV intern and was hired to an entrylevel position in a TV newsroom. About her internship, she wrote: "Active member of roving news team, took down notes and conducted interviews with government figures and wrote reports for the 7 p.m. news." Another new graduate, Don, a Literature major, used his experience as a writer for the school paper to land a position in a political magazine, while Delia's stint as a part-time accountant's aide in college served her well when applying for a position at a Makati-based accounting conglomerate. What's important to remember is that your resume should not be a mere listing of your college jobs, the courses you took, your grades, the seminars you attended. Rather, it should point to your achievements, your leadership qualities and how you performed beyond expectations. Say you headed the group that won first prize in a school debate, then highlight that as an example of your leadership skills. Or, if you took an active role organizing school plays, include that to prove your organizing and coordinating skills. You want to show potential. Dos and don'ts So, you've managed to package yourself well, turning what you thought was a lemon into a lemonade. But that's not all there is to a brilliant resume. Below are some dos and don'ts to bear in mind:

• •

Avoid spelling boo-boos. Errors of any kind reflect poorly on the job applicant, especially simple typo blunders, says Mr Cecilia, who exhorts applicants to proofread their resumes over and over until they're perfect. Streamline. Remove personal pronouns like "I" and articles like " a," "an" and "the" to create punchy phrases and save space. Don't write: "As a service crew, I was assigned to wait on customers, maintain cleanliness of the food area and cook." Better: "Acquired expertise in customer service, food area maintenance and fast-food cooking." Use power verbs. Enliven your resume with action words that tell the reader what you did and how well you did it. They show that things happened when you were around. Instead of writing, "I learned to use Excel, " say, "Assisted chief accountant in drafting worksheets using Excel, cutting work from six hours to three."

The standard format According to Mr Cecilia, a well-written resume should have the following elements in the given order:

• •

• •

Job objective, to immediately tell the recruiter whether he has a match between the applicant and the job opening. Mr Cecilia cites as good examples of job objectives:"Managerial or supervisory position in the manufacturing division of a large petroleum company." "Professional or technical position in a laboratory of a large pharmaceutical multinational company." Relevant experience and skills, in lieu of work background, highlighting your scholastic achievements or job stints while in school. Education and training, providing an overview of your general educational background. "Be sure this is properly highlighted by listing down in reverse order all the degrees you received," Mr Cecilia says. "You may limit your list up to your high school diploma. Enumerate the schools, the degree and the exclusive years you were in school and your scholastic honors, if any." Personal background, revealing only personal information that has bearing on the job. Says Mr Cecilia. "You need not state present salary or salary desired, age, sex, marital status, health and hobbies. Leave a little something for the interviewer to ask when you are called for an interview." References, with "Available upon request" normally sufficing "The recruitment officer knows that you will list down names that are very partial to you and will probably not bother calling them.


But they do their own background information and believe me, they have a way of getting the right information," Mr Cecilia adds. In essence, what it all boils down to is believing in yourself. If you downplay yourself because you think all you've got is your degree, then others will too. Think you have got what it takes, and you'll rise to the occasion.

Curriculum Vitae for Fresh Graduates
by Ngeow Yeok Meng

Content of Curriculum Vitae Personal Particulars 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Full Name NRIC Number (old & new) Nationality Residential/Mailing Address Tel. No. (house & office) Age Date & Place of Birth Sex Marital Status Health Status Height & Weight Language Proficiency

(spoken & written) Educational Background 1. 2. 3. Tertiary (years - university/college - degree) Secondary (years - schools - grade) Primary (years - school)

Training Experiences 1. Practical and/or Industrial Training

(duration - company - job description in detail - reference) 2. Full-time & Part-time Jobs

(only those relevant to this application) Others 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Personal Traits (public relations, creativity, marketing skills, problem-solving, decision-making) Involvement in Extra Curriculum Activities Contribution in Social Services Non Academic Achievements Hobbies Talents or Special Interests Career Ambition Date Available for Employment Roman number in front of each item can be omitted. Avoid stating expected salary at this early stage of application.

Internships: How Important Are They?
by Koon Mei Ching


Internships essentially afford penultimate or final year students the opportunity to get their feet wet in the corporate world during their three-month summer break. Traditionally the main staple of the investment banking or management consulting careers, the internship has extended into other realms of industry, such as oil and gas, computer and even graphic design. Hence, for a lot of university or college students studying locally or abroad, this would be the time to try out a field for size before they commit to it. So who offers what? Most blue chip companies will offer internships, but often, the places are allotted to corporate scholarship holders who are likely to be obligated to join the company upon graduation. In these cases, the company uses the internship to train and assess the scholars before they employ them. Fear not, however, for some companies do offer internships to non-scholars. The number of spaces open to public applicants varies each year according to needs or capacity. For these opportunities, the university or college bulletin boards should be the first point of contact between company and student. Also, keep an ear out for campus presentations by companies of your choice, they will mention internship opportunities if there are any. Where do I start? Proactive students ready to embark on a corporate adventure can head online. "As someone who has hunted for internships in the past, I would suggest that you research the companies that suit your criteria. For example, if you are interested in engineering or graphic design for web sites, you may want to find 1520 companies that specialise in this field and are located in your city or region of choice. Contact the Human Resources departments of these companies by phone, ask if they offer internships and what kind of qualifications they are looking for," says Paul Ho, 22. Other questions to ask:

• •

Does the company sponsor students from overseas? (if you are studying abroad or wish to take on an international internship) If these are paid internships, what kind of work will you be doing? (avoid "busy work" internships like stapling and faxing)

Once you find a list of companies that (1) offer internships for which you are eligible and (2) are presently hiring interns, you should apply to all. When applying, follow individual company procedures. Some companies have their own applications; others prefer that you send them a separate cover letter and resume. Once you send in your resume and cover letter, do try to follow up with a telephone call to the appropriate person in charge of internships to keep you at the forefront of their mind and confirm receipt of your documentation. What's it really like? Many students who enter internships anticipate a boring experience of no work of real importance. At times, this can be the case if you end up with a supervisor with no time or a department with low activity. But, if your selection process goes well, you would have found a company that offers an experience that goes the extra mile both career-wise and socially. "An internship is a great opportunity to try out a field before you commit to it. Pick the field you think you'll like best, and go for it," says Andrea Chung, 20. Sometimes, you may be surprised at what you discover. "When I first joined, I thought I wanted a career in seismology. After my internship, though, I opted to pursue a career in reservoir engineering. The experience was a real eye-opener for me to put theory to practice and figure out my next career move," revealed Mohammed Idris, 21. For others, like Mohan, 20, it was the chance to work with the latest and greatest in technology. "If you are lucky, you will get to do some really cool work on awesome cutting edge technologies." On the social side, because interns are recruited from various universities and, sometimes, countries, it can be a rewarding time of meeting other peers. From the professional aspect, dealing with senior managers can bring you out of your shell and teach you the lessons of people management and teamwork within a corporate environment. Further, building up a network of contacts is invaluable, whether or not you choose to work with that company again.


Is it all that it's cracked up to be? Does investing your hard earned break from studying into an internship really reap benefits? The reality is, there are far more full time positions open in companies than there are internships. Hence, the numbers of people who actually get internship experience are very small in comparison to those who do not. From an employer’s viewpoint, an internship can put the individual up one level on paper compared to students without any real-world experience. It further shows industry and initiative on the part of the student. For those who lack the badge of experience, how will you fare in the job market? It does not necessarily seem as bleak as it sounds. Says Karen Toh, a recruitment manager, "Come recruiting season there will be two types of people -those that get full time offers and those that don't. Internships are not the deal breaker. I know of many hotshots with great internships who didn't get offers or got them at lesser companies. I also know people who had no experience that got great offers. In most interviews, grades and experience get you in the door but from there, it’s personality and chemistry.” Remember to have fun! In the haste to secure that brilliant career future, students can worry too much. My advice is to be proactive and know how to make the most of your opportunities. But most of all, your university days are just as much about gaining an education in academics as it is about gaining your footing in life. Work is a whole different ballgame, and many of you will look back on your years at university as the best times of your life. So balance everything out. Let me leave you with some insight from someone who did just that. "I had some interviews but did not get an internship offer. Though I was initially bummed, I decided to make the best of my situation and spent the summer abroad working. I had an amazing time, came back to school and got interviews with all the major banks (who were all very interested in my unique experiences) and scored a great job early on in the year. So don't stress out too much and remember to enjoy yourself!"

Winning at Behavioural Interviews
by Atul Mathur

• • •

Describe an experience when you had to calm down an angry customer. Describe a situation when you had to perform under pressure. Describe how you formed a team and led it.

No two persons can give same answers to the above questions. Behavioural interviewing – asking questions about your past behaviour in certain specific situations - is one of the hot trends in hiring. The underlying logic is that your past behaviour is the predictor of your future behaviour – and performance. So, if you handled an angry client well in the past, most likely you'll be able to do so in future as well. At the root of BI, it seems, is what Russian physiologist, psychologist and physician Ivan Pavlov (Nobel prize in 1904) proved about a century ago: We behave in a conditioned way. Pavlov's observed that if you give a dog something to eat every time you ring a bell, soon the dog starts to salivate when you just ring a bell. Dog gets conditioned to associate one stimulus (ringing bell) with another (food) and behaves accordingly. We are no different. If someone tends to become irritable under pressure, he will do so every time pressure is applied on him. If someone gets unduly impatient when he has to wait, like in a queue at a bus or taxi stand or at an airport, he would do so every time such a situation arises. How to prepare If you're going for an interview, it makes sense to be prepared for some BI questions. If not, these questions can put you off balance. For example, a well qualified and experienced candidate pursuing a leadership position was asked by the interviewer to share an experience of creating a new team from scratch. Since he was not expecting such a question, he failed to reply convincingly and lost the opportunity. Here is a way to prepare for such interviews:


Study the job requirements: The first step is to carefully study the job requirements and ask yourself: What kind of behaviour might be expected in this position? Does it involve leadership skills, working under pressure, handling conflicts, working in a team or what? Sometimes, the expected behaviours will be clearly listed in the job advertisement. For example, for the job of a finance manager, an advertisement has listed “good teamwork” as one of the requirements. This is a good enough hint to be ready for some questions about behaviour in a team setting. Prepare stories: Based on your assessment, scan your past experiences and prepare a few stories, which demonstrate that you possess the required behavioural traits. For example, if you’re applying for the job of a contracts manager, you may want to be prepared to describe how you handled situations involving conflicts and claims from suppliers or customers. It will be easier to put together the stories if you construct them in three parts (S-A-R):

1. 2. 3.

Situation: First describe the situation that prompted you to act or react. Action/response/behaviour: What action you took or how you reacted? Result: What was the end result?

Your stories will appear credible and interesting if you keep them short, stick to facts and avoid heaping praise on yourself. Let the facts do the talking. Practise: After preparing the stories, practise narrating them so that you can be fluent during an interview. In situations with many candidates having similar qualifications and experiences, it is the behavioural aspects that can eventually differentiate you from the crowd and get the job. Being prepared for behavioural interviewing can prove to be the winning stroke. Copyright © 2006 by Atul Mathur Atul Mathur is the author of three ebooks: 5 Quick Steps to a New Job, The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction. He also writes Career Tips, a free monthly newsletter dedicated to career development. Web site:

Success at Interview—The Zagorski Way
by Atul Mathur

In the April 2000 issue of the Reader's Digest magazine, Nick Corcodilos, a famous headhunter, recounts how Zagorski, a professional seeking a new job, wowed an interviewer at a big corporation and got the job. Zagorski went for an interview at AT&T. At the outset, even before Zagorski could settle in his seat, the interviewer told him that he had only 20 minutes to spare. Instead of feeling belittled or nervous, Zagorski got up and walked up to the marker board. He then started writing down the challenges faced by the company. Fifteen minutes later, he wrote down his estimate of what he would add to the bottom line. When he paused to take a look at the interviewer, he found him completely dazed. The next thing he heard was interviewer telling him that there was no need for any further interview. The interviewer called in his team, introduced Zagorski to everybody and they began a working meeting, which lasted for two hours. Most people go to interviews hoping to be questioned and assessed by an interviewer (s). They go anxious and worried, wondering whether they would get the job. People like Zagorski approach an interview with a completely different mind-set. They go well-prepared to demonstrate how they would fit into an employer’s needs and bring value to their business. They go as a value provider, not as a job seeker. Would you also like to impress your would-be employer just like Zagorski? If yes, the next time when you get an interview call, do not lose any time and get down to preparing a powerful presentation. Here is a road map: Know the employer Go to the company’s website and learn about its products and services. What initiatives this company is taking? Who are their competitors and what challenges are they facing? Read the “news” section to pick up the latest happenings there.


Review the job Next, zero down to the job that you are pursuing. What are the employer’s expectations in terms of responsibilities, actions and goals? Also note the job requirements – qualifications, experience and skills – that the employer is expecting the right candidate to satisfy. Review yourself Look at your resume and review the assets you have: your experience, education, achievements, skills, knowledge and strengths. Prepare a presentation Having done the homework, now it is time to prepare a short PowerPoint presentation. The presentation should essentially comprise the following parts: Part 1: About yourself Prepare a short introduction to yourself in terms of education, experience and achievements. Part 2: Employer’s business This part is about showing your understanding of the company’s business: products, services, markets, competition, etc. Part 3: Employer’s needs In this part, list all of the employer’s expectations – responsibilities, actions and goals – you will be expected to meet. Also talk about the challenges you will be facing in the job. Part 4: How would you deliver This is the heart of your presentation. Demonstrate how you would tackle the challenges and go on to show how not only you can meet the employer’s expectations but exceed them. To make it credible, share actual examples from your past experience and use quantitative information. On the whole, keep your presentation limited to 10 slides and 15 minutes long. Practise The last and final step is to practise delivering the presentation. The more you practise, the more relaxed, confident and convincing you will be during the interview. Zagorski would not have been able to make that job-winning presentation if he had not done a thorough preparation. Now, it is your turn to follow his way and enjoy success at the interview. Copyright © 2006 by Atul Mathur Atul Mathur is the author of three ebooks: 5 Quick Steps to a New Job, The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction. He also writes Career Tips, a free monthly newsletter dedicated to career development. Web site:

Attending A Job Interview
by Ngeow Yeok Meng

A candidate is successful in job interview if he can convince the interviewer that he is more capable of doing the job than any other candidates. Unless a candidate has established personal networks with the company, a job is usually offered based on the assessment of the candidate's performance during the interview. This assessment places great pressure, both mentally and emotionally, on the candidate who needs the job desperately. What then, are the criteria for selection in this process? Successful candidates often manage to select key items from their own experience which show that they can do the job, and will do it better than any of the other candidates. They are the ones who project themselves into the job by asking the right questions, knowing the problems faced in that position, and even offering the solutions to such problems. Successful interviewers, on the other hand, conduct an interview to find the right applicant to fill a particular job vacancy. They are not trying to trick or trap the candidates, nor are they going to penalise or find fault with the candidates. In fact, they are most relieved if the candidate can convince them that he or she is the right person for the job.


Whether you are leaving your present job, or fresh from campus or school, you should always be prepared for the interview by anticipating questions that will be asked in the interview. Challenging questions, apart from personal details and qualifications, asked by an interviewer to facilitate the process of selection are:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

What are your career objectives? What courses did you take up and why? What do you do particularly well at school? Where does your main experience lie? What are your main responsibilities in your present job? How much time do you spend on each aspect of your job? Which aspect of the job do you like most? What are the main problem areas of your job? Do you have a solution for that problem? Why do you want to leave your present employer? What is expected in your first year if you are offered this job? What do you want to be doing in five years' time? How will you benefit from this job? Are there any people you find difficulty working with? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why should the company hire you?

The above questions are not standard or model questions but preparing for them will build up your confidence before and while attending a job interview. Avoid using "trial and error" in job interviews, by making mistakes in front of your prospect employer. Tactful answers to the above questions will impress the interviewer and most importantly of all, you will stand out among other candidates to get the job offer and also his confidence in doing the job.

What can I do to improve my job-interviewing skills?
by Paul Shearstone

Whether you’re a student job seeker or a polished and proven executive, the first thing you must come to terms with is, “Regardless of the position you seek, you are now in sales!” The product you are selling is YOU! The interview is your opportunity to differentiate yourself in the eyes of your customer [the interviewer] when compared to your competitors [other job applicants]. Successful companies today, are focused on building what’s known as, corporate “Unique Value-Add Propositions.” Simply put, a unique value proposition is designed to differentiate companies / products and services, by making a decision to do business with you, an easy one. This is accomplished by means of removing the risk in customer’s minds through obvious value-add. So before you go into an interview, ask yourself, “What is my unique Value-add for this company? What can I say, do, or show, that will separate me from all other candidates?” And, “How convincing am I?” There is no secret that in many cases today, the most qualified are not always the ones hired. Sadly, many qualified individuals lose out on opportunities expressly due to their inability to distinguish themselves [in the interview] by showing unique value-add. You may then ask, “How does one construct a value-add interview?” The process is surprisingly simple. #1: As quickly as you can, write down all the words that describe your unique strengths that relate to the position to which you’re applying. [Note: Five words are not enough. Try for at least fifteen / you may also ask others for their input]. #2: As quickly as you can, write down all the words that describe your potential weaknesses as they relate to the position to which you’re applying. #3: Turn each word into a sentence or statement. It does not have to be complicated. For example, if one of your strength-words was, “experience” - you could simply say, “I am experienced.” [Note: Do the same for your weaknesses list as well].


#4: Take each sentence / statement, and turn them into a question. “I am experienced” becomes, “Why am I experienced?” To answer the question, “Why am I experienced?” inexorably brings to light your real Value-Add. From a selling point of view, ‘being experienced’ may be true, but it is only, however, a fact. “How specifically, am I experienced, and, How it will therefore benefit the new company,” is the real Risk-Removing, UniqueValue-Add-Information needed to showcase your talents. Knowing the answers, ahead of time, to questions like, “Why is [this] a potential weakness for me - for this position?” is equally integral to the success of any interview. For more detailed information on Interviewing Skills, visit []. On the ‘Speaker Profile’ page, is a hot-link to “The Art of the Interview”. There you can order [$5 Admin-Fee] a 55-page booklet that guarantees better interviewing results. It details the specific types of questions trained interviewers will ask and the reasons why they ask them. The do’s and don’ts of a good Résumé’s as well as ways to better prepare mentally for an interview are also there in a comprehensive easy to read format. Remember that in business, “The degree to which you cannot provide a unique Value-Add Proposition is in direct proportion to the degree you hurt yourself, your company and your industry.” In any job interview, “You are the company. The product you’re selling is YOU!”

Tips for Job Seekers

by Eric Yap, Consultant Japan Agency and Consultancy (JAC) Recruitment (Malaysia)

Dos and don'ts during job interviews: Dos 1. 2. 3. 4. Don'ts 1. 2. 3. Do not hop from one job to another frequently without good reasons. Do not badmouth about your previous boss or company. Do not judge a job only by the pay it offers. Be specialized in an occupational field and have work experience in that field. Be precise and accurate when describing the nature of your previous job(s), use technical terms and statistical figures as much as possible. Be honest with your work history, personal profile and especially your salary. Be multilingual, take up foreign language proficiency courses.

Do not hesitate to work for long hours. Dressing right for the interview Let's say you are going for an interview tomorrow. You have prepared yourself well for the occasion anticipating the questions and getting ready the answers - but have you given a thought to what you will wear? If you have not peeked into your wardrobe yet, it's time to take a real hard look now. Your application's fate depends not just on how well you answer the interview questions, but also on how well you project yourself physically. The first impression your interviewer makes about you is based on the way you look, and you know what they say about first impressions. According to Joe Hodowanes, J.M. Wanes and Associates career strategy advisor, "The way a person dresses is the single biggest non-verbal communication you make about yourself." The right dressing is a measure of the seriousness that you place on the position, as a person normally spends time on his looks if he considers an event important enough. "Although proper dressing by itself will not get you the job, a poor dress sense may exclude you from further consideration," warns Gerry Ditching, managing partner of Besides, given two equally good applicants, the company may choose to hire the person who is dressed more professionally.


Here Men









Long-sleeved shirt and dark slacks. White is still the safest and the best color for shirts. The colour is also appropriate for our tropical weather. Also acceptable: pale shades such as beige, blue, and other pastels. Tuck in the shirt and do not roll up the sleeves. Never wear a short-sleeved shirt to an interview or any business purpose. Wearing a short-sleeved shirt will destroy your executive image. Ties. Optional. But if you do wear one, choose a conservative pattern. Solids, small polka dots, diagonal stripes, small repeating shapes, subtle plaids and paisleys are all acceptable. Belts. Belts should match your shoes. Those with smaller buckles with squared lines look more professional. Socks. Black socks are the best, followed by blue or gray, depending on your attire. Never wear white socks! Check your sock length, too--no skin should show when you sit down or cross your legs. Shoes. Black or burgundy leather shoes with laces on them, because tassel loafers are very casual. Other suitable colors are brown, cordovan and navy. Hair. Keep neat, short and preferably parted on the side. And shave off all those facial hair. Jewellery. Wear no or little jewellery. The watch and wedding ring are the only acceptable pieces of jewellery to go with the male attire. Thin gold or leather-strapped watches look professional but not digital watches. Also, avoid political or religious insignias, necklaces or bracelets. Definitely no pierced body parts, and cover up your tattoos! Accessories. As much as possible, use leather briefcases or folders to hold copies of your resume. Use narrow briefcases and avoid plastic folders and plastic ball pens as they are out of place. Women Three-piece business suits, blouse and skirt or slacks, and cardigan twin-sets. Sleeveless shirts should be rejected. Short-sleeved blouses are okay when they are tailor-cut or have features such as a sports collar or double breast design to create a business-like look. Skirts can either be long provided it does not create a Cinderella or barn-dance look or short where it falls no shorter than two inches from the knee. Nothing too revealing, please! Panty-hose or stockings. A must for professional grooming, but nothing with overly fussy patterns. Bring an extra pair, just in case the ones you are wearing run. Shoes. Closed shoes or pumps with at least 1½-inch heels suggest a more professional look. Dark colors are best. Hair. Hair longer than shoulder length should be worn up or pulled back. Don't let it fall in front of your face and don't keep trying to fix it during the interview. Avoid large hair ornaments and trendy hairstyles. Make-up. Be subtle; natural is the key word. Light shades of lip coloring and nail polish are recommended." Jewellery. Be conservative. Studs of gold, silver or pearls are best. Do away with gaudy fashion jewellery, and those that clank and make noise when one moves. Accessories. Folders and bags should blend well with the total professional look. Women should match their purse with their shoe colour. Developing an enthusiasm for the interview When you go for an interview, the first thing you should have is the right mental attitude or approach. Banish the negative or self-defeating thoughts from your mind, and replace them with more positive and productive ones. Here are four positive attitudes that you can bring with you to the interview:


• • •

Be confident. Just to get here to this stage of the interview means that you have already beaten some of the competition. So, build on this confidence. Be optimistic. Why are you called to an interview? Because you have already been screened and this is a sign that the interviewer sees your potential and would rather prefer to employ you for the job than to reject you. Be positive. Every job interview is a new beginning for you. If you have suffered frustrations in the past, as a result of an unsuccessful previous job interview or job search, forget about them! Focus on what is ahead: you are making an effort to advance your career and each interview brings you one step closer to a new job.

Be enthusiastic. Treat each interview as an interesting opportunity to learn something about the company, other people, and even yourself. Look at it as a chance to have a pleasant conversation with a fellow human being. But be forewarned. This is a serious meeting of minds. Do not forget what you are there for, so maintain a balanced perspective throughout and be focused.

What The Interviewer Is Looking For
by Ngeow Yeok Meng

In most interviews, knowing what the interviewer is looking for means you have won half of the battle. The other half of the battle: be prepared to show your knowledge about the organisation, ask tactful questions about the job, and give a good impression that you can do better than others, if you are offered the job. The interviewer has two methods of judging your suitability for the job. First, by questioning you and evaluating the things about you and your experience, based on what you tell him. Second, by observing person-to-person how you handle the interview. If you have obviously planned your interview well, for example by showing that you are knowledgeable about the organisation, the interviewer will assume that you are also capable of planning and making a good job of your tasks. The converse is also true – a bad performance at interview could mean an unsatisfactory performance at the job. If you have the experience and ability to do the job, make sure that you do not let your interview performance let you down. Since in most cases, the interviewer has no prior knowledge of the candidates except their letter of application, the first impression you give is extremely important. If you are of average intelligence or have few qualifications, do not despair. The most important factor is your actual achievements and the positive way in which you put these over to the interviewer. Here are five areas that help the interviewer select the right person for the right job: intelligence, qualification, adjustment, impact on others, motivation and achievements. Intelligence means your cognitive powers to take in and interpret information. You should be quick in understanding all questions posed by the interviewer, and providing simple and concise answers to them. Nevertheless, a person who is too intelligent, by giving complicated answers to simple questions, may give an impression that he is a thinker not a doer. Qualifications is necessary for certain professional jobs. So make sure you possess the formal qualifications required or the experience needed when applying for that particular position. It is important to show your knowledge and interest of the relevant professional institution in your field of work, as this will also reflect your enthusiasm towards the profession. Adjustment means adaptation to life in general and work in particular. The interviewer would like to know whether you have a good capacity to withstand stress, whether you are always in control even in the most unfavourable situations, whether you are emotionally stable, and whether you can do things on your own initiative. Most important of all, your friendly or hostile relationship with the people around you. Impact on others means anything from the use of simple language, the way you speak, the way you dress, to your physical appearance throughout the interview. If you can talk from your own personal experience using real life situations, make sense of things happen around you, think in terms of things and not people, you are more likely to give an impression of a mature person and a problem-solver much in demand by any employer. Motivation and achievement are two important indicators of your general attitudes toward work and career. Assessment will be based on the following:


• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Can you motivate yourself and work on your own initiative? Do you set yourself goals and achievements? Can you get things done even when faced with difficulties? Are you a dreamer or an action-driven person? Have you long term career objectives? Have you reached the level one would expect for your age or qualifications? Which kind of work or activity has given you the most satisfaction? Are you a person who can deliver on time and meet deadlines? Do you present your boss with problems or solutions? Do you have initiative to finish work? Do you pay attention to detail? Do you perform well when the going get tough? Are you good at problem solving?

The interviewer will not ask the above questions directly as the answers should come from what you have accomplished, not what you plan to do in future. The interviewer will skillfully find out the answers by asking what you have been involved in, your interests, your strengths, your weaknesses, the challenges in your pursuit of knowledge or previous work, your perception of yourself, your dreams and objectives in life. If you are honest with yourself in the interview, you can avoid being worried about inconsistency in your answers. Never mind if the first impression you give is imperfect to the interviewer. The worst thing that could happen is when you lie about yourself, and have the interviewer sense it before the end of the interview session.

Managing ‘bad’ interview questions
by Neil Palabrica

Who has not felt nervous during an interview? Sometimes an applicant can become so anxious about giving the right answer that he does not realise that he is being asked the wrong question. Illegal interview questions are queries that a person may refuse to answer as they violate his rights as an applicant. In fact, in the United States, some states allow a person to sue an interviewer for asking such questions. But with jobs scarce to come by on the local market, it may be more prudent to think of how best to answer brash questions than to reject them outright. It may be that these “unethical” questions are being asked to determine if an applicant meets specific requirements for the position. Illegal questions? The following are some questions that the employer need not ask but may do so occasionally:

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• •

Questions about one’s origins. These may include citizenship issues. They may be applicable if the position will require travel to different areas. The interviewer may be interested to know if you can speak a particular dialect. Questions concerning one’s marital/family status or relationships. These include those about your civil status - if you are married with children, or are a single parent, or have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Normally, questions of this nature are intended to check out the applicant’s capacity to work long hours or do overtime work. Questions concerning one’s personal attributes and background such as height, weight, likes, etc. Again, such queries need not be asked unless relevant. Some jobs obviously have special requirements, such as height for a basketball player. Or you may be asked your musical preferences if you are applying with an audio store. Questions regarding one’s disabilities. As with personal questions, these may be asked with tact and only if necessary. Candidates for pilots, for instance, have to have 20/20 vision. Questions regarding one’s social standing including any arrest record. This information need not be asked as it should already be included in the requirements requested.


• •

Questions about one’s religious affiliation or beliefs. To discriminate against one’s religion is against the law and related questions should not be asked. Questions concerning one’s age. Information on age should be available in your resume and need not be asked.

Focus on the real issue If you are thrown such posers, you could opt to give them the benefit of the doubt: The employer may not be aware that they are inappropriate. According to HR manager Jig Blanco-Yan: “These interviewers might not be aware that they’re asking sensitive questions. Chances are, they want to hear something and sometimes, they get too carried away to notice the discomfort of the interviewees.” Rather than telling the employer that you are not comfortable with the questions and that you feel they are irrelevant, try to determine first the intent of the interviewer, the purpose behind the question, then answer in relation to the responsibilities of the job. For example, if you are queried about children, the interviewer may want to know if you can work long hours away from home if necessary. A good answer is to say that if there is a need to work extra hours, you would be available. Misty, an HR applicant, was once asked by an employer if she had a boyfriend, and she replied with an assurance that she was willing to do overtime work if needed. “I simply assumed that there was no malice or hidden motive behind the question. I didn’t want to react in a negative manner as I was really keen on getting that position.” In some cases, an interviewer may ask this type of questioning believing it would put the interviewee at ease. Instead of starting the interview on a serious note, the interviewer may pose light and personal questions first to break the ice. Again, it is up to the jobseeker to phrase his or her answers in such a way as to show that he or she is a professional who will be an asset to the company if hired.

Interview 101 - How do you beat the competition?
by Koon Mei Ching

I have been receiving a deluge of queries about interviews and how to get it right the past few months. I thought a logical way to attack the growing pile of question marks, was to shed some light on that game we play – the Interview. It should arm you with the right tactics and tools to make it happen for you! So, without further ado, let the games begin! You Have 10 Brown Eggs, But Which Makes the Best Ommelette? The interview is basically a tool used by employers/HR managers to select the right candidate for the right position. Now, it seems pretty simple, but the mechanics behind the process lends more than the eye can see. Most employers will start the recruitment process by using objective minimum requirements - i.e. skill, education, experience, expected salary etc. - to shortlist the candidates down to a manageable number out of the confusion of applications. So how do they pick from say, 10 equal candidates who match up to the minimum requirements mentioned above? Even if you hit a match of 5 out of 5 for job requirements, someone else may get the job instead of you. And so your intrigue rises. This is where the interview steps in to siphon out those more suitable based on "touchy feely" emotional aspects of the candidate. Let's Get Touchy Feely, Shall We? The emotional aspects being selected in the interview are generally as follows: initial impression, management potential, motivation/enthusiasm, personal chemistry, and competence. Initial Impression: Making the right first impression on your interviewer is vital to setting the scene for the rest of the interview. Humans naturally make a judgement about another by the way they look, act, speak etc. So the first few minutes in the interview are crucial to get across your nonverbal factors such as: vocal quality, body posture, eye contact, and facial expressions. Project self-confidence, professionalism, and eager interest in the company through your actions and demeanor, and you will make an effective initial impression. Management Potential: Employers hire people with potential to advance in the company as they usually prefer to grow their own management team. They look for people who have the capacity to take on more responsibilities, lead their team members and manage projects. Typically, this evaluation is based on a gut feel and the onus falls on you to point out relevant experiences that indicate your potential to adapt to a changing environment and




Motivation/Enthusiasm: This translates into the positive drive to accomplish a task/goal. Employers want to hire people who are genuinely excited about working for them and developing their product. They are trained to spot phony enthusiasm a mile away, so don't go trying to fake it, I beg of you. Research the company and its product before you apply to make sure that you have an honest enthusiasm for what you will be doing with the company if they hire you, and project this during your interview. Personal Chemistry: Know how you feel when you "click" or don't "click" with someone you meet? The same theory applies during an interview. It sounds logical that employers prefer to hire people they like over those they don't feel comfortable with. This is personal chemistry. The reason for this is simply…simple. It is easier to work with and accomplish tasks effectively in a team with people you genuinely like. Whilst this hypothesis seems a little "vague", it is human behaviour and that, my friends, is the world we work in. Do note though, that it is difficult to "make" personal chemistry happen. Eye of newt and a bag of bat wings are useless, I am afraid. But if you step out of the interview feeling like you connected with the interviewer, your chances definitely shine brighter. Competence: This element is colored a slight shade of gray. While it should be measurable, it is more subjective than objective. This has to do with characteristics like adaptability to change, lateral thinking and people management skills. Employers want people who can contribute in a variety of ways, not only directly to the task they are working on. It could mean brainstorming on innovative ideas, helping to manage a team for a project or dealing with problems on your feet. If you can highlight competencies gained through your own past experiences in your interview, you can add one more point to your interview score! In ending, understand that fulfilling the minimum requirements stated in the job advertisement is not the "end all be all" that determines if you get the job. The "hidden" emotional factors that are determined in the interview play a very strong role in deciding who wins the prize at the end of the day. So even if you don't have strong qualifications, you may still be able to leverage the interview to your advantage by laying up your "emotional" strengths. You're in the last quarter and the game depends on your next shot. You've got the talent. You've got the skills. Now go out there and score that killer interview!

Best Compilation List
by Koon Mei Ching

This article is probably what most of you out there are waiting for. So, wait no more! The "Interviewer's Top 10 Hits" Best Compilation record is out! Here, you'll find a list of the 10 most popular questions used by those faithful interviewers world wide. I do want to caution everyone though, that this is only to provide you with a overall guide to what they want to know, and it should not be treated as text book answers, because there are none. If everyone started answering the same questions with the same answers, there would be (a) very bored interviewers, and (b) absolutely no selection process. But let me not digress. And the Top 10 are... 1. Tell Me Something About Yourself Now, this is a golden classic used at the start of interviews to break the ice and to get you to give them a good initial run down of who you are and your "hidden" characteristics, demonstrated in the way you present this self-story. You should prepare a 2 to 3 minute presentation that briefly introduces your self (where you're from), your personal interests (hobbies, community involvement etc), your work history, and recent career experience. The most time should be spent on the accomplishments in the last two areas. Interviewers look out for three things:


If you are able to give a brief, sequential summary of your life and career that relates to the job for which you're interviewing. Don't ramble on aimlessly on irrelevant nitty


2. 3.

gritty details though. If you find yourself at the 5 minute mark talking about your high school days, you are WAY off the mark! Your conversational style, your confidence level, your ability to organize and present information. An idea of the person your are behind the suit.

2. Why Do You Want To Join This Company? OK, now they want to know your motivations for joining the company. And this is usually where they can read between the lines in your answer, so think carefully when answering. First, do your research on the company, its culture and market. Not enough job seekers do enough or ANY of this which is a real no-no! Make sure you understand who you are being interviewed by. Second, DON'T give answers such as "Oh, because its such a cool place to work!", "I like your salary and benefits package," or "My friends are already there and it makes it easier for us to hang out together." OK, so maybe I exaggerate a little bit, but you should get the picture. These answers seem "give-me" oriented and do not show the interviewer how your skills and experience deliver what the company needs. Third, DO demonstrate to them how you can contribute to the company's goals and how your skills and experience match their requirements. Use concrete examples as if you were already working there. For instance, when I interviewed with for the role of Editor, I drew up a list of things that would add value to the job seeker. Similarly, if research shows that the company is trying to be market leader, tell them how your experience/skills will be able to let you contribute to adding market share for the company. 3. Why Are You Looking For A New Job? This may seem like a straightforward question to answer, but look again. It is very easy to slip up here if you are unprepared. Most people seek another job because they are unhappy/unsatisfied with their current employment. But relating ANYTHING in a negative light at an interview is bad form. Most interviewers don't look so much for the reason you left, but they way you deliver your response. So, always be honest and positive. Even if you got fired from your last job, try to keep it brief yet honest. If you start ranting on about how your ex boss/company was a terrible employer, they may be thinking "Is he still dealing with bitter or sad feelings, or has he been able to focus his energy on the future and the next position? Does she place total blame on others for her situation or does she accept at least some responsibility for it?" Further, most terminations happen because of an ill-fit between company and employee, not so much performance. So, try to take this angle. If you left voluntarily, don't dwell on the negative reasons for leaving, and focus on how you can contribute better to your new company/role. Some examples of answers that would work are below. But again, don't just memorize these answers and throw them out again without being really honest. Interviews never work if you approach them like textbook exams. 1. 2. 3. I wanted to move my career in a new direction. (Make sure you mention what this new direction is.) My company was restructuring and I chose to seek better opportunities elsewhere. I want to keep developing new skills but was unable to pursue this in my previous company. I decided to make a change to allow this to happen.

4. What Kind Of Position Are You Looking For? Avoid vague answers such as "I want an exciting job" or "I want to grow my skills in this area." It shows lack of focus and motivation for your career objective. Instead, focus on your desired position and how your skills and experience can help you be an asset within that position. For example, "I have a strong ability to communicate and market a product as proven in my 2 years experience as marketing officer at University/company A. I believe that I understand the consumer industry and can add value to your company's marketing efforts." 5. What Do You Consider Your Strengths and Weaknesses? This is a time to be honest, but don't go to extremes either way. You don't want to start telling them that you are really terrible at organizing and can never be on time. Neither do you make yourself out to be the next best thing since sliced bread. Instead, be clear and concise about


qualities that demonstrate you take responsibility for your work ethic, actions, and experiences learned (or failures) on the job, problem-solving ability, and values. 6. What Do You Know About Our Company? This is where your research has come in handy. It is a way to demonstrate that you are serious about joining the company and was motivated enough to learn about it before the interview. Don't respond by repeating each and every fact you learnt about the company, because it can seem arrogant and memorized. Do mention its major product, markets and latest development. Keep things positive. Also try to show your eagerness to learn more about the company by asking some questions to the interviewer him/herself. 7. What Do You Consider Your Greatest Achievements? Try to mention about 2-3 achievements. This is a way for interviewers to gauge how you managed people/projects/yourself in a successful manner - which can translate into how you may be able to succeed in the company if they hire you. Try to choose a set of achievements that allow you to display a variety of strengths. Ie. A successful event that you set up showing your organizational skills, successfully resolving a situation at work which demonstrates your problem solving skills and delivering an important report under difficult circumstances which shows your ability to handle pressure. 8. Where Do You See Yourself One / Five Years From Now? Respond to reflect your confidence and drive to reach a level of work that will be rewarded for your success. State realistic expectations and propose a real plan of where you intend to go within the company. Never sound overly confident, fearful or confused. 9. What Type Of Job Assignments Did You Perform In Your Last Job? Be honest and to the point answering this, even if the assignments performed don't exactly match those required in the new position. However, also take the opportunity to mention any projects your volunteered for, special projects you took on outside your work scope or elected positions held in committees in other past jobs/university. The key point here is to try to tell them about experience gained in areas that might be relevant to your new position. 10. When You Start A New Job, How Do You Establish Good Relationships With Your New Colleagues and Supervisors? It is important here to be enthusiastic and positive. Tell them how you worked well with your past colleagues or peers in projects etc. Networking skills is important so show how you used yours in your past to good stead. So that wraps out the countdown! The bottomline is, be prepared, do your research, and understand the job you are being interviewed for and how your skills / personality / experience match the job's requirements. Close the interview with any last questions, pass on your namecard if you have one, thank them for their time and give a firm handshake before smiling and saying good bye. The first interview is just a lead into the second interview or offer to a job. Not everyone is suited for the job or the company. So don't be discouraged if you were not offered a position right away. Keep your chin up and your cool, and don't give up on yourself! Besides, things could be a lot worse at interviews and you could be asked a question like the one used by Goldman Sachs in the USA, "There are eight balls, one of which is slightly heavier than the others. You have a two-armed scale, which you are allowed to use only twice. Which ball is heavier?" Now where is my physics textbook again...

Have You Thought About Your Answers Lately?
by Koon Mei Ching













In a typical interview the recruiter commences with a slew of exploratory questions aimed at extracting key information that will help the candidate differentiate him or herself from the other 230 candidates being interviewed. Our ultimate objective as interviewers is to narrow the hundreds of homogenous Resumes into a crème pile of 20 quality individuals. Pure and simple. Contrary to popular belief, we are not out to get you. Rather, we are trying to assist you in highlighting your strengths and capabilities so that we can meet our quality quota and happily go home. Despite this obvious intention, I, as a recruiter, seem to spend excruciatingly tedious amounts of time


probing the interviewee for information that, really, is aimed at helping them market themselves to me. It is at times like these that I exasperatingly ask myself: "How come I am doing all the work?" More often than not, it seems that the candidates are quite happy to marinate in their sauces and curtly answer questions in a very superficial manner. The key to creating the right impression lies in your ability to truly listen to the questions asked of you and respond with the kind of information sought by the interviewer. From my experience, most candidates seem to be having a terribly difficult time in understanding this very basic objective of the interview. The majority of candidates have shown a disappointingly slender grasp of the process of analysis - whether that be a true reflection of their ability. Before you fire your pre-programmed answers at the interviewer, make that extra effort to examine the true motivation behind the questions asked of you. Do I merely want to know about the list of extra-curricular activities you participated in or do I want to know about how these activities have added to your capability profile? When I ask you to talk about a topic like the environment, do I want to get the definition of the term or do I wish to gauge your ability to explore wider issues and think outside the box? When I ask you to tell me about your most significant achievement; take the time to delve into the motivation of your chosen project, the manner in which you applied yourself, the challenges you faced, how you managed the situation and why you feel its achievement deserves the merit you accorded to it. Avoid rattling on an exhaustive list of bullet points that serve only to cursorily answer me with face-value information, making me no wiser as to your accomplishment. Ultimately, if we have to prise the information from you with a crowbar, you're digging your own grave with a foot in it. The fact that you are not thinking about your responses presents us with a none-toocomplimentary view about your ability to perform and advance in our company. The interview is all about figuring out the kind of person you are, the capabilities you possess and the way your mind works. When you go into your next interview, remember these key points and respond in a manner that will define who you are and why we should be snapping you up like a hot cake. Yes and No answers will just not cut it anymore. If you want the job, impress the interviewer. No more, and definitely no less. You have the power to convince us. Whether or not you make the cut is up to you.