Career Survivor Tips
When you are young and energetic, you tend to worry lesser and have many job opportunities for you to choose from.
However as age catches up, your financial / personal commitment increases together with the chances of you getting retrenched as well. This is something very true in this pragmatic society.
FACT #1: NOBODY IS INDISPENSABLE.
You must accept this fact well.
|Very True Indeed.|
You may slog your guts out for the company for the decades during your youth but this will still not guarantee that your boss might retain you in your job.
Hence, how to stay employable?
The only way for you to stay employable is to make your bosses feel that you are a valuable asset to the company (not a liability). Does that mean you must be extremely hardworking and do overtimes all the time? I doubt so. I believed in working SMART, not too much on the HARD part.
Doing excessive Overtimes is not only detrimental to your health and your work-life balance, you might not get appreciated for doing them as well.
Also, your other colleagues might see you as an eyesore or label you as an apple polisher for volunteering to do all that OTs.
Doing OTs might reflect that you are inefficient in your time management and hence you need to spend extra hours to clear your backlogs while your other colleagues can complete their tasks on time. This might be true if your workload is supposed to be manageable.
However on the flip side, doing OTs might mean you are overloaded. Your department is understaffed but the management does not see the need to hire more employees because people like you are ever willing to stretch your own limits to do OTs. Hence why waste the money to hire more staff when they only have to pay for you to complete the jobs of 2 or 3 employees’? In this case, you are exploited. The only way for you to escape this tragedy is voice out to the management or learn how to refuse extra jobs (of course you must have enough bargaining chips to say NO). If not, just exit the company gracefully and find a more humane company to hire you.
UPGRADING IN PROGRESS…
The best way to stay employable is to constantly upgrade yourself with new skills that can be applicable to your job.
Learning is a lifelong process and hence you should never resist the opportunity to upgrade yourselves.
Invest in good courses to enrich yourselves / grab whatever training opportunities that your company offers. As a professional in the insurance industry, I would never hesitate to sign up for any insurance courses to upgrade myself when the opportunity arises. Also, we are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and hence are required to clock our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Hours annually in order to be fit and proper to provide advices to our clients.
Out of the many courses I have attended, I found the Microsoft Office Courses to be most beneficial. This is because we all need to use MS Excel to compare insurance quotations etc and hence knowing the correct techniques and shortcuts in using the software really did save a lot of my precious working hours trying to figure out how to perfect my work. I was really very grateful to my ex-boss (the irritating old maid) for recommending me to attend the courses (not to mention that she actually made me revise my Excel tables – be it format or template countless times in the past to suit her ‘perfectionist’ taste).
|Affordable Upgrading Courses 🙂|
Free MS Office Tutorialsvia WebucatorClick on Link Below to Find Out More:
I recently got to know this online portal which offers online tutorials / courses for Microsoft Office – Webucator.
This is a more affordable channel to upgrade your IT Skills especially when your company is too stingy to sponsor you to such courses. Also, if you are too shy or too busy to attend the courses in a classroom setting, Webucator is the perfect solution for you. You can try out their free tutorials before committing to the paid lessons 🙂
I guess this is one of the most sought after tips you guys have been waiting for.
I would not say I am an expert in interviews but I would say that I have attended many interviews in my life. I ever took a day’s leave to attend 3 interviews in a row because I hated my previous working environment which was too micromanaged for my self development. Also, as I was working in that previous company for less than a year, it is expected that my interviewers might deem me as a “job-hopper” and my interview sessions were pretty grilling (thank God I wasn’t burnt in the process).
#1: STAY CALM
Keeping calm during the interviewing process is very important.
My manager friend ever shared with me that he interviewed a guy who started the interview by commenting “I feel jittery when I am with strangers”. This is the most suicidal statement one can ever make in an interview as it ruined the first impression. Indeed he remained jittery and stuttered throughout the interview.
Even if you are nervous and have sweaty palms, please do appear calm. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down. If you are not in your sane mind, chances are you will flop your interviews and say the wrong things at the wrong time.
#2: CONFIDENCE IS THE KEY
After keeping your cool, you must exhibit your confidence. You must be comfortable with yourself in order to be confident.
Have some confidence in your self worth – flaunt your skills and expertise if you have any. It would be good if you have an “Achievement” Section in your CV to make yourself more outstanding than the other interviewees. However, do not overdo it if not it will only make you appear too arrogant and aloof to be teachable.
#3: PREPARE FOR ANSWERS
The most grilling interview I had was with my current company’s HR which lasted for an hour. Switching from being a broker to insurer is not easy as I had never been an insurer before. Hence it would be vital to prepare for wise answers to tackle difficult questions raised.
Below are some common questions that interviewers might raise during an interview.
a. Why are you leaving your current employment?
In order not to be seen as a potential job-hopper, please do spend some time to prepare your answer for this. The excuse I gave is because I wanted to try something different.
Never badmouth your boss / company too much as this will make your interviewer think that you will do likewise after you join their company. This is a taboo unless your company is infamous for its harsh working environment. Nevertheless, less complaining and saying more positive things would be the wiser choice.
Always picture yourself as the potential employer. What kind of response from the interviewee will you like to hear? After all, the purpose of interviews is to impress.
This is a test of your presentation skills. How would you sell yourself to your potential employer?
I made a terrible mistake in my first interview with a manager from a local recruiting agency – Recruits Express Pte Ltd (Singapore). As a fresh grad not trained to perform in interviews, I learnt my lesson the hard way.
When told to do a self-intro, I simply blabbered about my family and life etc and the manager humiliated me saying that I was too naïve for the job. You should start by introducing your relevant job experiences and capabilities that are related to the job you are interviewing for.
You might be happy with your personal life and supportive family, but please only talk about them when you are socialising with your friends.
c. Strengths and Weaknesses
You might be compelled to list down 3 strengths and weaknesses in the job application form or be asked during your interview. So be wise and ponder through them before you get dumbfounded during the interview.
My key strength is that I can complete tasks very fast. However doing things fast might compromise on the accuracy of my work. OK, I listed down one strength and weakness at the same time. On the weakness part, I went on to elaborate that throughout the years of working, I have constantly improved on my careless aspect as I force myself to check my work before submitting it up. Sounds appealing to the interviewer isn’t it?
Another strength is that I can convey my ideas very well across in writing – that is why I am a blogger. I prefer to write more than talk to others as my weakness is that I am introverted and am not as charismatic as others. However during my holiday job as a customer service officer in a call centre, I was trained to answer the clients’ queries with tact. I might not be very eloquent but I am trying hard to improve on this over the years as an insurance broker. I was really relieved when the interviewer complimented that I can express myself clearly throughout the interview. I have finally overcame this weakness 😉
Hence the above are 2 examples for reference. I leave you to think of the third one for me.
d. What do you see yourself / want to achieve in 5 Years’ Time?
I ultra HATE this question. It is so cliché but interviewers will never quit asking this ALL the time.
When asked this question during my first interview with Recruits Express, I replied “I don’t know” honestly.
I was still young and fresh from university but not knowing exactly what jobs would I want to take up. All I knew is that my character is too introverted and hence I would shun from doing sales job. Also, I value work-life balance and hence I do not want to see myself doing OT. That was all I told the interviewer before getting labelled as NAÏVE.
The above is a classic example that being honest is never going to help.
Hence, you just have to find something that the interviewer likes to hear instead. This question is asked simply to test if you have any aspirations in life. If you do not have any goals in life, perhaps you will not be seen as capable in your job.
Although deep down in my heart all I wanted is a stable job which offers me a decent pay and yet the flexibility to do whatever I like after office hours (like blogging), I can never say that straight into my interviewer’s face because it will just be too suicidal *sigh*
e. What Will You Do During Your Probation?
Another silly question. I have yet to join the company how would I know what I should do? I just react accordingly.. But hell no. You need to give a good answer to satisfy their desire.
Hence I replied that I would read the past correspondences to understand how are things being done and ask around to find out more etc. Just respond to that wisely.
f. Share on one difficult situation faced and how you resolve it.
OK easy peasy. Just find something good to share to boost your confidence.
I’m sure you have encountered some troubles in your life (or more relevant – during your current job) and enjoyed the satisfaction of resolving the problem yourself (or with the help of your peers).
g. Any Questions?
Yes! It is PAYBACK TIME!
After being grilled with those uncomfortable questions, it is the time you want to give your feedbacks! When asked with this question, make doubly sure you have already prepared a list of questions you want to ask that is related to the position you are interviewing for to find out whether you are suitable for this role.
I know you must be burning to know what are the Employees’ Benefits and Remuneration Packages like but please refrain from asking blatantly and reserve them during the end of your conversation if you do not want to be labelled as “money-faced”.
Ask as many intelligent questions as possible to show your interest in the job. Perhaps you may ask about the challenges you might face if you join that company. Or you might want to find out about the prospects of the job etc.
The best way to know whether the company is suitable for you to stay is perhaps ask the interviewer if they enjoy working for that particular company. If you sense any uneasiness / hesitation from the interviewer, this might be a good indication for you to consider your choices prudently.
I used to enquire about the workload during interviewers but gave up after a while as the interviewers will throw back the question to you to say that everything is about time management. Hence perhaps you can just ask them what is the average time the employees in that team / department knock off as a gauge on the level of work-life balance they are enjoying. I ever heard that the average time to knock off was 7pm from one of my interviews (which I secretly blacklisted) but the interviewer explained the prospects of the job that I will get to learn many things etc. Never be enticed / tricked that you get to learn many things by staying back late after office hours. Chances are you might be too burnt-out to absorb what you have ‘learnt’.
Congrats! I suppose you have been offered a job when you reach this stage.
Never sign on the dotted line out of desperation. Weigh your options carefully.
Do a detailed comparison of your renumeration package / career prospects before deciding on what to do. If you like the career prospects but feel that the salary wise is too little, you can actually go back to the HR to negotiate. Of course, you have to negotiate tactfully in order not to break the deal.
Remember – you must have enough bargaining chips on your hand in order to negotiate well. You must justify your counter proposals in a logical manner and prove to them you are definitely worth your price tag. Never compromise your self worth to avoid future regrets.
If that company is short of manpower and is desperate to hire – better still. Take the opportunity to raise your worth if you think you are deemed to be a good fit for the job by your potential employer. I managed to negotiate a higher salary on the reason that I would be compromising my Annual Leave (from 18 days to 15 days) and other staff benefits prior to joining my ex-company (so now you know how stingy and micromanaged they are right?). To be honest, I actually declined that job offer when the HR refused to increase their offer but they acceded to my request as they were desperate for manpower. I was glad I had a higher pay at that time which made it easy for my current company to match and better my package when I joined 😀
#5: BE YOURSELF
Although I mentioned earlier that interview is all about saying the things the interviewer loves to hear, you still have to be yourself in order to make your interview successful. Being overly pretentious and hypocritical might not reflect well on you – you might clinch the job but not survive your probation period because you have bitten on something bigger than you can chew.
I have started off not knowing what I want in my career but life is a continuous journey of self-discovery. Never be afraid to be true to yourself and discover on what you want in your career path before making your own decisions.
I was offered to another insurance broker role when I was in my ex-company but I declined that offer as I wasn’t too comfortable with the job scope. I prefer to handle insurance programs for small / medium-sized corporations but I was offered a role to handle large global accounts with the promise by the potential employer to give me the relevant coaching and guidance.
Handling huge portfolios might sound prestige to others but I chose to stay true to my preference and declined the job offer as I knew I would be stressed out and unhappy again handling those global portfolio which require a lot of coordination work with our overseas offices which can be frustrating especially with the time difference. I have handled similar accounts before and hence I knew that it would not be a personality-job fit for me.
Despite being desperate to leave my previous company due to my many grievances, I declined that offer as I did not want to regret my choice. I was glad I declined that offer as something unexpected and better came along and I took up that offer heartily.
I do hope you benefited from my sharing (or rather ranting) on my career experiences.
Do share with us your feedback / experiences in the comment box below as I am very interested to hear alternative opinions to broaden my knowledge 😀
Also, please do read my other posts from my Career Series if you have not done so.