Father Sez

From and to parents - parental advice to our children on personal financial management and life.
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Archive for the ‘Preparing for Employment’ Category

Job scams on the rise. It’s always better to be safe than sorry

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

 The lethal combination of more and more people losing their jobs and less and less jobs being available, is providing a huge market for those scammers out to make quick bucks from conning the desperate. 

An ex-colleague once told me that when poverty meets illiteracy and the uneducated, it creates a very ripe environment to be taken advantaged of. Add to this an element of desperation and it becomes even more potent. 

This was in Ghana, way back in 2000. But the quote remains etched in my mind.  

Recent events like the Madoff Ponzi Scheme have shown that even the rich and the well educated can fall prey to scams. 

In this current climate of continued job losses, we cannot really be surprised that job scams, where well paying jobs are offered for payment of a fee, abound.  

Malaysia is gaining a stellar reputation as a country of scamsters.  Topmost on the list would be the bringing in of foreign workers and then abandoning them without the jobs they were promised. These scams have become institionalized as it is almost impossible to do this without getting approvals from the Immigration and Home Ministry Authorities.  

Then come the various job advertisements that litter our classified section and in the Internet offering all kinds of jobs. This lures the job seeker with promises of well paying jobs. Eventually some fee has to be paid and then it is found that there is no such job at all. 

These scams must be rising in Malaysia. I have hear radio announcements seeking people to be wary of such “too good to be true” offers. Though the Authorities can do some more to help eliminate the scams, the wide spread use of anonymous Internet sites by the scammers is making this difficult.  

In India, when I once wanted to advertise for office jobs for our Chennai Office, the newspaper company refused to accept my ad without my passport! The reason was because they wanted to prevent scamsters. 

So far neither my daughters, thank God, nor me have been caught in such schemes. I have no idea how sophisticated these scammers would be when my younger children enter the job market. I can only hope that these nasty guys don’t get their grubby hands on any of our cash. In these difficult times it pays to be helpful.

This site gives some ways to help protect ourselves from such schemes.

Read how six Africans with the help of a Malaysian accomplice managed to implement another version of this scam. God knows how many victims are just keeping quiet licking their wounds and pride.

Worse still, this young lady ended up with a death sentence for her gullibility! 

My letter to my two elder girls as they start off on their first jobs

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

The Fathersez family have just passed another milestone. The first two children have finished their tertiary education and have just secured their first jobs. As they leave the family house to stay on their own and pursue their careers, what can I tell them? 

Though I have talked to them a little about working life being very different from living at home as our kids, I have not addressed in any detail the steps they can and should take now to better manage their career. Starting on the right foot, so to speak. 

Perhaps the best way would be to write to them. 

Dear Along and Azah, 

Assalamu’alaikum Wrt! Wbt! 

Your Mama and I have done our best to raise you both with love, care and kindness. Along the way, we may have made mistakes. After all, the both of you were our first experiences at raising children. 

Alhamdulillah, both of you have now grown up as responsible young ladies. And as the next phase of your lives as self subsisting adults start, please take some time to go through this letter. 

1.     Cultivate a positive and “can-do” attitude. Approach each day positively. Tell yourselves that if others have done it before you, there is no reason why you cannot. And if you ever feel down, take a short walk and sing a song. Hakunama Tata is good. This song about the no worries philosophy should cheer up anyone.  

2.     Watch, ask and learn as much as you can. Absorb as much as you can like a sponge. As freshies, you are entitled to ask and learn. And believe me, everyone likes to teach. Ask nicely and thank everyone for every bit of learning you get. Remember that from now on, you have to seek knowledge. Gone are the days, when you both will sit in some lecture room and a lecturer comes to give you knowledge.  

3.   Do not fear making mistakes. Only those who do nothing make no mistakes. And have no fear owning up if you have made any. 

4.   Be nice and civil to everyone. Not everyone has been brought up the way you have been and things which you think are small may not be to others. Respect the feelings of others. And remember our Fathersez’s family’s 3 laws of getting along with people.   

5.   Dress appropriately. I think your Mama has already taught you both well. Still don’t forget that it’s better to overdress than the other way around.  

6.   Put in the hours. Finish each and every piece of work you have been assigned and do it well. Do not be a clock watcher. Check each piece of work that you do before you hand it up. And then ask your supervisors if there is anything else you can do to help. Get yourselves known as the “anything else to do girls”. 

7.   Take time to understand the corporate culture. Make as many friends as you can and learn from all of them. Everyone has something to teach us. 

8.   Cut off all the time wasting activities. Texting and chatting online can wait. Value your time and use the time well. Of all the resources available, time is the only thing that is irreplaceable. Even Bill Gates has 24 hours a day. 

9.   I want to quote some of Free Money Finance’s sound advice here to make the most of your job. He suggests that you should get a mentor, hitch to a rising star and volunteer for projects. He also says that you should know your boss’s priorities, and know what she wants done and do it. Other gems are communicating the way your boss does (If he prefers email, use it. If phone, use that.), be curious and make yourself more interesting to be around.

And finally start working immediately on creating your own brand. Get yourselves known as people who are dependable and have integrity. Employers do form  opinions of their employees and I think this is a great brand to aim for. 

Well, my little princesses, both of you are now leaving the Fathersez household. This year, your Mama and Papa will not be giving you any Hari Raya money. Instead the both of you now have to give your younger siblings and the many nephews and nieces that you have. This is part of growing up and being adults. 

Remember that your career may be one of the most valuable assets that you ever own. Manage it well, and make it work for you. I have made my share of mistakes in not managing my career and want to make sure you both do not end of repeating the mistakes.

All the best as you start off in your careers. And whatever may happen, the both of you will always be your Mama and Papa’s little princesses. 

Wassalam,  

Papa    

Thank God, my two elder girls have secured their first jobs

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Since February 08, I have written a series of articles on how I intended to help my daughters secure jobs they would like. The first article in the series, posted on the 24th February covered an overview of the process and the last article that covered the preparation for the interview was posted on the 4th May 2008. 

At the time of writing these articles, both the elder girls were still in college. In April the second girl returned home after completing her studies in Finance and Accounting whilst the eldest girl, Along, returned on the 10th June 08 after completing her studies in Psychology at the University of Bangor, Wales.  

Along, our eldest has always wanted to work with children. (However it seems that her younger sisters and brother don’t quite count….hehe.) She has gotten a job with an educational company teaching children. Along will be involved in evaluating the methods of teaching used by the institute. She has indicated that she might pursue her Masters in Educational Psychology in a Malaysian University on a part time basis.  

Azah, the second has gotten a job with one of the Big 4 (or 5 or 6) accounting firms. With no experience, she would be starting at the bottom of the ladder (as I did so many years ago.) And yes, she’s well aware of Steve’s concerns over working one’s heart out in the Big 4 or 5 or 6 firms.  

My wife and I are very happy for them, as they prepare to step out of the Fathersez household to begin their lives as self sustaining adults. We believe we have done our best to educate them, at least the basics, of life skills and have no doubt that they’ll do justice to the Fathersez name.  I am now working on the talks with them on the next phase of their lives, career as well as financial.

Above all, I want to try to ensure that they do not make the gross mistake I did in not managing my career. 

Today, as I see the looks of joy on the kids’ faces, now that they have secured their first jobs, I want to thank God and all the very kind bloggers whose resources were freely made available to me. 

On the top of the list would be Free Money Finance, who has a truly rich and extensive resource list on careers. 

Clever Dude, Life Clever, Job Mob and Gather Little by Little are also blogs I referred to frequently whilst writing my series.  And of course the indefatigable Squawkfox, who is also running a series on the intricacies of a job hunt. 

I thank God and all of you for this “gift”.

How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like – Part 6 – Preparing for the Interview

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

My two elder girls are almost ready to join the rat race. I am discussing with them the things they could do to better position themselves to get the job of their choice from the employer of their choice. And not to repeat the major mistake I have made of not managing my career.  

So far we have covered Parts 1 – 5.

My second daughter (the eldest is having her finals next week, so her journey will start a little later), has been sending out her resume to a number of firms, focusing on entry level accounting and audit jobs.

So far she has attended 2 interviews, and it seems that she has not been successful.She has taken these as learning opportunities and is using the experiences as resources for improving her “being interviewed” skills.

She did not start of on the interviewing trek without any preparation. One of her friends, a blistering straight A’s, college leader kind of girl was recruited by one of the Big 4 firms. She gave my daughter some pointers on the kind of questions you could expect.

Other very helpful suggestions came from people like Clever Dude who points out and details that we should be organized, have a plan and follow through when it comes to job searches.

Free Money Finance points out that an interview is a test you can study for. He explains  that the more work we put in by preparing and practicing, the better would our chances be. He points out that we should:     

a)      Research the Company and slip our knowledge into the interview.

b)     Dress appropriately.

c)      Prepare answers to expected key questions and practice them.                

         FMF has elaborated on this further in another post and has suggested:-

  • Begin our answers by listing the top 3 – 5 requirements of the job as understood by us from our research and the interview,
  • Summarize how our skills and experience will enable us to make a significant impact,
  • And finish by stating our interest in the organization.

d)     Prepare to close the deal. Ask if they have any reservations about hiring you and address those.

e)      And the often overlooked, practice, practice and practice.

My daughter is seeking an entry level position, so we did not discuss things like personality tests and stuff like that.

In addition, my daughter and I have gone over some technical stuff that we both think would be useful for the positions she is aiming for. This was one of the off shoots from one of the interviews she had attended. 

Azah, our second girl, takes more after her mother than me. She, like her mother, is more of a people’s person, whilst I am more a shy introverted type. My daughter has also read Glbl guy’s suggestions on things not to say during an interview.  I am confident that she would not be making this kind of gaffes.

At one of the interviews, it seems that the interviewer was doing most of the talking. Though my girl had prepared some answers which she though would further her cause, the interviewer just cut in and continued talking.

My daughter just let him talk, quite the wise one, isn’t she.

Clever Dude also pointed out that he attended a number of interviews before he landed a job. I am telling my daughter to persevere. I am also telling her that based on my experience, I believe that she is already ahead of at least 70 – 80% of her peers out there and it’s just a matter of time.

Her next interview is on Tuesday, which also happens to be her mother’s birthday. Let’s see how this works out. 

 Google Images

How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like – Part 3 – Basics of life as an employee

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

My two elder girls are almost ready to join the rat race. I am trying to discuss with and suggest to them the things they can do to better position themselves to get the job of their choice from the employer of their choice. And not to repeat the major mistake I have made of not managing my career.  

In Part 1, we covered an overview of the process. 

In Part 2, we covered the additional employability skills they would have to familiarize themselves with.

In this Part 3, we look at the realities of life as an employee as compared their past years as students. 

I have made some bad mistakes in my life and in guiding my children. One more to add to this list is the fact that I did not do enough (or rather anything) to make the elder girls do internships. The benefits of internships have been well documented.   

Since there is no point in crying over spilt milk though, I just have to make sure the girls have a firm understanding of the sometimes harsh realities of life as an employee as compared to their relatively cloistered life so far. 

I have read Ms. Dawn Rosenberg McKay article titled “From College Campus to Corporate Climate” and added on my thoughts. 

a) My children lives have so far involved “education and knowledge coming to them.” They would sit in some classroom and a teacher/lecturer would teach them. In working life, however, they have to go looking for education and knowledge.

The fact that there is proactive effort needed on an employee’s part to learn and progress is what I think contributes most to their progress or lack thereof. Employers often offer insufficient training and time for new hires to get completely familiarized with whatever they are supposed to do.  

b) People will depend on them and they have to depend on people. They become cogs in some wheel of an organization. As students what they did had no impact on their college, but the reality as an employee is vastly different. Their work will impact themselves, their co-workers and possibly even their bosses. And often the employee may not get to see or understand the full picture. 

c) Exams happen almost daily. Their work will be seen and evaluated almost continuously, despite the formal performance reviews which may be at set timetables.

d) Deadlines will happen frequently and quite often unreasonably. No consideration is usually given to your own priorities. (Perhaps my girls now understand why I missed so many of their important events when they were little princesses.) These deadlines will, hence, affect their personal lives. Time management will become an important skill to practice and master. 

e) They may end up with unreasonable co-workers and bosses. Learning how to manage these people will be paramount. It’s not possible to just ignore these guys and hope they’ll not end up in our class next term or semester.  

f) And lastly they’ll no longer have the parental umbrella for them to seek shelter over work related issues. 

Having said all the above, life as an employee will have other benefits and perks. Had they undergone an internship, my girls would have had a chance to do some trial runs as employees. Nevertheless, the good thing is that whilst life as an employee may be a culture shock to my girls, knowing, anticipating and preparing our minds will greatly reduce the negative impacts.              

How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like - Part 2 - Additional Skills to pick up

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

My two elder girls are almost ready to join the rat race. I am trying to discuss with and suggest to them the things they can do to better position themselves to get the job of their choice from the employer of their choice. And not to repeat the major mistake I have made of not managing my career. 

In Part 1, we covered an overview of the process. In this Part 2, we look at the employability skills and character traits that my children would have to demonstrate to better their chances.  

Malaysian Employers have long been complaining that the educational system is churning out graduates, many of whom do not possess sufficient employability skills and traits. And it looks like the Malaysians are not alone in their lament. 

Just what are the skills and traits employers watch out for? What are the skills and traits they do not want to pay for the graduates to learn on the job?  

I have done a comparison of the desired skills as researched by following organizations:- 

a)    The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NREL) 

b)    The Cooperative and Career Division of the University of Limmerick, Ireland 

c)     Quintessential Careers.com, which claims to be the most popular online career site for teens 

d) A study of Employability Skills of Malaysian Graduates, by University Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR), Malaysia 

These diverse institutions / research sources have about the same results. They have listed the following skills and character traits as what they would consider as employability skills.  

A) Basic Skills 

Oral Communications

Written communications

Reading and Understanding Instructions

Basic Arithmetic

IT Skills 

B) Higher Order Thinking Skills 

Problem Solving

Decision Making

Learning Skills / Strategies /

Creative Innovative Thinking

Analytical / Research Skills

Ability to Plan

Teamwork

Presentation Skills  

C) Affective Skills / Traits 

Loyalty

Multi Cultural Awareness

Enthusiasm / Motivation

Willingness to learn

Adaptability / Flexibility

Self Discipline / Self Management

Honesty / Integrity

Dependability / Responsibility

Positive Attitude Towards work

Desire to Achieve

Conscientiousness / Punctuality / Efficiency

Self Confidence / Positive Self Image

Grooming

Ability to work without supervision  

I have not discussed this list with my children yet. They are both busy studying for their final exams (Along, our eldest girl has her exams in April, whilst Azah, our second girl is sitting for hers next week.) 

I am confident that the skills listed in (A) and (C) have been fairly well covered so far in their lives. However these 2 parts will have to be revisited when we cover the “Preparation for the Interview” part. 

I shall have to spend some time on the (B) section of the skills set. (Perhaps my children may even end up teaching me). The Internet should be full of resources on these. For example, a search on “teaching problem solving skills” returned 740,000 results and “learning problem solving skills” returned 3,300,000 results.Luckily my children are already very used to doing their research on the Net. 

I am certainly no expert at these skills. All we’ll be shooting for is for my girls (and I) to have some understanding of the subject, so as to answer any questions on these intelligently.  

Whilst writing this article, the mandatory 4 types of people talk given by my friend to all his new employees came to mind. He used to say, there are 4 types of people. 

i)                 People with a good mind and a good heart,

ii)                People with a not good mind, but a good heart,

iii)               People with a good mind and a bad heart and

iv)               People with a not good mind and a bad heart. 

(i) and (ii) was what he was looking for as he could always teach those in the (ii) classification. For those in the (iii) and (iv) classes, he said that it would be too difficult and that their parents should have done their work better.  

My wife and I know that our children are in the (i) or (ii) category. My background is clear proof that outstanding academic results in school and university are not really compulsory requisites for a good career. 

To sum all these up, my father would have looked at this post and said, “It looks to me that all they need is common sense.”

How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like - Part 1

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I have written a number of posts on preparing my elder two girls for joining the rat race. I think I have to do a lot more. 

Our eldest girl, Along, has told me that she wants to stay on for a while in Wales when her final exams are over. (This may be subject to a separate post later). Her younger sister, Azah finishes her finals on the 10th March 08, and would be coming home with her bags, books and baggage from her hostel immediately after. She may take some time off at home, and then it would be time for her to join the rat race. 

I have no wish for my children to make the same mistakes that I did in failing to manage my career properly.  

So I intend to plan and try my best to instill in Azah some of the steps she can take to have an advantage as she takes her first steps in her working life. 

I have formulated a plan or rather the matters that I should research carefully and talk to her about. This plan is based on the lessons I have learnt in not managing my career. (Looks like my failure is of some use after all). 

a)  Additional Skills to pick up 

I have to add on to what I have written earlier. She should have at least some grounding in the needed skills to make her more marketable. Skills that employers need, not the E = mc squared kind of stuff. 

b)    Getting her mindset appropriately tuned for employment.

My wife and I have given our daughters a relatively sheltered life. They have never gone out to do any part time work during their school or varsity holidays. Starting work without having at least an understanding of the real life of a working gal might be a culture shock for them.  

c)     Preparing a killer resume

One that will stand out from the hundreds if not thousands of resumes that should be flooding the Malaysian entry level market these months. 

d)    Discussing and drawing up with her the list of qualities or characteristics that she wants in the employer of her choice. And helping her identify the companies that may fit this description. 

e)    Discussing and drawing up with her the list of job or career classifications that she thinks would fit her aptitudes and like. I do not think I can use the word passion here. I believe it would take some time before settles and she finds her calling. 

f)      Researching the companies and key decision makers in the companies that fit the list.  

g)    Seeking the interviews and preparing for the interview. This may take some time as it’s an employer’s market out here. My eldest brother’s son took almost 5 months before he secured his first job. That, too, was in another State. 

I have to remind Azah about our theory of perseverance if ever she feels down during this time. 

h)  Post interview strategies and tactics.  

I also want to extend this exercise a little so that she also starts off her career on the right foot. I have to dwell upon her building and maintaining her network, being able to communicate well and to make as many presentations as she can and develop her brand as an employee. 

(Though there are blog articles and advice on the Internet on this, her mother would be much better placed to guide her on corporate dressing). 

Though I like Dividend 4 Life’s idea of weaving stories into lessons, I think it would be more appropriate for our younger children.   I think I’ll treat this exercise as being about the most important project I have on my plate right now, do solid research, prepare my presentations to her well and take it from there. The Millionaire Mommy herself has said it much better than I could ever have. To quote her:    

                                    This is parenting with a purpose  

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