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Monday, March 28, 2011

MANAGING YOUR CAREER – DISPELLING THE MYTHS

I am not going to approach this quoting statistics and studies conducted by this company or that university. I will approach this quoting what you see and hear around you. Then you be the judge. 

MYTH ONE: “I must get a job.” 
How did the myth came about? Well, it is more historically cultural than hereditary. Working for yourself is hard work. The hours are long and the returns are usually, small and inconsistent in comparison to the effort you put in.  
Having a job is seen as glamorous. You get a fix monthly income. You get the perks, like medical, hospitalization, some even get cars and to be able to travel. Yes, it is glamorous.  
Since this is on managing your career, let’s work on getting a job first. 
What most unemployed graduates fail to see is that, jobs are limited. As I said before, there are about 60,000 unemployed graduates. Do you think there are 60,000 jobs available? Don’t know? 
Simple. Just buy the Saturday newspapers, and count how many jobs are advertised. Count all, do not be selective. I bet you, it is on the average of about 500 - 600 jobs are advertised. That is just 1% of the total unemployed graduates. We have not even included SPM leavers! 
But, there is always a “but”, all is not loss. There are still opportunities out there. You just have to know how to get it. I know many fresh graduates in their first 2 years are already jumping 2 – 3 jobs! They must be doing something right. 
How can you help your self? 

STEP 1: Know yourself. 
Sun Tzu, a prominent Chinese military philosopher in his writings “Art of War” wrote that “If you know your enemy as you know yourself, then you shall never suffer defeat”. The emphasis is not in the enemy, but in YOURSELF. 
Before you start looking for a job, get to know yourself better i.e.: 
  1. Your strengths
  2. Your weaknesses
  3. Your likes
  4. Your dislikes
  5. Your personality 
There are a lot of tests in the internet that can help you. Some of them are even free. There are even books. Most of them are between RM60 – RM100 per book. One of them I like using is “Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer (ISBN 1854245090). It has a simple test that can help you know yourself. 
There is another way. The experiential way. Do as many types of jobs, even as a temporary worker and discover yourself. Doesn’t matter what jobs. Hard labor, cook, clerk, sales, network marketing, anything. This should be done when you are still studying. The more experience you are exposed to, the more you know about yourself. I was lucky. I joined the Army. Well, truth be told, I hated it for the first two years. But, I have no regrets. I discovered a lot about myself and I gained tons of experience and even I left the Army 10 years ago, I still use a lot of things I learned there. 
Go and discover yourself and get to know yourself. This is the most important part of anything you can do for your self. 

STEP 2: Know the types of jobs you like 
If you have experienced multitudes of jobs, sooner or later, you will know the types of jobs you like. You may like a job that has a lot of contacts with people. Or you may not. If you like meeting people, you can do sales, be a tourist guide, be in customer service, whatever that deals with people. Because your attention span is short (you discovered this in Step 1) you realize you like jobs that changes quickly, like being in projects. Or you may like organizing and putting things together because in Step 1, you realize you like to take control of things.  
Whatever it is, it will be difficult if you do not go through the experience. 
A little clarification here, I am not talking about the industry. That will be the next step. Take me for example. I love learning about learning. Sharing learning experiences, knowledge and helping people develop and do better (that includes me too!) That is the job I like.  

How do you know you are going to like the job you are interested in?
Easy. Work in a company that offers the kind of work you are interested in. Even if you are not paid for it. If you are still studying, you are definitely not qualified to be paid. The important thing is the opportunity to be associated with the people and the work. Put it this way, you have a choice. Either you don’t do anything, stay at home or loiter at some shopping malls – which translates to not getting money, yet spending money and wasting time; OR, better yet, work for free and gain some experience. You are not getting any money anyway! 
This work-for-free works best both ways. The company certainly don’t mind the extra hands to help them out, AND you get to gain experience, since you are not qualified to do a lot yet. 
For example if you are interested in becoming an architect, work in an architect firm. Doesn’t matter if you are the photocopy person, or the person who carries the boss’ bags when he goes to the site. The important thing is that you get to know first hand what architects and their companies do. 

STEP 3: Know the industry you are in. 
Knowing the job you like to do is one thing. Knowing the industry you are going to do the job in is another. 
Take accounting for example. You can practice your accounting in an accounting firm, audit firm, and the plenty of companies out there. If you like short projects, and you love to talk about accounting, how accounting is done, then being in an accounting firm, will be great for you. But, if you love how accounting works in a bank, stock market, entertainment industry, or even construction because of the peculiarities and intricacies of the industry, then look for a job in that area. 
The idea is to balance what you like doing and how do you want to apply what you like doing. 
For some, getting a job, any job in the industry is more important than the job itself. The industry is more important. They are happy doing anything as long a they learn the industry. So, to narrow to one aspect of the industry may not work for you. 

STEP 4: Putting it all together 
Sun Tzu also wrote “Know your enemy, the terrain and the weather, victory is yours”. 
The biggest mistake a lot of fresh graduates make is that, they never research the job, the company and the industry they are applying for. In their desperation for a job, they start to play the probability game. They believe, the more resumes they throw around, the higher the probability they will lend a job. Not true!!! Remember 60,000 applicants to 600 jobs!!! For each position advertised, a company gets between 200 – 400 applicants. 
Let’s look at it from the employers’ point of view. An employer can only assess you, initially, from your resume. That’s it.  
Your resume must stand out to make you stand out. By putting and highlighting the things you know about the job and industry you are applying, they know you are serious and interested in the job. Not just somebody “playing the numbers game” or fishing and hoping to hook something. 
Seek help to get your resume done. Speak to a few people. There are even on-line help for people who want to get their resumes done. 
But I do caution one thing. If you are seeking help, do ask help from people who have experience. Speak to your relatives or your friends’ parents. Anybody you know who you respect and admire and trust their inputs. 
Remember this “Smart people learn from experience. Wise people learn from the experience of others”. Be wise. 

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED 

Yes, the objective of my articles is to help you get a job. Fortunately, I still believe that having an income is a lot better than no income at all. 
And income can come from anywhere. 
When I read the book “Menjejak Jutawan Senyap” by Chef Li aka Dr Rusly bin Abdullah PhD, I was amazed that there are plenty of opportunities for people in this country to make lots of money. On one side we hear cries of help from the graduates, but, on the other, we have non graduates and immigrants having RM50,000 to RM200,000 in their accounts. 
And, we working people are glad to have RM50 in our account at the end of the month. Again, talk to people and get some opinions. Keep your options open.

Sources : www.kareer.com.my/news/30.html
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