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Archive for the ‘Frown’ Category

Is asking this question a sign of ageing?  I hope not, as the targets I studied aren’t only the Generation X and Ys, but also people of my age or above.  I just cannot get over ladies dragging their ankles walking around the office floor with disturbing clunking noises (don’t mistake that with heels please), people chewing their food loudly like cows next to me, commuters screaming into their cellphones on the top of their lungs yapping about meaningless gossips, or professional athelete-type passengers who compete for a new Olympic Games category of jumping into occupied elevators or subway cars, holding the poor exiting souls hostage.

If you think we can just be chilled over all this nonsense and smirk over it, look me in the eyes and tell me you aren’t shocked and disturbed by the well suited man who jumped into the subway seat one second before you even had the chance to offer it to an elderly woman.

It’s not like we are at war times.  Most of us live in adequately provided environments and more often than not, nobody really owes us anything.  I don’t get how parents will inflict this upon their kids by encouraging them to be selfish, misbehaving snobs.  Alright, it’s probably because the parents themselves are like that, at work and at play. 

For me how a person carries himself or herself speaks a lot about their character.  Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do count people out by the negative traits I observe, and I don’t think I am alone.  To me, I cannot entrust them in anything if I feel that they do not even respect themselves. 

If you can think of a constructive way to steer the city back to the right direction, do let me know.  It will be a cause that I will stand proudly behind.  For now, I am doing my small part in my own professional space, so that I can sleep better at nights.

I wish. 

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Yes this topic has been on my mind since I started blogging about my career.  I deliberately held myself back, at risk of offending a union of powerful professionals.  For those who know me well through this blog, I hate generalization and it’s never my intention to put labels on anyone.  Come on, who am I to judge, when I am in a profession that is heavily undermined and stigmatized by many?

There, is my disclaimer for this long overdue piece.  It’s short, but I think it’s more than adequate for a personal blog with barely enough influence.

Gone are the days when we had to register at a placement agency for career opportunities, unless you are a fresh graduate from school.  Today, headhunters are constantly knocking on our doors looking for business.  There is always a new firm popping up every month or so in the city, but there are still countless of them reaching out to this region from the States, London or Australia.  Headhunters are to be respected.  They dig up the recruitment needs, make the connections, prep the candidates, negotiate the offers, and follow-up with the on boarding process.  They know the major power players in town, in the business, and in the profession.  They know the movements in town, the headcount surges and reductions, and most importantly, they know how much talent is worth by understanding the supply and demand dynamics of an engagement, or any industry as a whole.

How many times however, have you encountered into the following scenarios?

  • headhunters who fail to provide at least the minimum level of details of the job;
  • headhunters who you will never hear back once they get your consent to express interest;
  • headhunters who represent you in front of clients without your consent;
  • headhunters who don’t know anything, and I mean anything, about your profession

Alright I do not expect them to know the inside outs of what I do or what the client wants, but there are definitely basic answers that they should have before the first call.  That includes basic job description, reporting line, organization structure, whether the role is new or a replacement one, the type of personalities wanted, timeline as well as high level budget.  Although it is not unheard of for the candidate to discover these answers only at the first interview, with all the job opportunities around, we do need to assess whether we are at all interested in pursuing these opportunities, early on.  Most importantly, the last thing I want to do, and I think likewise for the recruiter, is the perception that we are wasting each other’s time.  That’s not what I would expect, when there is a headhunter mediating the process.

Since it’s such a fierce and fast-moving business, time and time again we are told that the opportunity is brand new, that things are evolving and the hiring managers are always on the move.  We are urged to send in our resumes and await further feedback.  Usually that’s the last you would hear from a majority of headhunters.  No, not even a courtesy phone call or e-mail.  Not releasing candidates prematurely is not an excuse for disappearing in mid-air.   There are ways and tactics to articulate messages while managing expectations in a professional manner.  Just not with those folks.

To make things worse, the last thing I want is a lecture from someone whom I have never known before in my life.  Believe it or not, it happens.  It’s un-called for when they don’t even know my profession, or when they have zero intention to find out what motivates me in my career decisions.  They make shallow and short-term assumptions, as that is a reflection of their remuneration structure.  Yes they don’t get paid from me, but that doesn’t warrant being ill-treated by them just because they have the client or hiring manager relationships.  There were times when I ended up sharing with the hiring company my very candid assessments of the headhunter, as I believe their actions and behavior are not only hurting themselves, but also the reputation of the hiring company.  For someone involved in assessing, selecting and negotiating headhunting service contracts with corporate human resources on a day-to-day basis, my first hand review certainly carry some weight.

The reason I am critical of our beloved match makers is that I care about my reputation and I take my career very seriously.  It’s an extremely personal business.  Better yet, I have seen and worked with the very good ones.  They are a delight to work with.  They are well prepared, informative, and great communicators.  They share candid and timely feedback and most importantly, establish a close partnership with the candidate.  Quite frankly, I do not wish there were more good headhunters.  I just wish there were fewer bad ones.  Much, much fewer.

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Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef with humor and personal wit that I come to admire and enjoy, has recently been caught in a “food fight” with fellow Food Network star, Paula Deen.   In an TV Guide interview, Bourdain calls Deen “the worst, most dangerous person to America” for  her artery-clogging style of cooking.”

She revels in unholy connections with evil  corporations, and she’s proud of the fact that her food is f–king bad for you,”  Bourdain said of the Food Network star, who is famous for her butter-heavy recipes.

I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it is OK to eat food that is killing us,”  he said. “Plus, her food sucks.”

I have not personally heard of Deen before, and out of curiosity and just a few mouse clicks away, I can see why she is portrayed as the most dangerous person to the U.S. of A.

Judge for yourself.  Here below is one of her famous recipes, courtesy of additional commentary by FoxNews.com.

Deen’s Doughnut Burger

Ingredients:

4 Glazed Doughnuts

1 lb Ground Beef (not the lean kind!)

8 Slices of American Cheese

8 Strips of Bacon

Directions:

You can cook the doughnuts from scratch, but why go to the trouble? Any from your local bakery should be fine, but you can’t go wrong with Krispy Kremes. We suggest using the Glazed Sour Cream variety for a nice 310 calorie kick. Slice in two and fry the inside until browned.

Separate the beef into four patties. Resist your summertime instinct to put them on a BBQ grill and fry them to your liking in  butter instead. This is not the time to be worrying about your waist line.

Don’t even think about not frying the bacon in butter too.

Place one slice of cheese on the bottom of the bun,  followed by the patty and another slice of cheese on top to enhance overall gooeyness. Add two slices of bacon, in a crisscross fashion, of course, then consider for a moment if you really  want lettuce and tomato — we’ll leave that up to you.

(Don’t do it!)

And that’s it, you now hold in your hands the ultimate brunch or — for you late nighters — dinsert.

Depending on the time of day, you can either wash it down with a steaming cup of coffee or a crisp, hoppy beer to cut through the sweetness.

Either way, have a good night’s sleep.

And if you need further proof, go with the experts.  According to mnn.com, last year, Dean’s “Kitchen Classics” cookbook was ranked one of the worst of the decade according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “You’d need a magnifying glass to find a vegetable in some of these cookbooks,” a rep for the group quipped.

Amen to America.

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I’m On Reality TV

I have written more than once about my experience at Starbucks in town.  In fact, I think I deserve a token amount of sponsorship fees from the popular chain.  Lounging at any one of the 100 plus establishments in the city proves to be both relaxing and entertaining.  Other than my last psychic experience, today I found myself assuming the entertainer role.

Chatting with a friend over green tea latte and cappuccino is a treat of itself, particularly when it’s over 32 degree celsius outside, and we were happy to finally have the opportunity to sit down catching up rather than endless texting.  2 minutes down our conversation, we couldn’t help but noticed a couple of teenage girls staring our way.  Yes, literally staring and listening intently.  It’s a wooden bench type of seating, so I accepted that privacy was never warranted.  Yet listening while looking straight at us was certainly far from discrete.

The girls were not talking amongst themselves.  They were not flipping through magazines, and it felt like my friend and I were a giant television screen right in front of them.  They heard all of our gossips and juicy exchanges, but no one other than the two of us should be able to make sense over what we were yapping about.  Strangely, the girls giggled when we laughed.  Okay, this was downright creepy.

My friend signalled me to lower my voice, since I admit I do have the tendency to get overly excited when I am deeply involved in a conversation.  However, it seems that the quieter we muttered, the more appealing our apparently secretive conversation became to our audience.

I feel that the curious duo should pay for our drinks.   When we left the cafe, I could see them looking our way laughing and mouthing apparent judgements on us.

Yes, we all judge.  We all like to pass judgements over people we hardly know.  My friend and I probably have a million punch lines waiting to be abused by the observant onlooker.  Yet, it’s my first time experiencing it in my face, and in broad daylight without the slightest attempt of coverup.

Maybe this is just a tip of the iceberg.  If we hadn’t left that early, we might find ourselves captured on YouTube tonight.   They could have called for their parents to physically enjoy the free entertainment and mockery session.

My conclusion is that Starbucks is a hotbed of interesting (creepy) personalities, and I should really go back more often to get inspirations for my writing.  If I can’t avoid being the freelance entertainer at times, maybe I should at least erect a signage of http://corporateshopaholic.com  on my coffee table, as a desperate attempt to promote my blog while being featured.

Starbucks, here I come.

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Contractors, contract staff, temps, permanent staff, consultants.  They all have similar jobs.  They work in the same team, under the same boss, who is almost always on permanent headcount.  These are all inventive ways to commoditize human capital, and they are designed to wiggle through the tightening policies in the workplace.  Regardless of what the rationale is, leaders should know that there are distinctively different ways to incentivize human capital according to how they are hired or engaged.

From the way I set this up, you would sense that I am not really seeing this being mastered.  Some leaders know these terms by heart, but they are simply dumbfounded by the workforce who are knowledgeable about all the risks and rights of these engagements.  When a work friend of mine complained about disloyalty of a contract staff some time ago, my reaction was simply: “What do you expect?”

I know it may sound totally unrealistic from the job market we are in today, but as I have said over and over again in the past, we all got to “de-commoditize” ourselves.  Only when we do it can we set ourselves apart and regain some power back, as an employee.  In my friend’s case, his contract staff has one of the highest sought after attribute in the workplace – the ability to close projects.  There are many who are fantastic in the whole song and dance but lack the ability to pull people together to make things happen.  This person exhibits strong cohesion that allows him to lead projects successfully toward completion.  With that track record, he will be grabbed by other aspiring employers in no time, while my friend is still trying to bad-mouth his contractor’s seemingly disloyalty, in sheer disbelief.

A leader who fails to see through an employee’s strengths and weaknesses will always find himself or herself stuck with the worst people.  On the other hand, workers who fail to develop themselves out of a commodity will continue be taken advantage of in the corporate world.

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Do nice guys finish last?

Yes according to the University of Notre Dame, reported by NBC News.  Apparently, being one of those people who gets along with your coworkers gets you a smaller paycheck at the end than those people who are not as agreeable in the workplace.  “Being bad is good for your bottomline.”  The study reveals that disagreeable men earn US$10,000 a year more than nice guys.

Hmmm….

Well I’m not a fan of stepping on others in order to get ahead, but I have seen countless number of times where others attempt to do so behind my back.  No matter how self-righteous I try hard to be,  I can’t help to make sure I am constantly watching out for my back.  However, it’s about what “bad” means here.  If it’s about being insistent and fierce in the workplace, it can be a pretty neutral or even influential behavior.  If we are talking about “jerks” in general, why they get a bigger paycheck certainly strikes up a lot of controversies.

One thing I can experience for sure is that being nice can easily end up being taken for granted, or even taken advantage of.  Not everyone appreciate goodness and competencies in the spirit it’s intended.  Just because you are conscientious, well-mannered, understanding and a people person, you can sometimes be perceived as a push-over.  In circumstances like this, and if you truly have talent and value to showcase for, my advice is to take a harder stand.  No, not on your coworkers, but on those who are trying to rip you off.

I can’t stress more about the prerequisite here.  It’s whether you have distinctive value in the first place.  Otherwise, bragging about something non-existent is not only unrealistic but borderline annoying.  If you have what it takes and you know how much it is valued in the market place, fight for your worth.  Use reasoning, facts and logic.  I may not get what I wanted, but I wish that I have tried my very best to make my case, and most importantly, feeling respected at the end.

My experience tells me that there are always those who are trying to test my boundaries purely as a negotiation habit of themselves.  There is no way around it.  I can only step up to the game.  The process can be ugly, petty, frustrating or sometimes even disgusting, but it has to be played out.  If I can learn to put emotions aside, I believe I have the power to somehow turn this undesirable process into a much more professional exchange.

Nice guys finish last?  It depends on where the finishing line is, baby.

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Some Facebook apps have certainly gone out of hand.  Lingering over someone else’s Facebook page is perhaps an unspoken reality for many, but installing an app to push people’s relationship status updates to you is borderline stalkerish.   Continuing on from my earlier post on No To Facebook Depression, digital morality seems to be hitting a new low with new app developers.

The tagline of the app Breakup Notifier reads:

“You like someone.  They’re in a relationship.  Be the first to know when they’re out of it.”

 

The tagline of the app Crush Notifier reads:

“You like someone.  They like you back.  Get crushed.”

Apparently when Breakup Notifier was launched in February this year, more than 3 million users flocked to the tool almost overnight.  While the demand kept rising by the day, it was confirmed shortly and officially that Facebook broke up with the Breakup Notifier.  According to the Washington Post, “…the affair was short-lived”.

And if this hasn’t creeped you out enough, shortly after Breakup Notifier folded, a new app Waiting Room came to the rescue by offering former Breakup Notifier users upgraded stalkerish efficiency.

The tagline of the app Waiting Room reads:

“Wish a friend was single?  Anonymously enter a friend’s WaitingRoom and give them a hint that they have options.  WaitingRoom will give you the confidence to become single again — if that’s what you really want.”

According to Mashable.com, “Not only will the Facebook app notify you when the person you’re pining after relieves himself or herself from a relationship, but it will also help you anonymously encourage that breakup.  Here’s how it works: When you indicate interest in an unavailable Facebook friend, that person gets an e-mail notification that there is someone in his or her “WaitingRoom” (this person need not have the app installed at this point). The identity of the admirer isn’t revealed until the recipient has changed his or her Facebook status to single.”

What has our world come to these days?  Should we get into caves to safeguard our already fragile relationships from being further sabotaged? 

On the other hand, supporters’ rebuttal is likely to be: “If recruiters can use business networking portals like LinkedIn to poach us from leaving our current employers onto hotter, fancier alternatives, why couldn’t we do it on Facebook for our lifetime happiness?”

Sick logic it is, I have to say.

 

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