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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

I certainly do not belong to any religious cult, nor do I pay any special attention to this doomsday prediction other than having seen the “2012” movie two years ago, purely for entertainment.  Though I can’t keep myself imagining whether I would have done anything differently if we are sure we are left with less than a year to live.

With much temptation to recap and reflect upon the year of 2011, it may be more worthwhile than ever, to think of my new year resolutions.  Regardless of the specifics, the resounding theme is always going to be: following my heart.

Deep down we all know what are the right things to do, but for some reasons we always choose to take a detour due to lack of confidence, obstacles, or worse yet, stupid and meaningless power play.  If we say what’s on our minds, we could save precious time from all the guessing and procrastinating.  Yes, it may appear tactless and reckless, but as I mention time and time again on my blog posts, let yourself be vulnerable at least once in a while.

Who are the ones that you miss the most?  Make sure you reconnect with them in the new year.  Like or even love someone?  What harm does it make to express that without expecting anything in return?  We used to think there is always time, and we know what we would do if the right moment comes around.  But what if there isn’t time anymore? 

Living your life truthfully does not equate to living it irresponsibly or at the expense of others.  I am not saying we should neglect others’ feelings just because they might be in your way.  But you cannot even start to care for others if you aren’t even honest to yourself.  It’s time to ask yourself the hard questions, and demand the straight answers.

Over the past year, I am blessed with lots of opportunities to work and travel, the availability of lifestyle changes, the company of friends and loved ones, and all the new people whom I have met around the world – which certainly is the highlight of my year.  Though I have been clearly less productive in the past few months, I am mighty proud of my blog here since it has given me an outlet to express what I believe in, despite the absence (or presence?) of an audience. 

If this were our last Christmas and countdown, I wouldn’t have any last words since I would have done it all.  All I want to say will be “I Love You” to everyone around me.

Because, there is always room for more love.

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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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Tell Me, Who Do You Call?

“When you are at your most vulnerable state, who is the one person that you want to be physically by your side?”

I was asked this question today and it kind of struck me hard.  I know a gut reaction is supposed to take effect here, but this question surely cuts through a web of tangled emotions, relationships, and each of their respective priorities in my heart.  It’s a very personal question, and everyone should provide a distinctly different answer that no one else can dispute upon.  No matter what it is, that name or person, and the relationship he or she has with you, tells you what you really want in life.

It may sound totally dark and introverted, but I like thinking about such topics.  Of the hundreds if not thousands of friends and acquaintances we make in life, how many of them are the ones that we truly treasure?  Putting material benefits aside, how many of them offer their genuine care and support to us?  Better yet, how often do we extend that offer to people around us, in the first place?

If I have to calculate my odds of return from every friendship or relationship I am investing in, I don’t deserve happiness.  If I believe I have reached out to the other person with my unreserved commitment, I shouldn’t be bothered if the feeling is not reciprocated.  That’s life. 

So if coming up with a name for the above question is hard enough, try facing the reality if whoever you call on to your death-bed, is indifferent at best.

My advice?  See the good of everyone around us, and be as generous and loyal to them as possible.  You may get thrown under the bus from time to time, but at least you shouldn’t have too many regrets if that unfortunate reality comes.  More often than not, your generosity of spirit is going to create quite an impact on someone else’s heart.  So why not?

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Half of 2011 is gone before we knew it.  If the world is indeed going to end by December 21, 2012, we have less than a year and a half left.  What will you do if you only have that little time left?

I don’t think I can ever declare that I am living my life with no regrets, but at least I am consciously yearning to lead that attitude towards life.  When you want to spend more time with your parents and your family, do it.   When you want to tell someone “I love you!”, do it.  When you want to say you’re sorry to someone you’re wronged, do it while you have a chance.

Whatever big hurdles you are going through now, chances are you will find them dismissable or even petty a year from now.  So if we can demonstrate more compassion to others or even ourselves throughout this journey, is it really that unthinkable?

If we can follow our hearts, be vulnerable and let down our self-protection mechanism, the world could be a much better place.  At the very least, I know I will lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.

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Unless you are an habitual job-hobber, if you have had changed jobs more than 2 or 3 times within a decade, you might have been at the receiving end of some repetitive, or sometimes bother-line annoying,  questionings from either prospective employers or headhunters.  ” Are you not a loyal employee? ”  “Does it reflect concerns on stamina?”  Sometimes the question is sugar-coated as “I am seeing that you have a promising career path in your previous (or present) company, what makes you want to move so soon?

As implied in my first sentence, the key to tackling these questions is to really ask yourselves whether you have indeed put in the necessary amount of time in a post to deserve the accomplishments and experience you brag about on your resume.  You are not likely to be able to make a convincing argument for a 6-month posting, but if you can provide evidence that you have indeed added value during the limited time period, be prepared to articulate it with concrete examples.  Yes, when I mean concrete, I mean specific projects and accomplishments rather than “providing support to the team“.

What I really want to bring up here is that if you are indeed not a job-hobber and if there are legitimate reasons of every one of your job moves, don’t get carried away by the questioner’s argument or logic.  Yes you understand where the interviewer is coming from, and you appreciate that they are being frank and honest with you by expressing their concerns out loud.  Though is it that easy to find the right opportunity, pass all the stringent interview process, background and reference checks and get hired in the first place?  How incredibly difficult is it to constantly adapt to new working environments with new bosses, colleagues, internal stakeholders and working culture?  It is surely not cut out for the faint of heart.

You can even go further to imagine that it takes a lot more adaptiveness, stamina, and energy to keep diving in new and unfamiliar waters every few years.  If you can pull that off plus churning out a few recognizable accomplishments during your tenure, it should be no way underestimated.

So when you find yourself demotivated being a new kid on the block, give yourself a break when you are trying to compare with colleagues who have been in their posts for 4 or 5 years.

You may not be able to change other people’s perceptions or opinions, but at least don’t give up without trying to fight for your case.

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It was a perfect finish to a 5-month long hiatus.  The best part of it is that nothing is planned which is so against my decades of personal belief, and I’m loving every minute of it.  Aside from blogging, juicing, reading, gyming, shopping and partying, I was in Taipei, Bangkok (x 2), Paris and Barcelona.  I could have been in Taipei (yes, again) and Tokyo as well if not for the last-minute changes and the horrendous earthquake, but there is absolutely nothing worth complaining about.

So when I got the call where I could offer my service once again, I jumped on the chance feeling recharged and totally fired up.  Despite what happens next, it’s always our EQ, passion and attitude that matters.  My latest trip reminds me once again how beautiful the world is, and how often we might have overlooked the fortune and pleasures around us.  I have every intention to internalize all that I have experienced during my last week and a half, and if that succeeds in any small way, I have the two most beautiful cities to be thankful for.

Come to think of it, was there really some truth to what the supposedly scam-artist told me last month?

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Life operates in its mysterious ways.  You will almost never get anything that you are fixated at, and when you least expect it, things come knocking on your door.   There is no way around it, and you just have to make sure you are always physically and mentally prepared for the unexpected journeys in life.

We can plan all we want, and believe me I’m probably more logical and organized than I should have in life.  Yet when the circumstances in life ask you to take a break from your work schedules, relationships,  or longer term plans, you just have to take a big breath, get your gears on (and sometimes off)  and embrace what’s next.  The most important thing is to learn how to be content with what you already have.  Don’t be a whiner.

Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote a poem in 1904 titled Success.  I find it very fitting today.

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.

 

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