Month: September 2014

Attending a Job Interview? NEVER Go Unprepared.

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There’s a saying “you can only make a first impression once.” If this is so, then you better make the most out of it. The same principle applies when you are applying for a job. You have but one chance to impress your interviewer and get your dream job!

As it is with any fight, don’t hit the battleground without being equipped with the necessary armour to face the giant. I’ve listed down some practical tips to keep in mind before and during a job interview:Prepared Not Unprepared

Read and Review Facts. How much you know about the company and the position you’re applying for signifies your seriousness with the job. While interviewers normally walk the applicant through some important company information, they would still let you “sing that tune” for them to see how prepared you are for the interview. Get some help from the internet to look for the company website and review important information such as its profile, nature of business and processes.

Practice Your Communication Skills. We can’t overstress how practice makes perfect. Enhance your communication skills by practicing your spiels such as how you would introduce yourself, your objectives, your strength and your skills (we will tackle on a separate topic “what to say” and “not to say” during interviews). Try to do a mock-interview with your friend or converse with yourself by speaking your thoughts out loud in front of the mirror – though that may sound like you’ve gone mad J  

Wear Appropriate Attire. In most occasions, corporate or business attire is required to wear during interviews. This may vary depending on the nature of work or the type of company you’re applying for. But regardless of the circumstances, make yourself look as decent as possible and put that “cloak” of professional feeling on. I’m sure you don’t want to scare away your interviewer of your looks! J

Give Some Courtesies. Being on time is the number one rule of courtesy! Coming in late on your interview sends a negative impression right away no matter how extenuating the circumstances maybe. Research for directions and anticipate the required travel time (including traffic).

Flash a smile even if your interviewer looks intimidating. This creates the initial connection and sets the mood out there. When entering the interview cubicle, wait for your interviewer to offer you a seat. This is not a power-tripping or what, but a common courtesy just as when you are visiting someone else’s house.

Stop, Look and Listen. This is not a traffic rule of sort. It simply means: STOP unnecessary gestures, LOOK at the Eye and LISTEN Attentively. This is to avoid causing any distraction during the course of interview. Psychologically speaking, keeping an eye-contact signifies your sincerity with your responses. And by listening attentively, you are able to pay attention to important details and respond accordingly.

Speak with Confidence and Clarity. It is normal to feel nervous for a couple of seconds or so. But don’t let the butterflies in your tummy blow things out of proportion. Compose your thoughts and speak as clearly and briefly as possible. Some applicants tend to impress their interviewer with flowery utterances. This may work at some point but make sure not to miss the target.

Be Truthful and Honest. Build up yourself but never lie or exaggerate for the sake of pleasing. Give accurate information about your skills and competencies in order to help your interviewer match you with the requirements of the job. But also be honest with your limitations and areas for improvement in order to set the ground with your target employer. Remember that giving false information may also have serious implications later on with your work and could be used against you.

Ask Questions. Interviewers would normally let you ask questions or clarification at the end of the interview. If they don’t, you can bring it up politely without sounding too imposing. Clarify the “gray areas” of your discussions especially those that are of serious concern to you. In this way, you can gauge if you would still want to pursue your application later on or help you decide should you get an offer from another company.

Remember that you just have one chance to impress your target employer. There are hundreds of same specie as you in the battlefield so you better be prepared. But also remember to manage your expectations so even if you come home wounded, at least you’ve fought a good fight!

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#FACTalk 2: “YES, I DO?” Adjusting with Changes after Wedding with Eboy and Franz Refuerzo

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Wedding is not just a litany of sweet I-DO’s. It is but the starting line to many changes that come with the bittersweet realities of married life. Not only you wake up with a stranger basking on your bed, but you also see yourself in a kaleidoscope of adjustments – from the way you manage your time, activities, daily routines and lifestyle – up to the way you make decisions. And wait, there’s more than just that!

1524917_10152072642780890_304906037_nTwo of my friends, Erle Stanley Refuerzo and Frances Mae Marasigan (a musician-and-banker duo), share a brief narrative of how they are putting up in terms of these changes and the serious responsibilities that come along with the commitment they accepted more than a year ago.

Before they became a couple, Eboy and Franz started out as best friends. They met through the youth organization in the church where they were both youth leaders. Having totally different personalities, no one ever knew that they would end up as lifetime partners.

Yet their story tells us that relationship is not about compatibility, but rather how you complement one another in terms of your differences. After all, God unites two different souls together in order to make a wonderful story of love.

When did you know that he/she was the right person and that you were ready to get married?

“I think no one is really ready for marriage. But if you find that person, you would instantly know na ito na ‘yun. This is the person that I cannot live without. Kung di mo na ma-imagine yung buhay mo without her, yun na yun,” Eboy telling an account of his personal feelings about Franz.

As for Franz, the hope of every couple is for their relationship to prosper and grow deeper: “Nung naging kami, tinanong ko sya na kung may feelings talaga tayo s isa’t isa eh di panindigan natin. Kasi kung wala eh di putulin na natin. It’s as simple as are you in or out?”

While many young people today marry at a very young age, both Eboy and Franz claimed to be at their “ideal age” when they got married. Their years of friendship also paved the way for them to know each other deeper, which is the foundation of their relationship beyond just being in-love.

How has marriage changed their lives as an individual?

“I think the biggest deal is the decision-making. Kasi lahat ng gagawin mo kelangan may consensus including simple things as pagbili ng mga bagay-bagay,” Franz said. For Eboy, he is happy that he doesn’t have to look for a companion anymore since Franz has become his constant buddy, which for him is “one of the perks of having a wife who is also your best friend.”

Both of them admitted though that being married has impacts in their social life: “Nababawasan na din yung social life mo. You have to work on weekdays, tapos pag weekend ang daming household chores. Isa ‘yan sa mga ili-let go mo. You cannot keep your social life so much when you’re already married kasi you have to devote your time with your spouse. You’d rather spend your time with each other kasi ‘pag lalabas ka, iisipin mo yung asawa mo sa bahay. So ‘di na pwedeng laging wala sa bahay.”

In spite of this, this young couple sees to it that they spend time with their friends. It also helps that they have common circle of friends where they can be together.

How do they adjust with their differences, and complement each other in terms of their strengths and weaknesses?

Eboy claims to be the more encouraging one in the relationship: “I know that eventually I can encourage her into something that will benefit her. Example dahil active akong tao, I’m trying to push her to become active.” On the other hand, Franz is the one who always anticipates the worst in order to prepare each other for a certain situation.

In terms of sharing of household chores, Eboy takes care of cooking while Franz does the cleaning. This shows how important for couples to share responsibility based on their skills. It doesn’t really matter who keeps the kitchen and does the laundry, it doesn’t make one a lower form of individual anyway.

(This doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to eating though, as women always make their husband consume all the leftovers. Eboy relates this to his personal experience :P)

In dealing with misunderstandings?

Eboy: “Ako sobrang haba ng pasensya. As much as possible, I try to say what I want to say in a very nice way, na di nakakasakit. Kasi ang pinakamahirap is to say no.” Franz is the more emotional one in the relationship: “There’s always a spark of emotion. Pero iisipin mo na lang that you have to go for what will benefit the two of you.”10708446_10152643464313950_2101057688_n

Though Eboy admitted that he is always the first one to give in and initiate reconciliation, both of them try to adjust depending on the situation and reaction of each other: “There is always a rush of emotion. Depende kung kaninong emotion yung mati-trigger.”

As it is with any relationship, pride doesn’t really take couples anywhere. There must be no rule in forgiveness as to who should say “sorry” first. One just needs to find the perfect pitch (and timing) to spill it out and let the storm calm down.

Any rules or considerations in terms of lifestyle and spending?

“We pay our own bills. But it’s a give-and-take. We share resources depending on who has the money. Walang taga hawak. It’s our number one rule: never argue about money.”

“Kung meron eh ‘di meron. Kung wala, wala. We never hide kung anong meron kami, it’s our way of trusting each other. Kapag may extra, we go shopping or out of town.”

Sharing of financial resources is also like sharing of responsibility between couples. Having more financial capacity than your partner doesn’t necessarily translate to having more “say” or influence on decisions especially when it comes to major purchases. As it is with sharing of household chores, managing of financial resources should also be a mutual responsibility of couples.

What have they learned in marriage so far? Their hopes and aspirations as a young couple?

Both of them emphasized the importance of putting God in the center of their relationship, and considering marriage as a reflection and extension of their ministry:

“It takes faith in God to succeed in relationship. Marriage is not about yourself anymore. Your relationship with your spouse is a reflection of your relationship with God. Whatever you do with him, ginagawa mo na din sa Lord. ‘Yun yung lagi mong iisipin kung ano man yung gagawin mo.”

They also want their future children to learn about God from them.

“It’s always good to know that there is somebody who’s praying and standing in faith with you in your decisions. Somebody who is rejoicing with you in your little triumphs, and grieving with you in your failures.”997011_10152089298405890_2013441769_n (1)

Like many young couples, Franz and Eboy share the same hope to keep on growing. But it doesn’t mean pushing each other to grow in the way you want but to let your partner grow on the way he/she wants for himself/herself. Well, you wouldn’t want to see your partner being left behind while you are almost reaching the finish line.

Marriage is not the end of the trail but the start of fresh beginnings. The real deal starts when you traverse the long and winding road together even if the direction may seem uncertain. The journey may not be as smooth-sailing as you may expect it to be. But having each other as companion and with God as your guide, you will surely enjoy the walk no matter what.

The Struggles and Joys of being a Church Worker

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When we talk about career, we don’t only mean those working in the so-called “corporate.” This includes even the church workers. Yes those who we call “pastor” or “deaconess.” But unlike our conventional idea of profession, being a church worker is beyond just career. It is a VOCATION and a CALLING.

Being deeply involved in youth ministry in the church, I and Shai grew up in the spiritual nurturing of these workers. This is the reason why most of our Ninongs and Ninangs in the wedding are either a pastor or a deaconess who have immensely touched our lives. Both of us also grew up in a traditional community church where the pastors and deaconesses are like people with “superpowers” as they take care of all aspects of ministry. A jack-of-all-trade as we may call it!

church-todayLast Sunday, Shai was invited to speak at the celebration of the Workers’ Sunday at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Bataan, her home church. In her sermon, she talked about the struggles and joys of being a church worker, which I tried to summarize in this blog:

“I’ve always had high regards to our dear church workers – the pastors, deaconesses, and church staff including their family – because of their passion and commitment in the ministry. So today, I’d like to talk about why we should be thankful for them.”

She had related the life of the church workers to the life of Paul including the hardships that he had to undergo:

I have endured “much greater labors, with far more imprisonments, with more severe beatings, facing death many times. Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers, in hard work and toil, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing. Apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation?” – 2 Corinthians 11:23b-29

“After the dramatic conversion of Paul (Saul), he knew that his life wouldn’t be easy. Our Pastors and Deaconesses also knew, from the moment they responded to God’s call, that their journey wouldn’t be smooth but will be full of sacrifices.”

  • No equitable salary and pension
  • Don’t have a permanent house
  • Limited time with family

Shai narrated the persecutions experienced by Paul and by the Christians in our current time, which can be figuratively related to the situations of our workers.

“Paul writes, ‘Beside all this…’ or we might say, ‘In addition to all these hardships, what else could possibly be added to this list of overwhelming hardships? That is the “daily burden of how the churches are getting along.”

  • Emotional hardships – unkind words, indifference, cruelty of actions from people, etc.
  • Physical hardships – exhausting schedules of visitations; bible study; prayer meetings; birthday, thanksgiving and funeral services, etc.

“Paul is so concerned about others that he bears their burdens as if they were his own. When people are weak or sick, he shares their pain. When people are led into sin he gets emotionally involved. Paul carries the heavy burden of all the sorrows, failures, joys, and pains of each person in his churches.

The concerns of church workers are like the “daily concern” of a parent for his/her child. It is obvious that our Pastors and Deaconess are concerned for us, which they express through their support and prayers for our personal needs. That is what we see. But that is not all there is.

The workers also share with our joys and sorrows. They lead us in thanksgiving for all our blessings. They are overwhelmed with excitement for the young couple to be married or with the coming of a new baby; they share with the burden if a family member is sick and with the grief of their loss. They carry all of those emotions and concerns around with them every day.”

Despite these challenges, our workers remain faithful in their calling to be God’s instruments of doing mission and touching many lives. Alongside with their personal sacrifices and hardships, they play many roles in our everyday lives, in the life of the church and even in the society:

  • They nurture us spiritually
  • They are our father, mother and a friend
  • They help us make right decisions
  • They give us moral advice and guidance
  • They speak the truth and denounce the evil in the society
  • They help us engage our faith in social realities

Shai also mentioned that unfortunately, the church is in dire need of workers: “There are only few young people who are entering into the ministry. We don’t want our church workers to become “endangered species.” Thus, she called on parents not to discourage their children who feel the calling to become a church worker.

“It is Biblical for a church to recognize and honor the godly ministers who serve faithfully the flock of God. Paul wrote the following words to the church at Thessalonica: ‘Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” – I Thessalonians 5:12-13

If you haven’t done so, go take some time to thank and appreciate our church workers today!

#FACTalk 1: Starting up a Family and Building a Career

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Exactly today, September 15, I and Shai are celebrating our half-year of being married. Yay! Today, I am also launching the FACTalk series or the “Family and Career Talk” dedicated to reaching out to young couples and professionals like us to engage them in important matters that seriously affect their lives.

I promise not to talk so much about the casual-and-virtually-unlimited-love-and-emotional issues (as you may already be fed up with them in social media). Instead, I wanna tackle more on practical matters about your current relationship – either with your special someone or with your career – to help you make it more effective and rewarding through the inspiring stories of individuals and couples that I will feature in our FACTalk.

So for the first part of our series, allow me to share a brief chronicle of our own journey towards marriage and our continuing pursuit of success in our chosen profession. (This is more like a reflection. We will delve into more practical topics in our next FACTalk episodes).

Main Card-front rev03 Preparing for Marriage. I and Shai are grateful that we are able to achieve our dream wedding through the provisions of God. Our preparations started as early as we got engaged in January 2013 (a little more than a year before our target wedding day). We chose March 15, 2014 as the date for our wedding, which coincided with our fourth year anniversary of being together. It’s been six months since that day and I still can clearly remember every detail of our 200-guest, country style-coffee-themed wedding.

But hey! There’s more than just preparing for the wedding. Every couple has to prepare even more for the marriage. While it’s important to make your once-in-a-lifetime wedding experience extra special (whatever kind of wedding you want), it is important to note that both of you must be ready to face the life that awaits beyond the wedding day.

Marriage is a life-long commitment that you make before your husband or wife and before God. Thus it also means embracing the changes in your life and the serious responsibility that comes along with that commitment. “As long as we both shall live”, so does the vow say.

I and Shai are trying to live out that commitment.

Establishing a Career. In Filipino culture, having a permanent work especially for men is a requisite to getting married. But it should not always be the case. The wife can also be the provider for the family. Or both the man and woman can decide to work and share with the responsibility (depending on their agreed set up).

For our case where both of us are working, we’ve come to realize that pursuing a career is essential not only for our material and economical needs but also for our individual personal growth.IMG_0503 (1)

I am blessed to have been promoted at work shortly after we got married. From Senior Supervisor post, I was elevated to an Operations Manager position in my company. Shai is also turning five years with an oil company where she works as a Data/Financial Analyst and gets a pretty decent salary.

In the face of starting a family, we also have to establish our own career and find our place in the rat-race society in order to survive. And this means working not only for ourselves. Both Shai and I are one of those who decided to move out from the province to Manila in order to look for better job opportunities and support our families. We are among those we call “yuppies” who brush elbows with thousands and millions of other young professionals in the workforce.

Our story is a story of all other young people who dream of having a better quality of life. Ours is a story of hope and aspiration of many young Filipinos who dream to be productive citizens of the country, contribute in the economy through our skills and have a good future for our own family.

As a young couple and young professionals, I and Shai are excited to see our fate unfold itself before us. We honestly know that we have so much to learn from this journey but with the help of God and with our openness to explore possibilities, we hope to be faithful in our commitment to grow older together both as partners and as individuals.

We’re forever grateful to all those people who have been and will be part of our journey.

#FACTalk Series: Now Loading…

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Watch out for our FACTalk series that will feature young individuals and couples who will share their stories on their journey towards building a family and establishing a career.

Launching soon!