Month: October 2014
Are you a first-time applicant torn between a high-paying job and doing something you’re passionate about? Or a veteran employee who has been in the business for couple of years now – enjoying your work and loving your boss – but looking for an environment that can offer you security of tenure or elevate you to a higher post?
These are always a tricky situation.
Every employee finds himself/herself at the intersection of what he/she wants and what the company needs. But the stark truth is, the disparity is just so big that we normally end up with what choices are available rather than what we actually want to do.
And while there is not a single company that can meet all of your expectations – or at the very least they are very difficult to find – your decision on what job to accept can be defined by your set of priorities. This entails a lot of time in finding your purpose and understanding your desires.
Ask yourself how you can be most effective and what you want your career to give you in return. Consider these S-M-A-R-T things and weigh them up based on your priorities:
S-hift Schedule. Are you a young mom who needs to watch over your toddler at school or a working student who has to attend weekend classes? Then cyclical schedule doesn’t work best for you. BPO companies especially call centers normally have shifting schedules that require you to work during the night or any day of the week. Consider getting a job that can give you fixed schedules so you can accommodate your personal responsibilities.
M-onetary Rewards. If you’re the head of the family or a bread winner, chances are this is a major consideration for you. Take time to know how much salary and benefits you need in order to cover your living expenses and earn a decent income to support your needs. Salary scheme may vary depending on your “market value” and the type of industry you’re into. Assess how much you’re worth commensurate with your qualifications, experiences and the nature of work being offered to you.
A-lignment. This may be defined by your educational background or something that you’re passionate about such as your interests and skills. Either to stick with a job that is related to what you have studied in college or what you just love to do is a choice you have to make. Though for me personally, it doesn’t really matter so long as you are able to find a sense of fulfilment in it.
R-etention and Growth Opportunities. Is the company that wants to hire you financially stable? Does it have clear structures that can offer you opportunities to be elevated to a higher post? Ask your employer about how it generates its revenue and the chances of you getting promoted in the future. Get to know about the company culture such as its general population, work dynamics and its training and development programs that can help you grow both as a professional and as a person.
T-ravel Time (Proximity). Calculate how much time and transportation fare you would have to spend to get to your work place. Considering something close to your home will not only save you money but also time. Moving out from your parent’s house and renting a small apartment around your workplace can be a little expensive, but this can give you a total sense of independence.
There’s too many reasons whether to accept or turn down a job offer. The things I mentioned above are just some of them and money is definitely not the only one. For most people, there’s more than just about salary and monetary benefits.
You need to factor in how the job would impact your life in general – your personal responsibilities, your interests and things that you value the most. Evaluate the job offers you have and compare them with your set of priorities. Then pick the one that matches the most with your list!
Here’s the bigger picture (something to ponder):
There is a big gap between the number of graduates and the available employment opportunities in the Philippines. Thus, the high rates of underemployment and unemployment. According to a survey, the number of unemployed Filipinos in the last quarter of 2013 was around 12 million. This includes a handful of college graduates.
So to choose whether to accept or refuse a job offer has just become a matter of privilege.
Whether you’re a fresh graduate, a seasoned employee or a newly-wed couple, where to settle for good is always a serious decision you have to make for your life. More often than not, the choice is drawn by the lure of better career opportunities and higher standard of living for yourself and your family.
While many choose to settle in the urban city like Manila, many young professionals are enticed to settle abroad for the same reasons. However we look at it, building a career and starting a family in a place away from your loved ones and friends is always a challenging yet a thrilling experience.
Loraine Anne Rabago and Leo Celino take something fresh out from the closet as they share their journey towards taking chances and finding their place in a foreign land; alongside with the challenges of starting a family and rearing a young human being, their son Les Paul, who is turning two years old this year.
In our interview (via Skype), they delved into how circumstances led them to work in Singapore and eventually settling there after wedding. Most interestingly, they shared how they are able to find a sense of home in the heart of a bustling cosmopolitan city.
On Decision to Work Abroad
Unlike many young professionals who actively seek for job opportunities abroad, Leo and LA decided to move to Singapore by chance. Prior to this, Leo was working as a Software Engineer (IT) with a BPO company in the Philippines while LA was connected with an insurance company.
They both were faring well with their work until the opportunity came to Leo when he was offered to apply in Singapore for one of the vacancies in the company where a Filipino friend was working. With uncertainties of what kind of life awaits him, he went there at his own expense and fortunately got the job.
It was almost the same story for LA: “I felt like I was having a quarter-life crisis. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I came here just to try it out.”
Like many Filipinos who take chance and try their luck abroad, LA went to Singapore first as tourist: “I came here in 2009, few months after Leo came. I toured around and then successfully applied for a work pass with the Ministry of Manpower.”
They revealed that a lot of Filipinos still do the same only that it’s much stricter now compared to how it was before.
Opportunities in Singapore
Despite being one of the smallest countries in the world, Singapore commands an enormous economic presence and a flourishing hotspot for employment. No wonder that many young professionals like Leo and LA prosper in this city together with a number of immigrants from diverse countries that make up Singapore’s multi-cultural and cosmopolitan nature of population.
Besides its organized public transportation system, one of the notable trends in Singapore is the lower taxing system among its labour force. On their personal notes, they said that “one of the things we like about Singapore is the low tax system they have compared to the Philippines. You get the whole of your salary. There are taxes but very minimal and reasonable.”
In 2011, they had their civil wedding in Singapore and later a church wedding in the Philippines. In 2012, they had their beautiful exchange of vows by the beautiful sunset of Boracay, which I was blessed to have personally witnessed.
All these were made possible by the opportunities they have in Singapore. Yet at a closer look, there’s more than just achieving their dream wedding that made Leo and LA decide to settle there for good.
Starting a Family Abroad
“Our married life now is 99% about Lek. We decided to bring him in because we wanted to personally take care of him. We wanted to see him grow. You know, days are long but the years are short,” speaking about the challenges of having a baby abroad and the importance of doing the parenting themselves.
Admittedly though, the coming of their son affected their lives and lifestyle compared to when they were still single. But they noted that the opportunity they have in Singapore affords them a better living compared to the Philippines: “It’s more competitive here. It’s very safe and very convenient. The problem is because it’s too convenient, it’s difficult to let go. If you go home to the Philippines, you don’t know if you’re going to earn the same thing. Or if you move to another country, you would have to start anew.”
Although it’s more likely for them to stay there in the next three to five years, they said that they don’t have any concrete plans beyond that just yet: “We don’t know. Of course, you will consider the type of environment where Lek will grow. That will be a major consideration.”
As for spending time with their son: “Weekend is always for Lek. We share responsibility in taking care of him. During work days, there is someone looking after him.”
A Home Away from Home
The presence of Filipino community in Singapore made it easy for Leo and LA to adjust with their new environment: “My office-mates are the same people that I worked with in the Philippines. There’s not much adjustment. It feels like it’s just in the Philippines,” Leo recalls the days when he was just starting out.
They also make sure that they spend time and stay connected with friends and get to go around the city to enjoy themselves on their free times.
Another thing that made them feel at home was attending in a Filipino church congregation in Singapore, which serves as their support group. The church always has a special place in their lives especially for them who had been actively involved in the youth and student ministry at a church in the Philippines where they met.
“We also stay connected with family through social media,” stressing out the importance of keeping a regular communication with family in the Philippines made easier by digital technology.
It seems to be an easy journey for LA and Leo, you may say. And while they are fortunate to have found good opportunities in a land far away from home, their story remains a reflection of the exodus of many Filipinos who choose to venture abroad for the hope of better prospects.
They share the same hope with countless of young professionals and couples whose only dream is to attain a better quality of life. It is the same hope that separates many families – a young mother or father – so that they can secure a better future for their children.
Wherever they are, they learn to build homes of their own so that they can stand the anxiety of separation. They find refuge and comfort in the thought that they can uplift the life of their own family so their children don’t have to go through the same fate. And as they do, they bring along with them the hope that maybe someday, just maybe, the Philippines would be a better place so they don’t have to drift away from where the real home is – in the heart of their families and loved ones.
Beyond the economic opportunities, higher standard of living and the conveniences that it can offer, there is one thing that makes Singapore and the rest of the world a home – that is the presence of Filipino spirit everywhere.
Knowing the necessary preparations and proper attitude during interview is important, but the result of your application still boils down to how well you respond to interview questions. And while you can’t anticipate what exactly are to be asked during interview, fortunately there are some standard questions that most companies use during the process.
Being familiar with the five common interview questions, coupled with serious practice, can help you become more adept and eloquent in your responses. Try these suggested pitches and see your interviewer drop his jaw if not hiring you for the job:
1. TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF. Normally, interviewers use this line to jumpstart the conversation or to break the ice. What’s difficult with this question is that it’s too broad and causes one to ramble around in finding the starting point for the introduction.
Avoid saying or repeating what is already obvious in your resume like your name, address, educational background or work experience (you will have the chance to walk through it later). Try to think outside the box and do away with uttering canned lines like that of the overused career objective: “looking for a rewarding career where you can impart your knowledge and attain professional growth.”
Suggested Pitch: Tell something interesting about you that is beyond your resume. Giving a brief description about your personality and your strongest competency can capture the interviewer’s attention and establish an impression. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned applicant, you can cite a personal story about your past experiences that maybe relevant to the job, which can set the tone of the interview and lead to a conversation.
2. WHY DO YOU WANT THIS JOB? Saying that you were just referred by a friend or bumped into the job posting but doesn’t know anything about the job is definitely not the best way to go. Sure you’re badly in need of work to augment your finances, but don’t focus only on your personal needs.
Suggested Pitch: Concretely express your personal expectations from your target career and persuade the hiring manager that their company is the kind of company you have been looking for and wanted to be in. But even more importantly, emphasize how the company can benefit from you by highlighting your competencies that can work for their advantage. Say if they need a marketing person to increase their sales, delve into your interest in people or the networks or connections you have; or your problem-solving skills in dealing with difficult situations.
3. TELL SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE. This is quite a tricky question as it can vary from different aspects of your life –personal, academic or professional. Whatever experience you want to share, be careful with your answers as it can reveal the kind of person you are, your beliefs, outlook and approach to certain situations. And try not to be emotional when spilling out your lines!
Suggested Pitch: Though the safest answer would be something about work, you can also tread on to the greatest obstacle you experienced in the past such as flunking your subject during college, shifting to another course or having to resign from your previous work. Describe the situation but don’t get yourself fixated with the problem itself. Specify the things you had done to get through it, your personal realizations and how it had made you a better person you are today. After all, we all learn by experience!
4. WHAT’S YOUR EDGE TO THE OTHER CANDIDATES? The more direct question for this would be “Why should we hire you?” Don’t try to downplay other applicants by saying things that you think they don’t have. Instead, focus more on what your uniqueness and why you deserve to be hired for the position.
Suggested Pitch: Highlight your skills and downplay your weaknesses. Review the skills requirement of the position in the advertisement and emphasize the strongest competencies you have that match with the said requirements. Cite your professional achievements, your unique work management style and the experiences you have acquired through the years.
5. HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS? This question is congruent to how long you plan to stay with the company. While companies are concerned about retention, don’t try to make a false impression by saying that you can stay there for the rest of your life (believe me, even the hiring manager doesn’t have plans to do so). Don’t even say something that can make the interviewer think that you just want to make the company a stepping stone to working abroad or for a company that’s considered their competitor, which can post a conflict of interest.
Suggested Pitch: Be honest with your plans but at a certain extent. Say something that puts the company in the picture like you plan to grow in your career and be financially stable, which you think you can attain by working with this company. Tell something about your plans for personal growth such as getting promoted to a lead position in the future and enumerate action plans you have to achieve this goal.
Remember that these are just some of the basic questions. They can be peppered with follow up questions based on your responses so always be ready. And remember to be consistent with your answers and avoid contradicting thoughts that may spark doubt from your interviewer.
You’re just at the doorstep of your dream job, so relax and let it flow. Good luck!
Many think that career only means having a decent job that requires you to wear a corporate attire, working an eight-hour shift and getting a pretty good pay that could afford you materials needs. Not so many people know that the best profession in the world are actually those whose services are priceless. And what could be more noble than a career that enables you to embrace and nurture someone else’s life?
Debbie Grace Recede-Nagma, or “Ga” to those who knew her well, dishes out the reality behind the new role she just assumed – being a full time housewife – which she paradoxically described as “being less sosyal, but not being less fulfilled.”
In our interview, she boldly shares what it takes to be a home buddy, her unspoken struggles and the sense of fulfillment she gets from performing her roles as a wife to her husband, Christopher, and as a young mother to their one-year old son, Lukas.
Her story, like those of many other women, negates the idea that being a housewife makes someone lesser. For the truth is, being a housewife is something that every woman (and man) should be proud about.
Life Before Marriage
Debbie grew up doing finance works at the church, which had become her personal inclination and ministry. Though she pursued Communication Arts degree in college, she’s always been passionate about financial matters. In fact, she had tried different jobs – from being an Executive Assistant, Secretary, a Teacher to exploring a full-time ministry as a Pastor – but still ended up doing an accounting job. She thought that her last position as Accounting/Payroll Specialist with an international hotel was the kind of career she wanted to settle in.
Not until things started to change for her. She realized that what she actually wanted for herself was to become a full-time housewife: “Whenever I reflect every morning, I thought that I didn’t want to be an employee for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to get up every morning just for the sake of going to work. So I told myself that when I marry, I wanted to be a full-time housewife.”
Debbie can’t be more thankful that she got married with Christopher, a chemical engineer, who supported her decision to be a full-time housewife.
Transitioning from a Career Woman to Full Time Housewife
Giving up your career for the sake of becoming a housewife is a serious deal. It means not only sacrificing the good promises that life can offer you as young professional, but also assuming a more serious responsibility over the life of your family and loved ones. Not to mention of the social stereotypes about being jobless.
True enough, Debbie had to go through these challenges.
After resigning from work, she had to find a way to sustain her financial obligations to her parents. Thus, she operated a small t-shirt printing business where she could get an extra income and still give occasionally to her family in the province.
Debbie also looked back to the days when she started doing her housewife duties: “I had to learn a lot of things. I became diligent by chance. I had to teach myself doing household chores and do it excellently including cooking.”
From doing accounting, she now has mastered her craft in cooking, fixing the kitchen and joyfully attending to every need of her own family – a new job description that is never covered by any form of contract.
The Joys and Struggles of Being a Housewife
Unlike the endless expectations one may have from his or her career, there are only simple things that make Debbie feel happy as a housewife: “It always feels good to be appreciated in simple ways. To be acknowledged for the food you cooked, and to be entrusted to safe-keep your finances.” She also added that while it’s physically tiring, it is always fulfilling and rewarding to carry out these roles.
But being a full time wife is never a bed of roses for her as she also has to deal with some challenges: “I cannot get into his crazy schedules. I often argue about his time,” noting the demands of Christopher’s job.
Another challenge for her was being away from her own family in Zambales since they had to move to Bataan where Christopher is working with an oil depot: “I remember during typhoon Glenda when there were only I and Lukas at home because he was needed for work. And sometimes when I or Lukas gets sick, nobody takes care of us.”
In the heart of hearts, we know that it’s not all there is in the life of a housewife. We know that they are faced with even more serious struggles.
Debbie admits that she still has a lot of things to learn. And despite all her unspoken struggles, she can only dream selflessly for her family: “You have to keep each other strong. It is important to encourage each other to grow and make sure that no one is left behind. As a mother, I also hope that our son would grow to be a good person, and to apply the values he learns from me.”
She concludes that “being a full time housewife is the hardest and challenging job on earth. Not everyone can do the job that you do. Not everyone can choose to stay at home and take care of their family. So I am privileged to be one.”
The truth is, women should have the right to decide for themselves and be afforded the same opportunities as men. And though many women choose to pursue a career and assume many roles in the society, not all have the same privilege to be a full-time housewife.
Debbie’s story is a story of all ordinary housewives and mothers out there, which the society brands as a lowly status. They may not have the highest-paying job. But theirs is the noblest of all noble professions in the world that embraces the wholeness of life and nurtures it with their love and care so that a family can grow into what God wanted it to be.
For behind every successful family, there stands a strong, wise and hard-working woman who selflessly offers and dedicates her life.