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Work Life: Age Limits

(Originally published on August 17,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

When you are young and free, your career possibilities are endless. Opportunities abound. You can experiment a bit and hopefully find a career that is best suited for you.

As you grow older, however, your choices begin to shape your career and you’ll find yourself in a set line of work. By the time you are in your late thirties, you’ve gained enough knowledge in your chosen field and you should ideally be moving upwards in your industry.

This is also the time when you would have already taken on more of life’s responsibilities. You may have gotten married and begun to have children. You may need to take care of ailing parents or other siblings. All of these are reasons why you want to work to provide well for your family.

But what if, all of a sudden, you find yourself longing for a change of career? Or what if life suddenly threw you a curveball and you find yourself out of work and in need of a new job?

You then open Manila Bulletin’s classified ads section. You look for job listings that are suitable for your knowledge and experience since you want to capitalize on what you’ve mastered in the last decade. You find a couple of job advertisements that suit you.

Good reputable company, check.

Good position, check.

Skills required, check.

Competitive compensation and benefits, check.

You’ve found your next job…but wait! It says in the job ad that the age requirement is from 25 to 35 years old. And you’ve just celebrated your 40th birthday. Bummer. You then look at other job ads and notice a similar pattern. There is an age limit specified in the job ads. You’re way above the age limit.  You then start wondering exactly what another reader questioned in this letter:

I’m an engineer by profession and I also finished EMBA. I currently work overseas for a power plant. The pay is good and knowledge advancement is great. However, I miss home and have been exploring the possibility of coming back for good. I’ve been looking at job advertisements, but I have noticed age limitations that are, well, limiting. We say that experience plays a big part in true learning, and you can acquire this through years of working as you also age. As I browsed job listings, I saw that I am qualified for most of the openings, but I always end up frustrated because of the age requirement. So I have a few questions regarding this issue: Is the age limit mandatory as a minimum requirement for all hiring companies? Does HR have an influence on this? Is this what we call “Equal Opportunity”? I hope you can enlighten me.—A Mature Engineer

My Response:

Before HR practitioners post job advertisements, they usually conduct a job analysis wherein they try to define the required skills, competencies and scope of work needed for the position. They also determine what age range and, sometimes, even the gender the manager in need of staffing prefers so that they will have a clear set of criteria for recruitment. As much as possible, HR confers with the manager on his or her preference since s/he will be the one working directly with the new hire.

Although age limitations and gender specification do not exactly reflect the ideals of  equal opportunity, which has been made into law by some first world countries, it is commonly practiced in our country for practical purposes.

From an employer’s point of view, younger employees are seen as less costly and tend to demand lower compensation because they do not have that many family obligations or medical health problems yet. They also have more years ahead, so investing in their training offers the chance for longer service time. On the other hand, some companies are also aware that older and veteran workers have more experience and knowledge. They have already been trained by their previous employers. They have first-hand practical experience and are usually more emotionally mature to handle work concerns and issues.

In the end, it really depends on the company’s culture, needs and financial capacity. Some companies have strict age requirements while others are more flexible. If they can afford to, they hire veterans for higher positions; if they cannot, they get consultants to help out and train their younger work force.

I understand how difficult it is for older people to find jobs. Usually, the older you become and the higher your position gets, the opportunities seem to get narrower. But older people still have a lot of options. You just have to go out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, and explore other ways to pursue your career.

Stay tuned for my next article to get ideas on how to conquer age limits. Meanwhile, you can read up on past articles at http://hrclubonline.blogspot.com/.

 

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or http://www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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‘Career Success: the 48 Cs’—the Little Book that Could

(Originally published on August 14,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

Confused about your career? This book may be the one you need to figure things out

By Irene V. Fernando

Whether you’re just starting to figure out what career best suits you or stuck in your work and clueless on what to do, the latest book by career coach Ed Pilapil Jr. can help you analyze your current state and inspire you to take the next step.

“Career Success: the 48 Cs” gives you 48 words that start with the letter C, all of which aim to help you make sense of your career. You might think that getting through all the 48 Cs is burdensome, but it might surprise you to find yourself turning to the last page in no time. Pilapil makes his discussions short enough to be easily read, yet packs them with insights to help you in your everyday reading.

The 48 characteristics of a successful career

The C-words are not high-fallutin terms. The first C-word he discusses, for example, is Career. Pilapil defines the difference between having a career and having a job. Most of us have a blurred definition of both terms or even have the wrong notion that either you can’t have a career different from the job you currently have or a career out of the job you have. Pilapil tells us that a career is the result of you taking that initiative to make things happen, not just because you are getting paid for it but because you want to excel in it.

Unlike some books on career that insists on following a pattern, this book gives you the prerogative to decide for yourself. It assures you that even if you have your weaknesses and limitations, you can still soar and succeed. The book doesn’t give you the step by step guide on making it big in your career; rather, it gives you the chance to evaluate yourself, your work and your life.

It’s never too late or too early

The book contains anecdotes that Pilapil sourced from his everyday readings and personal interactions. One thing that the book clearly tells us is that it’s never too early nor too late to begin mapping out one’s career. The challenge is to start now. Don’t wait for things to happen; instead, make them happen.

“Career Success: the 48 Cs” has exercises—some long, some short—posted at the end of each chapter. It’s lightweight enough to stash in your bag and take anywhere.

Don’t think that solving your career problems, though, is as easy as whipping this book out and doing the exercises. It is, after all, just a book. You still have to do your part in seeking out guidance from experts and learning from first-hand experiences.

So, take a pause and re-evaluate your life. Think about who you are and identify your passions. “You are the master of your ship,” goes that saying; yet you will need all the help you can get to sail through the waves. This book can be one of those tools.

“Career Success: the 48 Cs” by Ed Pilapil, Jr. is now available at Fully Booked and National Bookstore for Php198.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

 

Back to School with Omnicom

(Originally published on Wednesday, July 10, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

The Omnicom Media Group (OMG) Philippines resumed its “U@OMG” classes earlier this month. This is the third consecutive year that the agency, known for its insight driven and pioneering business solutions (through its media outlets, OMD and PHD), opened its doors to a new batch of hopefuls, who have the makings demanded of a successful career in advertising.  Initiated back in 2009, U@OMG was the brainchild of the company’s  CEO and President, Hermie de Leon, who envisioned it to be an in-house scholastic mechanism anchored on the principle of continuous education, wherein promising young talents are instructed, rigorously trained, and immersed into the insides and depths of the media industry.

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TELUS International Philippines Invites Sitti to Talk on Musical Career

(Originally published on Sunday, July 3, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

Successful bossa nova singer Sitti Navarro shares her life as an artist in a talk organized by TELUS International Philippines’ (TIP) music club at the TELUS office in Market! Market!

The music club is one of TIP’s several special interest groups, part of TIP’s efforts in initiating a “career first culture.” The special interest groups are organized and managed by TIP team members to develop and explore their talents and get to know other members from different departments. Other groups include the photography club, entrepreneurship, gaming, dance, fashion, movie, socio-civic, Magic: The Gathering and cooking clubs.

According to TIP president Javier Infante, providing variety in terms of benefits and potential career paths in the outsourcing industry is something TIP included in its corporate culture early on. “We invest in building a highly differentiated corporate culture that includes strategies that help team members find meaning and have fun at work. We know that work in the industry can be routine. There is high potential for burn-out for call center agents, so we ensure our activities are engaging.”

The music club’s career talk was attended by TIP team members, club and non-club members alike. The activity featured Sitti, the country’s queen of bossa nova who shared her passion for music and gave insightful pointers on how to make it big in the music industry.

“Everyone was excited about the activity,” stated TIP vice president for human resources Cris Rosenthal. “Most of the attendees came from their shifts the night before. You can see the enthusiasm—instead of heading home, they spent a few more hours in the office to listen to Sitti as she shared her experiences.”

Sitti had kind words to say after her talk at TIP which she posted in her Twitter account: “Thank you to the beautiful people of TELUS for having me earlier! I had a fun time and I hope that they all did too. I wanna say I was inspiring but I’m not really sure I was! But I had a great time. Remember, you call center agents are the new heroes of today’s economy!”

 

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Making Creativity Work for You

(Originally published on June 26,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

Renowned event designer Preston Bailey shares tips for those looking into a career in event design

 

By Irene V. Fernando

For someone who entered the industry of event designing by mistake, Preston Bailey must have done something right. Today, he is one of the favorite event stylists ofHollywood’s big names: Oprah, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Joan Rivers and Uma Thurman, among others. He has written best-selling books like “Design for Entertaining,” “Fantasy Weddings,” “Inspirations”, and his latest, “Celebrations” will be on the stands this September.

Bailey visited the country to discuss what makes an event design successful during Rita Neri Planners (RNEP)’s 18th year celebration in the event planning industry. The anniversary also showcased wedding table settings presented at the Upper Lobby of Peninsula Manila from May 29 to 30 by the country’s major wedding magazines.

A Career Out of Unemployment

Bailey left his hometown ofPanamaat the age of 19 and moved toNew York, where he started his career as a fashion model before opening a man’s clothing boutique. When his store closed down, he ventured into floral arrangements before finally meeting Joan Rivers, who asked him to design and produce her daughter Melissa’s wedding. Soon enough,Preston’s talent for event design became the talk of the town, with his works often referred to as art installations. He has been known to transform ordinary spaces into theatrical environments, much to his clients’ amazement.

With his profession relying heavily on creativity, one wonders if he has no problems dealing with the business side. “It’s not easy,” he says, “I have my own people. I design, get to know my clients. Once they talk about money, I let them talk to my Chief Financial Officer (CFO).”

Event Design as a Career

When asked what striving event designers should bear in mind in pursuing this profession, Bailey was quick to enumerate the following: “1) Develop your own look; 2) Learn how to charge your clients; 3) Do not give up; and 4) Continue growing.”

For one, Bailey loves an enormous first impression. He once designed elephants from lotus leaves and 10-foot lions from roses. His designs allow his clients’ fantasies to become jaw-dropping reality.

In charging clients, Bailey discussed in his blog the few ways to prevent being cash poor:

You must always keep in mind the three key things you’re selling to potential clients:

1. Your time. Time is money. Our time is our most valuable commodity.

2. Your ideas. As much as I want to get clients excited about what I can do for them, my ideas are my product. I know that I can’t give all of my ideas away in the very first meeting before they’ve made it clear they want to give me the job. Some potential clients expect personal design ideas right there in the first meeting, but the danger of this is that they could take that idea and hire someone else to do it.

3. Your materials. If you give a presentation to potential clients, you will be using your own cash to do so. Therefore, if a client insists on seeing any flowers or other design elements before hiring you, make sure you charge them for it.

And for those looking into starting their own business, Bailey also lists a few pointers on how to keep your business afloat:

1. Do your very best to build a financial nest egg. What does this mean exactly? It means having a savings account worth 30 percent of your annual income or as close to that as you can manage.

2. Every three months, sit down and evaluate your financial situation. Yes, I know, this is not fun, and it can be extremely hard to face the reality of your finances. But ignore them, and you’ll eventually be forced to face the consequences. Trust me, that hurts a lot more. Once you have a clear understanding of your current finances, make a projection. What jobs do you have? What jobs do you think you have a good chance of getting? Do you need to start increasing your sales efforts? Answer these questions honestly. Now is not the time to kid yourself. Use this newfound awareness to keep you grounded and help you make smart money decisions in the coming months.

3. When clients give you a deposit, never use that money for anything other than their project. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a game of stealing from Peter to pay Paul.

4. Be consistent with your profit margin. If you’re not making the proper profit, which is 50 percent, then you’ll mostly likely always be cash poor. You must learn to charge what you’re worth, because there are a lot of expenses and a lot of people you to need pay at the end of every job.

5. Don’t forget Uncle Sam! You work for yourself, which means no one is taking money out of your paycheck to cover taxes. You must set aside money for taxes in a separate account. Never, and I mean never, use this money for anything other than taxes.

While Bailey admits he does not live for dealing with money, he knows that he needs it and that he has learned that it is still part of his job of planning and designing to pay close attention to his finances. “Please learn from my mistakes,” he says, “be financially savvy, and you’ll get to keep doing what you love for decades to come.”

Lastly, Bailey encourages everyone to never stop learning. “I get to travel a lot that I learned a lot,” he shares, “I try to spend much time in the area, pay attention, (and) understand the culture. This way, you’ll also discover that every culture has different needs, and every client has varied tastes.”

To get more of Preston Bailey’s advice, visit http://www.blog.prestonbailey.com.

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Biz Maker: How I Learned To Manage People

(Originally published on Sunday, July 18, 2010)

By MARK SO

In my earlier years, I never really thought of myself as a manager of people; truth be told I never really understood how important managing people really was until I became an entrepreneur. And even when I embraced entrepreneurship full time, I made many, many mistakes in this field which taught me huge lessons not just in business but also in life.

You see, back in the day as an inexperienced entrepreneur, I thought that people management was simple: “If you want your business to succeed, you must hire people who have the background to run your business for you.” Little did I know that those thoughts were the most devastating thoughts ever to cross my mind. Why? Because no matter how good the people you hire, or how much money you offer them, the truth is, no one can ever run your business better than you.

I learned the hard way that being a business owner did not mean that you hired people to think for you and run the day to day operations for you; it meant that you needed to first know what you really want your business to become, and to do that, you need to be employee number 1. Because, remember Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it usually will. And if you are not there to steer the business clear of problems, you should never expect employee number 2, 3, or 4 to do it better than you.

The greatest mistake I made with my first business was to hire a general manager and her managers (employees 2, 3, and 4) to run the business. I was still working for a big multinational company back then and subscribed to the excuse, “I’m too busy to handle my own business.” So I relied on the salaries that I was paying my people to make them grow my business, solve problems, and make me rich.

Of course, reality is never that easy. Because people that you pay but do not manage usually result in these people taking their salaries and ending up making excuses for why things didn’t go as planned.

(To read more about my problems with my first business and how I solved them, go to my blog, www.markso.wordpress.com and search for “Business and the start of a beautiful relationship, parts 1 to 3.”)

In hindsight, I realized that my biggest mistake was that I “abdicated” instead of “delegated.” Abdication is what happens when you are not there to guide people and as a result fail to fulfill your responsibility as the founder of the business. Delegation is when you slowly give some responsibility to the people you hire so that they can eventually do the work for you over time. Take note, the operative words here are “slowly” and “over time.”

So in my next business, I tried “delegating.” I was more hands-on in the business, but there were still big glaring problems. The biggest problem of all was my attitude. I was either too nice, or too strict, or too tyrannical, or all of the above. So as you can imagine, some of my people were complaining behind my back. I wasn’t consistent in my approach and my moods got the best of me, because—and this is not an excuse—as an entrepreneur you are faced with an extreme amount of stress on a daily basis.

So how did I learn to manage my people better? Well, three things.

First I had to learn to be better than the normal guy. As an entrepreneur, you will really face a lot of hard and stressful times but even during those times, I had to learn how to become more “presidential,” which meant I needed to stop being dramatic, and to learn to act from my head and not from my heart. It wasn’t easy, but I (with my wife) realized that the solution to achieving this was to slowly and painstakingly build a system to address the needs of our people. This is where my wife Jhoanna really excelled; she built our human resource system almost single-handedly. It did not just address the concerns of our people but also replaced impulsiveness and drama with solid procedures for addressing our people’s problems.

Second, and simultaneously, I had to weed out the bad apples in the bunch. You see I believe that the business owner has to do his/her part in becoming better at managing people, but the people themselves must be willing to be honed to become even better for the sake of the business. Unfortunately there are those who just do not have the right attitude and the only answer is to remove them from the equation.

Once I cleared the ranks, replacing them with better people was the next task, and to do this, we created criteria for hiring people, and these criteria were the most important of all as they helped us hire those who believed in what the business wanted to achieve. This unified belief is what bonded our people together to act as one with the business owners themselves. Without this bond, you can never really build a team with a common purpose.

Third, and finally, I realized that the first two things will not matter at all if I did not show them exactly what it was that the business wanted to achieve. So the last and final ingredient of how I learned how to manage people was to lead by example. I am employee number 1 and as such I must show the rest of the team how to do it the first time, the second time, the third time…until they can do it on their own. Today, I can honestly say that I have come a long way when it comes to managing people. Today I can honestly say that my wife and I are better managers of people.

About the Author: Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader, marketer, sales consultant, and educator. He is the chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy, a business, finance and corporate training center. He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila. Mr. So is slated to conduct his “7 Point Formula Seminar” on July 31, 2010. If you are interested in attending this seminar, email Mark directly at markso@zerocapitalclub.com. To read more of Mark’s interesting and life- enriching articles you can go to his blog at http://www.markso.wordpress.com.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Mark So. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Biz Maker: The Tale of Two Salespersons (Part 3, Conclusion)

(Originally published on Sunday, June 20, 2010)

By MARK SO

Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog for Part 1 and 2. For those of you who have not yet read those, please go to http://www.markso.wordpress.com.

In Part 2 of my blog, I wrote that 25% of the commenters were undecided as to whether they were Yin or Yang salespersons, and about 2% of this group (a very small number) felt that a great salesperson should be a balance of both. I totally agree: Yangs must learn from the Yins, and likewise, Yins must learn from Yangs but honestly, it is easier said than done.

Just learning skills from each other and developing these would be the obvious way to reach a balance, but I believe that having a deeper understanding of sales is the real answer.

So here I will explain that being a great salesperson is NOT just about developing a skill or transforming yourself from Yin to Yang or vice versa. Instead, evolving as a salesperson is simpler than you think.

Let’s begin. In my sales and marketing seminars, I ask my students what their motivation for selling is. Can you guess what their three main answers are? They were: 1. money; 2. recognition; and 3. more money.

To which I say, “That’s very honest of all of you, but you see, you don’t need to sell to get money and recognition. You can inherit wealth (money), or you can learn to Invest and grow your money. You can invent a new gadget or write an article for a newspaper for recognition. In other words, what you mention are motivations, but not really motivations to make you sell better.”

And the room gets very quiet. So I continue, “You see the best salespeople in the world, whether Yin or Yang, are motivated by only two things when they start selling. They are: 1. excited and motivated by the product itself; and 2. They absolutely care about the people that they sell to, their customers.”

You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Believe In

My wife Jhoanna is, as I mentioned earlier, a Super Yin; she absolutely gets freaked out when she needs to do the selling herself, but not when it comes to our seminars and our real estate properties.

Jhoanna absolutely believes in practical education; she has read self-help and how-to books all her life and has become a maven of information. The seminars we hold at Businessmaker Academy are the product of her beliefs (and mine, of course); she is very proud of them and is willing to sell them to anyone who inquires about them. When she is in the office and she answers a phone call inquiring about any of our seminars, her face lights up and she can sell very naturally and easily. (She closes 99% of them!)

The same goes for real estate; yes, she loves real estate. In fact, ever since she was seven years old, she would regularly encircle with a red marker the properties for rent or sale in the Classifieds section of the Manila Bulletin and ask her parents to call and inquire how much it was. She would even insist on going with her family every Sunday to see some of the properties they owned at that time. She was and still is obsessed with real estate, so when one of our condominium units was turned over to us, she was able to rent it out on the first day we opened the door (I am not exaggerating). This is the power of believing in your product.

You Should Not Sell If You Do Not Care For the People You Sell To

Notice that I said “should not,” and not “cannot” because you can sell to people you don’t care about, but your customers will know that you are not selling for their benefit but for yours only. This is the other must-have ingredient when it comes to selling very well. You must love your customers for you to be able to gain their trust and their loyalty. It is very hard to fake sincerity, and without sincerity, there can never be trust. If the customer trusts you, the customer will buy from you; it’s that simple.

I really care about my customers, and they know it. It is not about what I say; it is about what I do that makes my customers understand that my businesses and I are here for them. In my seminars I tell my students that I am sincerely excited to be here today to teach them, and indeed I am excited and thrilled. I always am, because at the end of the day, I love the feeling of being able to help, inspire, and provide a means for a better life for all of them.

After my seminars, they come up to me and say “thank you” and the next time they come over, I shake their hands and ask about their families or how their startup business is doing, I mention the details of our meeting several weeks ago and they are surprised that I remembered. These small things, these sincere things that I do over time, show my customers that I care.

But I go several steps further. I don’t just sell to my customers, I build businesses around them to provide them with what they need. And my customers gladly buy almost any product that I offer them because: one, I believe in and trust the product that I’m selling, and two, all my long-time customers know I am selling something that I believe can be used for their best interests.

I am not perfect, and neither is my wife, but in my examples above, Jhoanna and I, together with our growing businesses, continue to strive to be better salespeople using these two very simple truths in selling. I hope it will help you too in your quest to be even better as a salesperson now and in the future. Good luck and God bless!

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Mark So. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

In the Business of Hospitality

Who says jobs in the tourism industry are limited to tour guides and translators?

Not Department of Tourism (DoT) Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, OIC for Tourism Promotions Sector and OIC for Planning, Product Development and Coordination Sector, who says, “There is no better time to be in the industry than now. I can’t imagine of any other industry that has so many opportunities and within that industry you can move from one place to the other; we have people starting as reservation clerks and in the end they end up in the PR department. It is a (growing) industry, so it cannot fail. If you know your calling, grab it now and go for it.”

Jarque says passion is necessary for any career, particularly one in tourism. Without it, he says, no amount of preparation will help. Having your heart set on a career in tourism also makes things easier. He urges those looking for a career to consider tourism as “Opportunities are everywhere.” Jarque reveals an interesting problem: tourism has many jobs unfilled because people don’t know of the vast range of opportunities available in the field. One problem may be the misconceptions about jobs in the industry. “(We tend to say), ‘tour guide ka lang (you’re just a tour guide)’ (even though) abroad, (it’s) a profession.”

To upgrade the quality of professionals in the industry, Jarque was among those who started the Mabuhay Guide program, in which applicants must pass screenings by panels and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), and learn under industry experts and national artists. The DoT is gearing up to train another batch soon. So are there opportunities in the tourism industry for those who didn’t finish their studies? Of course, Jarque says. You just “have to have the right attitude and you have to love people. First, you have to know yourself, your capabilities, and all that. (Opportunities) are everywhere. Come to the DoT; we can give you a list of hotels, tour operators, the shipping lines.” You can also keep your eyes open by looking for listings in the classified ads, he adds. “But you must realize that travel and tourism is not all glamour. It’s hard work, it’s 24/7.”

“When you love your job, you’ll never have worked a single day in your life. At this stage of my life, I still look forward to the mornings, dying to come to work,” Jarque says. “But when it’s work, it’s work. They can call you any time of day,” especially if there is an emergency. Don’t expect an 8-5 job in tourism because it’s a calling,” he adds.

What about career shifters? Jarque has good news for them too; he tells the story of a butler at a hotel in Boracay who was a medical representative who knew nothing of the hotel industry. But, “He was willing to be trained; so he trained. Now, he is one of the most popular butlers in (his hotel).”

Attitude is key, regardless of where you are in your professional life. But Jarque cautions, “Don’t go (into tourism) for the wrong reasons. You have to study yourself. And if you think you got it, go for it. And it’s never too late to start anything. Some people that I have known who are in their autumn years of their lives are into travel writing now. You can really shift. There are so many facets now of travel. It’s a way of life.” Jarque believes that traveling is a way of expanding horizons, and those in the later years of their lives can make the best tourism professionals. “There is no age limitation for tourism jobs. You can be a tour guide. The best tour guides we’ve had are the people who have lived life, who have seen the world, and they have read so much. People love having those tour guides.”

Even better, a person can create his or her own opportunities in tourism. “Even people who are obsessed with their bodies, they end up as lifeguards. People who surf all their lives – some people call it a bum, but no, they call it a way of life…you just bring yourself to surf destinations and you can become a teacher. You just have to look for (an opportunity) and make something good out of it; (this is always) possible in the industry. It’s within us, to take care of others. We take care of people because we want the tourist to come here, stay longer, and spend more to keep the tourism industry going. And you just to be an important part of the picture. The tourists (we take care of) should not be limited to international travels. We are tourists of our own country. Everybody is travelling now.”

Confidence plays a role in choosing a career in tourism. Jarque advises, “You have to know your value, and then you have to go for it. Knock on doors. They will see through you (especially if you have) what it takes. Don’t overplan. You just have to be honest to yourself: Is this for me? You have to make sacrifices. Some people do a fantastic job of juggling family and career, especially the ladies. They have mastered it. So there is no reason that we’ll be running out of [job opportunities]. [Tourism] is the biggest industry in the world. And with our proficiency in the English language, we should be able to work here and outside [the country].”

You’d be surprised at the fields that involve tourism in the Philippines: medicine, dentistry, and cosmetic procedures cater to tourists, as do English language schools. Jarque says, “We wish there are more qualified tour guides. We wish there are more qualified taxi drivers; we hold seminars here for taxi drivers, (teaching them) how to be friendly with tourists. You just have to have a little bit of imagination, creativity, innovativeness, adaptability…all these things.” (C. F. Bobis)

For more information, visit the DoT website at http://www.wowphilippines.com.ph; to find out about their training programs, click on the “Business and Investments” header then on the “Tourism Training” link.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C. F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Classified Cubicle: Choosing Your Direction – The Importance of Career Paths

(Originally published on Sunday, May 9, 2010)

Career advice from those who know careers best

By C. F. Bobis

Too often fresh graduates overlook a valuable resource offered for free in their schools: the career counseling office. Rather than being a place where one goes when one is disciplined for various offenses, counseling offices in universities offer services that allow students and in some cases, even alumni, to find out if they’re on the right path when it comes to a career.

Far Eastern University’s Counseling and Career Office Director Christine “Chit” Vicencio sat down recently with the Classifieds to talk about what career counseling is and how it can help a fresh graduate. In essence, career counseling delves into an individual’s strengths, interests, abilities, and aptitudes, balancing these against his or her various liabilities in terms of aptitudes, interests, and abilities. Typical career counselors have a background in psychology, particularly vocational and/or industrial or organizational psychology, and are trained to use and interpret various assessment tests on someone who approaches them for career counseling.

Aside from willingness to listen and the ability to remember the details of a person’s case, what makes a good career counselor? “It is always the passion, to make sure that you are guiding your student on the right career path. You can’t be a career counselor by just listening. You have to have materials (assessment tests and the like) to support and to validate that ‘this is you, this is your personality, this is your interest, if it’s going to work out if you try your passion,” Vicencio says.

What is the importance of career counseling to a jobseeker? “When we talk about career counseling, we talk about career ‘pathing’,” Vicencio explains. And this begins as early as when a student chooses a college course. “At the start, (when students are) freshmen, we have to make sure that the personality of the student and the course s/he are taking match. There is such a thing as a ‘mismatch’. The reason why a lot of students are not successful in their field of work is there is a mismatch.” Such a mismatch can lead to a graduate being unable to stick to a job after graduation.

Well-meaning parents can sometimes contribute to the tragedy by forcing offspring into ‘vogue’ courses such as nursing. The danger of choosing a course that is currently popular is that its popularity will eventually wane; ISD president and founder Levi de Mesa, in an earlier interview with the Classifieds, pointed out how the deployment of nurses abroad has slowed down as a result of economic crises in countries that used to hire nurses in droves. Vicencio cautions parents to stop pushing children into jobs they do not love, as she believes this can set up a child for professional failure.

She’s got support from many experts; various Classifieds columnists and interviewees from top corporations both here and abroad agree that if a person only has a job, that person won’t succeed. A career that’s a person’s life choice often sets people on the road to success and personal and professional contentment. Vicencio explains, “When you say ‘life choice’, it’s your passion. You put your heart, your mind (into it). And when you say it’s your career, career and my life, it’s just one. When you say job, it’s about (what’s) monetary. (When you say) ‘I have a job,’ (you mean) ‘I have to earn money to support my parents, my family, or my lifestyle.’ But when you say ‘I have a career,’ [what you’re really saying is) it’s your life. That’s why every time I introduce myself, I say ‘I am a guidance counselor’ because this is my career, this is me.”

Why should students take advantage of career counseling services in school? “It is important for them to know if they are doing the right thing,” she says, comparing career counseling to consulting a doctor about an ailment in order to be guided towards informed choices.

How then can a student or a fresh graduate get started on a career? Vicencio says good resumes are the key. Then send the resume out. “People don’t know you, and if you want to have a career, even if you are passionate about it, if you’re not going to send out your CV, it’s nothing.”

Then she cautions jobseekers to present themselves well during job interviews, and to quit the games. “(In) HR, we know if people are bluffing, if they are just playing with us, even (if the cues are) non-verbal. We can identify right away if the jobseeker is going to be successful in our company, if s/he is passionate (about) getting the job. (We look at their) line of questioning, if (they are) attentive, the eye contact, (the) body language. Those are the important things to consider.” Finally, doing research on the company is non-negotiable. That way, a jobseeker can “ask the right questions.”

She also lists the mistakes jobseekers often commit: Acting bored during an interview. Showing up for an interview when sleepy. Bad dressing. Bad behavior.

Vicencio has a word of caution for graduates who grab high paying jobs for the monetary rewards, saying that while such jobs are tempting, the time to ‘pay the piper’ always comes. “If it’s not your interest or passion and you are just doing it for the money, you give yourself five years (then figure out what you want to do, to stay or move on).”

Her office also handles teaching students financial management. “It is important to understand investment and handling money because if you are in (for example) the call center (industry) and you don’t have an idea of what investments are, you are going to spend your money.

She shares some tips for fresh graduates on blending in with the existing workforce on their first job, especially if everyone else is older: “You just have to blend in. (If they talk) you have  to listen to what they are saying because those things will help you in the future (as these are their) experiences. Sometimes they talk about marriage, family…they will help you, so it is important that you listen. As long as it’s not violating your rights, your values, then I don’t think there is a problem. You have to adjust and listen to their pieces of advice, see if it’s going to help you, most especially in your career. But if it’s not, then you don’t have to (listen).”

Conversely she also has advice for forty-something jobseekers who are competing against fresh grads. “I always say you have to prepare for the job just like the fresh grad. Prepare a good resume. Don’t be boastful. You have to look at your objective. ‘Why am I applying for this position? Is it for the money to support my family or this is like a second career for me?’ I suggest that you think of the way fresh grads present themselves (and tailor your job search accordingly).”

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C. F. Bobis 2010. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Work Life: Reader Helpline

(Originally published on Wednesday, April 28, 2010)

By JHOANNA O. GAN-SO

Questions about your work life, answered here

Thanks for the letters that you’ve been send­ing. As a columnist and HR advocate, it is my pleasure and honor to help you on your journey towards finding and pursuing re­warding careers. Here are excerpts from letters and emails some read­ers have sent, and the answers to their questions.

Rejoining the Workforce After a Break

Q: Hi, I’m an avid reader of the MB Classifieds. I have a question to ask: I’ve been a housewife for 2 years since my last employment in 2006-2007 and I’m planning to look for a job this year, but I don’t know how to list references in my resume because I’m not sure if my previous colleagues can still remember me and if they are still connected with the company right now. What refer­ences can I provide in my resume?

Thanks,

J. Sunga

TO J. SUNGA: First of all, let me congratulate you for deciding to rejoin the workforce, and I wish you luck with your future career. Since you have been away from the scene, I know you are a little ner­vous but excited. Don’t worry; you will get back in the groove of things soon enough and the best way to start is to try to contact your last employer.

Contact the last company you worked for and ask the Human Re­source Department to issue you a Certificate of Employment, as some recruiters require this. While you are at it, ask HR if your previous boss and colleagues are still around. If they are, then you can talk to them, see how they are doing, and ask if you can add them as reference in your resume. In case they are no lon­ger connected with the company and you’ve lost contact with them, try searching in social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Multiply, Linked In) and reestablish your connection.

You may also put as references professionals you are associated or have worked with, even from social or religious groups—as long as they are willing to vouch for your charac­ter and work ethics.

Meanwhile, if you are in a hurry in sending out resumes, you can simply put “Reference available upon request” while you are still reestablishing connections.

FINDING THE RIGHT CAREER

Q: Good day! I am a graphics designer and an avid reader of the Classified Wednesday, especially your column. It’s interesting and a source of very useful informa­tion and inspiration. I have started following your column since Oct. 2009…

Thank you so much for publish­ing the Best Careers in Marketing.

Now, I know where I properly belong—a marketing specialist in graphics design.

I like the “general name” because it has an appeal. In my opinion, the graphics design industry here is ‘low’…which I think, should not be the case.

Sincerely yours,

V. Remigio

TO V. REMIGIO: Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts. I am glad that my three-part article helped clarify certain things about job position, titles, and fields in Marketing.

As you may have already discov­ered, many companies prefer to hire generalists—marketing people who can multitask and do different func­tions. But it’s a big plus if the person has knock-out graphics design skills. So keep on honing your craft. It is a skill that you can take with you forever, whatever industry, business, or career you may be in.

Do keep on reading and sharing your thoughts. It is most welcome.

CONFUSED OVER CAREER PATH

Can you give me advice? I’m a college graduate, major in manage­ment. After that, I took up my MBA, but I’m not yet finished as I have yet to complete my thesis. Then I de­cided to look for work in Manila and ended up as a courier at an inter­national courier company. What do you think… am I on the right track in my career? What possible options do I have, since I am already in the logistics industry? Do you think I should focus in improving my skills in supply chain management? Should I take short term courses? Do I have a future in my present job right now? I’m already 27 years old, turning 28 this May. Could you please discuss career prospects in supply chain solutions management?

Sincerely yours,

“Mr. Confused”

TO MR. CONFUSED: Some­times, confusion, chaos, and dilem­mas are blessings in disguise as these push us to take a moment to reflect and refocus our work life.

I sincerely wish I had a crystal ball to tell you what the future of your career will be, but since I do not have one, allow me to give you a series of assignments to help shed some light into your current dilemma.

First, you have to ask yourself some soul-searching questions about what you really want and how you see yourself in the future.

Second, consult your HR de­partment. HR people are usually very accommodating and they can provide information on career paths and help you develop yourself pro­fessionally through leadership and skills enhancement programs that your company may already have in place.

Third, you can do research about the logistics industry and supply chain solutions management over the internet and even with the help of your HR department. What you have to look into is the job description for a supply chain manager, if that is what interests you. Check out the skills and qualifications that are required for that career and develop them accordingly by learning from supply chain managers in your company, reading, and attending seminars.

Lastly, talk to your boss or some­one who has influence over promo­tions. Ask what you can do to get to the next level or volunteer for com­pany projects so that you can develop leadership skills and be noticed.

Use your confusion and dilemma as catalysts for change and progress in your life. You have taken the first steps to improving your life by ask­ing questions, so continue on. Good luck to you!

To our letter senders, I hope my tips and answers will guide you in finding and succeeding in your ca­reers, as well as help others who may be going through the same experi­ences and issues. Good luck to you all and have a great work-life!

Cheers,

Jhoanna

About the Author: JHOANNA O. GAN-SO is president of Businessmaker Academy and the manag­ing director for HR Club Philippines. Her company conducts seminars on Business Management, Human Resource, Sales and Marketing Courses. They recently launched the Instant HR Toolkit, a ser­vice that provides HR practitioners with over 100 ready-to-use downloadable, customizable, and printable HR manuals, contract, letters forms and templates. To know more about the HR seminars they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or call (632)6874645. To know more about the Instant HR Toolkit and the HR club, visit http://www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may email comments and questions to mbworklifeATgmail.com.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Jhoanna Gan-So 2010. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

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