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Success Wizard: Control Bad Spending Habits Now

(Originally published on August 24,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jordan Patente

My mother moved to a new address recently. She had to organize a lot of things before moving to the new house, and the most challenging part of moving was transporting all her knickknacks. I saw a lot of unused items still in their original packaging. These are pieces that do not fit her lifestyle and just occupy space in her house. Summing up the cost of all those items, she could have already bought a brand new bed.

Most of us complain about not having enough resources to fund our lifestyles. But if we look closely at our expenses, we’ll find that we’ve been investing in a lot on things we don’t need. Not a lot of us are aware of our spending habits.

Who doesn’t love red-hot specials? I know friends who mark their calendars to anticipate the big event. Some prepare their credit cards and borrow money, while others purchase items they feel are badly needed at that time.

There are thousands of good deals out there and if you are not strong enough to turn down temptations, you’ll be an impulsive buyer. I know colleagues who enjoy shopping so much that they let expenses control their lives.

Who said your earning is not enough for you to meet both ends? Who said the amount of money that comes in is more important than what you’re saving? I know a lot of employees who earn well and spend bigger than what they earn every month. Regardless of your earning capacity, how you deal with money defines your present and your future.

Below are some of the tips that you could use to control bad spending habits and start saving:

Make a list and stick to it. You have to be organized when shopping. Create a list and religiously follow it. This will help you avoid unnecessary purchases. The list is created to identify items that you need, and if it’s not in there, then it is unnecessary.

Follow a mandatory waiting period. When you see something you’d like to buy, rather than buying it on the spot, force yourself to think about it for a week. We normally want something with so much emotion the first time we see it, but think—do you really need it? After a week, you will realize if it’s a must-buy, or forget about it altogether.

Avoid shopping on payday. Most people feel richer on payday and are more vulnerable to frivolous purchases. Set a working budget first before you go shopping. This will set a limit to your spending so make sure you stick to it.

Pay in cash. Numerous studies have shown that when people pay in cash rather than their credit card, they tend to spend less. This is because using cash makes spending more real, and the money harder to part with. If you still opt to use your card, every time you use it, set aside your cash payment or pay your provider the day after.

Wait for second-generation gadgets. When it comes to buying the latest high tech gadgets, it makes sense to wait. Most technology decreases in price after it is initially released. Later versions usually have fewer bugs and better capability. Most of your current gadgets have all the functions you desire, so think wisely if you need a new one or just save the money for better use.

Set and focus on your goals. Knowing what’s important to you and what you really want to achieve with your money will help distract you from short-term wants.

Always begin with an end in mind. If discipline and control over your spending is a must to achieve your greater goals, do it. Saving and achieving your goals are just the effect of good money management. What you learn from the process is priceless and will give you boundless opportunities in return. Bigger goals, once achieved, will help finance your wants in the near future. For now, maximize your hard earned money by multiplying your fortune, not your liabilities.

These are some of the benefits that you’ll get when you follow these tips: you’ll see your savings grow, you’ll feel great pride in controlling your spending, and saving will become second nature.

 

Jordan Willy Patente is the president of Dynamic Empowerment Philippines and has been a success coach for five years. He has also conducted motivational talks and directed musical and theatrical productions.

 

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

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.

 

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

 

Work Life: Ten Characteristics of Great Employers

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

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

In my last column, I wrote about “Ten Characteristics of Star Employees.”  This time, I’d like to explore the flip side and discuss what makes great employers.

See, your happiness and contentment in the workplace is directly affected by how the you work for company is run. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the salary that people look at when they choose employers. Money is not the end-all and be-all of job satisfaction. So if you want to be part of a great company, aspire to find or even help develop these 10 characteristics in your workplace:

1. They have a clear vision. Great employers have direction. Their leaders have a clear picture of what they want their company to stand for and where they want to go. We’re talking here about full enculturation of the company’s vision, mission and values that employees live by as guiding principles. It’s not just about putting a mission statement in a frame and hanging it on the wall. It’s about building a culture that employees are proud of and can easily identify with on a daily basis.

2 . They have a good recruitment process. Great employers know that top notch employees equal an excellent company. So they establish recruitment systems that are

designed to get the crème of the crop, not the bottom of the barrel. They seek out people who are skilled with the right attitude to fill in key positions in their company. They

are organized in their recruitment efforts and have done the necessary homework for finding competent employees.

3. They have adequate compensation and benefits programs. Once they’ve hired their employees, great employers are able to keep them longer because they provide not just competitive salaries, but also benefits and perks. These benefits may include essentials from healthcare and allowances for uniforms or food, to fun stuff like workshops and outings, to cool perks like transportation assistance and mobile phone loads.

4. They train their people. Great employers also ensure that each employee grows professionally by providing training to help enhance their capabilities. As soon as an employee is hired, they are given an orientation. Then as they settle into their jobs, they are provided on-the-job training. This is also followed up by seminars, workshops and learning materials that will help employees develop further.

5. They monitor their people’s performance. After all the training, great employers make sure that their employees are able to apply what they have learned. This is done by continuously monitoring performance. Managers and supervisors constantly look at how their subordinates are doing. They provide guidance and immediate feedback. Then this is followed up by regular performance evaluations that are documented by the company’s HR people.

6. They recognize and reward good performance. The reason why performance is monitored is so that the company can reward the good ones and correct those that need improvement. To encourage and motivate employees, great companies provide rewards and incentives. This could range from simple treats and tokens to elaborate programs like “employee of the month” recognitions and sales target bonuses with gifts like gadgets and trips abroad.

7. They equip their people with tools that help them work better and faster. If you want to double or triple your team’s performance, it is important to equip them with the right tools and equipment. Great employers understand this, s o they make sure that their people are given the best software and hardware. More importantly, they are trained to maximize them. They understand the tennet that, “When you give a man the tools and know-how, you can step back and see the ingenuity that may come after.”

8. They have safe and conducive work environments. Great employers understand that a person’s environment affects his or her moods. So they take care to provide a workplace that’s conducive and safe for work. You can easily determine if a company is great or not by how clean and well-maintained the place is. So gather those waste baskets and purge unimportant items, clear your desks and organize! A clean work station will improve your mood and make you work better for a great company.

9. They care about their people. Great employers are able to provide programs that ensure their employees are well-taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually. The company has heart and they show it to their people with kind words, caring leaders, firm and constant guidance. They understand that “when you care for your people, your people will take care of the company.”

10. They develop leaders. Lastly, great employees develop leaders. They encourage initiative and innovation. They allow their employees to shine and provide opportunities for star performers to develop themselves as leaders. From the group of star performers, they choose and hone select people to lead the company to greater heights. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a perfect company. Great employers are simply built by the people who work for them. If you want to work for a great company, it is in your hands to make your company a great and happy place to work in.

If you are looking for a job, seek to find a company that has these qualities. If you are already employed, make your company a great place to work in. If you have influence in your company, seek to develop these characteristics to make your company great and reap the rewards of a happy and productive workplace!

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) 687-4645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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

Work Life: Ten Characteristics of Star Employees

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

 

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

In the workplace, there will always be star employees who shine. These people are well-liked by their bosses. They reach their targets and accomplish notable achievements. They are star performers, which is why they get promoted faster than the rest of the staff. It’s pretty cool to be a star employee. So let’s all aspire to be one.

If you are currently employed, I’d like you to take a good look at yourself. From a scale of one to 10, 10 being the highest, how would you rate your general work performance? If you were your boss, would you point to yourself as a star employee?

If your answer is yes, then keep up the good work. Kudos to you! But if you are not quite there yet and would like to become one, let’s take a look at the qualities that separates star employees from the ordinary ones.

1. They are always present. Star Employees are always present physically, mentally and emotionally. This means that they have good attendance records. They understand that quantity affects quality of time—that no matter how brilliant you are, if you’re not present for work, then you can’t really do a good job. So they come to their place of work, alert and ready to face the challenges the day brings. They leave their personal issues and problems at the door, which allows them to focus on the job at hand.

2. They are results-oriented. When Star Employees are busy, they really are. They do not spend time doing meaningless tasks just to look busy. They actually do tasks they deem instrumental in helping them reach their goals. These people look at the end results all the time. They measure their performance with targets and actual results. For example, star sales officers know their sales targets by heart. They find the best use of their time that will get them the desired results.

3. They are self-reliant. Star employees do not need to be micromanaged. They require very little supervision as they are capable of making sensible decisions. They are not too dependent on their bosses or co-workers. Unlike some people who ask their bosses to solve everything and decide on the littlest of things, they are well-capable of managing themselves and dealing with everyday work issues. They are also self-motivated.

4. They are reliable. Star employees carry a sense of dependability about them. They look and act responsible. Bosses feel at ease assigning them to important projects because they are diligent and consistent with the quality of their work. They are steadfast, which is why they don’t make their bosses worry too much about project completions.

5. They are progressive. For most employees, change is difficult to swallow. They like doing things that they are comfortable with. They like things to be the way they are. Star employees, on the other hand, adapt well to change. In fact, they initiate it. They constantly look at how their work, the procedures and systems in their office can be improved. In the process, they find innovative solutions that increase their company’s  profits or generate huge savings for the company which their employers appreciate.

6. They give updates and don’t need to be reminded about what to do. Star employees are on top of things. Bosses often get frustrated with constantly reminding their subordinates about things they need to do and they often waste a lot of time following up on projects. Meanwhile, star employees get there first. They regularly update their bosses and teammates on what’s happening. You don’t have to ask them what’s up with a certain account, because chances are, they’ve already told you before you even thought of asking.

7. They can communicate with ease. When star employees talk to people, they are not tense and uptight. They communicate in a comfortable and enthusiastic manner that makes the other person feel immediately at ease. They can talk to bosses, co-workers, suppliers and customer in a conversational manner. They are naturally personable, which draws people to them.

8. They are confident. Many people equate confidence as being extroverted and outspoken. But not all star employees are made that way. There are many star employees who are quiet and not so gregarious. Confidence is about knowing who you are and your selfworth. Star employees know their capabilities and limitations. They courageously face challenges and are not afraid to seek assistance if needed.

9. They go the extra mile. What sets star employees apart from regular folks is they go further than what is expected. If they are expected to know a specific product of their company, they go the extra mile in learning the whole product line, the competitor ’s product, pricing and promos. If they are expected to reach a sales quota, they don’t stop upon reaching the quota. They go for more.

10. They are grateful Most important of all, star employees are grateful. They are not brats who feel entitled to all the benefits, rewards and incentives given by their company. Instead, they sincerely appreciate what is given to them. The reason they perform better than the rest and why bosses like them is because they value their jobs, their employers and colleagues.

Given the 10 characteristics above, take a look at yourself: which of these traits do you have? Which ones do you lack? Are you a star employee? Aspire to be a star employee because it’s pretty cool to be recognized and appreciated by your bosses and colleagues—not to mention the perks and rewards attached to it. Everyone has the capacity to become a star employee; all you have to do is hone yourself and build on the ten characteristics of a star employee.

 

 

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 www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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

 

Work Life: Effective Motivation

 The Nice Stuff Works Better

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

By: Jhoanna O. Gan-So 

Bosses have different ways of motivating employees to improve their performance.

Smart ones use several methods of reward and punishment and adjust their approach according to circumstances.

In my experience, I have found that rewards and punishments are equally effective depending on the situation and the type of people you manage. But in general, people respond more to rewards, incentives, promotions, recognition and all the nice stuff. Occasionally, however, punishments or “threats” may be warranted; but using these can become counter-productive and dangerous, too. If you threaten and put people down often enough, they might get paralyzed by fear and begin to lose focus. Instead of finding ways to improve performance, they might get caught up with just fighting the perceived threat.

Such is the case of a reader of mine:

I’ve been connected for two years to a real estate company as an AVP in Marketing. My position gives me a basic living subsidy, over-ride commissions and the use of the company vehicle. In the previous year, I used to be no. 3 among the 15 Marketing Directors. At times, I would even be no. 1 and no. 2. But two months ago, my Marketing Directors were transferred to another group. Hence, I am now in survival mode and currently at no. 3 among four AVPs. My concern is that our EVP has been threatening to dissolve our group if we don’t increase sales. As a result, we have been under tremendous pressure for the past few months. Although I am determined to fight, the threats are becoming worse. What should I do?—Threatened Abe

My response:

From a relational perspective, it would be great if you can talk to your EVP and calmly explain to him that you understand how critical sales is for the company and that you are doing many things to increase sales. However, his approach (or “threat of dissolution”) is becoming counterproductive to your sales team’s morale. Point out gently that you would appreciate it very much if he tries a different approach. You need to do this in such a way that he won’t feel offended or alienated by you.

From an emotional perspective, it would be great if you can find some sort of stress release. I know Sales is highly stressful since you have quotas to reach. Two of our own company’s top sales people actually had a very difficult time getting the numbers the beginning of this year and it almost paralyzed them. To solve the problem, one of them opened up to management and sought support. The other one took a short retreat to reenergize herself. With the help of our Mancomm and some smart changes in their sales routine, things eventually improved and they are back on track.

From an HR perspective, I think it’s wise to revisit the Employment Contract you signed with the company, as well as the company policies for Termination as it pertains to Sales People. Much of your protection will come from what type of employment you have, the provisions in your contract, the HR policies and processes in your company and the Philippine Labor Laws. Since a sales job is highly quantitative, much will be based on your sales results. Normally, verbal warnings are the first steps for disciplinary action. Written warnings carry more weight and these are actually needed for an employer to terminate employees if due process is to be followed.

Meanwhile, I think it’s not too late yet. You still have your job. The real estate industry has been booming for the past few years. You can still focus and concentrate on generating more sales, despite the threat.

Motivating Employees

I wish I could talk to Mr. Abe’s boss and point out that his “threatening” approach is de-motivating his people. But since I do not really know him, allow me to use this column to reach out to similar bosses out there.

Fear is a potent tool. Its powers can motivate people to move, but it could just as easily demoralize people. I personally would only use it as a last resort.

The job of every boss is not just about pushing people to do what they want. Great bosses take the time to understand what drives their people and figure out what buttons to push to positively impact their subordinates. They also arm their people with the means and tools to let them achieve their goals. They push, encourage, guide and support others to be great at what they do.

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, you may visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com orwww.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645. E-mail your comments and questions to: mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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

Work Life: Healthcare Options

(Originally published on June 19,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

In my last article, I talked about medical crisis and how you can take charge of your health and cushion yourself from exorbitant medical bills in case you get sick and hospitalized. (To read the article, you may check out my blog at http://hrclubonline.blogspot.com)

This time, I’d like to discuss the healthcare plans and types available in the Philippines since shopping for a health card can get overwhelming and confusing. Here are some of the healthcare programs that are being offered in the market. I find that each type of plan has strong and weak points and choosing your plan will all depend on your budget and preference.

SSS and Philhealth

If there are items in my pay slip that I’m more than willing to get deductions for, these would be at the top of my list. SSS provides maternity benefits, sick benefits and even a small pension as long as you pass their requirements. I personally have had the privilege of using my maternity benefit this year and it was a big help. Philhealth also provides you a sizable discount off your hospital bills so it made my hospital stay more affordable.

Both the employer and employee are legally required to give shared contributions for these funds. Your HR or Accounting Department will process payment for you so it’s pretty easy to join and maintain membership. Be sure to go and get your SSS and Philhealth ID so that you can avail of the benefits. It is also prudent to check if your company is indeed remitting your payments to these agencies. There are a few irresponsible companies out there who deduct SSS and Philhealth contributions from their employees’ pay slips but fail to remit them to the right agencies.

Although our SSS and Philhealth benefits will help us during a medical crisis, more often than not, they are not enough. So to protect themselves, employers and individuals enroll in extra healthcare programs that are offered by insurance companies. There are various healthcare plans and types out there and if you are seriously interested in getting a health plan for you, your family or employees, be sure to research and do due diligence.

HMO – Health Maintenance Organization

When you become a policy-holder of an HMO, you get access to their network which consists of hundreds of doctors, clinics and hospitals. You also can avail of the network’s medical services with no cash outlay. This means that when you go visit an accredited doctor or get hospitalized, all you have to do is present your card and follow procedures, but you won’t have to spend as long as costs are within you maximum benefit. This type of plan usually covers in-patient and out-patient services. Dental services and personal accident insurance are optional.

Medical Insurance

Not all doctors are created equal. Some are really just better. If you are like me who take time and great effort to find great doctors with experience and good bedside manners, then you may want to get a healthcare plan that allows you to choose your own doctor. Most Medical Insurance Plans allow this, but they are usually reimbursement type. This means that you will still have to put up the money to pay your doctor, but you can reimburse from the insurance company later on as long as you follow their process and requirements. Some Medical Insurance companies offer flexibility and let you choose coverage. You can go with basic in-patient and you can just add on outpatient, dental and others. There are even plans that let you add on an HMO component which offers access to their medical services network without cash outlay.

HMO with Pension

There are also some companies who offer combination plans wherein you pay premiums for several years with a locked-in arrangement. You get access to their network of doctors, clinics and hospitals with no cash outlay. Then after a certain number of years, you get a portion of your money back. The money back feature is an attractive offer, but rates are a little bit higher initially. It’s worth a look if you have extra cash to spare.

Hospital Confinement Insurance

If you get hospitalized, you are faced with many issues. Aside from the medical bills you have to pay, you also will lose the opportunity to earn income. The purpose of this type of insurance is to give you an allowance during your period of hospital confinement. It is supposed to supplement you income loss. Some plans offer money back guarantee while other’s don’t.

There are many other types of Insurance that will suit your needs.

These are just some of them. If you want to invest in healthcare insurance plans, be sure to research, investigate and ask other plan-holders. Read the policy very well. Ask about preexisting conditions (if you don’t know what this means, ask the agent to explain as this is a crucial point). Know and understand the benefits and limitations of your plan before you plunk your hard-earned money on it. The last thing you want when you are in a medical crisis is to be denied coverage. So read and ask a lot of questions.

I hope this article has shed a little light on important features of healthcare plans. If you are a jobseeker, don’t just look at how much salary you will get, but check if the company provides healthcare benefits. If your company offers healthcare, be very grateful. If they don’t, consider getting a plan for yourself or your family.

We all work really hard to earn and save money. A single disease can easily wipe us out. So take charge of your health and finances while you are still healthy.

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, you may visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com orwww.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645. E-mail your comments and questions to: mbworklife@gmail.com.

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

Work Life – Befriending HR

(Originally published on Sunday, April 18, 2010)

by JHOANNA GAN-SO

Before I got involved with the fascinating world of human resource development, I used to think of HR as simply a department that monitored my attendance, processed some paperwork, handed out my pay slip, and organized the once-a-year sports fest.

But after learning the ins and outs of HR in the process of professionalizing our company structure some years back, I witnessed firsthand its critical impact on companies and people. I got a glimpse of how good HR practices can significantly make employees happier and how it can give harmony to the workplace. This prompted me to seek out other HR practitioners and learn with them. It made me appreciate what HR is all about.

You see, HR is a major part of everyone’s work life. Whether you are job seeking, employed, moving up the ranks, or moving on, you will encounter and need the assistance of the Human Resource Department.

For many jobseekers, the HR professional or recruitment officer is the gateway to getting employed in a company. In a way, we hold the power to getting you through the door as we are the ones who filter resumes, set interviews, and process hiring. We also orient you and help you get settled in as soon as you get hired.

Once employed, the HR department oversees many other functions. Yes, we monitor your attendance in order to process your pay slip. We do the paperwork and documentation needed by the company, and we organize employee events and team-building activities.

But that’s not all that we do. HR also plans, seeks approval for, and organizes training development programs. We propose and manage benefits and everyone’s favorite: leaves. We monitor performance so that deserving employees get promoted. We even pick out uniforms to make you look cool and chic (or otherwise, depending on our taste). We make sure that policies are followed so that the workplace can run smoother. We also have to do the difficult task of disciplining and apprehending violators of company policies and carry out the emotionally-driven episodes of resignations and terminations. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

With all the HR tasks at hand, one would think that HR professionals have superhuman abilities to make all of these happen. But to be honest, we are more like supermoms—normal people who have to juggle tasks and work very hard to make the people we are caring for happy and satisfied.

And like supermoms, things can get overwhelming since many HR departments have minimal staff. Yet HR people work very hard to do all of these things because we know that it will help the company and employees. We know that we have to take care of these necessities for you, so that you can go out there, face the world, and focus on your work. And at the end of the day, you will feel secure knowing that your benefits are processed so that you can take care of your families back home.

After doing all of these things though, many HR practitioners feel unappreciated and unrecognized. During HR Club Philippines’ regular meet-ups and the HR seminars that we conduct at Businessmaker Academy, participants often share issues and difficulties in getting support for their initiatives from both management and even employees.

For instance, after going through hundreds of resumes, conducting interviews, and finally hiring and orienting a new employee for a certain position, their hearts break when after just a few months, the employee decides to leave.

Or after toiling for hours to prepare a performance appraisal form, they get frustrated because some managers take forever to answer and submit these.

Or after going through hoops to get management to approve and provide budget for training, there are some employees who act lazy and unenthusiastic about the training.

These are just some of the many heartaches of HR practitioners and that is the reason why we established HR Club Philippines. Aside from providing HR education, we wanted to provide a support group for HR practitioners. As one member dramatically pointed out, “Araw-araw, kailangan natin alagaan ang mga empleyado natin, pero paano naman kami, sino ang mag-aalaga sa amin? (Everyday, we need to take care of our employees, but what about us? Who will take care of us?)”

And so I am writing some insights about our “dakilang (dedicated) HR people.  I’m here to tell jobseekers, employees, and employers that the HR people we rely on to make our work lives happier and more rewarding need a boost too. Just like everyone, HR people need to feel inspired to continue doing what they do.  They need to feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work.

The best way to do this is very simple. All that’s needed are words of encouragement or some deed that says, “Thank you.”

Since HR people pretty much assist and have an influence in getting you hired, getting you acquainted with the company, developing your talents, managing your compensation and benefits, and overseeing your career growth, it would be great to show HR that you care too, and that you appreciate them. So befriend your HR staff; it’s the wise and right thing to do.

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

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