Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Things never to say in a job interview

Off all the things one wishes they had not said in a job interview I would like to highlight the top five :)

So here are 5 of the biggest blunders..............

1. “I hated my last boss.” It doesn’t matter how bad your last boss was — don’t cite it as a reason for leaving your job neither should you complain about your boss’s managerial skills. This kind of "trash" talking will make your potential new boss think your interpersonal skills are weak and you’re not a team player. Follow the advice your mom gave you: If you can’t say anything nice about someone, explain that your last role was not a good fit for you, or you are looking for new ways to grow.

2. “I don’t know anything about this company.” Do your research. Know something about the company you’re interviewing for, and be able to articulate how your skills will complement the business. If you’re a Web designer, for example, at the very least study the company’s Web site and explain what you like and what you would change, given the chance. A neutral example would be for instance reviewing the company's website for the careers section or the Human Resource section. You can easily start an educated and informed discussion with the HR representative on how you feel the section could have been more informational or why you liked it etc.

3. “No questions, thanks.” When it’s your turn to ask questions about the company and the role, have something to talk about. If you don’t, it looks like your lack of inquisitiveness means you are not genuinely interested in a career, but just a paycheck. Did the interviewer already answer everything you wanted to know? At least rephrase something you already talked about in a new way.

4. “What sect do you belong to ?” Small talk can be great. You may use small talk to include something unrelated to the job directly but that shows competencies that are transferable to the job you are applying for thou. But know where the line is and don’t cross it — don’t ask or talk about stuff that’s inappropriately personal.

5. “And another thing…” Avoid rats and bitterness. It’s great to have strong opinions, but be careful that you don’t come across sounding like you are angry or so opinionated that you’ll be difficult to work with. No one wants to work with a serial complainer.

Wish you the best of luck for your interviews.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Living on a budget

We’ve all been there. That time of the month when you begin to realize that your bank statement is due, and you purposefully avoid bringing the mail in so that you don’t have to face up to how little is left in your account this month. I generally dread the daily sms that my bank sends me whenever my balance is below Rs.5000. Every day after my balance reaches Rs. 4999 and below at precisely 9:05am my cell phone buzzes to the balance sms. It keeps doing that until payday. The countdown to payday is crucial. Buying those six DVDs from fortress just seemed like such a good idea at the time! Why does everything have to cost so much nowadays? 

Well, we all like to buy stuff, there’s no denying that. But there are ways to get at least some of the things you want without using over and above your available resources each month. So formulating a spending plan doesn’t sound like your idea of fun – but don’t you want that feeling of freedom that comes with accurately estimating how much money you have to spend, by planning your purchases, and not being afraid of your finances?

A thrifty budget can help more than you think it’s going to hurt!

Okay, So Tell Me Again How This Isn’t Going To Hurt…

The notion of sitting down and planning all the things you can’t buy doesn’t sound like much fun, but by coming up with a thrifty budget and by allotting various allowances to each of the things you are likely to spend money on can truly help you to gain a sense of power over your finances. While an attitude of handing out money when you need to might seem a lot less painless than sticking to a spending plan, wouldn’t you love to be able to have some money to spend on the things you love without having to fear the arrival of mailman or the beep of the sms at the end of each month? With a little forward planning, you can achieve this.

So be brave and sit down with your checkbook. Look at how much money you spend each month on regular outgoings, like rent, groceries, Petrol / CNG, utilities and so on. Plan to set aside an allowance for each of these things, and put the money in a separate account if you have to, so that you can’t spend it. It might seem painful now to have to allocate so much money to these basic things, but ultimately you will save in bank charges, and you will feel so much better knowing where your money is going. Anticipating the cost of things is much more cost effective than allowing your finances go into the red.

The way to be thrifty is to plan it. And while it might not seem like fun initially, by sitting down and planning a budget, you are facing up to the money you spend, which makes it easier to see where you can make savings. And once you are in control of your finances, you will begin to see your savings add up. And pretty soon you will have some money to spend that won’t leave you deathly afraid to greet the mailman! J
I was speaking to friend on this topic and me mentioned that he started on a similar program. He started to keep a little black note book in his pocket and whenever he would make a payment, he would note the amount and the purpose. After a month he was surprised to note that the maximum amount was spent on unplanned snacks at work. He immediately stopped buying snacks at work. This contributed to a substantial saving. He then approached all higher figures in the black book in a similar manner and managed to budget the expenses and add substantial savings in a few months.

Good luck with your savings. I just started and need all the luck I can get J

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Asking for a raise ... Compilation

With today's economic and employment situation, employees hunker down and avoid drawing attention to themselves. Asking for a raise? Out of the question.
You want a raise??
Not true. If your company is filing for bankruptcy, that's one thing. But work goes on and the best performers--especially the ones who bring on new clients and save their firm money--are justified in asking for a salary hike. The trick is showing your manager how much you're worth.
"The need to reward good employees doesn't change if the economy is in a recession or an upturn." Companies make employee investments at different times, and some do it purposely during a recession so they're prepared to come out of it stronger. Employers need to consider what would happen if their best employees leave. The search process is painful since it's so hard to find a good match."

Like with any salary negotiation, find out what people in your market and your position are making. There are several ways to get that information. First, consult a recruiter that specializes in your industry. They know exactly what your competitors are paying.
You can also find this data on Web sites like Rozee.pk . They have an extensive database of subscribers who have contributed salary information. The user must answer a few questions related to their experience and job responsibilities to find out what others are getting paid.
Once you know your market value, request a conversation with your manager about salary. Don't threaten that you'll leave if you don't get a raise, and stay away from mentioning financial hardship. Instead, remind your manager of the strong contributions you've made. During an economic downturn, highlight new clients you've brought to the firm and cost-saving measures you've enacted. Include the key projects you've completed and goals you've met.
Thou your employer might be losing money because of a downturn, but if you can prove that you're vital to getting the company through the recession, then a raise is assured.
Next, present your manager with the research you collected on what others in your market are making. If you completed the rozee.pk salary survey, bring it with you. If you contacted recruiters, mention that. But you want to take a conversational tone instead of a confrontational one. Bring it up as if it's a discussion in which you're presenting research.
Don't say, 'You're underpaying me!,' Instead you might want to say something like, 'Over the last year we had very specific targets in the organization that I had a vital role in assisting the company with. That, combined with the research I've done on current market conditions, makes me feel that my position here is worth the fair market value. I'd like to have a conversation to discuss my value to the organization.'"
Don't expect to get rejected but be prepared just in case. One route is to consider perks outside of salary. For instance, many people consider additional vacation time just as valuable as money. Other options include health benefits, reimbursement for commuting and professional training in a job-related skill.

If you are denied the raise, tell your manager, 'I appreciate that finances are tough now. Can we discuss non-salary perks?'
Another way to deal with rejection is to ask what you can do in the next six months to make this conversation successful the next time. Ask the boss to be as specific as possible. It lets the boss know you're serious and that you're willing to improve to get this raise.
Again... best of luck :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How to say "good bye" in a job interview

In the line of work that I am in, one gets to interview numerous candidates for a variety of roles and positions. One thing I have noticed is that the candidates come rehearsed with answers for even the toughest job interview questions, but are rarely prepared on how to end the interview? 
While it's true that first impressions are important, many people forget that last impressions tend to linger. Ending a job interview is nearly as important as starting one.
I was talking to a fellow HR Manager, belonging to a large technology firm. He agreed with me that one of the important things in an interview is how you end it.
He says, "Just as importantly is how you end the interview, so just shaking their hand and saying 'I look forward to hearing from you' is not really the best last impression you want to make."
I read online that Human Resources expert Sarah Paul agrees that your attitude at the end of an interview can help or hurt your chances. She says, "Show confidence by giving a firm handshake and making strong eye contact." 
Her other suggestions include:
Avoid looking needy - make the interviewer feel like you have other options on the table.
Asking if it would be appropriate for you to follow up in a week regarding the status of the recruitment also demonstrates assertiveness and shows you are not afraid to take control of your career.  
Even if you don't think it went well, confidence goes a long way and is sometimes more important than how you answered that dreadful 'give me an example of a weakness' question.
You can also suggest that the interviewer please contact you should they have any further questions/clarifications. This shows you are collaborative and want them to have as much information about you as possible.  
If you think you did a terrible interview, don't show it. Good interviewers can read body language.
Keep your head up, have a strong handshake and maintain eye contact.
Make sure you get a business card so you can email a thank you note. 
Marci Schnapp-Rafael, president of TeamQuest Systems Inc. also suggested the following actions to ensure you leave a positive lasting impression:
  • Leave behind examples of your work and positive evidence of what you have testified to during the interview
  • Stop talking and exit gracefully

She cautioned that sometimes job candidates unconsciously sabotage their job chances at the interview. Some of the actions she has seen include:
  • Leaving behind garbage like an empty Starbucks cup or water bottle. She adds, "Not that you should bring your own into the interview in the first place."
  • Taking a call on your cell phone as you are walking out the door.
  • Continuing to talk or ask questions even after the interview has ended
  • Slamming the door, stomping feet or showing any signs of being emotionally upset.

The end of the interview is the final chance you have to make a good impression. 
Best of luck :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Reflection is not something we tend to do very often. Mostly time is just not enough. We wish the day had 30 hours, and years had 500 days and with all this we would still age at half the rate that we do now…Probably add lesser pull of gravity to that list J
Do this for me… try it… just relax in your chair. Forget everything and resist the existence of everything around you. Now think about what you wanted to be when you were 3 years old. Work your way up on a approximately 5 year increment basic. This is what my reflection was:

What I wanted to be
My Papa
Software Engineer
HR Professional
My Papa

I have come full circle… What about you?
Life is full of surprises. My father comes factory built with faults, and that is what makes him perfect.  I too have my own unique set of faults. I am not perfect. It is really lovely and kind of my wife to think and say that I am a perfect Husband and a great father. But when I reflect on myself I see many improvement areas.
My father is the best example of a father to me. A friend, father, disciplinarian, ideal, angry young man and self less. I wish that if I were to be half a father to my daughter, I “may” be close to father.  Life is funny. You only get one change, unlike the computer games. Wonder what it would be like if there was a cheat code in life. My life revolves around my wife, my daughter and ofcourse my parents.
How I wish to be a baby again in the laps of my parents ( thou I wouldn’t remember anything ) J
Today when I hold my daughter, I feel the strongest sense of satisfaction and a spark of love that I have never felt in my life. A much stronger bond exists between my baby and her mother(my wife) ….now I know the meaning of “The cure to the worst of ailments lies in a mothers hug”.
My reflection made me call my dad and tell him that I love him and no matter how far physically I am from him….He is always a part of me and in my thoughts.
Would appreciate if you share your reflections.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life is too short...

Life is too short to spend in depression over anything. We get to live only once and if I have learnt anything in this life… it is that the good or bad times do not last forever.
Life is a sine curve. The good follows the bad and vice versa. Of course unlike the sin curve, life does not follow a formula of predictability. This is where such values as perseverance, patience, belief, trust and adaptability come in.

I have had my share of blunders in life. Well honestly using the word “blunder” is an understatement. Imagine being stuck in -35 temperatures in the suburbs of Ontario in a jeep that’s stuck in 3 feet of snow. Now extend your imagination – not only is the jeep stuck you yourself are stuck up to chest level in snow trying to figure out a way to get the jeep out  That was me and my 2 dorm mates from York.
Anyhow, let’s not get carried away with little tidbits of life. The real concern is that one needs to find the little shred of motivation to keep oneself going when the depression sets in. When life is full of joy and beauty seems to be in everything – there is nothing to worry about. However when things take a turn towards the bad and then the worse, we always feel like this is the end. Only to give up right before things start to get better.
My advice to anyone and everyone who reads this blog is that “PLEASE, treat this life as a gift. Cherish it and never lose hope. Neither should you get overwhelmed when joy shines on you.”
“You will be surprised what you can live thru”

Spend a few minutes to look at this picture. Thats all I ask.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Money is not everything… but it is a catalyst for happiness.

I know, it seems very shallow to say that Money is all I need. But I have my reasons.

It appears that money at least money that is for ones optimal existence and a little bit of the bare 'niceities' is essential. Do keep in mind I never said necessities 
I feel that money keeps relationships healthy and nice. Not to say that it will do a 360 degree on a ruined relation or an already bad relationship. No. It will thou help very much in maintaining an already healthy relationship. For instance, parents love their children. Now the child is all grown up and it’s time for him / her to give back to the family.
Lets presume that the salary is low, which in most cases for fresh workers it is. Lets also presume that the circumstances for the father / mother have changed and the cash flow in the home is not what it used to be… This is where there is going to be tension. Arguments over non-issues. Multiple sarcastic comments.
The real underlying issue is the scarcity of money. Had the money been there, the bond would have grown stronger.
I realize that a true test of a relation or strength of a relation is adversity. But hear me out. I have seen many parents who are not very affording and they take their kids out to McDonalds or KFC and they watch while their child / children eats the famous happy meal etc. They provide for their children while they sacrifice their own desire.
But then the child grown up and now, instead of paying the home electricity bill, he / she prefers to pay for a new car they just got on installment from the back because all their friends just did that?? Where’s the justice here? Would these children then sacrifice for their children? Yes. But for their parents? Maybe.
Lets look at a married couple. Friends of mine. I cannot name them for obvious reasons 
Very much in love. Very happy. Strong bond. There you go their relationship has been described. Now the guy had some trouble at his job. Some unethical practices that he wanted to avoid and the only way out was to quit and seek another job where he can work honestly. Initially the wife supported him as she saw him loosing motivation and energy on a daily basis..she loves him… so she encouraged him to quit and seek something more fulfilling.
Then…as the unemployed days became weeks and weeks turned in to months… the relationship got sour. Arguments over who to visit and why because of the price of gas. Home cooked meals vs ordering out or dining out.
Both had their valid sides. She had let go of the maid to cut expenses and would work all day handling the babies and cleaning the house, doing laundry, ironing, etc and ultimately would want not to cook once in a while and this is where the husband…who being frustrated by the rejections or silence from prospective employers and the diminishing funds in the bank who retort that she cook … let me give you a sample ‘conversation’
Wife: I am too tired to cook.
Husband: So am I. I don’t want to cook!
Wife: I never said that you should cook.
Husband: What do you want me to do then?
Wife: Lets order out. Let’s get something affordable from the bazaar?
Husband: The least YOU would find edible will cost us a couple of hundred rupees! Money does not grow on trees. You have no idea what its like to be without a job and with no money! All you do is talk about wasting money!
Wife: Don’t you dare start on that again! I am working my A** off every day after firing the maid. I clean the toilets for god’s sake! All you do is go around in your Air conditioned car everyday while I sit here even rationalizing the use of the fan in more than one room! Then you come back with nothing but a droopy face and don’t want to talk to me because that stresses you out!
Husband: Everything you have here is because of me you ungrateful woman! I am the one working and earning ever since we got married. And now you see a little patch of trouble and you hate me and everything about me. You have to do a little work at home and you are going crazy!
Wife: Don’t you call this work ‘little’. Why don’t you stay at home and help me? I am educated too, I can find a job. I am sure I can make more money than you!
Husband: Oh! So now you want to tell me you are better than me!
Wife: Whatever… My mom gifted us baby’s diapers this month… I cannot even look my parents in the face anymore because of you! You should have been a man and taken bribe at work …. At least we wouldn’t have to live a life of beggars!
Husband: Hah… so the thousands I have been spending on you and the babies is now cleaned by the pennies your mother gave us in pampers!!!!
Wife: so its YOU and us NOW! You are one and me and the babies the other party! What the He**. Why did I marry you! I should have married my cousin in the interior ministry and lived a stable life instead of sweating all day and listen to you tell me how ‘little’ I do!
Husband: If you want a divorce say so!!!

So…. Does she actually hate him no?
No my dear readers. No.

She still loves him.

Unfortunately the scarcity of supply vs the ever increasing demands put a toll on all of us. Both of them are angry at external factors and are venting internally.
Why… Money.

Money is not everything… but it is a catalyst for happiness.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yahoo's Fired CEO

Its sad really , how stuff works in the corporate circle. I mean, a necessary evil. The Chairman of the Board calls Bartz and reads her a legal document (scripted so as to ensure legal compliance) ?
What ever happened to the Good old days of trust and understanding?

Let me come back with a thought on that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Not gold but only Men....

Not gold but only men can make

A people great and strong;

Men who for truth and honor’s sake

Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep

Who dare while others fly—

They build a nation’s pillars deep,

And lift them to the sky. — Ralph Waldo Emmerson