Archive for the ‘Interview Guides’ Category

Writing a resume: Art of your ownself

Friday, November 9th, 2018
(File pix) When writing a resume, job applicants should create an outstanding first impression through an attention grabbing layout, powerful keywords and clearly articulated achievements. Pix by Hafiz Sohaim

WHEN writing a resume, job applicants should create an outstanding first impression through an attention grabbing layout, powerful keywords and clearly articulated achievements.

Career Expert managing director Ainul Naim, a resume consultant, said a good resume is one that attracts recruitment managers and promises a job interview opportunity.

A resume is a tool to promote and market yourself to the industry.

“When the industry offers you an interview, you know that your resume is good. A good resume is a masterpiece of your own, crafted with proper guidance,” she added.

A lot of effort should be put into writing a resume.

“Writing a good resume is where the life of a graduate begins. It is important for graduates to learn to write their own resume — it’s an art of your ownself.

“If they fail to make a good impression through the resume, then it will be a rough career journey ahead.

“It requires a lot of effort to market yourself, much more than the work put in at university.”

As a Certified Professional Rèsumè Writer and Certified Employment Interview Professional with more than 13 years of experience, Hans Toh said the best resume is one that is tailored made for a specific position.

An excellent resume contains three key elements — relevant working experience, measurable achievements and educational background or professional training obtained.

“In a resume, work experiences are the subjects while measurable achievements are the grades. You only have less than 10 seconds to market yourself. That is all it takes for employers to read your resume and know you.

“Fresh graduates should keep their resumes to one or two pages. Don’t make the mistake that the longer the resume, the better.

“The information presented in the resume has to be relevant to the job,” he added.

Job seekers should ideally start planning three months before they graduate. “Every year, public and private universities produce hundred of thousands of graduates who compete in the job market. So it is important to kick-start the job hunt as early as possible.”

Fresh graduates make similar mistakes in their resumes which are not meant to be a history of every course, training and examination in their life.

“I’m not saying these are not important but highlight your skills suitable for the job you are applying for.”

There are two types of skills — specific job-related skills and transferable skills that are general and can survive the shift from one industry to another.

“Highlight the ones that match the requirements of the position — the more matches, the higher the chances of getting a job interview.

Provide relevant, important information in short, simple sentences and bullet points, and your resume will have a much higher chance of catching the right attention.

“Details such as format, standardised headings and spacing as well as font sizes make the overall appearance of the resume look well-planned. Use bullet points instead of long-winded sentences.

“State your facts, and leave out unnecessary flowery words and adjectives unless you’re applying to be a writer. Avoid unnecessary use of bold and italics, they are for emphasis only.”

Toh has developed highly effective resumes and cover letters for many clients in all fields throughout the country.

Since 2002, he has reviewed and written over 10,000 resumes for all levels of career progression including entry, junior, managerial and senior management.

He also provides coaching on effective interviewing skills and conducts workshops at universities and colleges. He recently published a book on resume-writing and interview techniques, Get Hired!

Toh studied engineering and worked in the field for several years before he switched to a career as a resume-writing specialist. “Young graduates should not limit themselves to their comfort zone and apply for jobs in their field of studies.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Employers value workers with good English

Sunday, October 15th, 2017
NIE Specialist Vincent D’Silva (standing right) with Grand Bluewave Hotel general manager Long Cheow Siong observing the students at the workshop. (pix by VINCENT D’SILVA)

JOHOR BARU: The reality of the workforce today is that employers are looking for qualified workers who are not just skillful in their field, but also competent in English communication.

Grand BlueWave Hotel general manager, Long Cheow Siong told participants at the New Straits Times-Newspaper in Education (NST-NIE), who comprised 95 Form Six students, that prospective employers valued candidates who possessed the soft skills that can carry themselves through in their career progression.

The half-day workshop was co-organised by the Johor English Language Teaching Association (Jelta) and Johor Education Department with support from the hotel.

Jelta president Vincent D’Silva conducted the workshop.

According to Long, English is the major language used for communication in most work places in the private sector. He said the language is a tool used in crossborder business dealings and networking with international counterparts.

“There is a certain benchmark for companies to penetrate the market. English plays a pivotal role in distinguishing which companies have that extra edge against its competitors,” said Long in special talk he gave to the Form Six students.

He told them that it was essential to master the English language not only for the sake of passing examinations, but to ensure they can secure a job later on in the future.

“Many of those I had interviewed in the past possess qualificiations for jobs in accountancy, hospitality and tourism fields, but some of them lacked the proficiency in English. I could see this when they were expressing their thoughts and opinions orally,” he said.

He said most employers these days were looking beyond good grades in English.

“Candidates for jobs must posses a good command of spoken English.

“It is very crucial for our youth, who will be joining the workforce in the future, to be able to speak English professionally. They need to become fluent speakers of the language as they also reflect the company’s good name when they are meeting with potential customers or considering career enhancement elsewhere,” he said.

Meanwhile Johor Baru District Education Office’s English unit for secondary schools officer, Al Mujani Abdul Rahman said an initiative to further increase English proficiency among school students in the state was carried out in the past two years under the Education Ministry’s ‘Highly Immersive Programme’ (HIP), which focuses on the usage of English language in school activities.

“Since the start of the programme in Johor two years ago, 10 schools were made to observed the HIP initiative.

“This year, the number increased to 60 schools statewide. By next year, there will be a total of 150 primary and secondary schools in the state that will be adopting HIP,” he said.

Al Mujani said based on his observations of students in the district, a majority of them are able to write and express their thoughts and opinions in English on paper, but they have difficulties conversing fluently in the language.

“They either do not have the confidence to speak or they do not understand the words they are trying to say which became a limitation for some of them,” he said.

Al Mujani welcomed the advocacy of English proficiency as recently stated by Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah, who is the Royal Patron of the Malaysian English Language Teaching Associaton.

“This is why the Johor Education Department is working closely with Jelta to address this issue with students and teaching professional via platforms such as the NST-NIE workshop.

“We hope to colloborate more in future with Jelta and the New Straits Times in this effort to improve the mastery of the English language among our students,” he said.

Jelta president Vincent D’Silva, an English lecturer who has been conducting NST-NIE workshops for the past 19 years, said students will find the NST to be the best tool in helping them to enhance their command of English.

He said the newspaper was a flexible teaching tool that can be used in all areas of curriculum, in all aspects of the different syllabus in schools.

“It is for every level and age, encompassing everyone irregardless of their level of competency. What is important is the reader must fully understand what they are reading and make full use of the news content in the paper to improve their command in English,” said D’Silva

One of the participants, Syarifah Syafiah Syed Mustafa, 18, from SMK Sultan Ismail she had joined the workshop to get insight on English requirements that employers look for.

“I know English is not just about writing but also being able to express ourselves in the language, as we would be meeting or socialising with others using English as a professional language,” she said.

By Halim Said.

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The point about English

Monday, October 9th, 2017
If graduates applying for a job have poor English communication skills, potential employers can’t gauge their character to see if they are a good fit for the job.

WHEN hotel manager Long Cheow Siong recently interviewed a university graduate for a position at his establishment in Johor Baru , the latter’s weak grasp of English baffled him.

The interview with the youngster, who walked in with several others to pitch for an administrative position, was a dampener.

Long was not looking for a worker with impeccable English, but he noticed that the young man could not convey who he was as a person in simple English

“This youngster has a diploma in hospitality and was applying for an administrative post at the hotel.

“But his basic communication skills in English were poor and that is very disappointing,” Long said.

“The interview ended with me not knowing who the interviewee really was. He couldn’t express what his career goals, hobbies and interests were.

“Employers want to know more about a person’s character to see if they have the right attitude for the position they applied for.”

This is a constant lament of Malaysian employers about English proficiency among local job applicants.

They have often complained about the standard of English not only among school leavers, but also university graduates.

As English is an international language widely used in various spheres, not being proficient in the language is something hard to accept.

The issue of poor English proficiency among Malaysian job seekers gained prominence recently when Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah called for concerted efforts by academicians, non-governmental organisations and corporations to provide opportunities for youngsters to learn the language.

She said serious and urgent intervention was needed to resolve the “dramatic and drastic” decline in the proficiency of written and spoken English among Malaysia’s younger generation.

Raja Zarith Sofiah’s suggestion spurred much discussion on social media and even earned brickbats from Facebook users who claimed that a focus on English would erode the use of the national language.

Such opinions prompted Raja Zarith Sofiah to write a posting on Facebook, in which she related her personal experience of how English had helped her engage with western thinkers and policymakers to correct misconceptions about Islam.

She said communicating with academicians and policymakers in English helped her get her message across during a talk she gave at Somerville College, University of Oxford in the United Kingdom five years ago.

She mentioned two other instances when English helped to bridge the gap between eastern and western thinkers: once, during a talk about Islam and science by former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia vice-chancellor Datuk Zaini Ujang at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, and the other during the World Islamic Economic Forum, which she attended a few times.

“In all the three examples, it is the use of English which had made it possible for those of us here in the east to express our opinions and concerns with those from the west.

“That is why I believe our young people should be given the chance to learn the language,” she said on her official Facebook page.

Raja Zarith Sofiah said speaking English did not make a person less Malaysian.

She said she spoke to and wrote letters to her parents and siblings in her mother tongue when she lived and studied in the UK.

She recalled her cravings for Malaysian food during weekly cookouts with her siblings in the UK, during which they would warn their English neighbours before they began grilling belacan to make their favourite condiment, sambal belacan

“During the 11 years I lived
in England, I did not for even
one second forget that I was a Malaysian.

“I did not dye my hair blonde or wear blue contact lenses (although I see there is a trend in Malaysia now for ladies to look ‘pink-skinned’ and wear coloured contact lenses),” she said.

By Ahmad Fairuz Othman

It’s your poor attitude, youths told

Sunday, March 26th, 2017
GEORGE TOWN: Fresh graduates cannot find jobs after completing their studies because they have attitude problems.

StudyExcel Sdn Bhd general manager Jerry Tan (pic) said some blamed the employers for not giving them a chance because they are fresh graduates.

“Is that true? The Malaysia Employers Federation said there are about 200,000 unemployed graduates in the country.

“Many employers are not concerned whether you are a fresh graduate or whether you obtained your degree in Malaysia or overseas.

“They just care if you are good,” he said in his talk on ‘Options After SPM: Choosing The Right Subjects & Pathways’ at the Star Education Fair yesterday.

He added that 68% of employers think that fresh graduates have unrealistic expectations of salaries and employment benefits.

“I once interviewed three students from a college who asked for the same salary.

“When I asked them why they made that request, they said their lecturer told them they must get that kind of salary,” he said.

Besides their poor attitude, Tan said most fresh graduates were unemployed because of their poor English and poor communication skills.

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What to say when asked how much you want to earn

Monday, April 20th, 2015

One email we received said: “I’m currently interviewing for a job and the hiring managers asked me how much money I’d be comfortable making. I wasn’t sure how to answer this. Any advice?”

Salary discussions are never comfortable — but like it or not, they usually come up at some point in the interview process. The hiring manager will typically ask what you currently make. Then, they sometimes follow up by asking, “And how much would you like to make in your next job?” or “How much do you think you’re worth?”

These questions are tricky because you don’t want to scare the hiring manager off by throwing out a number they can’t afford to give you — and you don’t want to leave money on the table by choosing an amount that’s lower than they would’ve offered you.

Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” weighed in on how to respond to this question.

“When hiring managers ask, ‘What are you comfortable earning?’ this is the time to shoot for the upper end of your range, and to have your well-prepared pitch ready,” she suggests.

Knowing your worth in today’s marketplace is critical to your success during this process. “But a general rule of thumb is that by changing jobs, you can expect a 10% to 20% increase,” she explains. “Much of that depends on your achievements, perceived potential, industry, attitude, the chemistry, and many other factors. The percentage can be higher if, for example, your specialty is in high demand or your current employer pays below market.”

Here are some additional tips from Taylor on handling this tricky question:

Offer a range, not a specific number. This gives you wiggle room and allows you to reach for the highest number, she says. “You can always drop down from there, as in any negotiation. Also, know your threshold in advance: What is the lowest salary you’ll accept?”

Share your research. If you’re uncomfortable saying, “I think I’m worth X,” refer to your research. This allows you to speak in more objective terms: “My research has shown that this kind of position with my experience is in the range of X.” “Remain poised and factual,” Taylor suggests.

Be honest. Make sure you don’t embellish on your current pay in order to boost your future one. It’s a small world, and the truth may be revealed later.

Think in terms of overall compensation. Before you get into specifics, know the entire compensation picture. They may ask you about “salary,” but are there bonuses, 401Ks, stock options, educational reimbursements, vacation time, travel allowances, excellent medical coverage, or use of a company car to consider? Find out before you blurt out a number.

by Jacquelyn Smith.

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How to negotiate a job offer

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Deepak urges people to think big, and not fall into the trap of just focusing on compensation.

In the long run, defining the scope of your responsibilities, securing the resources needed to do your job well, and nailing down opportunities for promotion may prove be more important than the starting pay package. And that’s true whether you’re fresh out of college or are taking on a new senior position much later in your professional career.

Successful job negotiation thus depends on relationship-building. “This sounds basic, but it’s crucial,” Deepak says. “People are going to fight for you only if they like you.” And that requires walking a tightrope.

You’ve got to advocate for yourself, of course, but in a way that doesn’t sound greedy or arrogant.  And think twice about how much you ask for. You want to be well paid, but if word gets out that you’re getting much more than your peers, things could get tense in the office. (See the comments sparked by earlier post on salary transparency.)

Be prepared for tough questions. You may feel cornered if you’re asked, “So, if we agree—reluctantly—to your request to work from home once a week, will that close deal?” But that’s a legitimate question so you better have an answer ready.And if you respond, “I have to think about it, ”the prospective employer has to wonder what else you’re going to demand.

Intel Chairman Andy Bryant says that when he hires, “I want to make sure you really want to be here.” He bases his assessment on the job interview and ensuing negotiation, starting with how a person priorities and temperament fits with his company’s culture and needs.  Be prepared, therefore, for probing questions about your own goals and values.

Deepak recommends doing practice negotiations beforehand with friends. I concur. Preparation is important. So is anticipating the concerns of the people you’ll be talking with and the constraints they may be operating under.

But don’t contort yourself. This shouldn’t be an exercise in telling others what you think they want to hear.If spinning some story gets you the job, it could be a lose-lose outcome.  As Bryant says, “The bottom line is that if you don’t want to be here, you won’t be successful.” Deepak echoes that sentiment. “Ultimately, your satisfaction hinges less on getting the negotiation right,” he says, “and more on getting the job right.”

Context matters, of course. Someone entering the job market may not have a lot of room to bargain. But it’s still important to clarify job responsibilities and performance metrics, in order to set the table for negotiation later when it’s time to talk about promotion and a pay raise.

by Michael Wheeler.

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The only 5 things you need to bring to a job interview

Monday, April 20th, 2015

The interview process is stressful enough. You don’t want to complicate things by showing up unprepared.

We asked a few career experts and hiring managers what they expect candidates to bring on the big day. Here are the five essentials to show up with:

1. Copies of your résumé

Despite the transition from the traditional paper résumé to more dynamic social media templates, such as LinkedIn, many hiring managers still expect candidates to arrive with a few hard copies.

Amanda Augustine, a career management expert and spokesperson at TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals, says if you happen to know the exact number of people you’ll be meeting with, bring at least one copy for each of them, plus a few extra to be safe. “You’ll need one for you to reference while you talk, and one copy for each interviewer, just in case they aren’t prepared,” she says.

2. Pen and notepad

Each career expert and hiring manager emphasized the importance of bringing a pen and paper.

Jotting down a few notes during the interview can come in handy as you write yourpost-interview thank you note later that day. (But remember to listen closely to the hiring manager, and don’t get distracted by your note-taking!)

Also, if you’re interviewing for a consulting, finance, or engineering position, you will likely have to answer impossible brainteaser questions. It can be helpful to have a pen and paper as you attempt to work through these questions.

3. Questions

You’re not the only one in the hot seat on the big day. In nearly every interview you will have the chance to ask your own questions.

Use this part of the interview to your advantage. Ask smart questions to impress the hiring manager and to figure out if this place is a perfect fit for you. The career experts recommend having a few written down ahead of time rather than having to come up with them on the spot.

While questions may vary depending on the company you’re interviewing with, here are some impressive ones that will work in any situation:

  • How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
  • What can I help to clarify that would make hiring me an easy decision?
  • How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?

4. Portfolio of sample work

Depending on the job you’re applying for, it is a good idea to bring samples of your work. “The medium needs to match up. You should not bring a binder of print material to a digital publication,” explains Business Insider’s director of talent, Stephanie Fogle. “And be prepared to talk about it.”

by Kathleen Elkins.

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17 interview questions that are designed to trick you

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Savvy hiring managers have honed their ability to ask the fewest questions yielding the greatest depth of information.

One way they do this is by asking seemingly simple questions that get you to reveal information you may have been trying to conceal — queries that break through the traditional interview noise and clutter and get to the raw you.

In other words: questions designed to trick you.

Can you tell me about yourself?

Why do they ask this? They ask to determine how the candidates see themselves as it pertains to the position. “The employer wants to hear that the candidate did their homework,” says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers’ Ink. “The interviewer is also listening for a level of confidence in how well the candidate portrays herself through the information that is communicated. Additionally, the interviewer is listening for strong behavioral competencies, which help determine a right fit with the job. If this opening answer is weak, it can send the remainder of the interview into a tailspin or cut the interview short.”

What makes it tricky? It can tempt you to talk about your personal life — which you shouldn’t! “Most candidates are not versed in seeing this as a trick question, so they may answer by speaking from a personal perspective: ‘I have three kids, I’m married, etc,’” Nicolai says. “Believe it or not, even the most seasoned candidate falls for this question especially when prompted by the interviewer to elaborate.”

What response are they looking for? A focused, laser-sharp answer conveying your value to the organization and department. “The employer wants to hear about your achievements broken down into two or three succinct bullet answers that will set the tone of the interview,” she says. Remember, what we tell people about us is what they hear. So stay sharp and convey your top strengths when answering this question.

For example, you can try something like: “I am known for turning around poor performance teams as a result of my innate skills in analyzing problems and seeing solutions very quickly.” This statement tells the interviewer that the candidate has analytical skills, problem-solving ability, and leadership ability to turnaround business performance, among other things.

“At least four behavioral skills are conveyed in this simple response, and it sets the tone for the interviewer to ask more targeted questions,” Nicolai says.

How would you describe yourself in one word?

Why do they ask this? This will most likely come up to elicit several data points: your personality type, how confident you are in your self perception, and whether your work style is a good fit for the job, explains Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,”

What makes it tricky? This question can be a challenge, particularly early on in the interview, because you don’t really know what personality type the manager is seeking. “There is a fine line between sounding self-congratulatory versus confident, and humble versus timid,” Taylor says. “And people are multifaceted, so putting a short label on oneself can seem nearly impossible.”

What response are they looking for? Proceed cautiously, Taylor warns. “If you know you’re reliable and dedicated, but love the fact that your friends praise your clever humor, stick with the conservative route.”

If you’re applying for an accounting job, the one-word descriptor should not be “creative,” and if it’s an art director position, you don’t want it to be, “punctual,” for example.

Growing demand for tertiary studies

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Young people are aware that career success is only possible if they pursue higher studies and are armed with the right skills and knowledge.

AS the demand for highly skilled and knowledgeable workers intensifies in the knowledge-based economy, so does the demand for higher education.

Indeed, higher education plays an increasingly significant role in this dynamic and integrated world economy.

There is much evidence in research literature that show the positive correlation between higher education and economic development.

In addition, pursuing higher education is seen as an important pathway to career success. However, as tertiary studies become more accessible to the masses, there are concerns on the value of higher education.

Based on the classification of the Education Ministry, the higher education sector in Malaysia consists primarily of universities, university colleges, colleges, polytechnics and community colleges.

An online survey was conducted recently where 298 respondents participated. More than 80% of the respondents were students in public and private higher education institutions in Malaysia while the rest were random respondents.

The data from this survey was collected through the UTAR (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman) Opinion Poll (, an online platform developed by the varsity to collect public opinion on current issues, particularly issues faced by youth in the country.

Seeking jobs

The survey revealed that the two reason for pursuing a university or college education were to get a decent job and earn a higher salary.

The value of higher education in providing access to improved jobs, better earnings and career prospects is an important driving force for people to invest in higher education.


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Grads stumped at interviews

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

PETALING JAYA: Fresh graduates are requesting job interviews to be conducted in languages other than English as they are not proficient in the language.

The managing director and group chief executive officer of PKT Logistics Group, Datuk Michael Tio, said the graduates who come for interviews were degree holders.

“But they are asking us if we can speak in languages other than English.

“I was disappointed when English was removed as the medium (of instruction) in schools. I didn’t agree with this and now we have a problem in the quality of education in Malaysia,” he said.

Tio said it was important for degree holders to have a solid foundation.

“As an example, if there is a foreign visitor, the employee might have to do a presentation, converse with the visitor and offer them some food but he or she might shy away if he or she cannot converse in English.

“As a result, the individual might not be employable,” he said.

Tio explained that employees were usually given training before they started their work.

“But if they do not even speak English, should the employer have to teach them to speak English?” he said.

Feruni Ceramiche Sdn Bhd managing director CC Ngei said it was important to build a strong foundation in English from a young age.

“If you do not have a strong foundation once you start work, you need to work twice as hard.

“Your results will be half or maybe less than those who have a good command of English,” he said.

Ngei and Tio each handed over a mock cheque worth RM50,000 to Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai for the sponsorship of Step Up pullouts by The Star.

This is the fourth consecutive year that PKT Logistics Group sponsored the Step Up pullouts while Feruni Ceramiche Sdn Bhd came in for the first time to sponsor the pullouts.


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