Category Archives: career choice

Survey Saids – Women are more dissatisfied (with their workplace)

Updated Oct 7:  Slides from Mercer’s 2011 employee survey (see Slide 12 and 14 for discussion on engagement of women in the workplace)


I attended a Mercer presentation today on their latest findings on APAC (Asia Pacific) health and benefits survey update.  I was thinking to myself prior to the meeting if there was anything new to be shared…

In a typical presentation, the consultants showed a lot of data and charts.  And the survey findings weren’t too surprising.

Cost Factors and Engagement
Companies are looking to reduce over benefits costs as a percentage of payroll expenditures .  Yet, employers know that health and welfare are critical elements to talent attraction & retention and employee productivity.  While survey results show 42% of respondents would consider leaving their current employer yet, 60% are satisfied with their jobs and the same rate felt a sense of accomplishment.  Although 56% of Gen Y would consider leaving for another company.

The Women Factor
In one category that was startling,  the women population was the least satisfied about their job.  And yet, they showed a higher rate to staying with the current employer.  They didn’t discuss too much of the underlying factors though.

What do you think?  

  • Is gender equity an issue? Glass ceiling?
  • Could the situation be bad, but not “bad” enough to warrant leaving?
  • Might there be greener pastures?  Or are other workplaces not better off?
  • The job search and interview process is not worth the trouble…
  • What can companies do to change the status quo?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Demand for Performance

As I have written previously, how companies respond during this recessionary period will determine whether they will come out of the cycle in a worst state or a stronger position.  Product line deterioration, market position drop, budget cuts, and headcount reduction all can have a negative impact on an organization.big idea box

Companies who manage the downturn well and can harness the potential can come out of the economic cycle stronger.  Here are three ideas to try:

Performance Evaluation:  In down cycles, many companies have eliminated merit increases or put wage reductions in place.  Organizations may have conducted layoffs.  Managers may place less emphasis on performance evaluations because of limited or zero merit budgets.

On the contrary, employees want and need a significant focus on performance evaluations.  They will take evaluations seriously if nothing else, they want to understand how they can improve to preserve their jobs.  Managers need to continue to focus on productivity and performance improvement.

Employee Involvement:  We have all read stories where CEO’s have reached out to the employee population for ideas on cost saving measures and they have generated a lot of ideas on achieving cost reductions.  Companies have saved literally millions of dollars from employee ideas.

Therefore, why not leverage employee ideas in other areas of the business.  Employees are the closes to your customers and products.  They are often on the front line and know what to do.  Their ideas can generate new input for product and services.  They can offer recommendations to improve efficiencies.

Stretch Assignments:  Getting employees to focus on value to the organization rather then what they were “hired to do” is am important psychological shift for the employee population.  It is an uncomfortable proposition in un-normal times.

Many employees are being asked to do more with less.  They may be asked to take on new tasks which was not part of their original job description.  Employees are asked to be generalist versus specialist.  Stretch assignments that challenge them in new areas can be a significant opportunities for personal growth and development.


Now is more important then ever to focus on what really matters.  Demanding performance out of an organization, whether it is the leadership, management or employees requires significant discipline.  By precisely harnessing these opportunities and pushing the upper limit will companies (and its people) see greater success, not only in downturns but also, during good times too.

Asia Grads Feel Impact of Economic Slow Down

The current economic downturn has hit hard on companies’ focus on graduate recruiting.  Corporations have reduced recruiting budget dramatically.  Layoffs, hiring freezes, and reduced work hours are among the remedies to stave off the downturn.  Some offers to new recruits have been retracted.  An area hit the hardest have been companies’ focus on campus recruiting.

Dearth of Students

In Asia’s two largest economies, China and India, we’ve seen a dramatic slow-down in campus recruiting.  A dearth of students are competing for jobs against millions of other graduates looking for jobs in an environment  where there are less jobs to go around.  The few companies present have seen a significant increase in applicants vying for the same jobs. Students unable to find jobs last year continue to compete for the current crop of jobs.

In China, graduates are competing for scarce jobs with reportedly some 6.1 million graduates.  The government is concern that prolonged unemployment will create frustration and unrest.  Students are asked to take on humble jobs, any jobs at all.

Indian MBA grads typically receive several offers in hand by the time they graduate.  It’s a stark contrast for this years batch of graduates.  Campus recruiting have dropped by more then 50% or more.

Plan B – Back to School

According to the Yale Daily News, the graduate schools are seeing an increase in admissions applications, driven by students looking for a leg up in — and shelter from — the deteriorating global economy.  Their international applications grew by 10% this year.

According to an Asia, Inc interview of Business School Deans and Program Directors, the impact of the financial crisis has impacted their recruitment and placement programs.  Applicants have gone up for top B-School programs.

  • NUS saw a record number of applications — at more than 5,800 for just about 200 places.
  • At Asia Institute of Management, their students continue to be hopeful for jobs in the banking and corporate finance, but they will be realistic and will cast their search wide to non-financial sectors such as telecommunications, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, consumer goods, IT and KPO.
  • Students at the Universiti Putra Malaysia hope that when they complete their studies, the economy should have picked up and the students should be ready for better positions with the MBA degree.

Ideas to Overcome the Job Search Barrier

This year will be a tough year for anyone looking for a job.  One has to work harder and smarter then the next person out there.

  • Leverage your social network.  Tap on Facebook or LinkedIn but, focus in on alumni and former colleagues you know.  Ask them for leads.
  • Send out a Tweet.  Twitter can help you get out the word fast.  It is even better if there is a link to a CV or a personal blog, so interested decisions makers can easily review your profile.
  • Blog about your passion.  Blogging is a excellent in communicating your passions and abilities to a target audience.  It can get your noticed by prospective employers.  If not, recruiters scouting the social media will be able to locate you.
  • Offline networking.  Finding a job is about meeting people.  Networking events, seminars, conferences are excellent ways to meet people directly.
Landing a job is difficult.  It takes time and persistence.  Building your online profile will increase your visibility and certainly makes you stand-out from the crowd.

Career Outlook for Vietnamese Students

As a developing economy, Vietnam has made significant strides in improving the infrastructure and curricula of the country’s school system. However, Vietnam continues to face huge challenges in providing qualified workforce for industry. Students while having increasing exposure to modern management methods continue to lag behind in gaining practical work experience to be successful in the growing number of multinational companies entering the Vietnam market.

One Vietnamese student asked such question on being successful in job search. You may refer to CyVee, a Vietnam professional networking site, for the full question and answers. Below is my response.

Hi Ly,
Great question. It also looks like you are a student yourself.

The biggest challenge for students is the lack of exposure to career counseling/advising. One of the learning outcomes of a university education, besides the academic studies, is personal development. In the US, where I come from, universities have Student Affairs and Advising offices, where students receive counseling and advising on academic and career choices.

So, how can students make informed decisions about career choice, despite the differences in resources available to you?

#1) Informational Interview
• Talk to your friends and students who graduated before you. Identify individuals who have similar experience and career interest as you. Ask them what like or dislike about their job. Ask them to describe their daily routines. Discuss the company culture and career path including training and development.

#2) Internship or Volunteer Opportunities
• Get some work experience. Find out first-hand what the work is really like your career interest area. Try to find an internship that gives you real work experience where you have responsibility for a project. It is still not yet a common practice for companies to offer internships and good internships are few. You will have to start looking early. Try to think-out-of-the-box. You can always volunteer at organizations and build up your “transferable skills.”

#3) Read
• This is so basic and yet, few students do this to learn about their career choice. For example, if you want to be a human resource professional then read HR magazines. You will find out that there is an array of functions including, recruiting, training, organization development, business partner, compensation and benefits and more. There are a number of websites dedicated to professional groups. Read and learn.

Lastly, one of my pet peeves is student negotiating for salary. Students should think about the opportunities for training and development. They should consider the company culture and opportunities for manager coaching. Perhaps, after students have gained some practical skills then they can negotiate for salary. And, if you are good, the money will come to you.

Finding a Job in a Recession – 3 Steps You Can Take Now

The news is full of reports of companies downsizing and layoff as of late.  As companies are cutting back often the recruiting function is one of the first to be let go.  It is critical that we, as recruiters, be vigilant and stay resilient.

businesspeople - handshake

Step 1 – Refresh the Resume (Online and Offline Copy)

It is time to give your resume a refresh.  Remember this is the piece of paper that will make or break your opportunity of getting an interview.  Therefore you will have only a few seconds of getting the attention of the resume reviewer.

You probably gained new experience or skills since the last time you touched your resume.  Focus on the essential skills and key accomplishments.  Refrain from just listing tasks performed.

In the age of the Internet, you’ll need to ensure that your resume is at the top of search results.  Ensure that your resume has the right keywords embedded throughout your resume.

Even though we are living in the age of electronic resumes.  Build an online and an off-line version.  The online copy is for a database form applicants are required to fill out on corporate career web sites.  But those online forms are awful for the resume reviewer to read.  Having a formatted attachment will make it easier on the eyes of the hiring manager or recruiter reading your resume.

Step 2 – Build Your Online Network

Submitting your resume through corporate web sites is not the only way of getting noticed.  There are numerous social/professional online network abound, such as LinkedIn, and should be a part of your job search channel.

You start initially by building your online profile.  This is essentially your resume (e.g., work and education history, skills and competencies).  You’ve missed the intent and benefits of social networks if you stop just at completing your online profile.  Invite colleagues, associates, classmates,  and business partners to link to your profile.  This can extend your visibility of your profile to thousands of people.

Step 3 – Demonstrate Your Skills

Extending the concept of a resume further is the ability to demonstrate your skills and value to the potential employer.  All of probably have presentations we have created and is stored away taking up hard disk space.  Why not put those presentations to work for you.

SlideShare is a site designed to share presentations.  You can post slides of past work which can provide a tangible work sample.  Blogs are another method to share thoughts and ideas to a distributed audience.

In an online world, the job seeker has a greater opportunity to demonstrate core competencies and value to the prospective employer.  Using online network effectively can enhance your chances of landing the next gig.

Think of it this way, the US President-Elect, Barak Obama, got his job through effective use of online social-media.  Your next job is probably less high-profile or demanding.  If used strategically, these on-line social media tools can enhance your opportunity of finding and landing your next role too.