As this MBA Fair is relevant to many of our readers, we agreed to announce it on our website. The following is from the organisers of the event:
“Join the Access MBA Tour and connect One-to-One with world’s best business schools. Find your MBA match with the help of our international team of business education experts.
Hold personal meetings with Admissions Directors from prestigious MBA programmes, get advice from our MBA consultants and GMAT instructors, and learn about 2 million euros in scholarship opportunities.
Some of the participating schools: INSEAD, IE Business School, ESSEC Business School, Strathclyde MBA – UAE, Singapore Management University, Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business and many others!”
Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Time: From 5:00pm to 10:00pm (upon invitation)
Place: Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands
Address: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Metro Station: Bayfront
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore has released details of increases to the administrative fees associated with the full range of employment / work related passes. The fee increases come into effect from the 1st April, 2019.
The old and new fees are:
Current fees: Application: S$70; Issuance / renewal: S$150.
Many companies are faced with the prospect of laying off or retrenching staff due to restructuring, relocating parts of its operations, automation, cost saving initiatives, etc. Not only is this a shock for those affected – those who will lose their jobs, but it is also a rather uncomfortable time for those involved in the administration of the retrenchment, such as HR staff and those managing the affected department. They have to go through the uncomfortable experience of informing the affected staff in both a group meeting and in one-on-one meetings to explain what is to happen, why, when and how. Continue reading “Outplacement Support Helps Individuals and the Company”
As many of our readers are interested in the topic of an MBA (Master of Business Administration degree), we have agreed to advertise this up-coming MBA event in Singapore. This event is free-of-charge.
For those who are considering doing an MBA degree or have an interest in the topic, there are some ‘freebies’ you might be interested in such as a one-on-one chat with business school admissions directors, GMAT instructors (probably worth going for this alone!), and scholarship information (another worthwhile attraction!).
The event will at least give you much information on a range of MBA and Executive MBA courses that the organisers are ‘marketing’ and a chance to talk with someone from those universities who will be able to answer questions relevant to their institution. Another valuable feature of this MBA event is that there will be panel discussions featuring school representatives and alumni – the alumni will be able to give you the real picture of the pro’s and con’s and the up’s and down’s of each of the programmes being marketed.
The information ‘flyer’ we were sent is as follows:
Join the Access MBA Tour and connect One-to-One with world’s best business schools. Find your MBA match with the help of our international team of business education experts.
Hold personal meetings with Admissions Directors from prestigious MBA programmes, get advice from our MBA consultants and GMAT instructors, hear from school representatives and alumni during Panel Discussions, and learn about 2 million euros in scholarship opportunities.
Some of the participating schools: INSEAD, IE Business School, ESSEC Business School, HKUST and many others
Date: April 11, 2018
Time: From 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm (upon invitation)
Venue: Orchard Hotel Singapore; Address: 442 Orchard Road
The New Year is a time many people make resolutions and set goals for various parts of their life, but few people set or revisit goals for their career. Rather than having specific and clear goals, many people almost drift though their career – they have an idea that they want to be promoted or attain a higher salary, but they don’t actually have a clear goal of where they want to be in ten years’ time or what is the next step or milestone on getting there.
People who plan their career achieve more and are more successful. They tend to be the people that others are envious of and wonder what they are doing to get promoted faster than their peers. People who plan their career are usually more content, satisfied and fulfilled in their work. People who plan their career are more likely to get where they want to go because they have a ‘career roadmap’.
So, as it is the New Year, now is a good time for you to plan your career, and below describes how you can go about doing it.
The starting point for career planning is a question: Where do you want to be career-wise in seven to ten years’ time?
Seven to ten years is considered long-term in career planning, but it is also useful to consider what job you want to retire from at the end of your career – depending on your age, this may be considerably longer-term than your seven to ten year career goal. However, an ‘end-of-career’ goal can provide overall direction to your career and how you think about it. Your ‘end-of-career’ goal may change over time as you gain experience and/or develop new interests, so it is not completely fixed or ‘set in stone’ – but it is an important beacon providing guidance to your career direction.
To develop your career plan, it is useful to identify both your ‘end-of-career’ goal and your seven to ten year career goal. Indeed, your seven to ten year career goal will be a major milestone on the way to your ‘end-of-career’ goal. Even if you are unsure or unclear about your ‘end-of-career’ goal, you can still develop a valuable and constructive long-term plan by focusing on a seven to ten year period. The process of determining both is the same, just that one is a longer duration than the other and will have more milestones. Here, for simplicity, we will focus on developing a seven to ten year career plan.
Having answered the question of where you want to be in your career in seven to ten years’ time, write that down at the top of a sheet of paper – this is your end point. Also write down at the bottom of the page where you are now – the job you are currently in – this is your starting point. This is the framework for your career ‘roadmap’.
Now you need to consider what milestones are in between your starting and end points. Let’s begin at your end point: What type of job do you need to be in to be considered eligible to get the long-term job that you want? What experience and skills are required for this job? This is the final milestone on the way to your career goal.
And for that job – the final milestone job – what job would you need to be in to be considered eligible to get promoted to this job? This is your second-last milestone. And so on until you are back at your current job and have identified milestones all the way to your end job.
Now you have a career roadmap that has identified your long-term career goal (the end point) and each type of job you need to get along the way as milestones. You can see a clear direction your career needs to take. When job opportunities present themselves, you now have guidance on whether such jobs will help you get where you want to be – are they in keeping with your career roadmap? Will such a job help you get the next job that is a milestone on your career roadmap or the one after that? If so, you should take it – if not, it is a distraction on your way to your end goal.
A following article will show you how to create a career development plan that will identify the skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience necessary to secure the jobs on your career roadmap.
Values are what are important to us in a particular context. In the context of our career or work for example, values are what is important to us about that and may include such things as ‘challenge’, ‘teamwork’, ‘autonomy’, or ‘recognition’. Values are what we want in a particular context.
Money is a value
Money or salary is usually a work value as well, because we all need money to live and pay the bills. For some people, just having enough to live on, look after their dependents (children and/or parents), pay the bills and have a little holiday is sufficient. For others, they want lots and lots of money. The difference between the two is another value which is about what money can do for them – for the person wanting lots of money, money can buy material goods which shows other people how successful they are. The other value here may be a self-esteem related one such as wanting others to look up to them.
Values mean different things to different people
A person who has work values such as ‘autonomy’ and ‘recognition’ will only be happy in work if their boss allows them to ‘get on with it’ – that they are allowed decide how the work is done or the desired outcome reached without being micromanaged by the boss. They also need to be given recognition for the work they do. However, recognition means different things to different people. For some, recognition may have to be in the form of a financial bonus or a pay increment. For others, they may just want the boss to acknowledge that they did a good job or get a ‘thank you’ for doing it. Again, some people want public recognition – i.e. it is also important to them that others know that the boss has recognised their effort – while for others a private word of thanks is sufficient.
Core values transcend contexts
While many of our values are only valid in a particular context such as our work or in our relationships, we also have ‘core values’ which are valid across all or most contexts. Some examples of such core values are honesty, truthfulness, or integrity. These are values that might be important to a person in their work or career, but would be equally important to them in their relationships, or in their buying decisions (where a company would need to have an ethical reputation for them to buy from).
Job satisfaction comes from our values being met
Most of the time we are not aware of our values – they operate in the back of our minds. If a person has work values of ‘teamwork’, ‘collaboration’, ‘challenge’ and ‘autonomy’, they will be happy in work as long as these values are being met. This would require a work environment where people worked together (on projects for example), but where each individual had their own part to play and, once they know what that is, are allowed to decide the best way to achieve their work goal. The work would also need to be challenging in some way – this might be that there is something new to learn or a new kind of problem to be solved. When these values are being met in work, the individual will feel contentment, job satisfaction, fulfilment, and be happy in work.
When our values are violated
But then a new boss takes over the team! This boss is very ‘hands on’ and likes to micromanage his subordinates. He decides the best way the job is to be done and tells people they just need to follow his instructions and do what they are told – no need to work with others. This would also take the challenge out of the job as the boss was deciding how everything is to be done. The person who has work values of ‘teamwork’, ‘collaboration’, ‘challenge’ and ‘autonomy’ will no longer be happy in work – they won’t have job satisfaction or a sense of fulfilment. They will feel that there is something wrong in their life, especially at work, but they probably won’t be able to articulate what or why. It’s simply that their values have been violated. They probably feel a lack of ‘fit’ with their job or the company, and start looking for a new job or even a new career. When our values are violated, we feel disrespected, and know ‘deep down’ that we need to take action.
Using values in career direction finding
When people are looking to find career direction for themselves – whether starting out in their working life or looking to change career – values play an important part. We have already seen the positive and negative impact our values can have in work, so determining whether our values will be met or not in the careers or jobs we are considering, and to what extent, is important if we are to find a career or job we will be happy and content in. Our work values can be our evaluation criteria.
People sometimes take a job that offers them a good salary or makes them look good in some way – it meets these values which can be important to some younger people. Their other values, such as challenge, meaning, or recognition, may not be met in that job, but because their more important value is being met, they work on, sometimes for years. But eventually the allure of the money and ‘looking good’ to others wears off and they feel that they just can’t go on in that type of job – they need ‘something’ more, they just don’t know what it is exactly – they need their values to be met.
Get to know your values for a more fulfilling life
So values are important in all areas of our life, and as this is a career advisory site, we emphasise their importance in work. Get to know your values – have a competent person elicit them for you – and ensure they are being met in your job. If some values are not being met, talk to your boss about it so a way to include them in your work can be found. Doing so has enormous benefits for you, your boss and the company.
When trying to determine career direction, it is best to use multiple perspectives including psychometric inventories (such as the Myer Briggs Type Inventory better known as the MBTI, and the Strong Interests Inventory) and a values-based one. Another approach that augments the output of the other perspectives is a strengths-based one. Essentially this is a full identification of your skills – your work skills and other skills developed through your involvement in hobbies, leisure pursuits or sports – and these skills are then categorised.
Skills that you are good at
Everybody has skills, some of which you are good at and others not so good. It makes sense when looking at possible future careers or jobs to focus on those skills you are good at – if your work involves skills you are good at, you are going to do well in that job and progress. However, for those skills that you are good at or strong in, there are always some that you don’t particularly like doing. A job centred on skills that you don’t like doing is one that will eventually cause you stress and unhappiness.
Skills that you enjoy doing
Then there are skills that you are both good at or strong in and enjoy doing – these we call your ‘strengths’. A career or job that utilises your strengths is one that you will do well in because you are working to your strengths – those areas that you are good at. Obviously doing things that you are mostly good at will get you noticed in work, will lead to increased responsibilities, quicker promotion, and continual salary increases. Furthermore, when your work involves doing things that you enjoy doing – whether that is working with people either as colleagues or as customers, uncovering facts and figures through detailed research, using your hands to help make something, etc – your work will bring you contentment, gratification, and joy. Working to your strengths brings fulfilment, job satisfaction and happiness.
Using strengths in career direction finding
There are two ways your strengths can be used in the career direction finding process. Firstly, when you look at your strengths as a group, ask yourself do these suggest a career or job – or what career or job would facilitate you in using most of these strengths? You may have to do some research for this. Talk to family and friends about it. Discuss your strengths with a trusted mentor or teacher. Look at an occupational database such as www.onetonline.org which will allow you search jobs with various keywords. The effort involved is well worth the outcome – finding a career or job that will bring fulfilment and job satisfaction.
The other way you can use your strengths in the career direction finding process is using them as criteria to evaluate whether various jobs will be suitable for you. If you have a shortlist of jobs, ask yourself which of them will facilitate you in using your strengths? And which of them will allow you use your strengths most? If such a job has already being judged suitable to your personality type and core interests, wouldn’t that be your dream job?
You wake up one morning and the thought of going to work fills you with dread! You ask yourself “why am I doing this?” “I don’t love my job – I don’t even like it!” You realise that you never had passion for your work. You do it to pay the bills – that flashy new car – “do I even need it?” And the mortgage – “do I really need to keep working at this meaningless job for another twenty-something years just to pay that?” “Maybe I better keep at it. No, wait! I don’t want to feel trapped either!” “Oh God – what am I going to do?”
If you’ve ever had thoughts like these or the feeling that your work-life is empty, it is likely that you are in the wrong job. It happens to many people. They get a job after school or college, start enjoying the independence that comes with having a steady income, the holidays abroad, a car – then a new car, and eventually a home of their own – with a big mortgage of course. This is also the period that many people get married and start a family. Life has been busy – time flies! Without seemingly thinking about it, we work, get promoted, work more, accumulate more earnings and material things. And now it just doesn’t seem to matter – what was it all for? Your life lacks something – meaning, happiness, contentment, fulfillment?
Most people start their working lives to meet the expectations of their parents, their teachers, society in general. Because they were good at maths or science, they were steered into studying engineering. Because their parents wanted them to be a lawyer or a doctor or a dentist, they became one. Because everybody kept telling them that banking or financial services was the best place to work, they got a job there. They have met the expectations of others who at the time were important to them. They still are probably, but meeting their expectations is no longer that important. And now? That “great” job is boring, meaningless and devoid of happiness.
This is the moment that a person feels that they really need to do something about this. But what? Look for a new job? A new career? Start their own business? What?
This is the time to seek the services of a career coach – someone to help you make sense of what you are feeling – someone to help you find a new direction for your life – whether that new direction is a career change, or starting your own business, or doing that which you always knew inside that you should be doing.
I wrote previously about the process involved in finding career direction (you can read that article here), and such a holistic and multi-faceted approach will give you much to think about. The process will bring you to a new awareness of yourself, your personality, your interests, your strengths, and your values. From these insights, a growing consciousness of what direction your career and life should take dawns. You feel at last a sense of excitement about the future as a fuzzy pathway increasingly transforms into a clearer and richer picture of where you want to be. Once you find that, your present reality becomes unacceptable – you have found the way forward and know you must take it. Meaning, happiness, contentment and fulfillment awaits! Go get it!
For various reasons companies in Singapore are downsizing and retrenching staff. In some industries, jobs are being lost to technology, increasingly so since the government placed more emphasis on the need for greater productivity – there are many government schemes in place to support increasing productivity. Jobs are also being lost by moving them overseas to cheaper labour markets such as Malaysia, Vietnam and China.
Every year therefore, more employees in Singapore are receiving the bad news that they are to be made redundant or retrenched. This can be devastating and very frightening news. Employees with families wonder what is to happen to them and their dependents – will they be able to afford the mortgage on their apartment, pay medical fees for elderly parents, and meet other commitments. They worry whether they will be able to find a similar job elsewhere or whether their career has become obsolete. How long will it take to get a new job? The questions are endless and the anxiety high.
Downsizing and retrenching doesn’t just impact the individuals to be laid off. It also affects those whose jobs survive – they too are frightened that it could happen to them. All of this has a big effect on morale and consequently productivity suffers. This negatively impacts the company internally. But there are also external negative impacts – the company’s image and reputation are affected: people view the company as heartless and inhuman for treating their loyal workers this way and this can reduce sales.
Both internal and external negative impact can be greatly reduced if the company provides outplacement support for employees to be retrenched. Such an initiative should be a crucial part of the marketing campaign that accompanies the process. Companies that provide outplacement support are seen as less heartless and even concerned for the ongoing welfare of former staff.
So what is outplacement support? There are two elements to outplacement support. Firstly there is career review, choice and change. This is where retrenched staff receive career coaching to help them review their current worth in the labour market or assist them in choosing a new career. With some upskilling, the person may well be able to continue in the line of work they have previously done, but in industries where jobs are being downsized, usually there is a reduced demand across the board for such jobs. Retrenched staff are encourages to look at a new career, perhaps something they previously had wanted to do but never got around to it. Frequently psychometric inventories or assessments (often incorrectly called personality tests – but they are not ‘tests’ as there are no right or wrong answers!) can be used to suggest a career in which they might find fulfillment and contentment. Strengths-based and values-based approaches are often used too. The objective is that the person will have a clear idea of the job and career that they are going to pursue. This clarity and specificity is necessary for successful job searching, which is the focus of the second element of outplacement support.
People who have been employed for an extended period usually do not have the knowledge and skill required to successful secure a job in modern day Singapore. They need to know how to craft an impactful resume and to be able to refocus it on the specific requirements of an employer for a particular job. They also need to know how to promote themselves in an interview as the best candidate for the job in question. And before getting an interview and sending in a resume, they need to know the three approaches to finding an available job in Singapore. Outplacement support equips people with these necessary skills and knowledge.
The benefits to a company of providing outplacement support to retrenched staff is twofold: it lessens the negative impact internally as both outgoing and surviving staff see the company as supportive in the process; and through well-managed public relations and marketing, customers and the public in general don’t view it as heartless and only focused on the bottom line. The earlier outplacement support is planned and engaged the better – this gives retrenched workers more time to find a new job – hopefully even before their current one disappears.
People use various methods to help them find direction for their career such as a strengths-based approach, values-based approach, etc. I previous wrote about focusing on your strengths when identifying your skills (you can read that article here) and doing so greatly helps if you are going to use a strengths-based approach. Another popular approach is to use psychometric assessments.
Psychometric assessments are frequently referred to as ‘personality tests’, but the use of the words ‘test’ or ‘tests’ conjure up associations with an examination of some kind. Even the word ‘assessments’ can conjure up such associations. But associations such as these are inaccurate and incorrect because there is no element of examination involved – they are not ‘tests’ as there are no right or wrong answers to the questions. The ‘correct’ answer to each question is the one you feel is right – the answer to provide is the one your “gut reaction” tells you. After all, the questions are asking you about your preferences and interests, so your answers are about you and how you are – there can be no right or wrong answer therefore.
So these instruments are more correctly called psychometric inventories or personality inventories – they compile the preferences, traits and interests that you report in your answers to the various questions. This leads us to another point – the output of these inventories is only as good as the input. In other words, you need to be completely honest in answering the questions. The instruments are ‘self-reporting’, which means that the final ‘assessment’ is based on the answers you provide. Any attempt to control, sway, skew or distort your answers may well affect the outcome and the final report – it could lead to you being given a false assessment of your preferences or interests. As only you and your career coach will see the final report, it doesn’t make sense to interfere with it by attempting to portray yourself as you would like to be or the way you would want others to see you. So truthful answers will lead to a final report that will be genuinely useful in assisting you in finding your career direction.
One of the better known and most popular personality inventories is the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI for short. The MBTI is the most robust and most researched of all the personality inventories with more than three and a half million reports completed per year. The research confirms its validity and reliability. The MBTI determines your personality type based on four sets of preferences: where you prefer to focus your attention and get energised – whether you are introverted or extraverted – I or E; the way you take in or perceive information and the kind of information you trust – sensing or intuition – S or N; the way you prefer to make decisions – thinking or feeling – T or F; and how you prefer to deal with the outer world around you – judging or perceiving – J or P. These provide a four letter reference to one of sixteen personality types – e.g. ISTJ or ENFP.
That may sound a little complicated, but your career coach will explain your report to you in a simple manner!
So what are the benefits of using a psychometric inventory such as the MBTI? Firstly, it provides greater understanding of yourself and others. In relation to your career and career direction finding in particular, it helps you to see how your personality type affects your career – is your personality type in keeping with the work you do? If not, you are likely to feel stressed and unhappy in work. It explains how your MBTI preferences affect what you like about a given career, and identifies the tasks and jobs that give you satisfaction. It also explores your preferred work tasks and work environments. Most importantly, it suggests careers that people with your personality type find fulfilling and rewarding, and that they are successful at.
Another popular and useful instrument is the Strong Interest Inventory which explores your interests and what you like to do. The completed report links your interests to possible careers, generates a list of careers suitable to your interests, and indicates what you need to consider when evaluating career options. Because it connects possible careers to your interests, the careers it suggests are sure to be satisfying and fulfilling for you.
There are various approaches to finding career direction and each have their proponents and adversaries. Many career coaches favour a more holistic approach where a number of different approaches are used to provide a wider perspective for the client. Here are three approaches.
Personality inventories are popular and used to good effect in career finding. Better known examples are the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (usually known as the MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII). Personality inventories are assessment tools that help people identify their personality type and they also highlight various traits that people have in social and work situations. They can also be used to identify people’s interests, motivations and their strengths and weaknesses.
Whichever inventories a person uses, they will learn a lot about themselves. However, they are not error-proof as they are self-reporting (you answer the questions as truthfully as you decide) and are therefore best used as indicators rather than as definitive. The various factors identified by the personality inventories are used to assist a person in choosing a career that they will find personally satisfying and fulfilling, and they have much success in doing this.
Another approach to finding career direction is using a strengths-based approach. Firstly let us define a strength as a skill that you are both good at and enjoy doing. Merely focusing on skills you are good at could lead you into a job or role where you use skills you are good at but don’t actually enjoy doing – that’s a recipe for unhappiness and a short lived career. Focusing on strengths, on the other hand, attempts to find a match between the skills you enjoy doing and are good at, and a career or role that utilises all or most of your strengths. Obviously being in such a role would lead to happiness, contentment and fulfilment at work.
The process of discovering your strengths is one of reflection and self-assessment – various exercises are used to identify skills you like using, achievements you are proud of, roles you enjoy, and the type of people you like working with. To get a more objective view of your strengths, you can also ask your family, friends and colleagues what they see as your strengths. The exercise, Your Reflected Best Self, is one way of accomplishing this.
Another approach is to identify our values and relate them to possible careers and roles. Our values determine whether we are happy and content with our work and working life. They influence our behaviour and our attitude to various situations. If our work conflicts with our values, we will feel unhappy and stressed at work, so it is important to know what our values in relation to work are.
Examples of values are fairness, justice, compassion for others, integrity, attention to detail, neatness, etc. If you have to work long hours, but you value family or work-life balance, your job conflicts with your values and you will feel stressed and unhappy at work. If you value working with people and helping others, and your job involves this, you will feel happy and motivated in work. So it is important to find a career or role that is in keeping with your values.
The process of identifying your values is normally led by a career coach or counsellor, but using a long list of values and ticking off the ones that mean something to you also works.
As stated above, it is best to use more than one approach. While it is possible to do a lot of this self-assessment and self-discovery on your own, it is far more productive to seek the assistance of a career coach or specialist.
One of the larger and more arduous tasks involved in managing your career – whether when looking for a new job or preparing for promotion – is systematically compiling a list of your skills. In doing so, you need to focus not only on current work skills, but on skills you may have developed in school and university, in your sports or leisure pursuits, in voluntary or community work – in fact, from every and all aspects of your life to-date. A skill is a skill and it matters little where you gained it – it may well turn out to be a valuable transferable skill that you might need in a new position or role. So don’t confine yourself to only compiling work skills.
A skill is the ability to carry out a particular task. Some skills we are very good at and others we don’t do so well. In our working life, we tend to have to use a mix of skills some of which we are very good at, others ok with, and again others that are still a challenge for us – but we still manage to get the job done.
Then there are skills that we enjoy doing and others that we don’t enjoy. Again, our jobs tend to involve some of both. When we are using skills that we enjoy doing, we feel happy and motivated in our job. Conversely, when we have to use a skill we don’t enjoy, our job is challenging, boring and discouraging.
Our strengths are those skills that we are both good at and enjoy doing. Imagine a job where you only had to utilise your strengths! Think how fulfilling and motivating that would be – a job that would make you very happy indeed!
So when you are thinking about your career direction or looking for a new position, don’t just identify your skills but rather focus on your strengths. When you have identified and written down your strengths, ask yourself (and others) “what job or role would involve using these strengths?” See if you can group or theme some of your strengths – do these suggest a job or role? Research these strengths in as much depth as you can – what you are trying to identify are all those jobs, roles or positions that use your strengths. You may not find a job or role that uses all of your strengths, but if you find one that utilises many of them, wouldn’t that be a job worth pursuing?
Our work takes up a large portion of our life, so shouldn’t we try as much as possible to ensure that we are happy at work – that our work is fulfilling and motivating. The way to do this is find a job or role that utilises our strengths.
What should we do when our job only uses some of our strengths (besides looking for one that requires more of our strengths!)? It is important for our inner happiness and contentment that we find the opportunity to use as many of our strengths as possible. So for those strengths that are unused in our work, look for other avenues to use them. Does a local charity or voluntary organisation need help that involves using some of your strengths? Would taking a committee position in your sports or leisure club facilitate using some of those unused strengths?