5 things never to say to your boss

Your boss isn’t your friend. Many tend to forget this point when they get too familiar with their bosses. Still, your boss is your boss. It pays to speak with tact, as the words spoken cannot be taken back. Saying the wrong thing can ruin your career.

 

What exactly does your boss not want to hear from you?

 

  1. “I just can’t stand working with…..”

That is going to backfire. You may think that by complaining about your colleague, it is going to get him into your boss’ bad books. However, that isn’t true. Complaining about your colleague will most likely ruin your reputation rather than his.

 

  1. “It’s not my fault…”

Your boss is going to see you as a childish 6-year-old if you were to make such a statement. Take full responsibility for the mistake you have made. Even if it isn’t your fault, avoid saying this. Take an active role to be part of the solution instead.

 

  1. “I can’t……”

When you are not able to complete certain tasks that your boss hands you, never say you can’t do it. You may be in a situation where you have other tasks at hand. Explain the situation to your boss and ask which is more important.

 

  1. “That isn’t my job….”

The tasks asked of you may not be limited to what is in the job description. As long as it is asked of you, it’s part of your job.

 

  1. “I emailed you about it last week.”

Your responsibility does not end when you have sent that email to your boss. When you do not get a reply, it is your duty to follow up on the matter.

 

Just remember this: always think before you speak.

Dancing to a Better Work-Life Balance

You’ve just arrived in the office; a mountain load of work welcomes your arrival. Your boss gets up to you and orders you to complete them by tomorrow. However, at the end of the day, there’s still a long way to what they call completion; you head for home with that stack of files and documents to accompany you through the night. At home, your 6 year old keeps pestering for a bedtime story; your new born cries non-stop. While having to settle things on this side, you still remember that you have lots of work to do.

Does this scenario ring a bell?

You can’t possibly tell your boss that you didn’t complete the work as you had to take care of your children or didn’t have time. Or else, he would show you the way out.  Many working adults today are torn between the two: life and job.

These are tips that can help you to improve your work-life balance.

1. Organise

Work is never ending and demands are overwhelming. Prioritize what is important to you: family, work and even your personal interests.

 

2. To-do list and avoid distractions

Create a to-do list for yourself every day. Set a time to complete them. While you are trying your very best to keep to the list that you have created, put away distractions. Close tabs that cause you to drift away while concentrating on your tasks and put your phone away. These can really help you to reduce the amount of time that you waste and allow you to complete tasks efficiently.

 

3. Take breaks

Did I read it wrongly? Take breaks? No, you didn’t. You may think that taking breaks are a waste of time but it helps you to work better. By gluing yourselves to your seats the entire day isn’t going to help much. Instead, take a short ten-minute break after 1-2 hours of work. Standing up to stretch, grabbing a snack (preferably a healthy one like an apple) or reading a blog post on Jobiness are ways to take a short break.

 

4. Don’t think of work after you leave the office

When you leave from work, stop thinking about the projects or tasks that you have. Neither should you check any emails related to work. With work kept out of your mind, you would be able to focus on other things that matter too such as family.

 

It is a challenge for many to maintain work-life balance. At the end of the day, many sacrifice either side of the scale. Work-life balance is very important, be careful not to overlook it!

 

 

Facebook Said to Plan IPO Filing for as Early as Coming Week

Singaporeans “like” Facebook.

According to an international study by Experian Hitwise on Facebook usage among various countries in 2011, Singapore ranked top in the list of eight other countries, as having spent the longest time on Facebook- an average of 38 minutes and 46 seconds per session.

Statistics from Socialbakers in 2012 revealed that Singapore has one of the highest Facebook penetration rates in the world at nearly 60 percent, with new members joining every month.

With increasing popularity of such social network websites, it is of little surprise that studies have shown that social networking sites are taking up employees’ time, with more than half of office employees surfing the internet for personal use during office hours. In 2009, a study by an IT research company, Nucleus Research, found that about 77 per cent of employees who own Facebook accounts use it during office hours.

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According to The Straits Times in 2010, it is estimated that 70 per cent of companies in Singapore use software to block employees from assessing Facebook at work for security and to prevent loss of productivity.

Do you find yourself checking Facebook during work hours?

Here are some considerations to make to help you kick that habit.

 Read also: How To Be On Time For Work

You will be caught

In Singapore, most companies and organisations, be it in the public or private sector, monitor the online activity undertaken by employees through the tracking of office laptops and computers by an IT system. Hence, your company is aware of the amount of time you take to visit Facebook, book tickets for a movie or to do research for work. There are cases where companies view the issue of employees accessing Facebook during office hours seriously and have taken action against them, in the form of issuing warning letters or verbal warnings. Negative or suggestive postings on Facebook have even led to termination, for employees both in Singapore and overseas. Recently, in our neighbouring country, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) released a statement in January that civil servants or staff of government-linked companies who spend significant amount of time during office hours surfing Facebook can be deemed as corruption, because the government pays the employees to fully utilise the office hours for work.

Also, it is common these days for bosses and subordinates to be “friends” on Facebook. Imagine the awkward situation, when a staff posts a status which states “I am lazing at a corner” and his boss reads it in real time through live feed from Facebook postings.

 Read also: 10 Tips to Increase Productivity At Work

It takes up time

Time is a zero sum game. Every five minutes you spend with your eyes glued to the screen viewing other people’s walls, will be five minutes taken away from your work. Instead of using Facebook during office hours, how about focusing on the work which needs to be done instead? With greater efficiency, it may help you to get things done faster and knock off on time.

 

It shows your respect for the company

By abstaining from using Facebook for personal reasons during office hours, it also reflects that you respect the company and do not take advantage of the trust that the company bestows upon you to do work during the stipulated hours. After all, you are paid to work about nine hours a day. How would you feel if you hire someone to run errands for you for four hours, only to find out that he had taken a nap for two hours in between? It goes the same way for the company which you work for.

 

It affects your health and distracts you

A recent study which was published in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences suggests that social networking sites like Facebook can affect one’s mental health. While it probably takes more than Facebook surfing to cause a Facebook user to become delusional, it is likely that seeing negative postings on Facebook can affect our moods for the rest of the day, making it difficult for us to focus on our tasks at hand or pay attention during meetings.

 

Nevertheless, Facebook is a useful tool in creating awareness and impact, drawing the world closer, which  makes it easier to network and catch up with friends. If Facebook is in your job description, it is certainly a powerful tool when used effectively to engage your audience.  Otherwise, stop procrastinating. Stay away from Facebook and get going with your work.

 

fathers day work tips

Fathers come in different types, shapes and sizes, but all of them have one thing in common. Each of them has invaluable advice to share, learned in life through their own footsteps.

With 40 years of experience in the workforce, my father is the best adviser whom I can turn to, for guidance on how to survive in the workplace. Experience is priceless, and this is something which can be earned only with sweat and time. I am grateful that my father had so willingly imparted such invaluable advice to me, based on his years in the workplace.  Since Father’s Day is around the corner, I’ll like to show my appreciation through words, by sharing the 10 tips which he taught me, which I adhere closely to:

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1)      Be helpful and get along with your colleagues

Colleagues are more than lunch khakis. It is important to bond and get along with them, because having helpful colleagues will certainly facilitate getting things done in the workplace, especially when you need to retrieve information or data from them. Thus, thoughtful gestures such as helping a colleague to carry some of her heavy stacks of meeting materials can go a long way.

2)      Don’t reveal your dislike

Even if you hate your colleague and know that he has stabbed you in the back countless times, do not have it written all over your face. Honesty is not always the best policy. Making a friend is better than making an enemy. Hence, there is no need to empty your cards and reveal all that you know to confront the colleague since the backstabbing has already been done. Open confrontation will not benefit you in any way and it will serve only to ensure an awkward working relationship with the colleague which you might continue to work with, in many years to come. Thus, be aware that he is not someone whom you can trust, but there is no need to tell him or anyone that. Continue to lunch with the colleague as usual.

3)      Be firm and confident

Be firm in what you stand up for. Displaying confidence in your proposal during a presentation will not only make a difference in the outcome of whether the bosses agree to a proposal, but also how they perceive you as an employee. Confidence is half the battle won.

4)      Don’t admit to a mistake if it’s not done by you

Don’t succumb to pressure and apologise or take up responsibility for a mistake which was not committed by you. We are paid to work, not to be scapegoats for other people’s mistakes.

 5)      Pay no heed to gossip or rumours

Every now and then, there will certainly be some office gossip which makes the rounds to your ears. It does not hurt to listen, but take everything with a pinch of salt and do not let the office rumours influence your decision or the way you work in any way.

6)      Be nice to your subordinates

The foot which you step on today may belong to the ass which you kiss tomorrow. While it may not lead to such a dramatic twist in the workplace, but it certainly helps to be nice to your subordinates or support staff. They will be more willing to go the extra mile for you, especially when you need to rush to meet deadlines.

7)      Follow instructions

Do as you are told. Instructions from your boss should be acceded to, even if you think you can do the tasks in a different and better way. Following instructions reflect respect to your boss, and you can do the tasks your way if you become the boss in future.

8)      Manage your time well and prioritise your tasks

Since work will always be streaming in, do not procrastinate your tasks and prioritise them accordingly. Just like Animal Farm, where “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”, all tasks are urgent, but some are more urgent than others. Learn to categorise your tasks and prioritise them according to their deadlines and importance.

9)      Trust no one (in the workplace)

A secret is no longer a secret in the workplace if you tell someone about it. If there is a secret which you do not want anyone in the office to know, keep it that way and do not tell anyone, not even your most trusted aide in office. Walls have ears and relationships can mutate. Your most trusted aide in office today may not be so tomorrow.

10)   Leave the office on time

There is no end to work. Hence, when it is the time to knock off, do so because there are other important matters to attend to, like family. After all, the company can hire another competent employee but the family will not be able to hire another competent daddy.

 

 

 

 

These are tips which are applicable in every workplace. My personal favourite advice from my father is point 10, because not only does it serve as a reminder that while we should work hard as responsible employees, we should also remember to spend time with our families, it also warms my heart that my father remembers to make time for us.

puntual at work

Punctuality is important because it reflects your personality. Being late for five minutes for a meeting with people for the first time can create a lifelong impression on these same people.

Being on time for work and appointments reflects mastery of your time and good self-discipline. It also shows credibility in getting things done within the stipulated deadlines and respect for others. As quoted by renowned American author Karen Jay Fowler, “Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you”.

Unfortunately, a lack of punctuality is a common HR sin that many employees are guilty of at the workplace. How can we ensure that we turn up for work on time? Here are some tips:

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1)      Understand why you are perpetually late

late for work

What are the reasons that cause you to become a habitual “latecomer”? Do a self-evaluation. For example, is it difficult for you to wake up in the morning because you slept late the night before? Were you held up by a task which needed to be completed before setting off for the appointment? Or, is punctuality simply not important enough to matter? If there are specific reasons which are causing you to be late, address them. Sleep early. Give allowance time when you plan your schedule and set off earlier. Make punctuality your priority. A change in behavior starts from a change in mindset. Understand also that by being late, you are in effect being unfair to your employer, whom you have agreed to on contract to come at a set time.

 

 

2)      Set your alarm early and have your “snooze” button on

Isn’t it amazing how five more minutes of sleep can feel so precious in the morning? Do not give in to the temptation and get out of bed immediately, once the alarm rings. However, if it is really very difficult for you to wake up immediately when the alarm rings, set your alarm to ring at least 1 hour before you need to leave your home and use the “snooze” button to give yourself a few “extra” minutes of sleep. Place your alarm or phone walking distance from your bed. It forces you to get onto your feet and turn off the alarm.  If this fails, get a good and reliable friend to call you up.

3)      Prepare the attire for work in advance

Do not waste time in the morning on deciding what to wear when you can have everything ready the night before. Have your clothes and shoes to be worn decided and laid out properly the night before. This will allow you to be more prepared which saves time.

 Read also: 10 Tips to Increase Productivity at Work

4)      Set aside allowance time

Set aside allowance time and leave your home earlier, to give room for possible delays, to ensure that you reach your work place on time. For example, heavy traffic and crowded trains are to be expected during peak hours. Hence, do be prepared and expect the travelling time to be delayed. Similarly, do keep a schedule of your day-to-day activities and have a safe estimate of the amount of travelling time required in order to make it for the next meeting punctually. Do not fix another task before the meeting time if the intervals are too short, as the task might take longer than you expected to be completed.

 

5)      Consider a car pool

To facilitate your efforts to ensure that you will be on time, you can consider taking up car pool services available which will provide efficient and timely transportation from your home to your workplace daily. Such car pool services might be more costly than the average transportation costs via public transport but they save you the hassle of squeezing onto the sardine-packed train or bus every morning. The additional costs just might provide you with the added motivation to be on time. Besides, having to meet your carpool buddies at that fixed time each morning makes you liable for their time, adding extra pressure on you to be on time too.

 

6)      Keep your watch/clock accurate

Do ensure that your watch/clock is accurate because you will be referring to it constantly when planning your activities. If necessary, you can consider adjusting your watch to be five to ten minutes faster so that you will always be “ahead” of time.

In work and in business, time is money. By being punctual for work and in attendance of meetings, you are showing your bosses, clients and colleagues that you respect time, understand the value of timeliness, and how it quantifies into dollars and cents. At the end of the day, if you cannot be trusted with time, how can you be trusted with other tasks? 

Don’t let a few minutes of lateness affect your lifelong prospects. Be punctual from now on.

 

 

Money happiness

I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of advice about how to increase your salary – job hop, make sure you get at least a 20% increase between jobs, don’t reveal your current salary, and so on. And we do this all in the hopes of being happier, because we’ve been ingrained with this idea that salary directly correlates to happiness.

Does it?

More money doesn’t make you happier – to an extent

According to this article, there is a solid benchmark at which money stops making you happy – USD75,000. That’s approximately a monthly salary of SGD8,000, meaning that any increase in your salary after that won’t necessarily make you any happier. But as the article cautions, before you rush out to chase after that magic figure, remember that there are many other factors that affect your happiness.

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Also, since we need to deduct 20% for CPF, that ideal figure for your salary is probably closer to SGD10,000.

Since the dawn of time, there have been sayings that money doesn’t equal happiness, like “money is the root of all evil” or “money isn’t everything”, and it feeds our innate belief that a higher salary isn’t going to buy you happiness. What this research study proves is something that humans have always believed, that material value will not equate emotional joy.

That answers the question, doesn’t it? A higher paycheck won’t necessarily make you happier because there are other, more important things in life. Check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – once you can fulfil basic physical needs, material things cease to be of value. You need to self-actualise, that is, do the things that you were born to do.

Read also: Passion vs Paycheck

Happiness

But wait – more money does make you happier

However, a more recent article debunks that theory, and proves that no matter your income level, a bigger increment will make you happier. Which makes sense, when you think about it – why would the rich want to be richer if they’re already achieved the maximum amount of happiness that money can buy?

The problem with this article is that it goes against our fundamental belief that happiness increases in direct proportion to wealth. It indirectly says that human beings are, at heart, mercenary creatures who crave pleasure above all else. It implies that humans are no better than animals, in that sense. It insults our sense of self-worth as people, because we always think we are above our basic desires.

But a bigger bonus does make you happier, doesn’t it? You can buy more things, it gives you the sense of more freedom and you have to worry less about cost. Happiness isn’t always so easy to see in others, but their number of worldly goods is. We assume that the more stuff someone has, the happier they are.

Read also: Find Meaning in Your Job

Which one is right?

With these two conflicting studies, what is the answer? After all, the studies have been conducted by reputable institutions, and they both clearly have the evidence to back up their thesis. Both make sense, and yet they can’t both be right, can they?

Can money buy you happiness?

I believe that question can only be answered individually, not on a mass, homogenous level. And to answer that question, we must answer another question first.

To figure out whether money can buy happiness, we must first ask ourselves what happiness is. And that’s the fundamental problem – happiness isn’t universally measurable. Different things contribute to happiness in different ways for different people. A chai latte certainly doesn’t make every drinker equally happy, just as a café mocha isn’t everyone’s drink of choice. Remember the old saying, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison?” We were all wired differently, and hence we all have different preferences, favourites, and (Facebook) likes.

However, because we assume that what makes us happy will make everyone else happy as well, we project that definition of happiness on to others. We see other people possessing things that would make us happy, but then we see that those people don’t value it as much as we do. We then come to the assumption that they don’t value it as much as we would, because they have so much of it and are therefore much happier than we are.

We don’t realise that they look at us the same way. We have the things that they would like, but we don’t value it as much as they do. They then think we don’t value it because we have so much of it, and are therefore much happier than they are.

Perhaps we have been projecting our version of happiness on other people, when in fact, all of us place a different value on different things. 

And so was born this misconception that with more things, come more happiness. This is simply because we all value things differently.

So what’s the answer?

It’s not how much money you have, but what you do with it, that makes you happy. Unless you’re Uncle Scrooge, who loves money for the sake of it, a fat paycheck itself won’t bring you happiness.

Don’t get me wrong – more stuff isn’t going to make you happier either. It’s practically the same thing as money. What will bring you happiness is, as Maslow pointed out seven decades ago, is self-actualisation. Doing the things that you were born to do.

What that means is to create. To make art. To help others. To make or do things that brings others happiness. To add to the collective happiness of the world. And not doing this as a one-off or only when we have time, but doing this constantly, on a regular basis.

This translates into doing a job, being in an occupation, and having a career that hinges upon adding happiness to others, instead of being based on how high a salary that job can give you. Ultimately, this means that your line of work is much more important to your happiness than how much you get paid. Make it a career that you can be proud of, an occupation that lifts up other people instead of manipulating them.

Because it’s when we make others happy, that we bring true happiness to ourselves.

passionnnn

When we were young, our ambitions were simple. Do what we’re interested in. When we grew older and had to buy our first meal, things changed. Money is important simply because everything has a price. Thus was born the dilemma of work – to do it for passion or the paycheck?

It’s an eternal struggle for almost everyone out there. You’ll always see someone who earns more, someone who loves their job more, someone who is happier than you. And that is when you question yourself – why do you work?

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Passion

Passion for work
Photo Credit: barrettrose.com

It’s a very noble reason to be working for passion, because it hearkens back to a more idealistic time of your life, when a career meant doing something you loved. But passion doesn’t always equate to success, materialistically or otherwise.

That’s because the reason for work is altruistic – you do your job because you want to. And because of that, so much of yourself is invested in your work that success is so much sweeter, but failures will sting harder and closer to the heart than if you did your job for a paycheck.

We all have to pay our dues, and when our failures accumulate, it’s natural to look on the other side of the fence. See all our peers who work purely for income. And realise that their salaries are so much higher than your own. There will come a time in your life when you equate your self worth to your net worth. And you will ask yourself: is this worth it?

 

Paycheck

Cold Hard Cash paycheckWorking for cold, hard cash is the answer, then. It’s a practical, respectable reason for work. Our parents had only one rationale for employment, to support themselves and their families. Indirectly, or directly, they’ve passed that mentality to us. Working for money is good, moral, a Confucian ethic.

Except that that the money has a cost. Your time. You are using time to pay for your money. Time that could be used to pursue your interests. To spend time with loved ones. Most importantly, time that could be used to develop yourself as a person.

It’s nice to have this nest egg. But one day you’ll look at your bank account, and you’ll wonder if it’s all worth it when other people seem to be happier doing what they’re passionate about, for so much less.

Passion or Paycheck?

The reasons for work are not so binary, of course. Other people stay on in their companies because they love their colleagues and the environment. Some stay in their jobs simply because they don’t know what else to do. Many stay and work because the company offers them good work life balance.

But all happy people have one thing in common. They know what’s important to them and they pursue them. You see, no two people are alike. Money may be important to me, but interest may be more important to you. Having time to spend with family may be important to a one, but good colleagues may be more important to another.

 Read also: Find Meaning in Your Job

What’s Important to You?

Different people value different things in life. Sports, friends, family, religion, money, passion, power, prestige – the list goes on. It’s identifying what’s important to you that is the key to your happiness. The question isn’t whether to work for passion or the paycheck, but whether you’re working to fufill the goals that make you happy.

Ask yourself what’s important to you. If you don’t know, try. It’s OK to make mistakes, to try every possible reason to work, and to not have all the answers. That’s what life is about. But once you know what’s important to you, everything will fall in place.

And then you won’t just be working for passion or the paycheck. You’ll be working for your own happiness.

 

LWE, which stands for “long weekend”, has become every Singapore employee’s favourite acronym in our acronym-besotted country. And it should, because a few strategically placed leave days virtually ensures that every public holiday results in a LWE.

According to MOM’s website, the public holiday dates for 2014 are as follows. They even come with their own unique icons!

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Public Holiday Date Day of the Week Icon
New Year’s Day 1 January 2014 Wednesday  new year
Chinese New Year 31 January 2014
1 February 2014
Friday
Saturday
 chinese new year
Good Friday 18 April 2014 Friday  good friday
Labour Day 1 May 2014 Thursday  labour day
Vesak Day 13 May 2014 Tuesday  vesak day
Hari Raya Puasa 28 July 2014 Monday  hari raya
National Day 9 August 2014 Saturday  
Hari Raya Haji 5 October 2014 Sunday (the following Monday will be a Public Holiday)  hari raya
Deepavali 23 October 2014 Thursday (actual date will be reconfirmed when Hindu almanac is available)  deepavali
Christmas Day 25 December 2014 Thursday  christmas

With just six days of annual leave (2 Jan, 3 Jan, 2 May, 12 May, 24 Oct, 26 Dec), almost every holiday (except National Day) becomes a long weekend. But the real question is: what should I do over that long weekend?

1)      Shoot your very own YouTube video

With the advent of YouTube and the ability to create your very own channel, why not shoot a funny YouTube clip of your own? Three days is just nice – one day to script and plan your story, one day to film everything, and one day to edit and update your video. All you need is a camera phone, any video editing software (like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker), and a YouTube account.

And if you’re very good at it, YouTube will even pay you. A little extra income on the side never hurt anyone!

2)      Do a movie marathon

Have you watched every Star Wars film? Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? There’s no better time to do a movie marathon than a long weekend, simply because you’ll need a long sleep after that to recover. Especially if you watch all the extended DVD editions (and really, what’s the point of a movie marathon if you don’t?), each film can be upwards of 3 hours. For a trilogy, that’ll take at least nine hours to finish.

Pick up one of those collected movie editions at either Kinokuniya or Amazon, and your weekend is all set.

 3)      Volunteer at an orphanage or old folks’ home

Give back to society and donate your most precious resource – time – to the needy. It’s a worthwhile cause to be spending your time at, and you will find no lack of appreciation from the people you help. Sometimes we overlook the less fortunate in our race to the top, and it helps us realise that there’s a strata of society that really needs our help.

Take a look at SG Cares for volunteering opportunities, or call up your nearest nursing home to see how you can help.

 4)      Go trekking overseas

Visit a volcano, swim under a waterfall, and climb a mountain. Southeast Asia has so many opportunities to get in touch with nature (and disconnect from Facebook) that you only need a short flight or coach ride to get to one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Just remember to bring your camera for your trekking trip so that you can upload all those pictures once you’re in Singapore again.

Check out Southeast Asian Backpacker and Rough Guides for a list of places to go trekking and what preparations you’ll need to make.

 5)      Watch a concert overseas

Take a short plane ride and watch your favourite band perform in a completely different environment, with crowds of fans that more expressive, excitable, and energetic than they’d ever be here. As a bonus, after the concert you get to do supper in a foreign land, and that’s another adventure waiting to happen in whichever city you go to. Remember to book your tickets early though!

Visit Concerts in Asia for a list of concerts happening in Southeast Asia.

At the end of the day, remember that the weekend is meant for rest from your job. You might be a worker but don’t be a workaholic and spend so much time maximising each long weekend that you end up more tired than you began. It’s okay to slack off once in a while – that’s what long weekends are for!

 

 

Scared Graduate

It’s your final year of school, and soon you’ll have a full-fledged degree on your hands. In the next few months (or even shorter, hopefully), you’ll be a working adult, and be counted amongst the 3.4 million people in Singapore’s labour force.

But wait! Before throwing that mortar board in the air and framing up your degree, don’t forget to make the most out of everything your university or polytechnic has to offer you. Once you graduate, chances are, you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits (some of which you might not even have realised) of being in an educational institute.

Here are some of the things that should be in your checklist:

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1) Start Applying for Jobs 6 Months Before You Graduate 

apply for jobs
Photo Credit: Cartoon Stock

 

This may sound like common sense, but it’s important to get a head start on job applications. It usually takes a month before employers get back to you on your applications, so starting early means you’ll have job offers before you graduate. A month is a long time to be doing nothing, so why not start early while you’re still studying?

Also, practice makes perfect. Your first few job applications will be spent fine-tuning your CV, rewriting your cover letters, and honing your interview skills. You probably aren’t going to ace any salary negotiations right off the bat, and having a few job interview experiences in the belt will give you the confidence you need to be able to negotiate better terms and benefits for what will likely be your first full time job.

 

 

Read also: 3 Steps to Discerning Your Career – A Fresh Grad’s Reflection

 

2) Ask Your Teachers and Professors For Testimonials and Referrals

While you’re still fresh in your tutors’ minds, ask for a testimonial from them. This will help your future employers get a better idea (and impression) of you before they hire you. Remember that your teachers also have other commitments as well, so offer to write the testimonial for them if they like – this also means that you get to put what you think are your best qualities in the testimonial.

In addition, most job applications require that you list down two or more character referees. Rather than asking friends and family, have your former professors be included as character referees. It looks more credible and impartial.

 

3) Get a Certified Copy of Your CCA Record

Most tertiary institutions will provide a certified copy of your CCA (co-curricular activity) record upon request, but it’s usually not automatically given to graduating students. Check with your institution’s CCA department to see how you can obtain a copy.

It might not seem that useful at first, but there are two benefits to having a school certified copy of your CCA record. First, it provides validation for all the CCAs listed in your CV. Second, it might remind you of some ECA that you took part in but forgot, and thus help boost your resume as well.

 

 4) Get Your Resume Vetted

resume
Photo Credit: Ari Agency

Every university and polytechnic has a career guidance department, which is a good place to start if you want someone more experienced to vet your CV. No amount of Internet advice and resume help books can boost your portfolio better than a person who’s seen and improved hundreds of resumes.

Sometimes it’s the choice of words or the way you present your educational and work experiences that makes all the difference between a cookie cutter CV or an outstanding resume. A well-trained eye will be able to spot these differences, and don’t forget, that’s what the career guidance department is for. So walk on in and ask a career guidance counsellor to check out your curriculum vitae!

Read also: 4 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Resume

 5) Attend Career Guidance Workshops

career guidance
Photo Credit: TASI Online

Towards the end of your final semester, your inbox will start getting bombarded with emails for resume workshops, job interview seminars, personal grooming talks, and many other sessions that offer free advice and training for prospective job applicants.

Sign up for them, especially if they’re free. They might not seem important while you’re rushing out your final year project or mugging for that one last paper, but you’ll be thankful for the extra skills and knowledge they bring when it comes down to your future employment opportunities. Also, they tend to make you think more about your upcoming career paths and how to present yourself, which is always a good thing.

 

 

6) Sign Up With All Your Alumni Clubs/Networks

Again, this is especially so if membership is free. These networks tend to provide freebies, possible job openings, and other opportunities (provided you read their emails). It’s likely that you’re going to be automatically subscribed to them anyway, but always take the chance to maximise your networks.

This will prove especially useful in future, if your job requires you to tap on your networks to access a broader base of potential clients, consumers, or even employees. These alumni clubs are usually very helpful if you need to broadcast (relevant) information to like-minded people, and are often your foundation for future networking.

 

7) Maximise Your School’s Print Facilities

printing
Photo Credit: Laser Age

 

Many tertiary institutions have discounted printing prices (as compared to printers outside of school). You’re going to need to have at least ten copies of your resume on hand, as well as copies of all your relevant certificates and transcripts for job interviews. This adds up, especially when you’re an unemployed student. So appreciate the low printing prices while you still can.

Just watch out for those printer jams!

 

 

 

 

8) Research Potential Employers and Industries

Remember how I mentioned you should start applying for jobs six months before you graduate? This is an excellent reason why. When you get called in for a job interview, use your free access to your school’s subscribed databases to read up about your future company as much as possible.

If you’ve never used these databases before (how did you do any research papers?), start with your school’s library website. You probably won’t get a chance to have unlimited access to JSTOR, Lexis Nexis, and Factiva after you graduate (and your account is shut down), so use it as much as you can now.

Going into a job interview having thoroughly researched the company will give you the additional confidence and knowledge to answer any potential questions the interview might ask, and also prompt you to ask the right questions as well. Google is useful, but paid databases will give you the edge.

 

9) Make More Friends and Invest in Them

enjoy the friendships

This may sound slightly mercenary, but this will be the last time you can make friends as easily and quickly. Firstly, you won’t have the chance to be exposed to as many strangers as you would be in your classes. Secondly, the people you meet will be more wary and guarded, since it’s difficult to be friends with your colleagues at the workplace. 

Treasure the friends you have. Get to know more people, even if it’s your final semester. Just like signing up with your alumni clubs, this will help your broaden your network. And you never know when you might meet your soul mate, or best friend, along the way.

 

10) Enjoy the Last Semester of School

Most importantly, enjoy your last few months as a student. Don’t be so caught up in maximising every last minute of your academic life that you forget to stop and smell the roses. You may not know it now, but this will be the “good old days” that you talk about in the future.

Sign up for that mountaineering trip that you have been procrastinating to all these years. Accept every invitation for a meal with your schoolmates. Ask your professors out for coffee. Form a team and take part in your varsity’s sports day. Support your friends at school performances. Organize cook-outs at your place for your classmates. Perform in a school play.

A time like this will never come by again. You’ll have a lifetime to work after you graduate, and the older you get, the less your education matters (although it’s still important) in your resume. But you’ll never be able to access as much free stuff, get to know as many different people, or have as much freedom as being a student.

Have fun as your education draws to a close. And always, always keep your student pass/ID – the amount of discounts you can get with it is staggering (provided you still look like a student).

Labour Day, ironically a day when you’re not supposed to be labouring (unless you’re on shift duty), is a holiday on 1st May which celebrates the 8-hour modern work day and achievements of employees. In other words, Labour Day was quite possibly the first celebration of work-life balance.

The 8-hour work day came about as a result of the Haymarket Massacre in 1886, which happened during a protest in Chicago for better working hours and conditions (working hours ranged from 10 to 12 hours then). After a bomb exploded in the middle of the protest, killing police and demonstrators alike, the police responded with gunfire, further increasing the death toll. Similar demonstrations occurred worldwide thereafter, but this was the beginning of Labour Day celebrations and the shift to a 8-hour work day.

This year, Labour Day falls on a Wednesday, which means there’s no long weekend unless you’re willing to spend two days of leave to create that five day weekend. After being spoilt by so many long weekends, what can we actually do on this one day public holiday? Plenty, as it turns out.

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1)      Join the White Paper protest

It worked over a century ago – so why not return to the roots of Labour Day and join a protest? The next White Paper protest will be held on Labour Day, at the Speakers Corner in Hong Lim Park. This is a ground-up movement and is happening from 4 – 7 pm, with the theme “For A Better Singapore”. Singaporeans from all walks of life will be coming on stage to speak on various issues such as employment challenges, influx of foreigners, etc. If it gets too hot and crowded at the protest, you can always head over to Chinatown Point for some good old fashioned shopping.

 

2)      Shop at Chinatown Point Uniqlo

The newly renovated Chinatown Point boasts a vibrant selection of shops, including Uniqlo. Their grand opening promotions are on till 2 May, and you can pick up some pretty sweet deals there!

 

3) Buffet brunch at Paulaner Brauhaus

Paulaner Brauhaus at Millenia Walk has a special BBQ buffet brunch, and with an additional $10 you can get free flow beer with your brunch as well. What better time to indulge in Singapore’s favourite past time? But if you’d rather a place to sleep after you eat, you can always opt for Fullerton Hotel instead.

 

4) Food staycation at Fullerton Hotel

Eat to your hearts’ content at Fullerton Hotel with their Labour Day specials, which include an American buffet breakfast for two at their very own Town Restaurant, as well as a dining credit of $50. Best of all, the offer is on till 2 May!

 

Read also: Labour Day in Singapore: An Evaluation of the Foreign Labour Situation

 

5) Spa staycation at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel

If the favourite Singaporean past time isn’t for you, then how about a spa getaway at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel? Their Labour Day offer includes a daily breakfast for one and a one-for-one Hair/Face/Body Treatment Voucher at their in house J’s Salon. And it’s available all week till 5 May!

 

6) Take a Chan Brother’s cruise

Turn this Labour Day into a long weekend and book leave for Thursday and Friday. How about going for a short trip instead of staying in Singapore? Book one of Chan Brothers’ 2/3/4 to go two night cruises to Redang or Malacca. With 4 to go prices at nearly half of the regular offers, there’s no better time to head out in a ship.

 

7) Watch Austin Powers and Grease for free

If trips and staycations are hard on the pocket, how about some free movies? Channel 5 is airing two blockbusters on Labour Day – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Grease. Perhaps the most cost effective way to spend Labour Day would be on a couch in front of your TV.

 

8) Catch an Esplanade show

Hello Paige”, a family friendly show about Paige, a young girl, and her kitten Neko, premieres on Labour Day. Watch Paige and Neko navigate the world of sounds at the Recital Studio in Esplanade and you might actually find yourself liking it even more than your children.

 

9) Join a Zumba class

The Zumba Meetup Group is having a Labour Day Special, where you get to try out Zumba at offer prices. Just join their group and sign up for a class, and you’ll be burning calories while the rest of Singapore eats and shops.

 

10) Visit the Istana

The Istana is only open four days a year to the public – and Labour Day is one of those open houses. Visit one of Singapore’s iconic landmarks and relive history and you might even get to meet the Prime Minister!

A word of advice to all: If you are thinking of making a trip across the border to Malaysia, you might like to change your travel plans. Traffic at the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints is expected to be heavy according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

To all workers out there, this day is meant for celebrating you. Put aside all work and enjoy this day that you deserve.

Image Courtesy: Esplanade Theatres