When there is nothing to do at work…

Every now and then, you’ll experience a slowdown in your workplace, and it is at this time where some of you might wonder, “What to do when there is nothing to do at work?”

Many spend their free time surfing the Internet, such as checking their social media, going online shopping and watching YouTube videos for recreation.

However, if you’re working towards a successful career growth, you’ll need to take advantage of your slow workdays by doing things that are useful and productive to you.

Here are some beneficial activities that you can occupy yourself with during your free time at work:

Volunteer yourself

If you find that once you’ve completed your tasks and are quite free until the next project lands in your lap, one of the best ways to make yourself stand out in the eyes of your superiors is to volunteer
to help out on other ongoing projects.

In some situations, there may not be that many opportunities for you to join ongoing projects but if the opportunity does arise, look at it as a way to improve your skills and add to your experience rather than as an additional burden on your work day.

Improve your capability

Whether you’re enhancing your current knowledge/skills or learning some new ones, improving your capability not only makes you a better employee, but also
increases your value in the job market.

There are many ways to go about this.

For example, you can read articles, watch educational videos or take up free online courses related to your field of work or to a new area of interest.

Build online presence

More job recruiters are searching for job candidates on the Internet, which is why it is very important for you to ensure that you can stand out amidst a highly competitive job
market through your online presence.

A solid online presence showcases skills, experience and passion, thereby giving credibility for potential employers to see and boosting your network as more people connect with you.

If you’ve yet to build a professional one, you can start off by developing your own personal website/portfolio, opening a professional social media account or creating your own content.

Review your job performance

Your slowdown at work can also be spent on reflecting on how you have performed at your current employment so far.

Ask yourself questions like “What kind of assignments have I been undertaking so far?”, “Have I done well in them?”, “Do I feel that I need to take on more challenging ones?” and many others.

Make sure that you follow through with actions that should be taken based on your work review.

Plan your next move

Since your mind isn’t preoccupied with work, you’ll have some time to plan what you intend to do in the next few years of your career and life.

If you find that you’re about to go through a slowdown for several days, list down tasks that you can do throughout these days to keep yourself from being idle.

Always keep in mind though that not having much work to do in the office could signal that your company may be going through a business slump and in the worst case scenario if could mean a restructuring may also be in the cards.

So always make sure that you bring value to your company even in the slow days and more importantly be prepared for uncertainties especially when the overall economy is not doing so well.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2G7gGUx

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Learning from your mistakes

At SarawakYES! we always emphasise the need to learn from mistakes, whether it’s for our career, education or personal growth.

Yet we live in a world where not everyone can tolerate mistakes, and many parents have been teaching their children not to slip-up, supposedly so that they don’t grow up to become incompetent or troublesome.

The truth, however, is that whether intentionally or not we all make mistakes. But it’s the way you interpret and confront yours that will eventually define you as a person.

If you read stories of accomplished individuals, you’ll find their achievements are due to their willingness and determination to learn from and overcome their mistakes.

The question then is how can you grow from your mistakes?

DO:

Acknowledge and take responsibility – This is your first step towards learning from mistakes. It can be uncomfortable at times, but your readiness to admit and be accountable can quicken the process of identifying and resolving your errors.

Perceive your mistakes as learning opportunities – This enables you to boost your self-confidence, which helps in taking more risks in the future.

Reflect on your mistakes – Whether on your own or with someone you can trust, ask honest questions about these mistakes and then find ways to ensure that you don’t repeat them.

Apologise for your mistakes if they end up affecting others – Assure the people who’ve been affected that you won’t do it again. Your apology needs to be genuine and sincere so people can recognise you for your strength, honesty and accountability.

DON’T:

Dwell on your mistakes, as it can be unproductive and stressful – Self-reflect on your mistakes, move forward and remind yourself that as long as they aren’t deliberate, there’s no harm in making mistakes.

Blame others or justify your mistakes – This won’t provide any closure to yourself or others affected. It also shows your reluctance to learn from your mistakes, which can lead to the greater possibility of repeating them in the future.

Repeat the same mistakes too many times – This may suggest you’ve yet to fully grasp lessons learnt from your mistakes or you’re not committed and disciplined enough to change for the better.

Fear making mistakes – In fact, not encountering any mistake at all can be your biggest mistake. The more you experience and overcome mistakes, the more capable you become in navigating through life, giving yourself more room for personal development.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2JVJSw5Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Things to consider when updating your resume

If you’re thinking of breaking into a new career or changing jobs, updating your resume should be one of the first things to do.

The resume you prepared when you graduated might have been useful the first time around but now is definitely the time to update it.

In updating your resume, here are a few things to consider:

Update your resume frequently

Regardless if you’re content at your current job or are currently looking for new opportunities, updating your resume frequently (perhaps once a year) is always a good idea.

Throughout your career, your responsibilities may have changed and so your resume should reflect these changes as well.

Remove information that’s outdated

When applying for a position at a new company, make sure to remove any irrelevant information.

You may have previously included things such as a list of part time jobs during university just to pad your resume but now this list might be irrelevant for your potential employers.

So, if you think that some of the skills listed in your resume does not relate to the new job you’re applying for, maybe you should leave it out. However, you should retain the items in your list if those experiences and skills  are useful for the position you’re looking at.

Highlight the skills you’ve acquired

After a few years of working, no doubt you would have acquired more experience and skills.

So, apart from removing outdated information contained in your earlier resume, your priority now would be to make these new experiences and skills stand out.

This would probably require you to think about all the projects you’ve worked on and how the experience has helped you to grow professionally in your job.

For some of you, this exercise may not be as easy as you think as you really have to consider how your work has translated into useful experience and training.

Give your resume a makeover

Although substance will always be more important than style, it doesn’t hurt to make your resume more attractive or at the very least make it easier for potential employers to read.

Your resume should not be messy, rather it should stay simple and clean.

An easy tip is to choose an appropriate font. The “best” fonts will look good both on paper and on the screen, so make sure to try out several fonts and print out before actually sending your resume.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, November 3, 2018.

Photo by Lukas from Pexels.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

How to deal with a new job task?

If you’re a graduate who just joined the workforce, you’ll find that some job tasks are nearly akin to some experience during your internship or activities in your university.

But what if you’re given a task that you’ve never handled before?

Understandably, you’ll get anxious, confused and frustrated at first from receiving a job you’re not familiar with.

However, no matter how daunting this new task might be, at the end of the day you’re given the responsibility by your employer to complete it.

So, instead of looking at it as a problem you can think of handling a new task as a good opportunity to gain new knowledge, skills and experience, especially when it gets you out of your comfort zone.

Here are some ways to deal with a new job task:

Ask around                                
Perhaps the most straightforward thing you can do is to ask.

Go up to your superior for details of the task or to an experienced colleague for suggestions.

You can also ask your family or friends who may have tackled similar work before.

In any case, asking around gives you an idea on how to accomplish the job.

At the very least, it could help you build rapport with your colleagues and superiors.

Do some research
The moment you receive your new task, begin your research immediately.

If your workplace has an archive of past works or manuals that are related to your task, you can study these materials to find out how it is usually done.

Additionally, with access to the World Wide Web, you can search online for relevant tips, tutorials or information to get your task done.

Start small
Once you have a general idea about your task, you can start off with the easy part.

Consider this a warmup to a work process you’re about to put yourself through.

It’s best not to dive into a new task with the difficult part first; otherwise you will stress yourself out and you won’t be able to meet your deadline.

Have faith in yourself
Most importantly, you need to believe in your own capability to do this new task.

As long as you put in a lot of effort and you make yourself open to constructive criticism, handling a new task builds the confidence you need to be better at your work.

And when all’s said and done, look back at the entire process and discover your strengths and weaknesses so that you can perform better the next time you’re given a comparable task.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, October 27, 2018.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Other Side of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure has a bad reputation as it has been largely used in the negative context.

Among the youths, peer pressure is a well discussed topic where it receives mostly negative perceptions due to negative social pressure and habits among the youths.

Previously, SarawakYES! has discussed the negative impact of peer pressure and what the youths can do to handle it.

However, peer pressure is not all bad as there is a good side to it too. And depending on how you look at it, peer pressure can have positive influence on the youths. Here are some ways peer pressure can be beneficial for you:

Letting go of bad habits

Peer pressure is all about following the crowd and if steered the right way, it can help you adopt good habits.

Try to think of a time when a friend pressured you into doing something good for yourself or avoid something bad.

For instance, if your close friends are adopting healthy habits such as exercising regularly or following a healthy diet, you will also be encouraged to pick up the same habit.

Positive peer pressure can help you reflect on your actions and amend your ways by letting go of bad habits and pick up good ones.

A great motivator

Sometimes, you just need a good push to encourage yourself to do something that you are not brave enough to do. And this is where peer pressure will come in handy as it can also be a powerful motivator.

When you observe your classmates studying hard in class, you will naturally feel pressured to do the same so that you can perform better in your studies.

Whether it is the classroom or working space, peer pressure can actually motivate you to perform at peak level.

In a team or group environment, everyone is expected to perform their best and this will naturally make the poorer performers step up or risk falling behind others.

Shaping good personality

The youths are more susceptible to the influence from their peers or the crowd as they want to fit in or feel a sense of belonging.

For the youths, your peers play an important role in shaping your personality as well as influencing your way of looking at life and how you make choices.

Peer pressure can help you analyse and contemplate your ways of thinking. And if you are fortunate to get a good peer group, they may actually persuade you whether directly or indirectly to bring a constructive change in your personality to be a better person.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2EysM8z

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels. Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Should you join your alumni association?

Your days in school and college may be some of the most memorable moments in your life but now that you’ve been working for a few years, have you ever thought about reconnecting to your alma mater?

One of the ways for you to reconnect could be to catch up with long-lost friends, who you’ve probably rediscovered through social media networks like Facebook or messaging services like WhatsApp, but another way could be by joining the alumni association of your school or college.

Apart from reliving the nostalgic moments of your life as a student though, alumni associations could offer you a lot more benefits that you may not have thought of.

Widen your network

As the members of your alumni association would be made up of a diverse group of people, your network will definitely be much wider by joining. This could be especially useful if your work forces you to be based in a new town or city. It’s not just great for your social life; the benefits could extend to your professional life as well, as your fellow members would be able to offer you guidance and advice for your career, especially those in the same industry as you’re in.

Boost your career

Apart from offering invaluable guidance and advice for your career, some of your fellow alumni association members may actually be able to provide you with opportunities that you would probably not have even known about. This is especially true when some of your fellow members could be in a position to assist in improving your career prospects, either through the help of their own extensive network or as decision-makers in their respective organisations.

Give back to your alma mater

Joining an alumni association should not just be about how it could help you progress personally; it should also be about giving you the opportunity to give back to your school or university. Contributing to your alma mater could be in many forms and could include becoming more active in alumni activities or providing moral or financial support to the alumni in its efforts to help the school or university.

Contribute to your community

Some of the activities organised by your alumni could even extend beyond just helping your alma mater. These endeavours could be in the field of sports, education or health and this will give you an opportunity to contribute towards improving lives in your community.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2yhTzQGFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Making time for self-reflection

In a world where we’re always on the go and where we tend to get distracted by so many things (especially our mobile devices), we should pause from time to time to reflect on decisions that we’ve taken so far.

Self-reflection is our ability to analyse ourselves, especially in learning more about our own attributes, disposition, principles and purpose from our experiences, whether in school, at work or throughout life.

It involves questioning our past and present actions and habits sensibly, in terms of whether they are bringing us any closer to our overall goals and dreams.

Yet, for an ability that is essential for self-improvement, self-reflection is often ignored.

Some might find it embarrassing or a waste of time; others don’t know how it’s done or fear the results out of reflecting on themselves.

However, we can gain a lot from slowing down to take a look at ourselves. Self-reflection allows us to build self-awareness, empathy and integrity, as well as challenging our preconceptions.

And when we happen to stumble upon a problem, it lets us generate new ideas to overcome it; some of which can even lead to a change in our routine.

Most important, self-reflection gives you the worthwhile opportunity to learn, understand and accept who you are as a person and how much more you can accomplish to be better.

Always remember that in your process of self-reflection, you need to acknowledge your strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures without being overly critical with yourself.

That way, you’ll be able to determine your way forward – whether you’re capable of achieving your goals or you’re required to change your motivation towards a better path to success.

Self-reflection can be done in many ways at any time, more effectively when you do it voluntarily. Journal writing and meditation are among the most common suggestions.

You can also reflect on yourself during your daily routine, such as showering, commuting to school or office, or eating your meals without your smartphone next to you.

Talking to people like friends, family members, colleagues or counsellors would help give you a better idea about yourself too. Those who are especially honest with you can point out thoughts or issues that you might have missed in your own self-reflection.

Whichever way you decide to take, make it a point to self-reflect on a regular basis, for it takes practice and commitment to turn self-reflection into a habit.

As long as you understand the importance and long-term benefits of self-reflection, you can realise your goals and grow better without forgetting the experiences that made you who you are today.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Photo by Andre Mouton from Pexels.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

When the career path chooses you

For some of you fresh graduates, there is a high chance that you may not be able to land a job that’s related to what you studied in college or university.

It’s actually not uncommon to have a fulfilling career that you didn’t plan for when you were completing your diploma or degree, so don’t stress out if your first job is not what you envisioned.

While some may be lucky enough to land a job that fits perfectly within their field of expertise, others may end up getting hired for a role that is completely different from their expectations.

If you fall into the latter category, here are some of our thoughts on the matter.

Accept the change

First of all, be grateful for the job opportunity offered to you and realise that your employers acknowledge your capabilities enough to trust you to fill a position that is not related to your field of study.

You may not realise it at first, but if you give it your best shot, you may find that the job could suit you better than you imagined.

And even if your field of study is different from the job scope at hand, always remember that having good work ethics, being creative and innovative, and able to be a team player will always be appreciated in any work environment.

Willing to work your way up

As you may have a lot to learn in an industry that you are not familiar with, upon joining you will have to start from the lower rungs of the organisation.

Always keep in mind that you have a lot to learn and also need to gather as much experience as possible to be more competent at your job.

It may take a few years, but if you have the determination and are willing to work hard, your efforts will not go unnoticed by your supervisors.

Leverage on transferable skills

As mentioned above, in any industry you join, if you have good work ethics and can be a team player, you would have an upper hand in most organisations.

Apart from those attributes, in order to make you stand out in an industry that is unrelated to your field of study, you should focus on your transferable skills.

These could include leadership skills, written and verbal communication skills, organisational and time management skills, and also research and analytical skills.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2QwRNmh

Photo by Marc Mueller from Pexels.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Have a break

It used to be said that those who worked for long hours without any intermission were considered hardworking and productive, but that’s not really the case.

More scientific studies have shown that taking regular breaks from work can help us improve and maintain our focus, motivation, creativity, and overall productivity.

Some of them also revealed that how we take our time out matters too; and while a nap is one of the best ways to spend during our breaks, it isn’t the only one.

Thus, to avoid getting distracted and bored or experience burnout from your work, here are some other methods to consider for taking effective breaks.

Plan your break

To reap the benefits of having a work-break balance, you need to decide how often you should have them.

Some studies suggest having a ‘25/5-minute plan’ (25 minutes of working and a five-minute break, and then a longer break after four cycles), others a ‘50/10-minute plan’, or even a ‘52/17-minute plan’.

Whichever plan you find suits you the most, following it enables you to have greater focus at work, so long as you are disciplined and committed to having time for yourself.

Keep up with your reading

Reading allows you to gain more knowledge and reduce stress, among many other benefits.

Therefore, during your break, read stories that inspire you, articles that you’ve wanted to read, or even something unrelated to your work.

Magazines, books, or newspapers can do you good too, because they let you give your eyes a rest from looking at screens on your computer or mobile devices for too long.

Have a snack

Junk food like crackers or sweets might give you the immediate kick you need to work, but they won’t last long and won’t help flatter your waistline.

Instead, munch on small portions of healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and dark chocolate. They not only help restore your energy and boost your brainpower, but also keep you healthier for the long haul.

Move around

Assuming that your work involves a lot of sitting or staying in one position, doing light exercises during your break allows blood and oxygen to flow in your body continuously and tight muscles to loosen.

Be it basic stretches, walks in or outside your office, or some calisthenics, these movements also help lower the likelihood of having physical aches and pains as you grow older and, most important, make you feel good.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2QiUWX0Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Keep reading

It’s no secret that we Malaysians don’t read a lot of books despite our nation having a high literacy rate. The habit of reading is beneficial for us in so many ways; however most still find it a struggle to read. So, here are some practical tips for you to nurture your reading habit.

Try reading a few pages a day

It’s impossible to turn into a voracious reader in just one day, so it’s important to set a goal to cultivate your interest. To start off with, pick up a book that might pique your interest and try reading 10 pages a day. Then, slowly increase to 20 pages. Before you know it, you’ll have finished reading the whole book and moved on to a new one.

Build your own collection

Sometimes, a good library can motivate us to read more so instead of going to a public library, you can actually start your own at home.

Don’t limit yourself to just buying new books; second-hand books are just as good and they’re a lot more budget-friendly too.

Carry a book everywhere

You might find this tip to be extremely helpful to cultivate your reading habit. By carrying a book around, you get to read while waiting for the bus, a doctor’s appointment, or a friend who is late for a lunch appointment.

Apart from that, reading is far healthier than scrolling on your smartphone all the time.

Make time to read

Related to the previous point, reading can be done anywhere so long as you carry a book with you. This allows us to make more time to read rather than letting our busy schedules stop us from reading.

For instance, reading before going to bed is said to help improve sleep and reduce stress. However, it is recommended that you read something light instead of heavier topics.

Watch movies based on book adaptations

Watching movies might seem like an unlikely tip to cultivate reading habits, however there’s a good reason why you should consider watching the movie version first – it’s because the movie adaption will never be as good as the book or novel.

Even if you disagree with that last point, it won’t hurt to pick up the book and read it for yourself.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2Q0KZwWFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather