Category Archives: Write Stuff

Sometimes I write serious articles too

The One With Groupon & Your Business


I have had it with people who have nothing good to say about the social buying business, like Groupon. I have had the opportunity to dwell into the details of this new industry, and it was nothing short of being fascinating.

Of course, the recent bad rep of Groupon – from its IPO chaos to disgruntled customers to vocal naysayers – didn’t help matter.

So I am going to put forward my take on Groupon on other similar social buying sites to everyone.

Fact: Groupon helps your business.

Also fact: Most businesses do not understand how to make it work with Groupon.

As someone who has more than my fair share of Groupon experience, I can honestly say I have more insights than most people.

Here they are.

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The One With Social Media & Job Hunting

The One With Social Media & Job Hunting

I was amused, tickled and exasperated in equal measures reading this article by ZDNet Asia – Job hunters should avoid risky online behavior. In summary, the article claimed that job seekers should avoid putting themselves at risk by publishing inappropriate material on their social profiles, as employers have been found to reject possible candidates based on what they found online.

Now wait a minute. Are you saying that I should block/censor/vet every single tweet, status update, photos, shoutouts and checkins I do online so that my future in my next job would not be compromised?

You gotta be kidding me.

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The One With The Guide To Not Checking Email

The One With The Guide To Not Checking Email

Two years ago I wrote about the low information diet, a practice which encourage you to check emails only twice a day (link to free ebook), and therefore getting more things done in a day. My experiment was successful to some extent; that is, until my boss wrote to me that she was not comfortable with my autoresponders and asked me to do away with it.


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The Joy of Being Organised At Work

Few people I know hum with efficiency at work without the help of tools of some sort. I don’t know about you, but I swear by Excel.

I heart Spreadsheet

You see, I have this customised Excel spreadsheet at work elegantly named as “Tracking List” which I open first thing every morning, and save last at the end of a work day. Sorted by dates, current tasks are highlighted in yellow, overdue ones are in a shade of non-alarming pink, and important ones are bold in red.

In theory, what I need to do is:
1) Clear out items bold in red and highlighted in pink
2) Clear out items bold in red and highlighted in yellow
3) Clear out items highlighted in pink
4) Clear out items highlighted in yellow

I am rather impartial to the sequence I do (3) and (4), and with any luck I might even get to tackle rows not in bold, not highlighted (i.e. future tasks, my logic-challenged readers).

That, my friends, happens only in the parallel universe called “in theory”. Reality is I have too many pink tasks I care to look at, and the multitude of red bold rows sent me into a state of disorganised panic every time I open the damn file.

So I did the next best thing and check emails from my boss. Afterall, whatever the boss wants gotta be the most urgent, isn’t it?

Efficiency is really not my cup of tea.

(Photo Credit: Rufus Leonard)

The Meaning of Life

Funny how a lunch-time reading got me clicking and pondering of the biggest question in one’s life.

What, exactly, is the meaning of life?

There are many junctures in my life when I am faced with this question. As I age, I realise I always come back to the same answer. The meaning of life is to find ways how to be happier. The search for happiness is an everlasting journey. The grass is always greener at whatever age you are at. Even in deathbed, you might think, oh, people in heaven must have life all sussed out. (After) life would be better, then.

And in the quest to be happier, men strive to define happiness. They buy not one, not two, but multiple cars. Same goes for properties. Every additional zeroes in their bank account equates to more contentment.

How about me? The last car I had was a 19-year-old relic of a Honda (I was 18 then) courtesy of my mum, and ever since I moved to Singapore, it had become old, scrapped metal. I have no house to my name, as I rent my way through my adult life. I detest checking my bank balance because, according to the men I describe in the previous paragraph, I should be a very sad individual indeed.

And yet, I thrive. I thrive in a way that few people will feel secure of. I take risks. I travel the world. I play my weekends. Hard. At work, I trod the paths less traveled. I challenge authorities, I debate traditional wisdoms.

And God knows I love my friends. My life, if nothing else, revolves around them. Making my friends happy make me happy. And that, my friend, is a chicken and egg question. Which comes first? No matter, because you gotta start somewhere. Either make yourself happy and double the joy by spreading it to your friends, or be the best friend a man can be to your friends and make them happier, and open your heart to their extended friendship.

The Meaning of Life

I won’t be such a pompous ass to think that my definition of happiness should be yours too. Each person defines his or her values differently. Just don’t shoot me if you think I am a silly sod who is too idealistic for his own good.

At least I am happy. Are you?

(Image Credit)

My white shirt is my real priced possession

I had one white shirt before. I was inexperienced in buying shirts, and decided to get not-so-expensive shirt. My old shirt serves me well, until one day I washed it together with another not-so-expensive pants, and the blue dye of the pants came off and stained my white shirt.

I was devastated. The white shirt looked horrible. I couldn’t bear to part with it, so I fold it up and put it in my wardrobe. Subsequently I never buy another white shirt for myself. Not that I do not want a new white shirt, but just that I don’t see an immediate need for one.

Sometime after that incidence, I got another white shirt. This time, I did not buy it myself. It was a gift. It was of almost perfect cut and fitting, the material is good, and I love the feel of it on me. I seldom wear it. I only wear it on special occassions. Like my convocation. Or an important client presentation. It feels good to have it and be able to use it, but I feel restrained to wear it too often. I don’t want to spoil it from wear and tear.

Then it happened again.

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The Low-Information Diet – The Beginning

Today is the first time I kicked started the “The Low-Information Diet: How to Eliminate E-Mail Overload & Triple Productivity in 24 Hours”.

What I did was fairly simple. As recommended by the manifesto, I created a simple autoresponder for my inbox that sounds like this:

Hi there,

Due to various pending deadlines, I am currently responding to email twice daily at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

If you require help with something that can’t wait until either 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., please call me on my mobile at 8XXXXXXX. If your request is related to job posting and system support, please call our Corporate Care team at 65380060 or email

Thank you for understanding this move to greater effectiveness!


A few things happened after I set off this reminder:
1) A client called my handphone directly to arrange for interviews for some candidates in KL on Wednesday. He didn’t mention if he saw my autoresponded, but I guess he did. The interview is two days away, and the candidate is located at another part of Malaysia, hence I guess it can be considered as “emergency”
2) A colleague from Malaysia called as well, citing my autoresponder, and said her issue (sales related… something about redirection URL for job listing page) can’t wait till 4 p.m. When it comes to chase that extra dollar, I can understand the urgency if the deal can happen right away.
3) A staff of my team called, as an interview that was arranged today went haywire for some reasons. Emergency, no?

So all in all it has been a good day. I have also deacticated the auto send and receive function of my inbox as well, so I was not distracted by constant influx of new emails (though I slipped a couple of time and clicked the button more often that I should).

I am not sure if my productivity has went up, but I felt that my day is now more in control, and I actually had the time (and motivation) to go through my to-do list, which was neglected for sometime back.

Personally, I think one way for me to measure if my productivity is to see whether I am able to do sales on job postings at the same time as I coordinate various recruitment projects for some of my key accounts.

Will try to post more on the effect of this new (personal) campaign.

Job Ads Don’t Sell? Here’s Why!

The transition of recruiting into the cyberspace has been a global affair. On one hand, you are tempted to remain where you are and stick with newspaper and snail mail recruiting. On the other hand, the endless possibility of online recruitment seems very exciting.

Those that jumped onto the bandwagon will soon realize that cyber recruiting space is pretty crowded. Not only million of resumes zapped through thousands of job boards everyday, every recruiter who has the smallest budget can claim a space online. Selling your jobs to prospective, qualified candidates has been, and always be, a sales job.

Are you frustrated that, despite paying through your nose for premium spots on famous job boards, few qualified candidates actually responded to your job ad? That your e-recruiting effort is nothing but a cyber black hole? There are many factors attributed to this, but like all other sales job, it all begins with your sales message – your job ad. Here’s why your job ad never seems to work!

ONE – Your job ad tagline is less than informative
Visit the most famous job boards. Do a search, say, “Process Engineer”. How many results the search generated? And out of these hundreds, how many unimaginative job ad headlines can you see? Chances are, you will see many job ads headed with uninformative taglines, such as “Process Engineer” or simply “Process Engineer, Singapore”. Not only the job ad will fail to attract the right candidates, it also will not
differ from many other ads with similar tagline.

Be precise and direct to the point with your tagline. Imagine it is something that attracts the attention of your target audience, and compels them to click. Include a little information specific to your job, like location of job, employment type, level of positions etc. Example: “Junior Process Engineer, contract, min. 3 yrs. exp.,
Singapore”. Write in such a way that makes your prospect think, “Hey, that’s me!” and click on your job ad.

TWO – Your job ad does not contain the right sales message

Remember your job ad is always a sales message. Imagine you are selling a product. How do you compel your customers to “purchase” from you? A good sales person knows that accurate and complete information is the key to convince the customers that, yes, your product is the solution to their problems.

So, write your job ad to solve your targeted candidates’ problems. There is always three main sections of a job ad:

#1 – Job Description
What are the roles for this position? Does the candidate need to manage a team? Is he going to work on a technical project? How about business development? Be precise on your job description – an accurate “sales copy” here will attract the right candidates (“Hey, that job describe ME!”) and positively deter unsuitable ones.

#2 – Position Requirements
Who are you looking for? Who will be best equipped to optimally perform in this role? Your job requirements are checklist details for the candidate to assess what he has to offer you. Educational qualifications, language capability, years of working experiences and work authorizations are but some of the details that you should put in.

#3 – Employment Details
If the candidate you are looking for is most likely to be working for, perhaps, your competitors, your job description and position requirements will not be enough to arouse his interest to send you his resume. When you know this is the selling point for your job, include the employment details. Salary package, company welfare, compensation scheme, career path and employment types (contract, permanent etc.) are essential data any serious careerist will consider before click the “Apply” button

THREE – Your job ad is not visually attractive

As strange as it sounds, increasingly, how you present your job ad is going to be important. In the world of online job postings where hundreds, if not thousands of jobs ads struggle to capture job seekers’ attention, you have to stand out from the crowd. How can you do that? Use the basic – HTML and pictures.

Nothing is more boring than a job ad presented the old way – text, and more text. Just like the way you format your Words document, you would want it to be presentable. Use HTML. You may also want
include a picture in your job ad. Sometimes, a company logo can be very attractive. Have a picture of the workplace your new candidate will work at? Include them. Like they say, a picture speaks a thousand
words, so why not let it speak for your job ad?

FOUR – Your job ad does not contain easy instruction for application

Don’t forget – the whole purpose of your job ad is to entice your customer to “buy”. Drawing from some of the best practices of e-commerce, make it exceptionally easy for the candidate to apply for your position. By far, an email address will be the most user-friendly option. If you have an e-recruitment system in place, remember to provide the link. If you prefer snail mail application (oh really, you shouldn’t be!), put in your mailing address. Make sure it is accurate!

Learn from these few lessons, and I’m sure your job ad will attract the RIGHT people, and compel them to APPLY for your job. Since the online job ad already cost you, why not make the effort to make it work?

Good luck!

Top 10 Qualities of a Great Recruiter

As human resources professional professionals worldwide can easily testify, the employment and career industry is growing faster than ever. Employment agencies, or what we call as “third party recruiter”, are flooding the market, all offering you “customized solution” and “unparallel service”.

But just how good some of these recruiters are? How can you be assured that your recruitment investment goes to the best in the market? Here’s a checklist for you to assess your recruiter and see if they make the

Does your recruiter deliver top quality candidates promptly and within budget? A strong recruiter delivers result consistently and always on schedule, earning the respect from both clients and candidates

Does your recruiter understand or uses job description and position requirements in the candidate search process?
The best job fit is only possible through strong, in-depth understand what you need in your candidates. In fact, your recruiter should know hiring needs as good as your hiring manager, and uses all kind of performance needs knowledge to assess, close and influence everyone involved in the search.

Does your recruiter use at-the-edge sourcing tools to hunt for the best candidates? Your recruiter should always deliver to the bottom line – that is, to use whatever means necessary to build a pool of highly qualified candidates in the shortest time possible. He or she should be extremely proficient in using high-tech tools to deliver you the best candidates possible.

Does your recruiter network to find top candidates, using high-touch direct sourcing technique? Most of us know that the best candidate is, and should be, happily employed and not actively seeking new employment. The best recruiter, in turn, must be in the best networks of people to build a pipeline of top candidates through referral initiatives.

Does your recruiter manage all search activities efficiently? Recruiters in large organizations need to manage many job requests from different hiring managers at any one time. Therefore, the competent recruiter should not only be a great multi-tasker and able to obtain needed resources effectively, he or she should also be competent in using array of tools to manage recruiting work in a fast-paced environment

Does your recruiter use job market expertise to improve results? In-depth market knowledge is the key for optimal result in your recruitment work. Highly regarded recruiters are experts who know every facet of the job market, and proactively learn new trends and emerging best practices. Such recruiters are often seen as a strategic partner and yours should be an advisor to you.

Does your recruiter work closely with your hiring managers? If your recruiter falls short in being as knowledgeable as your hiring managers, he or she should work very closely with them for maximum recruiting efficiency. A great recruiter is often seen as a “coach”, helping hiring managers making hiring decisions and able to influence the whole search process.

Does your recruiter manage candidates’ needs throughout the process? Overzealous recruiters can be too focused on sales – they tend to “suck-up” to their clients so much that the other party in the process – the candidates – are often neglected. What makes a good recruiter stands out is that he or she not only attend to the clients’ need but influence and advises candidates as well. The best recruiters are often seen as career advisor by many top candidates.

Does your recruiter accurately interview and assess candidate competencies? In today’s competitive employment market, active job seekers are always a handful and at times it is very difficult to differentiate the good ones from the bad. Therefore, a thorough assessment on your candidates is essential to ensure job fit. A good recruiter is one that initiates and manages effective assessment using a variety of tools. He or she always should be confident that the results are very accurate and insightful.

Does your recruiter work with your team to coordinate all search activities? A strong recruiter is one that is very proactive to initiate team action. Often, he or she supports and even train others in your team to improve your recruitment process results. Many HR professionals look upon the best recruiters as advisor in their search process.

So, does your recruiter live up to the mark? If not, it is time to share your insights with him or her, or perhaps you should start looking somewhere else!

How Can Career Fairs Benefit Your Company?

You may have been thinking about participating in career fairs. To some, this may not be a very feasible idea. The same crowd of candidates that visit your booth may also be visiting your competitors’ booth. In manning your booth, you need manpower and resources. The resulting candidates that you managed to haul in are often unpredictable. How can you be assured your investment in career fairs will be justified?

Fruitful participations at job fairs require planning, creativity and commitment. Some of the points of consideration you may want to ponder on if you ever think of joining a career fair:

Check out the track record of the career fair organizer. Find out if their previous events were successful. Attend other events that they are currently having, if there is any.

How will the organizer help you to reach out to your targeted candidates? You will want to find out what kind of promotional activities planned prior to the fair, extend of media coverage the fair will be generating, the projected crowd turnout etc.

Have your logistic concerns worked out. Will you have a table or interview cubicle for on-the-spot candidate screening? How about electricity, signage, carpets? Will you have ample time to set up your booth?

A great way to promote employment branding for your company is by having giveaways. Think of a goodies bag. Plan for the cost, the time commitment and the follow up action required

To ensure better success for your company, have a few company representatives present during the job fair. They need to be one of those outgoing and enthusiastic people – think of salesmen for your company products and services. That’s how you are going to sell your jobs to the candidates

Be ready for your hot prospects right there at the booth. Have your application form, company information, contact details all ready at hand. If possible, conduct on-the-spot interviews. Always remember to follow up on candidates who are obviously interested in your company. You may not hire them now, but keeping in touch makes them “sold in” to your future job opportunities

Career fairs done right may just be an integral part of your recruiting process. With the expected turnaround of the economy getting near and scarce employee market becoming a reality, joining a career fair may be
the best investment yet for your company staffing strategy.