Are you on the right Waffle Street?

Waffle Street is based on the true story of James Adams who used to work with a hedge company but was unfortunately let go after he was tasked to get investors to invest in junk. He managed to achieve this target when all odds were against him. He later realised he was just a tool used by his employer. I was drawn to the movie and have not regretted it due to the personal and career lessons I picked from it.

PS: I have not been paid to promote the book and the movie but you should make time to watch it and you would thank me later.

These are lessons I picked from the movie and I hope you find them useful too:

Sometimes, you have to go contrary to society’s expectations to better appreciate yourself 

Let me throw a question at you…..would you take a job as a server after losing a big time office job? To be clear you wake up all suited up and business like for work and the next day you end up in casuals with an apron. How many of us would do this? The few daring ones might even pretend to be working in an office by dressing up and changing along the way, which is still deceptive.

Why is that? We have gradually come to accept society’s expectations of us, specifying which jobs are regarded as “respect garners” among others. We find people blessed with craftmanship skills studying courses at the University that would end them up in white collar jobs for which they derive no joy.

Are you working for self-satisfaction or to please others?

As an employer, you have to go down and interact with everyone whether their jobs matter or not, you would find yourself learning something new. As parents, our kids expose us to new perspectives we never bothered to consider or never had it crossing our mind. These examples might not always have the Cinderella ending but nothing is lost right?

James humbled himself and took on the job and trust me, he took home some valuable life lessons.

Believe in yourself! Don’t let others dictate your career or life choices, instead, carve your own route. You would be sure to reach great heights!

OMT


Are you searching for job satisfaction or money?

There was a scene, where James had funds ready to buy the eatery and was in a discussion with the griller to poach him as a manager.

Am sure, like myself, you would have jumped at this opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to be addressed as Manager. In our society our love for titles even exceeds respect for hardwork.

The griller asked him some thought provoking questions which eventually led to him redirecting his path. He was about entering into the restaurant business, he thought he had a passion for (might obviously be lying to himself or his mind deceiving him).

Do you love the restaurant? Would you do what you do for free if there was no money?

The question is, the job you currently find yourself doing, do you gain any inner joy or satisafaction from it or you are stuck in an 8am to 5pm routine job like a robot? It’s different if you sacrifice your satisfaction temporarily for the attainment of a higher goal. In that case, check out What if I told you your job doesn’t have to be fulfilling? by Rich Honesty on how best to manage when you find yourself in a job your heart disagrees with. For instance I blog whenever I need a break sometimes from work or stresses of life. It takes me to my own little world even if its temporary but it surely calms me because I enjoy it.

Do not believe you are a failure just because you have not found yourself yet! Believe me I am still in the process of getting to know myself. It takes time, others discover it earlier. Just remember the journey of self discovery is never a race.

OMT


Never underestimate or look down on anyone in your work or personal circles

Whoever thought a hedge fund manager would find himself getting lessons from exconvicts he worked with at the restaurant? How many times have we found ourselves consciously or unconscioulsy looking down on others at work or in our personal lives because of the work they do or judging them for their past mistakes.

If James had decided to be stuck up considering his educational background and work experience, he would have missed out on learning new things and gaining fresh perpectives.

Almost everyone has something to bring on board. Just give them a chance.

OMT


Give your partner a chance although his plans might sound crazy

James’ wife was against his decision to buy the restaurant but managed to stay behind her husband, believed in him with sound caution. He went to the extent of selling their house and am sure the risk averse peeps like myself would say, “no way”, what will we do if it doesn’t turn out as planned?”.

At work and in life, let’s avoid the phds (pull him down syndrome). It doesnt get anyone anywhere. Even if you are against an idea why not present yourself as the voice of caution. The person might probably discover areas he might have probably overlooked to make his idea stronger or worst case, realise it was not achievevable but at least he or she tried which is better than killing it before it even got any chance at possibly thriving.

Never limit yourself!

This is my personal discovery on my “finding myself mission”. Try out new stuff, be adventurous, see any barrier as a challenge (gather vim and tell the kill dreams and spoilsports to bring it on!). I recently discovered I love to write and research and am seriously pursuing it. Try your hands at new things, thankfully we have free learning websites so why not?

Set a dream, believe in it and implement it a day at a time. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. So dont give up just yet!

OMT

I have come across people complaining about work, life etc. My first response: you might not be able to change your work environment or certain things but certainly, you have control of your life’s choices: value your potential and find another place or activity which syncs with your goals and values. Instead of wasting the limited resources of time to complain, why not find solutions? That’s my new motto.

Today I would like to inform you that I am on course to find my waffle street, what about you?

 

5 silent truths about LinkedIn

Would you prefer to shoot yourself first before being shot at? You might be asking yourself, “What difference does it make? After all I would be dead in the end anyway!”. If you agree with this, then it means you might be someone who probably shies away from challenges and is satisfied with the minimum. What am I driving at? What if after shooting yourself, your shooter realised he had no bullets left or by some form of divine intervention someone comes to your rescue? You would have been saved but by then it would be too late.

That is what I have observed on LinkedIn over the period, people shooting themselves in the foot before any opportunity even gets the chance to be presented at their doorstep. I get a couple of messages in my inbox from people either trying to sell a service or product or seeking employment. Some mails are sent in a rush with grammatical errors and its gets me thinking, “why would this person be killing any prospects they might have?”. First impressions count a lot! Take note of this. There are times when I reply with feedback, some ignore it and take offence, others are also appreciative.

I was inspired to put this short piece together after reading a post by Nadia on LinkedIn.

Hi Guys just a tip – if you want someone to notice you and/or if you want to make an impression don’t inbox them and say ‘hey look at my profile’ it’s unbecoming! Put your best foot forward and let me see you! Too many inbox messages that I should look at people’s profiles…. Fix up, look sharp and let’s go!

Nadia

I commented on her post with the below and got a number of likes

linkedin response

My comment on Nadia’s post

Apparently it seems some people are genuinely not aware of the courtesies on LinkedIn and I hope this post would be helpful to you especially the recent graduates and other job seekers who want to get noticed.

1. Please! LinkedIn is not Facebook

If you want a social interaction and nothing professional, kindly deactivate your LinkedIn account and migrate full-time to Facebook. I have observed that people post forwarded messages and other junk on LinkedIn without even taking some time to check on the authenticity. It might seem nice to alert your professional contacts of some social scams etc but note that, there are other platforms for social communication.

NB: This excludes posts by persons whose job involves social media interaction, blogging among others.

So before you post anything, ask yourself this question, is this suitable for LinkedIn? How would my professional network react to this?

2. LinkedIn is not a chat service!

“Hello dear”, “Hi”, “Whats up?”, “What do you do?” Please and please again, starting your conversation with this and expecting a reply before proceeding won’t take you far. Personally if you approach me this way after I accept you as a connection, I would take you off my network. It means you are idle or don’t know what you are about. If you want to chat there are loads of options available and LinkedIn is not one of those options.

So what do you do? My advice is to introduce yourself and go straight to the point. No dancing around when you can just hit the nail on the head.

3. If you can’t sell yourself, don’t expect others to easily buy into you

Currently people are busy and might have limited time, instead of going with the following:

Hello I just completed xxxxxxx with first class honours and am in search of a job. Can you assist?

In the first place, I am not a recruiter, just a finance person. My response usually depends on my mood. If I am in a good mood, then I would say,

“I am sorry xxxxx we don’t have any vacancies where I work or I will send your CV to our HR department in case of any future vacancies”

If not, then forget it! You won’t get any response from me. So imagine a recruiter who receives thousands of mails, what makes you different from the others? What makes you standout such that he/she would want to read your message and even take the next step of sending a reply or getting in touch with you?

In selling yourself, your contents and subject is very important. The subject and first statement of your message draws the reader to want to go further.

4. Perform detailed research before sending any message

A recruiter would be interested in you if you have done your homework. Perform research to know more about the company and what you can bring on board should they decide to hire you.

Once it’s easy to add you to my professional network, it is equally easy to take you off once I notice that your purpose for connecting with me is unprofessional.

I once received a message, very detailed, research and introduction on point! BUT the individual had developed a generic email that he was circulating. The company I work with didn’t even provide those services he had boldly stated in the email. Would a recruiter take you seriously if even prior to hiring you, you are already committing blunders.

My advice is to take your time and send specific and relevant emails.

5. Use a professional looking picture for your profile

If I get a request, I look at your profile and your display picture before taking a decision to either accept or ignore your request. As I said, first impressions count a lot. In as much as it is attracting, save your beautiful poses with pouted lips for instagram and the likes unless you are a model but even with models I would expect a professional looking profile picture.

If you need any guidance on tips to assist you in selecting the right picture you should check out, 7 Tips to Make Sure Your LinkedIn Picture Is Helping, Not Hurting, Your Prospects

 Hope you found something useful in this post.
What’s the worst and best messages you have received on LinkedIn? Is there anything I have missed in this post? Do you have questions you need answers to? Drop your comments or send an email to omtsdigest@gmail.com.
“If you are on social media, and you are not learning, not laughing, not being inspired or not networking, then you are using it wrongly.”
Germany Kent

Social media and business

First published: 31 August 2015

I do not consider myself a social media expert but a fan of social media and an apps explorer. I have observed a few social media practices online and would like to bring these to light. This post would hopefully assist some small and medium-sized companies who commit these mistakes to re-modify their social media strategy or drop it totally, would explain this further in my post. As earlier stated I am not an expert, I gained my knowledge and experience through e-learnings from HP and independent research, managing 4 Facebook pages (mine and that of my sister) and also through personal experiences as a customer on other pages of businesses I am a fan of. I noticed a few mistakes that I would be bringing to light in the next few paragraphs and suggested solutions.

Observation 1: A less active and engaging social media presence

Having a less active social media activity is like ‘being there but not really there’. This is similar to sitting on a fence in my opinion. Before I decide to like or follow a page, I lookout for the date the page was last updated and also the gaps between various posts made. This is a sign of the business’ level of activity and engagement. I have seen quite a number of pages with last updates dating between 2010 and 2014, although we are in 2015. People follow pages to be updated and engaged. So why would someone follow or like a dead page?

Suggested Solution

Engage your audience with relevant content at least once a day or adopt a consistent timing. Pushing too much in a day would just put off your fans or followers. Use your page insights and statistics as a guide in setting out your strategy. A customer won’t always be pleased if you are trying to convince them to buy something from you everyday without providing any benefit to them. It is a give and take affair.

My advice is to adopt and stick conscientiously to your social media strategy. The good thing these days is that, posts can be written now in bulk and scheduled for future dates which is very convenient. To conclude if you are not up to the game, you either quit or get an expert to assist. It’s better not to have a page than have an inactive one.

Social media activities are linked to your company’s brand so please take note of this. If you are not up to the task you can hire or outsource this to a social media marketing consultant to do this.

If you have set up a new account, have all old accounts deleted as  it confuses your customers since they are unable to decipher the real account,You should also be on the lookout for fake accounts in your name and get them reported. You never know what picture they might be painting of you out there.

Observation 2:Slow response time

We live in a fast paced environment. Almost everyone prefers real-time or close to real-time information and response to queries. Some time back I needed supplies and I saw a company’s page on Facebook that had just what I needed. I dropped an email to them immediately. They promised to get me sorted out soon. I waited for days and still not a word from them. The final result of this is, I found an alternative in another country and ordered online for the supplies. Response time was great so I went with them. I decided to ignore the Ghanaian company but later changed my mind.  I sent a follow-up message detailing how displeased I was with the lack of feedback and how that had pushed me to purchase from elsewhere. Additionally, I made them aware that this could easily push their potential customers away. They apologised and explained the cause of the delay.

Suggested solution

Make it a goal to respond promptly to customer queries. If information is not readily available or would be delayed, make the customer aware so they know they would be sorted out in a few days and not feel like they have been ignored. They can easily bad mouth you to others in their network which is not good especially for a start-up. You can set response time as a KPI for who ever is responsible for attending to such messages.  Thankfully there are apps for Facebook, twitter, etc to enable real-time feedback. Make maximum use of them.

Final observation: Scanty information and details on a company’s social media platform

Several times I have come across companies with eye-catching profile and cover pictures that I get attracted to. Sadly, I get to the page and I now have to figure out what they are about. This is because that information is not detailed on the page. Others also don’t leave any contact details which makes it hard to reach them especially if their page is not very active. Every business should be easily reachable.

Suggested solution

When you set up a social media page make maximum use of the ‘about’ section. Include what the business is about, its values, vision and mission and most importantly numbers, website or email addresses you can be reached on by your customers.

These are the 3 most obvious observations I have noted.  Turning a new leaf with your social media strategy would help your business expand its market and build its brand.

You can comment or drop me an email with your additional observations and suggestions or disagreements or if this post has been helpful to you.

Task yourself to learn something new each day

Task yourself to learn something new each day

Sequel: Letter to my potential employer from a ‘neglected’ job applicant

Do you remember my previous post? I highlighted (in the form of a letter) some practices of recruiters that seem to paint the job applicant as an unimportant element in the job application process.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

Confucius

I was motivated to write a sequel to the previous post after receiving a phone call from a company in respect of a job I had applied for, more than 3 months ago. It is clear evidence of some facts I raised in the letter. If you missed the first post you can check it here.

“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.”

Katherine Whitehorn

Date and Time check: 3:18pm on Thursday 21 April 2016…………………

I was busy at work on this day working on some reports for my boss when my phone suddenly rings. It was an unknown number so I picked up and the below is what ensued between the caller and myself:

Caller: Hello am I speaking to Ophelia?

Me: Yes, Ophelia speaking.

Caller: Hello Ophelia, I am calling from (mentions the name of the company) in respect of your job application. You have been invited to come over to our office to take a test tomorrow.

Me: Ok……what time specifically?

Caller: In the afternoon.

Me: What time in the afternoon?

Caller: You can come over at 12pm.

(At this point it is evident that I might go there and waste my time since no specific time was provided in the first place. This should have been provided without the applicant asking for specifics. Plus the notice period was too short.)

Me: Apologies, the notice is so short and I have a busy day tomorrow.

Caller: Ok. Are you in Accra?

(I got the feeling that since I am the applicant, I am expected to drop everything  I have scheduled (as is the norm), because the recruiter says so and its non-negotiable. In summary the applicant is the one who needs the job so he/she is expected to succumb immediately to the requests of the recruiter irrespective of the inconvenience they might suffer. Long and short………..the recruiter is more important and powerful than the applicant.)

Me: Yes.

Caller: OK. Thank You.

Then hangs up, which meant that if I am in Accra and cannot make it for the test then it’s my loss. I really felt important after the call…..(in a sarcastic tone).

The feedback is a clear illustration that the job applicant is not important. It creates the feeling that the applicant is the one in need of a job so ‘too bad’, you lose. The applicant is expected to cancel all scheduled engagements and rush at the recruiters’ beck and call, because after all it is the applicant who needs the job.

Looking forward to the day in Ghana, when the applicant would be the more powerful force in the job market.

-OMT

She could have asked of an alternative day and time that could be convenient for me as a courtesy, then subsequently indicated the inconvenience of the suggested rescheduled time to the company. That would at least make the applicant feel valued. The applicant would feel that “at least they tried but I failed or missed the opportunity” and not the ” hey job applicant, if you cannot make it on our conditions, then its your loss” feeling.

Anyways, it’s about time companies’ started adopting online test procedures because in this scenario if the applicant had travelled to the North, was he or she expected to book a flight for a test that one cannot even predict if they will be successful or even receive feedback for at all? Just a thought……When developed countries are recruiting Ghanaians using skype, video conference and other technologically advanced means we are still comfortable with “paper recruitment”. We need some change in the Ghanaian job application process. Don’t get me wrong, some Ghanaian companies have recruitment practices that are worthy of praise.

Recruiters or Employers can check the below posts out which are worth the read. (Will summarise it for those who battle on an everyday basis with the chore of reading long texts.)

  1. Hiring in the Digital Age: What’s next for recruiting?
  2. The Power Has Shifted To The Candidate, So Current Recruiting Practices Will Stop Working

Key take away points picked out from the 2 listed sites

  • “Smart companies know that they’re only as good as their best workers, and will prioritize seeking out the best of the best for their organizations.” (Taylor, 2016)
  • “The world of recruitment is moving towards a digital hiring model.” (Taylor, 2016)
  • “Phone calls are being replaced by high-tech video interviews for out-of-area candidates and first round interviews.” (Taylor, 2016)
  • “Today’s job seekers know their worth.” (Taylor, 2016)
  • “For employers, it’s all about maximizing the candidate experience through the job application process.” (Taylor, 2016)
  • “Small companies that cannot afford sophisticated recruitment platforms can maximise their website to promote their employment brand and for engaging talent.” (Taylor, 2016)
  • “Recruitment approaches should be superior to your talent competitors.” (Sullivan, 2014)
  • “Unrealistically high qualifications will also severely limit applications.” (Sullivan, 2014)
  • “The interview process must be improved with a remote interviewing capability.” (Sullivan, 2014)
  • The candidate experience must improve dramatically — even if your recruiting process doesn’t change, the average recruit’s assessment of your current candidate experience at your firm will shift from okay to dismal, simply because the power shift has allowed candidates to expect much more. In addition, with the pervasiveness of social media, everyone will know almost immediately if your candidate experience isn’t perfect.” (Sullivan, 2014)

In writing this post I chanced upon a website, Glassdoor.com, a job and recruiting site which distinguishes itself by allowing employees or others to provide reviews of companies in respect of salaries, interviews etc which is laudable and a good check on employers to treat applicants fairly.

Please don’t be like me who thought Glassdoor.com was for the developed countries only. I happened to see reviews of some Ghanaian companies to my surprise! We can help keep employers in check and assist potential employees in making career decisions by providing reviews on social media and on Glassdoor.com. We need more reviews for Ghana.

Screenshots from Glassdoor.com website

Glassdoor company reviewsGlassdoor interview reviewsGlassdoor salary reviews

Thanks for reading my very long blog post today.

Share your job application stories, experiences and suggestions with the hashtag #respectjobapplicants

 

Letter to my potential employer from a ‘neglected’ job applicant

I posed a question on LinkedIn during the week. If you had the opportunity to change or improve the job application process what would you like to see being done differently?

One way or the other you would have had the experience of submitting an application for a job vacancy. I planned on writing this post months ago but ended up with the subject saved as a draft. I was recently engaged in a conversation with a friend who recounted the numerous applications tended in for various job vacancies advertised for and the common theme was the lack of response. It makes the whole job search process look like it is just for the benefit of the employer which is not the case. I can recount a lot of good and bad experiences. The worst was one interview I was scheduled for, it was a referral and we agreed to meet to discuss the job requirements since I didn’t have a clear idea what the position required. Of course with my boss (my daughter), I was unable to do any detailed research during the short period. I got there only to be told it was a panel interview. Won’t go into details but when I walked out I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. For those who know me, I take things very serious and personal. Although it didn’t go well, I was expecting a call or email to inform me that I was unsuccessful but no message of that sort was received. The company won’t see it as a problem but they have just lost a potential customer or spokesperson. Imagine the opinion I would have of them and possible implications on their brand if I should recount this experience every time their name comes up in a conversation.

Not to focus only on the negative, I have equally had some good experiences. A recent interview required an online test followed by an interview with the HR. I was made to take a similar test to the online one including a personality test. I received feedback on the test including the results of the personality test! We hardly get to know how we fared on any aptitude test we take. I was impressed by this small act. I was later wowed when the personality tests results were communicated to me including the positive and negative and I was given the opportunity to express my view on the results too!!! I was so impressed to the extent that I could not keep my mouth shut and had to rain praises on the HR. Wish all companies would learn the essence of communication.

Now back to my letter.

On behalf of all job seekers and applicants I write this letter to potential employers to really make them aware of what applicants go through.

Dear potential employer,

I trust you are keeping well. There are a few issues I have noted with the application process which makes me feel disregarded and useless.

I saw your recent job advert which was in line with my career goal. I read the requirements and I met them. I took the time to update my CV and write a convincing cover letter to support my application. I waited…….and waited, sent follow-up emails and as expected got no response. I kept asking myself, “Was I not capable as I thought?” Was my application received at all?, If it was did they read my high level cover letter? I followed all guidelines provided online and by mentors in creating an award-winning CV. Where did I go wrong? Did the company value the time using in writing the letter? If they did they would at least have contacted me.

I kept checking my mails not even any notification of the receipt of my application. I know you receive piles and mountains of applications but please invest some resources in a recruitment system that would send electronic updates to applicants instead of leaving them in doubt or giving false hope. I guess this has never crossed your mind because you believe the applicant needs the job to earn money. I beg to differ it’s a two-way affair. You also need me who is skilled to contribute my quota to helping you meet your objectives. Without employees there is no company and without a company there will be no work for employees. So think this through and hopefully redesign your recruitment process.

I can be a mouthpiece for your company and depending on this little experience, I can be a good or bad one. I know your brand is important to you but it seems you are leaving out a small aspect of it. Every task worth doing is worth doing well. If you pride yourself on providing the best of services to customers, treating your employees well etc that is good but remember you haven’t treated your potential employees well with respect. It is just a matter of communication.

The next time I see a role advertised, I might desist my friends from applying and guess what you might lose a very skilled potential employee who could have worked the magic for your company, but sadly I prevented this because of the lack of respect I received as a professional.

It is not my aim to bore you with a long letter and cry out my grievances too you but just to let you know of how we feel when there is no communication and we are left hanging.

How I wish each applicant would be able to receive feedback on why they were not considered. I am aware that this will be too much to ask but at least make it a point to do this at the last stage of the recruitment process as at least the numbers would be manageable at that stage. Knowing why I failed to make it helps in my career development. I will be grateful because although you didn’t employ me you have still helped make me a better person.

I hope my letter would be read and given the due future consideration.

Yours faithfully,
Potential employee and company mouthpiece

PS: Please read the letter carefully, it’s not just another job application to be tossed away or shredded.

Share your job application experiences. Share the good and bad sides.


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Praise the companies doing a good job and maybe other companies would follow in their steps.