Category Archives: Personal Development

11 Career Related Movies You Need to Watch Today

Besides being a passionate talent acquisition professional, I am also an avid movie fan. I’m in total admiration of the actors and actresses that portray the roles scripted for them and the directors that make the scripts come to life. Whenever I come across a movie that has relevance to me in my career, I’m always eager to see it at the first given opportunity. So, if like me, you are interested in how movies deal with the work-related subject matter, you may want to check out the following titles.

The Circle (2017)

The premise: The movie features Mae’s character (Emma Watson) who successfully secures a dream job at a technology company called the Circle. Things get off to a flying start in the beginning but she soon discovers that the company is up to no good and that its products may adversely impact humanity. She becomes the whistleblower and the chief architect of the company’s downfall.

Takeaway: I see this movie as a bit of an essay on the tech sector, revealing the prevalence of corrupt practices, including weak corporate governance and overbearing leadership. The company’s products pose serious ethical concerns around privacy which kind of reminded me of the Facebook privacy issues and Uber during the Travis Kalanick years.

The Intern (2015)

The premise: Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro) is a recent retiree who quickly struggles to deal with life post-retirement. He spots an opportunity to get back into work and applies successfully to become a senior intern at an online fashion company founded and run by Jules Ostin (played by Anne Hathaway).

Takeaway: What was pleasing about this movie was that this was the first time a ‘talent acquisition team’ is featured in a movie set. We see the candidate experience inflow. Indeed, Ben’s first interaction and interviews are with several members of the TA team, which suggests that the company in the movie probably has a robust interview and selection process. The film also raised some critical issues about work-life balance. In the film, Jules’s husband is a stay at home dad, allowing Jules to pursue her career often to his frustration. The movie also reassuringly tackles the issue of ageism in the workplace. Instead of casting aside senior citizens, it proactively puts together a program of inclusivity to reintroduce senior citizens back into work and utilize their experience. Probably suggests that the company in the movie values diversity and inclusion. In this movie, Ben helps Jules to reinvigorate both her and the company to overcome operational issues.

A Family Man (2016)

The premise: Dane Jensen (played by Gerard Butler) is a headhunter operating in the cut-throat world of agency recruitment. His job is, even more, challenging driven by his desire to outperform his peers, own the company while fulfilling the needs of his family – thus creating a clash of priorities.

Takeaway: Lays bare the inner workings of agency recruitment. It reveals the tactics – often underhand and unethical that recruiters use to win jobs and place candidates. A ‘win at any cost’ approach shows an industry culture that is incompatible with work-life balance. Agency recruitment isn’t for everyone. Struggling to juggle work and family life, Dane is fired from his job and then starts his own company working from home to take back control of his life.

Up In The Air (2009)

The premise: Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) works for an HR consulting company that specializes in terminating employees on behalf of employers. He travels up and down the country and pleasingly collecting air miles in the process. He enjoys what he does but soon comes across issues that threaten his lifestyle by the emergence of a love interest, and a new hire which prompts him to reassess his life.

Takeaway: Firing people is unpleasant. Sadly, whenever a company goes through a rough patch, it’s human capital that has to pay the price through layoffs. This movie details that process and the issues that companies have to deal with to remain profitable. The movie also chronicles the life of an individual (Ryan Bingham) who seems content hopping from one city to another doing a compassionate job. How happy would you be always travelling for your career?

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The premise: Based on Chris Gardner’s true story (played by Will Smith). The movie depicts a struggling salesman taking custody of his son and the immense difficulties he faces in pursuing a professional career.

Takeaway: A hugely inspiring and motivational movie that reveals in spectacular detail the struggles and stresses we face as human beings —an emotionally charged account of the worst that can happen to any capable person. Chris Gardner was a phenomenal hero of his own life facing one challenge and setback after another. In the end, he prevailed through his commitment and self- belief.

The Internship (2013)

The premise: Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are two salesmen who find themselves struggling in their careers because of the digital age. They somehow manage to get internships at Google, where they compete against a talented bunch of youngsters to secure employment.

Takeaway: while critics referred to this movie as being a Google documentary, it’s really about how one needs to adapt themselves in a changing labour market that is being disrupted by technology.

Office Christmas Party (2016)

The premise: Jennifer Anniston plays a CEO of a family-run company who threatens to shut down his brother Clay’s branch (played by T.J.Miller). In an attempt to persuade her to change her mind, Clay throws a lavish Christmas party to land a big client to save the day, but things do not go as he intended.

Takeaway: Both funny and rude, this movie is about the challenges involved in running a family business. It also highlights the importance of company culture. In the film, we see the client rejecting Clay’s business proposal because he doesn’t like the culture of his company. The conclusion from this is that you think you are the best company in the world, but if your culture isn’t right to those outside the company, you run the risk of damaging its reputation and profitability.

Horrible Bosses 1 (2011)/Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

The premise: In Horrible Bosses 1 (2011), three friends concoct plans to murder their awful managers to secure their happiness. In Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), the three friends featured in the previous movie start their own business but get into problems when an investor cheats them, prompting them to plot revenge against their tormentor.

Takeaway: You’ll relate to this movie if you ever worked for a passive-aggressive boss, a micromanager or just plain unpleasant to work for. It’s a light-hearted look at how three individuals driven to despair by their managers are desperate to ensure their happiness.

Fist Fight (2017)

The premise: Andy Campbell (played by Charlie Day) inadvertently causes the dismissal of another teacher Strickland (played by Ice Cube). This act leads to Strickland challenging Andy to an after school fight.

Takeaway: Shows the impact of weak leadership trickling down to employees. You’ll end up with disharmony among your employees and a workforce that is isn’t engaged. In this particular story, the inability of leadership to manage an employee relations issue results in a fight between two teachers. Poor governance and a lack of concern for employee welfare are strong themes here.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

The premise: Focuses on the life of Alexander (played by Ed Oxenbould) and his family. They each face back to back setbacks. He ends up thinking if he has somehow managed to curse the family.

Takeaway: Ben Cooper (played by Steve Carell) and Kelly Cooper (played by Jennifer Garner) are both working parents who face struggles in their professional lives. In the movie, Ben has the weirdest interview experience when he has no childcare; he has to take his toddler son with him to the interview. His wife Kelly, who works for a publishing company unintentionally changes the words in a children’s book which result in the book being full of rude words. Despite their individual misfortune, Ben actually ends up impressing in his interview and gets the job whilst Kelly’s mistake actually ends of benefitting her company. The movie is a reminder that we are all not perfect at the end of the day and that sometimes it’s ok to have a bad day and you can’t do anything to change it.

So these are my favourite career-related movies. If you get the chance, I encourage you to watch them as most of them are comedies so you’ll enjoy them. Happy viewing!

Image Credit: Manu Mohan

Six reasons why you need to undertake an expat assignment in the GCC

 

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates and has witnessed modernisation on a grand scale since the 1990s. It has weathered the financial storms during the height of the financial crisis to re-establish itself as a prime destination for multinationals looking to establish a presence in the region and beyond. The United Arab Emirates is part of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and can be best defined as a regional intergovernmental political and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Having lived and worked in Dubai for nearly four years, since coming back to the UK I have benefited both culturally and career wise. My time there was interesting, enjoyable, challenging and enriching. Having also had the opportunity to travel to other countries within the GCC, I have found that there are several common themes that are prevalent throughout the six countries. These are:

The GGC leads the way in job creation: As the economies and populations of the GCC grow, so does demand on civil infrastructure, education, healthcare, housing so this results in job opportunities across multiple sectors.

Fewer decision makers: This is especially the case with regional companies/family conglomerates where it is often the CEO and/or Chairman who is the sole decision maker so decisions are reached faster rather than going through multiple layers of approval.

Faster business cycles: Due to faster decision making, projects can take shape much faster so a company’s hiring needs can be established quicker, creating job opportunities and transactions are completed faster.

Career development: Economies in the GCC are still developing so this means better prospects to move both laterally and vertically in your career. If you are somebody with between 5 and 10 years’ experience with a good educational background, you are going to be in demand so expect calls from recruiters.

Personal and professional development: Even if you decide to spend only a few years in the GCC or commit to a longer duration, you should expect to enhance your skills set as you gain exposure to prestigious projects and working alongside a multinational workforce means a more culturally diverse experience. Many expats who have worked in the GCC go on to work in other regions such as Asia Pacific and North America as their GCC experience is considered very valuable and transferable so if you choose to go to the GCC region, you will certainly be adding value to both your life and career.

Weather: Although it is stifling hot during summer months (mainly May to October), when it does cool down there are ample opportunities to pursue outdoor pursuits. Plus, it’s really nice waking up to a sunny bright blue clear skies.

Six tweaks to make to enhance your career development trajectory

There is no golden formula that one can apply to be successful in their career but one can certainly make certain adjustments in their day to day attitude that can prove worthwhile in enhancing your skills set and worth in your career. Here are six tweaks that could help propel you forward in your career:

  1. Take pre – emptive action: Prevent things from happening before the wheels fall off. Put in place methods and procedures that will prevent a situation reaching crisis stage.
  2. Adopt a proactive mind – set: Stop reacting to things that are coming to you. Instead focus on taking positive steps to completing the task (s) at hand.
  3. Look at the bigger picture: Have the end goal in mind whenever you set out to do something. Ask yourself if the action you are about to take will generate the required results.
  4. Become solution focused: Always operate with a continuous improvement agenda. Even a minor change to a policy or process may trigger an improvement.
  5. Disconnect: When things go wrong, don’t panic and take it personally. Instead, take a step back to assess what went wrong and why and execute your solution orientated mind – set.

The Anatomy of a Job – Understanding each stage and taking it easy

A job represents different things to different people. A job provides sustenance, prosperity, growth, a realization of a worthy goal to name a few. I have always thought of a job as a vehicle that propels our life, and so it is made up of many key components. More importantly, you are the fuel that is used to drive this engine so it is absolutely important that the engine has the right quality of fuel and in sufficient quantity. The seven key components of a job are as follows:

Job Advertisement/Job Lead – The job advertisement is what generates your interest in a job. You read about the job description and decide whether you tick all the boxes in order for you to apply for the vacant position. That is why it is absolutely important you read the job description carefully and tailor your CV/application accordingly because you do not want it to end up in the discarded pile.

Interview – The make or break stage of the whole process. Some researchers have said that an interviewer will make his/her mind up whether to hire a candidate or not in the first 3 minutes of an interview. First impressions count, and if you can come across positive as soon as you step into the interviewer’s room the better. What is even more important is getting off to a good start when the interview questions come your way. In order to be really successful in interviews you have to know what you stand for and what you can bring to the table. The interviewer may start off with a common question such as ‘Tell me about yourself?’ Quite a lot of candidates struggle with this question. This is your opportunity to truly sell yourself. Think of this question like an elevator pitch for yourself. Have a few meaningful words and sentences committed to memory to really get your pitch flowing.

Contract/Offer of Employment – This is the moment you sign on the dotted line. It is an opportunity for you to review the fine details of the job. Does it fit your requirements? Are there any clauses? What are the terms and conditions? It is always a good idea to read through the contract several times before you sign it and send it back to the employer.

Induction – This is quite an exciting part of the whole job process. It can last anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks and depending on the nature of job can even be longer. The induction is designed to provide you with as much information about the specific job and company. It’s all about becoming acquainted with the house rules. You will be given information on health and safety issues, your holiday entitlement etc. Use this process to gain as much knowledge about the company’s policies and procedures as possible.

Performance Review – This is the nervous part of the entire project. However, it does not need to be that way. The important thing to remember is that the employer is basically looking to evaluate you in accordance with a set of pre-determined criteria relating to the job you were hired to do. The criteria for this depends on the type of job but in essence it revolves around core competencies and your attitude at work and the impact that has on company profitability.

Redundancy/Firing – This signals the end of the road for you but don’t take it in a bad way. The company has made the decision based on your performance review or has been forced by senior management to trim the staff count. Although this process can be very difficult to bear the important thing is to be proactive and figure out what you are going to do next. If you have a really good relationship with your manager, you can ask him/her if they can help you identify any job leads. Also use your network to your advantage because there is a hidden jobs market out there, it’s just a case of finding it.

In summary, starting a new job can be a really exciting experience. The first three months are considered to be toughest where you really have to showcase your abilities. It’s almost like a President’s first 100 days in charge. A solid start will lay a solid foundation for your future role in the company. By six months, you should be comfortable in your daily role. There will be challenges and there will be disappointments and setbacks along the way. The important thing is to remain focused and work hard. Your attitude will determine your altitude.

Top 10 Life Survival Tips for the Realist

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Life can be pretty stressful. On an emotional level, though, stress is dangerous and begins to set in and manifest itself in all sorts of unpleasant forms. Here are ten tips to keep things simple and manageable.

  1. Be yourself – Don’t become a clone of somebody else. Take strength from your individuality. If there is pressure to perform, don’t try to imitate others or else you might end up failing. Find out what works best for you and stick to it.
  2. If things aren’t working out – Things get worse before they get better and often lousy news comes together. Remember that you have to have the darkness for the dawn to come, so be patient.
  3. Don’t strive for perfection – Sometimes it is sensible not to aim for the number 1 spot. Not positioning yourself to be number 1, would probably mean that you would never have to suffer from being knocked off the top, so play it friendly and relaxed.
  4. Don’t give up – The sooner you realise that success is tied to not giving up the better. Throwing in the towel is a lot easier to be the person who persists and responds when the going gets tough
  5. Don’t be reluctant to change -Some people hate change and as a result, miss out on potential opportunities. Only making a few adjustments to the way you think, or to your skills may open you up to a plethora of opportunities that otherwise might not arise.
  6. Happiness comes in small increments – Don’t expect to get quick outcomes when you put in the hard work. The path to success is littered with obstacles, small and large. Whatever you do, though, make sure to celebrate the slightest achievements in your life as that will get you into a happy, motivational mindset.
  7. Do something that doesn’t come easy – If you don’t go beyond your comfort zone, you won’t go very far. The difference between successful people and the not so successful is their ability to make sacrifices with their comfort zone. Push yourself to get what you want
  8. Have a plan in life and aim for it – It is crucial to have some goal in your life. Ask yourself what matters to you in your life and have the end in mind, i.e. what do you want to achieve by the time you reach 50. Goals can be perfect motivators and help create a disciplined mindset.
  9. Don’t be fazed by others – If somebody at work says something negative about you or takes a dig at you, don’t take it seriously. It might be that they see you from an entirely different perspective or are probably envious about you in some way. Either way, learn how to develop a thick skin.
  10. Take life as it comes – There’s no need to live life 100 mph. Please slow down and take each day as it happens, and don’t try to analyse the experience over. If you get caught up in it, you are going to set yourself up to fail.

So don’t let the pressures of life run you down. You are making the adjustments above will allow you to minimise the stressors, and instead, you will focus on the things that truly matter to you and make you happy.

29 things I have learnt so far in life

M

Life is a journey as one of my former managers said. In this festive season, I thought it would be best to highlight some lessons I have learnt and the wisdom passed on by others in both my professional and private life. I see the following as wake up calls, harsh experiences, reality checks and even motivational thoughts. So in no particular order, here they are:

  1. Things get worse before they get better
  2. Bad news tends to come together at the same time
  3. Opportunities can jump at you when you least expect them to
  4. Your gut instinct is always almost right
  5. You may not ever get what you ask for
  6. You may have to settle for your second choice: you probably won’t get your first choice
  7. Bear in mind that you may have to take small, baby steps to make significant advances
  8. Don’t look for quick fixes: be prepared to be excruciatingly patient
  9. Stay the course before making a final decision
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask advice from others
  11. If something isn’t working out, don’t be scared and shy of admitting defeat: bail before you get washed out
  12. Don’t be afraid of experimenting, taking risks
  13. Don’t always look to be in your comfort zone: accept that you need to push yourself to get better at doing what you do
  14. Accept that some things will never be perfect
  15. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo
  16. Punch above your weight
  17. See tedious, uninspiring tasks as challenges as you never know where they might lead you
  18. When it comes to jobs and companies, it invariably comes down to cultural fit so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to secure an offer
  19. Try avoiding people who have a detrimental impact on your life
  20. All things being equal, the simplest explanation usually tend to be the right one
  21. A degree doesn’t make you intelligent, but it gives you an edge
  22. Not everybody is capable of maintaining a professional approach to work
  23. It is easy to be a micromanager but far harder to be an inspirational, likeable manager
  24. You don’t need to sweat to prove a point and nor does it make you more authoritative
  25. Don’t take things seriously and more importantly, don’t take yourself seriously
  26. Accept that you won’t always get things right the first time
  27. It may take people a while to understand what you are all about
  28. Extract happiness from the smallest things in life
  29. There will inevitably come a time in life when you will run into the wrong people who will have a detrimental impact on your life

Most importantly, though, ‘be certain to learn life’s lessons and move on’.