The Career Club

a blog providing support & information on career building

Fasting While @ Work

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Today is the first day of the fasting month, Ramadan. For us working Muslims, fasting while at work isn’t the easiest of things to do; especially when you feel like the only one fasting during the month. That lunch hour with nothing to do and food all around you can be the most difficult and slowest hour ever, unless you do something about it.

Even for my working students, I know the feeling. I used to be in class all day before going to my night job and breaking my fast just two hours before going home to my moms homemade fest. Even in college, I’ll break my fast during my night class if I had enough time to either pack something or buy something as I commuted from work.

With that, I think a few pointers for my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters observing Ramadan this year as they work or go to school is just as appropriate and needed in this blog.

– During that long lunch hour, if there is a mosque near by, please go. As this is the month to celebrate the scriptures of the Holy Quran being brought down to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh), what better way to pass that hour then by being in a place where others are praying and reciting the scriptures. (High School students, only do so if your campus is an “open campus”)

– If you do not have a mosque near by, there is always a space such as the conference room or an extra office space where you can pray and read the Holy Quran. Many businesses are highly respectful of one’s beliefs and practices as long as it does not interrupt their productivity. For university students, there should be an MSA (Muslim Student Association) at your school where there is space to do the same thing. If not, please check where you can go, such as a library (where they have secluded spaces for projects) or an empty classroom.

– Worried about your fasting breath? Remember that just because it is the most beloved breath upon God as you practice your fast, it isn’t the same upon many mortals, Muslim or not. Nothing to be offended about as it is natural, so just make sure you have a good distance between yourself and others. Always brush your teeth, even if it’s rinsing with water. If you have a “miswak“, even better!

For my non Muslim brothers and sisters, please check out some of these etiquettes and resources when working with a fasting Muslim.

– If you know someone is fasting, don’t start eating and drinking in front of them. Be as you would want others to be if you too were fasting.

– Muslims do not speak to others during their prayers; so if walking in on someone praying, be respectful by being silent or even stepping out. Prayers shouldn’t last more then 5 minutes.

– Want to know what it is like fasting? Fast with a fellow colleague then go with them to break your fast. It’s an amazing learning experience according to my many colleagues that have done the same with me. Plan to either fast the whole month of even try it for a few days, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

– No question is a stupid question. Ask your Muslim co-worker about Ramadan while being courteous.

– Learn more about Ramadan by going to IslamicFinder.org.

May this month of Ramadan be of ease to my working and schooling Muslim Brothers and Sisters!

Written by Ms. Hala

22 August 2009 at 12:17 am

Crisis to Recovery

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Disclaimer: Though this isn’t career related, I feel it is important to be posting this here since we’ve discussed sustaining our careers though simple budgeting.

“Crisis to Recovery” was a community resource fair that was held earlier this week on Saturday in San Francisco to support community members with any financial trouble; specifically any mortgage or debt related ones. Amongst the speakers presenting, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (District 12 Representative), City Supervisor Carmen Chu (District 4), Patrick Murcia on the government’s Making Home Affordable and Jeanne Lu on the SF Mortgage Credit Certificate Program.

Financial counseling was then provided by banks such as Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America to over 200 attendees to go over their questions and concerns. So many resources and even translation for our Cantonese speaking community members was provided throughout the event. Throughout the day, I was very impressed and simply grateful for our community members.

Below are links to some of the videos from the presenters as well as links to some of the resources. If you are not from San Francisco, check with your local city supervisor or congress representative to see if such an event is being planned in your area. Should you need help, please feel free to contact me.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Crisis to Recovery opening remarks

Supervisor Carmen Chu
List of local resources for SF

Patrick Murcia’s presentation of Making Home Affordable
www.makinghomeaffordable.gov
888-995-HOPE (4673)

Jeanne Lu’s presentation of SF Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

SF Consumer Credit Counseling
www.cccsf.org
800-777-7526

Written by Ms. Hala

29 July 2009 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

To Craigslist or Not to Craigslist

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I have been researching some of these job search engines out there today but focused on the local ones. One in particular always stands out to me, Craigslist. I’ve always used and respected the work Craigslist has done in regards to finding local work, gigs and community events. Something I noticed with Craigslist which I wanted to share with my job seekers.

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting or advertising for Craigslist, just giving pointers on how to use them.

I put my resume on Craigslist where my email address was viewable. In one hour, I had received a good 30 emails, none of them were real jobs. Just a bunch of scam companies promoting working from home wiring money. The same happened when I then posted my resume with the option to make my email address anonymous. When I posted my resume without my email address and just my phone number, then I got about two calls with serious job offers.

Obviously, something is up when using Craigslist.

The companies that continued to email me rarely had any postings up on Craigslist. That could be explained by two things, 1. it does cost $75 per job posting and 2. Craigslist let’s its users flag postings that are seen as spam. It would make sense that companies really looking to hire would invest the time and money to find the right candidate.

What can job seekers do to better utilize Criagslist? I suggest that must you post your resume, take your email out of the equation. You’ll get fewer responses but at least they are serious calls. I would prefer that you DON’T post resumes on Craigslist. Instead, designate time to search jobs posted. You can even have search results from keywords emailed to you on a daily basis so that you don’t miss out. That works more efficiently then getting 30 spam emails.

There are plenty local job search Web sites right here in the Bay Area that you can utilize including Bay Area Help Wanted and Bay Area Jobs. Share your favorite local job search Web sites by posting a comment below, on our Facebook group or message me on Twitter.

Written by Ms. Hala

14 July 2009 at 4:00 am

Posted in The Search

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Simple Budgeting

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Disclaimer: I’m not a financial adviser. If anything, I hate math and I’m not a rich person. However, I do handle our household finances quite well and think it simply takes common sense to manage your basic household finances. What I’m about to discuss below is geared mainly to students to make some type of sense of their first paychecks so that it’s worth while in the long run.

I know a lot of students get really excited when they first get a job that they end up spending their first check before its even earned. Right now, with the way the economy is, budgeting should be every one’s priority. Below are a few simple steps to help you make sense of it all which I hope would make even Suze Orman proud!

First, to better understand where your money is going, make a list of all your expenses. For example, what are you paying a month for:
– rent/mortgage
– food/groceries
– utilities
– school expenses (books, equipment, student loans)
– phone/Internet
– cable
– credit card payments
– insurance
– medical
transportation (car payment, gas, bus fare, etc)
entertainment
– savings

If your expenses exceed your monthly income, know that you have a problem. If you have more wants then necessities on your list, you have an even bigger problem. There are ways to decrease or even eliminate some of those excessive wants from your expense list. Ask yourself, do you really watch 500 channels? Must you eat lunch out every single day? Do you seriously have to keep every light in your home on? Does it hurt to make your own coffee at home versus a $6 cup from Starbucks?

Making a few adjustments can go along way. You’d be surprised how much money you could save a year. Just do the math. You can save up to $420 by getting just a basic cable package (if not eliminating cable all together now that many channels are free with the new national digital upgrade). You can save up to $200 a year by making lunch at home at least 3 times a week. You can save up to $250 a year off the electric utility bill by using energy efficient light bulbs and just turning off unnecessary lights. You can save over $360 a year making your own coffee at home before you head out for your day.

Speaking of saving, do you have a rainy day fund? Once you know how much you need a month for your expenses, you should start putting a certain amount in savings a month. Your goal should be to have at the least up to 3 months of expenses saved in a rainy day fund. The more the better but don’t go beyond your means. The point of such funds is to protect you should you hit a financial stumble along the way. Remember, you’re a student with more expenses to come along the way in an unstable economy. The more prepared you are, the more protected you are.

Think about this: San Francisco, where I live, created a rainy day fund about a few years ago. When the state of California issued pink slips to about 500 teachers in San Francisco alone, the rainy day fund helped save about 400 of those jobs. That’s how important such a fund is.

To better budget and manage your personal finances, you need to take a few moments to put everything in perspective and check out a few helpful tools. You can put your expenses list in a spread sheet to include your monthly income, expenses and savings. Many online banking give you the option to download your statements into a spread sheet as well as other tools. There are other tools and websites such as moneyStrands, Wasabe, or Mint.

If you use any other tools or strategies to manage your finances, do share with us by posting a comment below, on our Facebook group or message me on Twitter.

Written by Ms. Hala

25 June 2009 at 3:40 am

Posted in Job Sustenance

Tagged with ,

Templates UPLOADED

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I’ve gone through most of my blogs and added the templates for resumes, master application and much more as well as posted them below. Post your comments/questions below and check back for my responses!

Functional Resume Template

Chronological Resume Template

Master Application

Sample Cover Letter for Students

Your Welcome! 🙂

Written by Ms. Hala

16 June 2009 at 2:56 am

Interview Do’s and PLEASE Don’t!

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions of what people should do or don’t do during an interview. So here’s an updated list of what I present during my Career Development Trainings. Please note that this isn’t just for during an interview, but what you should do/don’t before and after an interview.

Before an Interview (at least a few days in advance)…
– Research about the company/org and obtain any information about the company/org that will be useful for your interview (example: positive news, sales records, product line, innovation, etc.)
– Prepare any questions you might have about the company/org to ask the interviewer
– Know the duties and the complete description of the position
– Have the interviewer’s name, number and address as well as the interview location and directions
– Practice how you will answer tough questions, talk about yourself and turning on your positive voice
– Prepare interview outfit and make sure it is clean, neat and suitable
– Arrange for a sign language interpreter if necessary
– Prepare and organize your documents in a portfolio

PLEASE Don’t…

– Assume you know everything about the company/org when 90% of the time you don’t have a clue
– Get intoxicated (especially if you’ll be taking a drug test!)
– Have all your documents in a disarray
– Be afraid, very very afraid
– Leave everything for the last minute

Dressing for an Interview…
– Job specific clothing such as hard hat and clean jeans for a construction job or a two piece suit for an office job
– Dress conservatively as possible within the confines of your personality
– Neutral, semi dark color clothing
– Simple jewelry such as one or two rings, small earrings and a necklace (depending on where you are interviewing, a small nose ring should be ok)

PLEASE Don’t…
– Wear revealing or skintight clothing, haphazardly
– Wear every piece of jewelry you own
– Use strong perfume, aftershave, deodorant, body spray, etc.
– Wear bright nail polish, lipstick or clothing

Take to the Interview…
– Valid photo ID or Passport
– Social Security Card
– Your prepared and organized portfolio
– Master application/completed company application
– Multiple copies of your targeted resume
– References and letters of recommendation
– Small calendar/appointment book
– Other required certifications or documents such as typing tests, training certificates, etc.
– A bottle of water is fine if securely closed
– Confidence and a positive attitude

PLEASE Don’t…
– Bring your relatives, friends, children or pets!
– Bring any food or sticky drinks
– Even thing of bringing drugs or alcohol

Interviewing Etiquette includes…
– Arrive at least 15 minutes early
– Make sure your cell phone is off or at least on vibrate or silent
– Shake hands firmly and quickly
– Wait for the interviewer to invite you to have a seat
– Sit attentively, straight up and ready
– Pay attention to the interviewer and listen to everything told and asked
– Pay attention to your poster, body language and nervousness
– Eye contact is very important, look at the interviewer when asking and answering questions
– Look interested, excited and ready
– Use professional language and speak clearly in an appropriate volume and tone
– Show off your confidence and SMILE!

PLEASE Don’t…
– Be late
– Smoke
– Chew gum
– Have a cell phone on or on loud
– Answer your cell phone
– Slouch in your seat, cross your legs with the bottom of your feet facing the interviewer and hands everywhere
– Touch everything
– Interrupt the interviewer
– Speak in “slang” or use foul language
– Lie about your work or criminal history
– Be apologetic for whatever qualification you may lack
– Move far beyond the topic
– Take what is not given to you
– Talk too little or too much
– Speak in a very low voice or extremely loud
– Talk with your hands over your mouth or look away from the interviewer
– Take care of your hygiene
– Be fake
– Walk out yelling, screaming and raging

After an Interview…
– Send a “thank you” note to the interviewer for their time
– Make a follow up call and converse with the interviewer
– If asked not to call, send a follow up email to the interviewer

PLEASE Don’t…
– Contact the interviewer on how horrible they were
– Bombard the interviewer with calls and emails on your status

Should you questions, post them in the comments so that I may respond!

Written by Ms. Hala

10 June 2009 at 4:08 am

What’s Your Objective?

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In every resume I’ve critiqued at least in the last month, I noticed one thing in common: everyone of them had a nice lengthy objective. I have a lengthy problem with that… here’s why.

What’s an objective? An objective is basically one’s intentions towards something, a goal to accomplish. With that understanding, it is very important that you do relay to your potential employer what your intentions and goals are in your career and in working with that company.

So why do I have a problem with it being in your resume? Well on your resume, you are listing your education, qualifications, work history and skills. An objective is written out in a good 3-5 sentence paragraph. That’s why it should not be on your resume! So where does it go?

On your cover letter!

Your cover letter is a personalized letter to the hiring personnel that introduces your resume. In your cover letter, you are to discuss what makes you best for the position in question, what your objectives are and how you can be reached after they review your resume. It’s simply an opening statement, a good 3-5 sentence paragraph about your objectives and qualifications. Then a closer with your contact information. Very simple, very basic.

Click here for a sample cover letter.

Why don’t you want to go on about your great achievements or expanded skills? You need to leave something for the interview. You list your skills and any relevant achievements and awards but your cover letter gets them to read your resume. Your resume, gets them to set up an interview with you.

So, what’s your objective?

Written by Ms. Hala

3 June 2009 at 5:22 am