Saturday, April 30, 2011

Advice to young graduates - II

Continue from where I left off yesterday. One of most difficult decisions faced by a new graduate is walking a thin line of taking too long(or label as choosy) to land on the right company, right boss, right sector and etc OR rush into marriage of convenient(don't ends up like Lady Di). In real life, it's not that easy to find enough information to make that kind of decision. Unless you try or else your odds will never be improved.

The obvious easy decision to make is joining reputable companies like Petronas, Public Bank, Maybank, IBM, Intel, Earnst and Yong, etc. These are blue chips but to climb the ladder, competitions will be tough. You could end up as a small fish in a big pond. However, it will the place to sharpen yourself before moving on. What you learn there is transferable.

The second easier decision to make is to be a big fish in a small pond. Joining big companies that have a small operations in Malaysia either it's a stock market research outfit, representative offices of GE, Google, Microsoft, Bank of China, ICBC, etc.....

The next not so difficult decision to make is joining entrepreneur/family owned but create a very professional environment to work. There are a number of good public listed companies (I will try to avoid naming them so that I will not be accused of giving free advertising).

The more difficult decision is joining a reasonable size company(RM 200-300 mln and above) but control by family. Whether we like it or not, blood is thicker than water, at some point of time you got to realize that top posts will not be available to "outsider". Some of them may not want to share power but they share some of their wealth -- compensation could be generous. Those with strong opinion will not be happy to work in this kind of environment.

The more difficult decision but pay off could be good is joining bright start up company. Being a pioneer, you may earn some "seniority", learn a lot about entrepreneurship and if you are lucky you may share some of sweat equity. If you aim to be your own boss some day in the future. This could be an easy decision.

The rest of the companies that I would avoid at all cost will be small family business, selling credit cards, cars, etc. It's a pity I see these guys wasted 1 - 2 years of their time. There are no skills to be horned there and it's not transferable.

One of the critical points during interview you have to determine is whether your boss and you can have a good chemistry working together. You may also want to assess his/her personality. Whether you like it or not, after she or he hired you, some level of biasness will come in either in or not in favor of you. If she or he and you can be "buddy", you will get good assignments, special attention to see you through the ladder climbing and etc. This is absolutely important if you are joining a consulting company. Looking back I was lucky to have many good bosses. They were there either I accomplished big things or I made a big screw up.

I'm not going to talk a lot about interview here. You can read it somewhere but remember this trick. In the interview, you can ask them the company financial performance or their strategy. From their tone, you should be able to judge whether they are financially stable, have a clear growth plan and etc. Just ask them questions that you would before buying some company shares.

Never do this. Do you any questions for me, asked the interviewer. You replied, nothing. Nothing equals Zero curiosity.


mgtp12 said...

hey there. i just bumped into your blog. good job there!

you can visit mine @

lets exchange some ideas one way or another.


jc said...

dont know why there is no reply for such a good post...i agree with your article especially on the part of being in the right sector..i myself is in the information technology sector..parents spent tons of money to send me overseas for studies and i went on further to take part time course to further improve myself yet i am earning meagre salary compared to the effort I have put in due to the influx of foreigners into the work force.Same goes for some of my friends who went to study biotech which was touted as a promising industry. I am studying part time finance course and will be switching industry soon. Good luck to myself