Entertainment, Lifestyle

7 Lies You’ll Hear About Millennials – Matthew Fam

Millennials are not as bad as they’re made out to be. Seriously! Contributing writer Matthew Fam debunks the  7 negative traits commonly associated with this generation, and insists that this misunderstood bunch has much to be celebrated for.

#Justsaying, whenever I read articles of why Millennials are lazy, selfish, entitled, or [fill in negative trait], I’m like:
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But on the inside:
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There are major misconceptions out there about us, okay? And I think it’s easy for people to discount the capability, passion, drive and resilience that we have within us. It’s just expressed in different ways from generations past. Here are the 7 lies you’ll hear about Millennials:

1. We want to be mutli-hyphenated everything because we’re fickle.
We are the generation most prone to job hopping. Forbes listed that 91% of Millennials expect to stay within a job for less than three years, which translates to over 15 jobs in our entire career! Unfortunately, this gets misinterpreted as us being fickle for not being grounded in our ambitions. However, with a plethora of transferrable skills learnt, job hopping is hardly career suicide or disadvantageous, as this article will tell you.

2. We MUST have our sacrosanct weekends. (Don’t touch them!)
We’re said to demand work flexibility and leave at 6pm on the dot every day. In fact, the statistics from a study by Cisco backs this up: with 69% of Millennials believing that office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis, heaven forbid that you touch our weekends!

Sure, we value free time and a work-life balance. But we also know how to manage our expectations to find a compromise, and don’t shy from hard work- even if it means clocking in overtime. We make those hours at the office count and work. It. Out.

Why? Because we are…
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3. We expect to climb the corporate ladder at an abnormally fast pace.
Entry-level position today, CEO tomorrow. Truth be told, detractors tend to view us as entitled little brats.

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This suggests that we lack the patience to gain adequate experience in a job before being handed bigger responsibilities. Yes, sometimes our inflated ambition gets the better of us, but if there’s one thing this generation must be lauded for, it’s our undying idealism. We don’t settle for mediocrity.

4. We’re selfish because we take gap years and spend our first paychecks on holidays.
Q: When does taking gap years and travelling the world become a bad thing?
A: When delaying a salaried income and not providing for your family unfairly labels you as selfish.

YOLO (you only live once), people! Besides, often times, Millennials make use of their gap year to take up internships, part-time work, or volunteer for a cause. The extra income earned from these ventures go into our vacation funds. So we’re not leeching off from parents, mm-kay? #Independence

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Sorry, we do not all behave like Miley.

5. We’re reckless, and we pride bad behavior above anything else.
“Oh, that’s how the youngsters these days behave.” (While commenting on Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball music video.)

First of all, it’s funny how people make assumptions on our generation’s behaviour solely based on Miley’s bare bum. Secondly, NOBODY twerks in the streets for fun or enjoys public nudity! Miley Cyrus is not our spirit animal!

6. We speak in nothing but hashtags, emojis and tumblr gifs.
Okay, fine. So we can get a weeee bit overdramatic with the way we communicate. But seriously, just because we pepper our speech with these humorous titbits doesn’t mean we have forgotten how to speak eloquently! The English Language has not been butchered, RELAX. #Itiswhatisits #Sorrynotsorry

7. We are all experts in technology.
According to a study by PayScale and Millennial Branding, online marketing and social media are reportedly the most common job skills among Millennials. However, that doesn’t mean we’re complete whizzes with technology. It’s one thing to be able to update our Twitter accounts, or make credit card payments on ASOS. But no- if you expect us to programme a phone application from scratch, then this is what we have to say:

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What other misconceptions of Millennials do you know of? Share with us in the comments section below!

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines. He is also a proud Millennial! Follow him on Instagram @mattjfam.

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Career, Self-Improvement

Make LinkedIn Work For You – Vanessa Tai

If you’re like most people, you probably think LinkedIn is a site for you to list your job experiences and get noticed by recruiters. Truth is, that’s just one aspect of what LinkedIn is about. There are actually plenty of nifty features on LinkedIn that can help you get ahead in your career. For starters, when you log in to your account, you’ll see an up-to-date news feed giving you pertinent industry news, job openings that are relevant for you as well as updates your professional contacts’ careers.

LinkedIn can help you achieve career success

LinkedIn can help you achieve career success.

One feature I really like is the LinkedIn Influencer Programme, where key industry influencers and thought leaders like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Guy Kawasaki pen articles on leadership and other industry-relevant pieces. These articles are often thought-provoking and offer very practical tips that help me see my work in a new perspective.

For more of such articles, check out LinkedIn Channels, which you can Follow to get interesting insights from industry influencers that may be beneficial for your career. For example, as a young female entrepreneur in the digital media industry, I’ll be inclined to Follow these channels: Professional Women, Entrepreneurship & Small Business and Social Media.

Another great feature is LinkedIn Groups, which act like discussion forums of sort. You can join existing groups, or start one on your own. With these groups, you can exchange information with other like-minded folk, get feedback on your work or even source for job contacts. For example, if you’re a freelance writer and you’re looking to work with a freelance designer, you could explore groups like this to help you.

So you see, there’s so much more to LinkedIn than just job hunting. Of course, it’s still an excellent platform to get your professional expertise recognised. According to a recent Bullhorn survey of over 160,000 recruiters, a whopping 97 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find job candidates. And with over one million LinkedIn users in Singapore, it’s high time you spruced up your profile to ensure you get noticed. Here’s how:

Don’t cut and paste your resume

You wouldn’t hand out your resume before introducing yourself, so don’t do it here. Instead, describe your experience and abilities as you would to someone you just met. And write for the screen – in short blocks of text with visual or textual signposts. Add a photo so that people can recognise you (Psst … according to a LinkedIn survey, profiles with a profile photo is seven times more likely to get viewed!)

Be yourself

Unless formality suits your brand, forget professional-speak. Try to speak as if you’re at a conference or a client meeting – friendly but professional.

Write a personal tagline

That line of text under your name? It’s the first thing people see in your profile. It follows your name in search hit lists. It’s your brand. (Note: your e-mail address is not a brand!) Unless your company’s brand (and your job title) is so strong that you can do away with a tagline, you might want to distill your professional personality into a more eye-catching phrase.

Point out your skills

Think of the Skills & Expertise field as your personal search engine optimiser, a way to refine the ways people find and remember you. Adding specific skills and expertise allow you to highlight particular abilities which help you stand out from the crowd. You can also receive endorsements on these skills from your connections, giving you added credibility with that third-party stamp of approval.

Distinguish yourself from the crowd

Pat your own back and others’. Get recommendations from colleagues, clients, and employers who can speak credibly about your abilities or performance. When you approach your contacts for a recommendation, it might be helpful to get them to focus on a specific skill or personality trait that drives their opinion of you. It also helps to get a variety of recommendations – from your boss to peers or clients – it makes the testimonials feel more authentic. And when you do return the favour, be sure to make meaningful comments in your recommendations too. Don’t just copy and paste.

Be active

One of your LinkedIn profile’s key benefits is that it is a living reflection of your professional life which you can keep updated with ease, as opposed to a paper resume which only shows a static snapshot of a point in time. For instance, make sure a new title or job is listed; and list key projects you have completed or professional courses you might be taking.

Staying active on LinkedIn also demonstrates that you are in tune with the going-ons around you – be it around your career, your industry or your connections. Connect promptly with new professional acquaintances to sustain the professional relationship. Express your point of view on an industry trend with a status update, or comment on a connection’s news share to build your credibility.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Career, Self-Improvement

What Your Boss Wants You To Know – Vanessa Tai

How do you achieve career success? A successful career is not just about having smarts or even knowing the right people … many a time, what your boss thinks of you could make or break your career. In a 2012 JobsCentral Singapore survey on employer-employee work relationships, about 30 percent of respondents said they did not share a good working relationship with their bosses. Reasons cited ran the gamut from unrealistic work demands to a lack of advancement opportunities and autonomy at work.

material world singapore-boss employee comic strip

It stands to reason that if you have a good rapport with your boss, the channels of communication will be more open and you’ll enjoy greater job satisfaction.

So what are some ways to impress your boss? We speak to hiring managers and CEOs across different industries, and here’s what they have to say:

Q: What are the factors during an interview that will lead you to hire / NOT hire the candidate?

“We like it when the interview is more conversational, and the interviewee is sincere and engaging. Things that turn us off include candidates who arrive at the interview unprepared with questions to ask. This shows they haven’t given any thought about Zuji as a company, the position they are applying for, or the travel industry. Other deterrents include name dropping, and complaining about ex-employers or a poor existing work environment. Your talent should speak for itself – there’s no need to bring others into the picture.” – Chua Hui Wan, CEO, ZUJI Singapore

Q: Does the way an employee decorates his/her desk make a difference to you?

“As long as they get their work done and their stuff doesn’t encroach onto their colleagues’ desks, they can have their desk however they want.” – Selena Tan, Owner, Dream Academy

“Personally, I think soft toys are a bad idea as they make the employee look unprofessional. That said, other personal items like photos are fine as they remind the employee who he/she is working for.” – John Fearon, CEO, Dropmysite

Probably not the best way to create a good impression.

Probably not the best way to create a good impression.

Q: What’s the ONE thing that will make an employee stand out to you?  

Happy employees = productive employees

Happy employees = productive employees

“Someone who puts the company’s interests above her own. This shows that the person actually treats the company as his/her own [versus it being just a job.] For such an employee, I would take the time to groom him/her for greater career growth.” – Violet Lim, CEO, Lunch Actually

“Having a pleasant and welcoming disposition. To me, this is the mark of a person’s character and the relationship they have with themselves and others. A person can be the highest trained in their profession but if they’re unable to engage well with others, they don’t tend to produce and sustain as much.” – Jaynie Morris, Health & Wealth Director, Jaymor International 

Q: And your number one tip for employees is … 

“Do not be afraid to ask for help. It is better to ask several times and get it right than to try it out yourself and get it wrong.” Wong Hoong An, Co-founder, Hungrygowhere

“Always think three steps ahead of your boss. When you present a problem to him/her, be sure to have at least three solutions on hand.” – Lu Minru, Owner, 37 Communications

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. She truly believes in finding a job you enjoy (after all, that’s where you’ll be spending most of your time!) Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Career, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Vanessa Tai

Working With Friends – Vanessa Tai

Yesterday, I read an article in the newspapers about how it may not be a good idea to work with a friend. On the surface, it may seem like a fantastic idea – working alongside your BFF for eight (or more) hours a day – what could be better, right? However, according to the article, friends tend to have the same outlook as you so this might lead to a shortage of fresh ideas coming into the company. Another potential problem with working with friends is the unwillingness to question or criticise each other’s ideas.

I found it very relevant for us at Material World because after all, we Material Girls are friends who started this business venture together. (We didn’t start off as friends, though. We were colleagues first, then friends, and now we are business partners.) While the article did bring up some salient points, I think the four of us have found a way to make this partnership work without compromising on our friendship. Here are some of the methods, which hopefully you’ll find useful if you ever find yourself having to work alongside a friend!

1. Be Honest

As with all relationships, transparency really is key. You can’t have a thriving relationship if you’re not honest with what you’re really thinking about. We’ve had frank discussions about our strengths, our weaknesses and even supposedly touchy topics like our finances. And whenever we have brainstorm sessions, we’re not afraid to tell each other if an idea doesn’t work. Which brings me to my next point …

2. Grow A Thick Skin

For some reason, being criticised stings more when it comes from someone we’re close to. That’s because we value the person’s opinion way more than say, a random hater on the Internet. However, you’ll need to view things from a macro perspective; everything that’s being said is for the good of the company. So shrug off those hurt feelings and focus on how you can improve the quality of your work.

3. Communicate (A Lot)

"Anyones wants to go with me for the event?" (What a typical Material World text might look like)

“Anyone wants to go with me for the event?” (What a typical Material World text might look like)

The Material Girls have two chat groups on WhatsApp (don’t ask me why.) And not a day goes by without us updating the group chat about our daily on-goings, whether it’s a story we’re working on or an event we’re attending. We also have a compulsory weekly meeting and once a month, we spend an entire day working alongside each other. So because we’re constantly kept in the loop of each other’s lives and work progress, we are able to easily pick up the slack should one of us fall ill or go overseas.

4. Spend Time Away From Work

Work hard, play harder!

Work hard, play harder!

This is a very important point. Sometimes, if you spend too much time working with someone, you’ll just start to associate them with work, which is why it’s crucial to spend time with your friend/co-worker doing non-work-related stuff.We Material Girls often do things like boot camp or night treks together. The endorphins plus the great outdoors make for a fantastic stress-reliever, plus it serves as a reminder why we enjoy each other’s company so much.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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Career, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Vanessa Tai

Coping Strategies for the 20-something Working Adult – Vanessa Tai

As working professionals, we are forced to grapple with stressful situations daily, but many a time, we feel like we haven’t quite shed our adolescent selves … the one that’s tempted to sweep everything off our desks and declare, “Screw this. I quit!” Sometimes, we may even look up in the middle of some menial task, and wonder to ourselves, “Is this all there is? Whatever happened to my life-changing, golly-gee-whiz-awesome career?” If you’ve ever felt forlorn about your job or career journey, you’ll know what I mean.

Back when my friends and I were still bright-eyed undergrads, we used to spend hours dreaming of our fabulous careers. One wanted to be a successful PR director, another wanted to be a war correspondent … and me? I fantasised of being an award-winning creative director (feel free to laugh.) However, as we all know, real life is rarely how we envision it to be. Over the five years that I have been working, I’ve gone through extreme career highs and lows, taking me to places and situations that I couldn’t even have dreamed up. And you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. All these experiences have taught me many important lessons such as humility and perseverance, traits that are relevant to both work and life.

The following situations are experiences most 20-somethings would be familiar with. At times where nothing seems to be going your way, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Others have gone before you and succeeded, and you’ll definitely ride through whatever crisis you’re experiencing right now.

1. Having your work thrown back at you

"Make changes AGAIN?!?!"

“Make changes AGAIN?!?!”

How to deal: Don’t take it personally. Yes, of course it sucks to have to re-do your work after slaving over it for hours, but this is to be expected, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry. But instead of grousing, make notes on the type of mistakes your boss calls you out on, and take care not to repeat them.

2. Dealing with difficult people

How to deal: Focus on the job at hand. Even if it seems like these people are out to get you, just remind yourself of the things that actually matter; for example, the fact that you truly enjoy your job scope. When you channel your energies into doing a good job, you won’t have time to worry about petty colleagues or cranky clients. However, if the situation starts getting out of hand, confide in your supervisor or a trusted colleague who will be able to help address the issue.

3. Coping with your friends’ success 

How to deal: Remind yourself, “I am not defined by my job.” With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, there are now multiple channels to feed our insecurities about our friends’ career success. I get it –  it’s hard to feel happy about your friend’s promotion when you’re still moping around the lower rungs of the career ladder. But there’s one thing you need to remember: there is more than one way to scale the proverbial ladder. It’s not always an upward climb. There are times where you may have to do a side-step or go a couple of steps backwards only to take a great leap forward. Just concentrate on doing a good job at whatever rank you’re in, and eventually your hard work will pay off.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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