Quarantine Series: Thoughts on how to connect to friends who are experiencing depression

Reminding you how beautiful the moon looks like.

I know everyone has plans once we’re done with this quarantine. Seeing some of my acquaintances create their own to-do (and to-go-to) lists is uplifting. It gives me an optimistic feeling about what lies ahead of us. I took inspiration from that gesture and so a few weeks ago, I wrote about my plans and what I have in mind once this situation is over and briefly talked about what my current situation is at home. We have every right to stay forward-looking and to keep a positive mindset about our future as a community. But it seemed like I was trying to forget about the ‘now’.

For weeks, despite having consciousness about what’s going on around us, I remained silent. My level of apathy was too much that I didn’t want to take part in any unnecessary debate, even if it concerns the right of anyone out there. My mind kept telling me to avoid everything that does not spark joy (borrowing this line from Marie Kondo!) and I have un-followed every news outlet on social media. I didn’t want this to be my norm. I did not obtain a degree in Development Studies to remain apathetic.

I did lots of introspection. I wrote everything down in my journal. I just couldn’t find the right words to share what’s on my mind. I was lost for words to explain things. However, despite constant denial in my head, I recognized there’s a level of sadness that I feel and these depressive episodes were brought about the prolonged limited human interaction over the last 2 months.

The truth is I find it awkward to talk about my feelings, most especially if I were to tell it to those people that are close to me. My fear is not being able to clearly express myself and end up getting judged. It’s not because I don’t want to open but it’s more of the lack of ability to properly communicate things that hinders me to strike a conversation with anyone. I also know that not a lot of people are trained to easily connect when someone’s experiencing depression. That’s why instead of starting an odd conversation with anyone, I end up writing things down, hence the reason I always resort to publishing blog entries every now and then.

Some people might ask “Why you got to be so depressed?”

Well, I don’t know either.

When you have already accepted sadness as your default feeling, you end up not doing anything about your episodes. For others, they think that’s weird because we should be happy most of the time but if you would understand where somebody is coming from, it’s actually not a bad thing to recognise that it’s okay to be sad most of the time.

To help us manage and get through the global pandemic situation, my company has put together a series of webinars we can all join in. Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of blog entries to share more about my learning and Aha! moments.

Here are some of the amazing things I learned when dealing with depression amidst isolation due to quarantine:

Let them be heard, never forget to ask

If you’re experiencing depressive episodes and would like to let out some of your thoughts, please consider what the receiving end would feel. Consciously ask about their bandwidth to listen before you share anything. In that way, you find a common ground and adjust to each other’s level of emotions.

On the other hand, if your friend, who’s experiencing depression, would like to share what’s on their mind, and if your hands aren’t too tied up, please make time to listen. The simple yet powerful act of listening, even without offering any advice, helps reduce what we feel. By giving affirmation that you are listening to what they are saying makes them feel valued.

The greatest lesson I picked up during the webinars I’ve attended was breaking the bad habit of listening to respond. Instead of listening simply to respond or retaliate back, we have to listen to understand. Communication is a two-way street and it’s not enough that we listen to what they’re saying. We have to understand what they’re telling us and remain engaged.

We don’t want to shame ourselves when someone asks questions about what they’re saying and we wouldn’t be able to respond back because our mind is somewhere else, do we?

We cannot “just get over it” and that’s okay

It’s easier said than done. If we’re going to have it our way, we could’ve eliminated depression a long time ago. If ice cream could cure this depression away, I would’ve consumed more than what my body could hold but it doesn’t work that way.

Remember that we do not need any saving. It’s not your duty and it will never be anybody’s responsibility to fix anyone. Refrain from pressuring someone to feel normal. When someone’s having their episodes, we have to eliminate the feeling of disappointment simply because they cannot be normal.

Moreover, un-learning the idea that being sad and being OK cannot co-exist is difficult but it must be done. We were taught that when we experience sadness there must be something wrong about us. In reality, it’s healthy and natural to accept that it happens even to the best of us.

The best move you can do is to remind yourself, whether you experience depression or you’re helping out someone, that it will not last forever.

Connect wisely

The easiest way you can earn somebody’s trust is by establishing clear boundaries about how much you can help someone. When you give an idea about what you’re planning to do and when you outright ask for their consent in advance, you are empowering them by building confidence with you and giving them a sense of control so they wouldn’t overreact.

For example, instead of vaguely saying “you can reach out to me anytime,” you can say that they can reach out to you anytime through call or text but it might take a while for you to respond back. Instead of assuming that it’s okay to instantly call someone to check on them, why not message them ahead of time and remain sharp about your plans: “Hey, I want to check in with you. Do you think to call you every day is okay? If not, we can text every day and get on the phone sometime later in the week?”

Never take things personally

Here’s the thing: you can offer your advice as long as it’s solicited. Avoid the habit of taking the spotlight away when somebody is sharing something because you want to inject your idea. We have to recognise that there is no definite way of dealing with depression. What has worked for someone else may not be applicable to another person.

Please do not get discouraged to help when someone turns down your advice.

This home quarantine is not easy and I’m celebrating each day I’m able to pull myself out of my bed. During our work last week, my colleagues and I had an information-sharing session on how we’re coping up with this. After learning about everybody’s unique way of coping up, I felt insecure because I had nothing extraordinary to share. I said that acceptance was my coping mechanism – I go on with my day, do my very best at work, and accept that things won’t get any better soon. I thought they were expecting something out of the ordinary but really, there’s nothing special with the way I handle this. They were encouraging me to start a new hobby. They even shared some amazing movie titles and series to watch. Some of them introduced some new books to read. But I told them I’m fine and I’m glad they respect my take on this.

My learnings aren’t a one-stop-shop and should not be taken as the only. I’m sure many of you have more amazing things to share about this topic. These points are based on my principle of inclusion: each one of us has a voice and it’s meant to be heard; that all of us are connected in one way or another and we should never leave anyone.

When we talk to someone experiencing depression, we have to speak to that person like they were OK. Talk to them as if your life depended on them. Converse with them without hesitation. Keep in mind that their life is as vibrant, important, and amazing as yours. If you do that, you might just empower someone without you even realizing you did that.

(2020 v.1) Of new beginnings, music recommendation, and what’s going on

New beginnings

A sunny view from above.
A sunny view from above.

Summer is here.
Summer is here.

It’s exactly 30 days since I last physically reported for work. Everything has been virtual since 6 March 2020 and I tell you, it’s not always good times.

Despite saving a lot of gas money and time, I kind of miss my night drives going to the office. My drive wouldn’t be complete without my nice music playlist and a cup of coffee on the side. But, really, the main reason why I bring my car to work is because of the terrible commuting experience in Metro Manila. Ever since I started driving going to work and taking advantage of the free parking, my life has never been so easy. Since the pandemic began and the enhanced community quarantine took place, I haven’t been able to use my automobile. I’m not sure anymore if I still know how to drive (LOL!)

I haven’t mentioned I started with new work before 2020 began, have I?

It wasn’t the expectation I had in mind but I’m thankful I found a new home where my talents are not only valued but also taken to the next level. It was tough but here’s good learning that struck me: some things do not go as planned and that does not mean I failed.

One of the many things that I appreciate right now is how agile our work setup is. We are not seat-warmers. In fact, even before the pandemic, I’ve been taking advantage of this work-from-home set up a lot to look after my well-being more and to spend time doing my passion projects. What’s just quite odd is that I have to constantly meet with my colleagues almost every day to catch up on some things.

New passion project

Sums up my feelings.
Sums up my feelings.
Catching sunrise.
Catching the sunrise at the roof deck.
Catching sunrise.
Catching the sunrise at the roof deck.
Some weird statues over good food.
Some weird statues over good food. Somewhere in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Hi, it's me!
Hi, it’s me!

I have planned to read more books this year. Since I was able to finish more than 30 books last year, I want to finish more this 2020. However, with what’s going on lately, I can’t seem to find the rhythm to start reading something. My mind just couldn’t stay focused. I can’t help but worry about everyone who’s very much affected by this COVID-19 situation, most especially my grandmothers.

To keep my sanity intact and make sure I add fuel to my passion this year, I will be posting more of my random outtakes. I am nowhere near being a professional photographer but since I couldn’t find the exact words to explain most of my thoughts and ideas these days, I want to channel it through another medium. There will be moments when I might have to write things but expect that the future posts will most likely feature my photos.

New music recommendation

My cousins and I were supposed to head out of town by late April. It was supposed to be our annual getaway, sans our parents and other family members. Everything has already been booked and we’re extremely excited to finally hit the beach – then COVID-19 happened and so we had to reschedule this sometime August.

Anyway, this F*ck Im High playlist was supposed to be my road trip playlist this summer. I wish to share the vibe with everyone who will find their way to this playlist. Let me know your thoughts about it!

You can check this link if you’re a Spotify user and this link if you’re an Apple Music subscriber. For reference, the playlist contains 23 songs and plays for 1 hour and 18 minutes. Here are the songs and artists included in the playlist:

  • Sunday – Forrest, Biskwiq
  • Through and Through – khai dreams
  • Janet – Berhana
  • Sunday Candy – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
  • Belong to You (feat. 6LACK) – Sabrina Claudio
  • Somethin Tells Me – Bryson Tiller
  • Every Kind Of Way – H.E.R.
  • Sahara – crwn, August Wahh
  • After the Rain – Willow Stephens
  • Cos I Love You – Tom Misch
  • Say You Love Me – Patti Austin
  • Lover Boy – Phum Viphurit
  • Train in Vain (Remastered) – The Clash
  • Shake It Loose – Astronauts, etc.
  • Shine On Top – Surfaces
  • Scared Money – NxWorries, Anderson .Paak, Knwledge
  • Me & You – HONNE, Tom Misch
  • Younger – Ruel
  • Love Me Less (feat. Quinn XCII) – MAX
  • Good Day – Surfaces
  • Morning – Marc E. Bassy
  • Traffic In The Sky – Jack Johnson
  • Wait – crwn, Jess Connelly

New relationships

My 2019 was a disaster. It’s a difficult year for me, if not the worst one. I have to admit, I made lots of bad decisions last year which made me think twice about how I’d take on my 2020. I made up my mind: I will dedicate this year as my year of redemption. I want to focus on my professional development, to improve my well-being, and to find comfort in solitude. I knew I was ready to shut everything down and disappear. But then, somebody came and changed my mind.

Our first conversation had been about how fond I am with reading books. He said he couldn’t even finish a book. I get it – reading books is not really for everybody. I’m happy that he noticed that from me.

Anyway, we weren’t supposed to see each other until 29 March because we both like things when it’s planned down to the smallest detail. We wanted to go to this restaurant in Antipolo City but the COVID-19 situation got worst and we had to cancel that. One random weekend night, I asked him if he’s free to meet me. I wasn’t sure where to take him. Pampanga was clearly on top of my mind but thought it would already be too late for us since we left Metro Manila past 9pm already. We spent the night somewhere in Quezon City and Taguig over food, coffee, booze, and stories. It was probably one of the longest yet the best night I’ve ever had in my recent memory. We connected on so many levels and ways that I am actually lost for words to describe what I felt at that moment. 

I was afraid that he might be another case of hi-hello-goodbye. After a series of failed dating attempts and cheating incidents in the past, I couldn’t help but remain skeptical and guarded. However, he was a different story.

My worries and insecurities are out of this world, I tell you. Yet he gives me a sense of validation at the right time, without asking for any of it.

I have the tendency to think that I’m not enough. Without any hesitation, he makes me feel that I’m the best part of his life now.

I am apologetic for almost anything in life. Despite his lack of patience, he provides me assurance that my ‘sorry’ should be reserved for something more serious simply because he understands.

You know what? I’m honestly still scared that everything is happening too fast. But the thing is, I’m ready to grab whatever the universe throws my way. I never asked for something big but life has blessed me with so much more than what I have hoped for.

And if you ask me if I’m happy, I would gladly say no.

Why? Because what we have for each other is more than the feeling of happiness – it is that true sense of security that we know cannot be found everywhere.

You are the sunrise to my sunset.
You are the Yin to my Yang.
You are the warmth in my coldest night.
You are the cool breeze in my summer days.

Thank you. Padangat takang maray!

+++

closing chapters

IMG_1832

It wasn’t my feet that I buried in the sand but my feelings. The glistening sea water washed away the hurting. The humid breeze carried all my last thoughts about you and cleared my mind. The waves weren’t high but it was strong enough to push me back, which reminds me of my love for you – it wasn’t something others would notice at a first glance but it was strong enough to keep me coming back to you. The marvelous sunset filled my heart with so much joy and hope. I didn’t know anyone around that’s why crying was too easy for me.

The first thing that came to my mind was to share to you lots of things: how my day went, a photo of the beautiful beach, my getaway experience and what I’ve noticed so far, my plans for the week and invite you over for a dinner… but I know it wouldn’t make much of a difference now so I resisted doing so. Knowing you, I know you’d say and insist that it’s fine if I talk to you but I also know that the dynamics have already changed it wouldn’t be the same as before.

It was not my intention to leave. In my mind, I knew that it was okay to hold on; that I recognise I was in this phase where things wouldn’t be easy. I was mentally ready for the chaos but my emotions were too fragile to handle the situation. I was not able to see things through as I would normally do. My heart was not strong enough and my spirit was shaken. I’m sorry. I was in a sinking ship and I have no other option but to save myself.

When one chapter closes, another one begins right after. The reality is it will never be an easy read and we may not like everything about what we’re reading now. For sure, we will keep coming back to our favourite parts and that’s okay for that’s where we’ll draw inspiration from. Our journey will continue and we should not be afraid about the next parts because we’re all destined for something great; something magical and surreal. It might not be now but I am sure it will happen.

Travel Notes: 25 November 2018

Intramuros-Binondo, Manila, Philippines


My mum used to bring me with her to their office in Intramuros so it’s easy to say that I’m very much familiar with the area. Last Sunday, I went here with my brother to visit some of the old-but-reused buildings for their assignment. I’m delighted that I was able to go with him because it made me remember how happy my childhood was. It’s good to see that despite major developments here and there, the ambiance stays the same and that everything could still be reached easily by walking.

Head over to my Instagram and check out my new IGTV upload here featuring my weekend shenanigan with my brother!

Travel Notes: 1 November 2018

Cainta, Rizal, Philippines

On this day, when we remember what a great man my grandfather was, I’ve had the chance to be with my cousins, aunts and grandma. Finally, our busy schedules have aligned today, and as a bonus: I was able to speak to my dad on the phone albeit short. He’s travelling to France as of writing. I’m wondering what Tatay has been doing up there and whether he’s proud of what I’ve become today. I mean, who knows? X

Travel Notes: 20 October 2018

Quezon City, Philippines

It was Becs’s idea to meet up here at Marindo, a newly opened restaurant located at the heart of Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. Conveniently located at the G/F of Manhattan Garden, it’s not that hard to find but caveat that there are no parking space available except the open parking outside.

They were operational since 6 October and serves Indonesian-Malay menu. I MUST try their Laksa, even if it meant skipping my diet for the night, and boy, it did not disappoint for something worth PHP195 ($3.61). I’ve also ordered Vegetable Fritters for PHP90 ($1.67) for everyone (not in the photos) which was surprisingly good and it reminded Japan’s Okonomiyaki but less savoury which is what I like. ($1 = PHP54)

The first I’ve noticed was probably the clean vibe that Marindo exuded and I have to give it to those white walls, clean utensils and Instagram-worthy lighting which only some restaurants have. They operate on a self-service set up and you have to pay as you order, so please do not expect this to have a fine-dining set up.

Some of the best people I’ve known for roughly 9 years, albeit my first time to meet Marvz with Kiefer today. Thanks for Jeric, too, for still going all the way to Cubao from Cogeo even if it was already late. If it wasn’t for Becs‘s business (go check @powercasesmnl!), this wouldn’t be possible. Look at what I’ve ordered from them too, and it costs way cheaper than your Starbucks Venti drink! It was seeing everyone last night, and I think I should do this more often now. X

Can You Survive Metro Manila for 1 Week in 1,000 Pesos ($19) or Less?

Where are you headed to?
Where are you headed to? Photo taken in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

What if everyone could take the public transportation because you know it’s efficient? We’re confident that our trains wouldn’t break down because it’s been maintained well. We’re happy to take the major roads and never worry about getting late for school or work – but that’s in a parallel universe where we don’t live in.

I had this ‘Eureka!’ moment last weekend when my mum and brother got stuck at UP Town Center because of heavy raining. While having some sumptuous late lunch at KOS Greek Ouzeri, I wondered, what if my job don’t pay as much as I get now? Will I survive an entire week of not being able to buy what I want and just stick to only those what I need? For this week, I’ve challenged myself to limit my work week budget to 1,000 Pesos ($19).

In a hot Friday afternoon, I’ve decided to ride an ordinary bus from Bulacan to Makati – I didn’t regret that moment. Photo taken in Valenzuela City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

Cost breakdown

What’s a good way to prove an idea and to tell a story? Experience it, and so did I! It wasn’t easy to start the week in a morning schedule whilst half of Metro Manila is ‘submerged’ because of the heavy raining for the past 48 hours. I do not know what’s with mornings but it wasn’t easy to course through the traffic. Gladly, I was able to manage this – I rode ordinary buses in broad daylight whilst exposed in dirt and pollution; to get to my destination, I walked for more than a mile or two to save money; I even have to ask for mum to drive and take me to the train station to cut my expenses down. I am very lucky to have supportive parents, but what about those who don’t have such luxury?

Total transportation cost sums up to 741 Pesos ($13.72).

I was lucky for my 2 days training at the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education, they served free food – morning and afternoon snacks, and full-course lunch meal, all in a managed buffet style – (Shout out to Villa Salud!) During the remaining days of the week, I’ve brought packed dinner with me and some biscuits, crackers to save money. Moreover, I used the Starbucks stars I’ve accumulated in exchange for free drinks. The only two instances I bought food this challenge week were last Monday when I met my best friend and ate lunch other and last Friday when I bought turon and pancit on my way to the office.

I think this was the most difficult part of my challenge. I cannot simply win over a battle against hunger, and I realized – what if I didn’t have those stars, where could I’ve ended up to? What if I didn’t have time to prepare for my packed meals each day, would I be able to survive? What if I didn’t have those 2 days training, would I be able to eat decent meals?

Total food cost sums up to 184 Pesos ($3).

I usually have my hair cut every 2nd or 3rd week of each month. Coincidentally, my hair cut is scheduled during the course of this challenge week. I felt torn between sacrificing 200 Pesos ($3.70) with my preferred shop and going for this newly opened hair salon for only 40 Pesos ($0.74). I ended up choosing the latter despite the bad service. My hair cut was fine, but I wouldn’t date to go back there.

Total miscellaneous cost sums up to 40 Pesos ($0.74).

There’s a missing 30 Pesos ($0.56) which I couldn’t remember where I placed/spent on but I as of writing, I’ve managed to save 5 Pesos (less than 1 centavos in US $) the entire week.

The first time I felt helpless was when it suddenly started to rain heavily and I wanted to take a cab going home but couldn’t because I simply can’t afford one. Photo taken in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig using Nikon D3200.

About budgeting

I thought I was just too confident to ask people favour. I always believe that desperate times call of desperate measures. I also have instilled to value of walking instead of taking public transportation. With how the Metro Manila traffic is going, especially when it’s raining and the roads are impassable due to flooding, the only best option left sometimes is to walk. I have also skipped meals when possible and I could. This wasn’t something I’ve done before because I usually eat when I want to and when I have to.

If you’re wondering what’s the secret, really, there’s none. I don’t think that’s budgeting that I did because it felt like I didn’t have much to budget in the first place. Now I suddenly felt envious with those people who would just walk going to work from their residence. I wish it was fast, easy to commute from Bulacan to BGC, Taguig. But here’s what I have realized:

  • One battle you cannot easily win over is hunger. This is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, problem to deal with. If only my level of discipline was heavens high, I could easily do this, but I have a body of a mortal that needs feeding.
  • 1,000 Pesos per week is not applicable to everyone. As a disclaimer from the video teaser I made, I implicitly mentioned there that there is no ideal budget each week. Some people would spend more than 1,000 Pesos (like me), whilst others could spend less, but that doesn’t mean that we, who spend more than 1,000 Pesos each week, have inferior budgeting skills than those who spend for 1,000 Pesos or less every week.
  • The thing that will differentiate us from each other would be our expenses. If you’d have a look at your expenses, you’d easily notice that your weekly expenses would differ from each other – and that is okay.
  • Always think twice, thrice before purchasing anything. The first question you should always ask yourself is if you really need this thing you want to buy. Definitely, if you can afford and have extra money, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t. Don’t even dare to think about using your credit card, if you have one, to meet your ends. It’s not healthy for you and your financial credit, most especially if you can’t pay off the credit right away and/or not familiar with the ins and outs of credit cards.
  • Find alternative options… only if you can afford it. I hate to break this, but most people these days wouldn’t trade comfort and convenience for anything that’s practical. I felt that a lot of people do not patronize carinderia anymore and we all have our reasons – sanitary issues, proximity, availability in the area, laziness to walk around… I am guilty of this and should never use my time as an excuse since my work has a very flexible schedule.

In Metro Manila, you can’t afford to walk slowly, most especially when it’s rush hour. You’ll get bumped, people will push you… you simply can’t. Photo taken along EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard using Nikon D3200.

What I’m trying to say is…

Open your eyes.
Notice what’s happening around you.
Remain vigilant.

I have a renewed and now a never-ending respect for those people who are able to stick with their budget, especially to those who have a family to support, those who need to pay for their rent/housing, those who can afford to save even if there are tons of expenses each month. I am definitely not alienating anyone or any group here, but to those people who have the sheer determination and the ability to provide for their needs – the inspiration to do better and to keep a good financial standing moving forward is simply overflowing.

Some of my observations include:

  • Our traffic has gone from bad to worse. When I was in college, sometime in 2013, to get to my university, I used to take the same McArthur route from Malanday bus stop in Valenzuela City to Muñoz, Quezon City for only 1 hour. Now, it would take me 2 hours to do the same, and 3 hours at most if the traffic is really awful. How come, despite tons of road widening, improvements, that this has been the case?
  • If living within your means is fine, how about those who couldn’t even afford basic needs? I’ve always been told by my parents to never live beyond what I could pay for, and that’s true. I’m very lucky to land a good paying job to support my needs and wants and to, basically, live independently. I just feel for those who couldn’t even support their basic necessities in life. I wish the world isn’t that unfair but who am I to complain? I’m just a tiny voice out of the vast jungle full of predators ready to swallow me whole.
  • The basic burger with fries and drinks now cost at least 80 Pesos ($1.48). It used to 50 Pesos ($0.92) but now, your 50 Pesos can only buy an à la carte – without fries and drinks.
  • The commute to work or school kills us. This is a reflection of how bad really our traffic and transportation system is. We haven’t even reached our destination and yet we’re already tired. It’s exhausting – imagine allotting 5-6 hours each day on road, this could have been spent on other more productive things.
  • Our transportation system couldn’t support the volume of commuters each day. I wish to find options was as easy as changing socks. Could you imagine what kind of life we would’ve had only if our mode of transportation is more convenient?

This challenge also brought me to another level of understanding of how our supposedly basic needs are easily affected because of the changes in the tax scheme, the worsening inflation of the country, and the surging prices of goods and services. Why am I saying this?

My point is simple – my 1,000 Pesos ($19) last year could already last for a week and a half. Now, it barely lasted for a week. Had I not taken desperate measures, I would’ve gone overboard. Last year, my daily budget for commuting was just amounting to 165 Pesos ($3). This year, it has gone up to 180 Pesos ($3.33). Whilst some of you would think that it’s only 15 Pesos ($0.28) difference, it’s still a big amount of money – multiply 15 by 22 days (average no. of work days in a month), that’s still 330 Pesos ($6.11). I could’ve spent my 330 Pesos to paying for our water bill which don’t normally go above 400 Pesos ($7.41) per month.

Is this what we deserve after working hard, trying to provide for our families, in the hopes of being a law-abiding citizen by duly paying their taxes and contributing to the country’s supposedly booming economy?

I don’t know, but what I know is that I survived 1 week with 1,000 Pesos – if have to grade this, then my grade would’ve been “Barely Passed.”

*$1 = 54 Pesos

Hiring Tip: Time to Fix That Resume Today!


Photo credits to assets.entrepreneur.com

When I graduated from my University, I had a 2 page Resume with me and a lot of confidence to get any job that I am fit. I initially wanted a writing work, since I was a Feature Writer for four years in the newspaper organization, but life has different plans for me. My first gig landed me on a Research work – we interview people, we record their answers, and we translate the data for a study. It lasted for a month before I’ve decided to go full-time.

As I progress on my career and when I’d get into a new role, my Resume would get longer to make sure I get to include everything. I didn’t want to miss everything, not even those tiniest detail about the projects I got involved to, even though it wouldn’t be relevant to what I’d be doing for the company I’m interviewing with.

My Resume would look like this:

If I would rate and interview myself back then, then I don’t think I’d have the time and patience to read through – not even skim or scan through – all the details I’ve included here. It was long, tiring, and text heavy.

I wouldn’t talk about how you’d accessorize, decorate, or design your Resume but I’m going to point out some of the things you need to remember when creating one. In order not to end up like that Resume above, here are some tips I could share to you on how to build a rock star Resume.

Less is more.

Like what I’ve shared on the biggest mistake I ever did in an interview, always keep in mind that less is more. It’s okay to include brief explanations and bullet points but make sure that it’s not text heavy and painful to read. These words may not mean anything to you but to the interviewer, it’s a good ice breaker to exactly know what to ask you. If you included there some details about the duties and responsibilities that you do, then expect that the interviewer would ask things about it. If you wrote down details about the skills and ability you were able to acquire and exude on that role, then the line of questioning might revolve there.

You don’t expect your interviewer to have the luxury of time to read through heavy texts. Include only those relevant information you wanted to showcase. Do not include achievements that are more than 10 years already – high school achievements, awards and recognition from your employer 10 years ago… anything that is more than 10 years already, unless it would be the biggest achievement of your career, should not be there.

The best way to get this over is to take advantage of the interview/talk time to explain how relevant your role and your responsibilities are to the job you’re applying to. Make use of that communication skill that you got!

Job hopped? No problem!

Now here’s the real score – many do not include their earlier employments because it’s less than the ideal job span for any employment. Really, I ask, what is this ideal tenure per job anyway? 1 year? 2 years? 6 months? Who cares? I don’t! If you think and feel that your future employer might do, then you either live up with it or forever suffer the pain of getting rejected on a job because you didn’t declare one or two (or even more) of your previous employer.

It’s okay to include it on your Resume and explain it thoroughly to your interviewer, but why is this important? You have to own those skills you’ve created and learned despite the short tenure. Despite limited time with your previous employer/s, according to Forbes, there are so many skills you could learn and you need to highlight this with achievements and evidences. This is to help you build credibility and show sincerity; hence your potential employer would feel you’re being genuine and transparent to them.

Instead of them finding this out on your background checks, it would be best if you’d tell it straight to them. Make sure to use every opportunity to explain this to the interviewer because this can be the determining factor to either make or break it.

Each of us has his or her fair share with this and that is okay. The thing about this is that you have to show to them the real reason you left. In my case, I had this employment doing Business Development and Sales for an international company for 5 months and I decided to leave because I realized that night shift was not for me (our clients were based out of US and Canada, I’m physically in Manila, Philippines). The money was there, I must say, but I had to leave greener pasture for my health and well-being.

You don’t have to lie, especially if there’s really nothing to be hidden, unless you want to hide something then that’s a whole different story to tell.

To over skill yourself is overkill!

Okay, so here goes the part where you would include skills that are only relevant to you and those skills that you really know by heart. Most people have a bad habit of including those skills they know really nothing of. So when they get to the role, despite training and exposures, they wouldn’t function well due to limited technical knowledge about the job.

Do not include skills that you really don’t know of – Microsoft Excel/Google Spreadsheets expert and yet you don’t know what the Vlookup formula is; Salesforce master but doesn’t know how to merge an account; Social Media savvy but does not know how to measure an ad campaign and what metrics should be used… this is a major red flag!

Assess your technical knowledge. If you feel less confident about anything technical about the role you’re applying for, you can be honest about it and mention that you’re open to learning and training. If the interviewer would be looking for someone who has already mastered the technical knowledge, then re-assess your application. It would be best to ask for recommendations if there’d be position where you can fit. It’s never wrong to ask and to be honest about anything.

No Character References, please?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have available Character References but make sure to never include it on your Resume. You have to make sure that you’re giving your interviewer an updated list once they ask for one. What if the person you’ve included on the list has a different number and/or employment details already? You need to keep everything updated so the Character References Checker does not need to constantly reach out to you.

Moreover, this will give you an ample time to tell your Character References first about any contact that your next potential employer might do in line with your application with them. This another way to get good recommendations, too. When you reach out first to your Character References, they’d be conscious and aware that they should give good reviews about you, since you reconnected with them and you put trust to their words.

There’s no ideal number of Character References to keep but I would recommend at least five, unless there’s a need for you to give more. Normally employers would ask for three so it’s best to keep at least five if anyone of the first three wouldn’t be able to respond immediately within the time frame set by your next potential employer.

It really would take a while for you to get used to doing this but it would be a good exercise to start as early as now – and it’s never too late to start even if you’re already halfway through your career! What you want employers to see these days is you impress them at the first glance. How do you do that? You go fix your Resume before you send it to them.

How does your Resume look like 5 years ago? I’d love to hear more from you. X

The biggest mistake I ever did in an interview


Photo credits to Luxebag.com.

Last year, prior joining my current company, I got contacted by my dream company. What I meant with dream company was that it’s my employer of choice; that when I finished college in my university I see myself working there for the rest of my life. Fate has different plans and brought me to different industries and employers, but last year was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for a very long time.

My dream company wants me. They. Want. Me.

They were very discreet about my application because I honestly told them that I didn’t want my employer (former) to know that I’m exploring opportunities outside early on. They agreed. We went on with the processes. I got endorsed to the next steps. I was feeling it. I was close. It was a home run, so I thought.

“Correspondence… we regret to inform you, Kim, that we won’t be moving your application to the final step which is the interview with our boss based in UK. Thank you for your time!”

What happened? We were all positive and head on with the interviews, so what went wrong? How could this happen? I was so close. I even asked the manager about the feedback and he said,

“Hi Kim,

Thank you for going through the interview process. We appreciate the fact that you were consistently early for your interview schedules and demonstrated a clear grasp of the subject matter. We also appreciate your being very transparent with your accomplishments, challenges and how you overcame them to get results. We also believe that you’ve demonstrated a strong passion for Employer Branding across industries – this was very evident in our conversations about your work. Finally, we have observed that you are a very driven individual, and you have a strong desire to achieve / excel in any role you take on.

We did however find that there were certain topics where you could have been more concise, and answered more directly – while we appreciate the nuances of your processes, we would have wanted more insight into the solutions you had proposed / the results you generated.

It was a pleasure to meet you, and we hope to work with you again in the future.

Thanks!”

I didn’t respond to the manager after but I sent my regards. It was my first interview for a very long time. I got so used to being the one conducting the interviews that I forgot how it feels like to be questioned. Now the lingering question is, what went wrong?

As a Recruiter, I’ve dissected every step of the application process and I was able to find out the big mistakes I did during the course of the interviews and assessments. Here are my takeaways:

I was not giving any solution.

While I was able to present myself confidently to the manager and the rest of the team, I was not able to articulate the solutions that I have formulated and implemented. It should be 30-70 take – 30% you should appear strong and adept all the time, 70% you should discuss what you did to address a problem/situation in your team.

The manager’s question to me was to ‘Tell me about a time when you had to face a difficult situation.’ I kept mentioning things about undefined process, difficult manager to work with, unbelievable hiring timeline vs. the number of hiring requirements being raised. Sure I was able to mention my above the average organisational skills and impeccable intuition to prioritize things, but I was not able to present to them anything deeper than that.

As a candidate, it is very important to always mention the steps you did in order to attain certain result. The more specific, the better. My answers were vague and lacked clarity. It has a structure but it lacked thought and meat; hence I was speaking gibberish. I sounded like a whiner more than an advocate of change and improvement.

If I was the interviewer, that’s already a flag.

Over excitement.

I could not contain my emotions. Whenever I’d go to their office, honestly, my heart is jumping for joy. This over excitement spilled over to my interviews. Later I realised I was talking and sharing too much information. It benefited the interviewer but it wasn’t the case for my application with them. I was sharing information which should not be shared to my potential employer – strategic plans for next year, future campaigns, failed marketing strategies… anything they’d ask from me, I’d give them.

The thing about this is that I should have filtered the things I should be sharing to them. It’s okay to be transparent, indeed, but it really pays to carefully curate words in your mind before sharing; thus, limited information would be shared but those would’ve been the more important, more relevant ones than sharing the whole of everything.

Less is more, keep in mind!

Over confidence.

I was cool and I easily have established rapport with the Manager and his team, I could tell that with the way we were exchanging jokes as if they’ve known me for a long time already. Perhaps I saw that as a good thing, but maybe not to them. Did you know that most of the companies’ hiring process these days would incorporate unique methods for candidate selection, such as group interviews, video interview/selection, and behavioral assessments will provide a diverse, robust, and comprehensive idea of the character and passion of the individual? Meaning, there would be companies where their assessment starts right when the candidate entered the building and interacted with the Receptionist and Security Personnel. Who knows, I might have been watched all the time, right when I first came to their floor/building?

Pro tip: Always, and never forget, to treat everyone right. I didn’t miss this mark but it might have been better if I toned down the interaction level I’ve had with them and it might’ve come across to them as being too over confident. It would always pay off to temp check the atmosphere building showing your giddy-easy-going-side.

Overall, here’s my assessment and scoring per competency:

  • Communication: 3.5/5
  • Thought process: 2/5
  • Behaviour: 4/5
  • Technical knowledge: 4/5
  • Organisational skill: 3/5
  • Results-driven: 2/5
  • Culture fit: 2/5
  • Attention to details: 2/5
  • Overall score: 2.8125/5 – failed

What do you think was your biggest mistake ever in an interview? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts and experience! X

[Week 8] What’s New?

One thing I like about 2017 is that it keeps on challenging me. Professionally, I have been tested on how I handle pressure at work. Personally, I have been challenged to increase my threshold and not allowing my emotions to get best of me. It’s only been 8 weeks since this year started and a lot has happened and changed already. I can’t wait to discover more things that 2017 has to offer to me!

Last January, we successfully launched a new campaign and we brought back our Blowout Party for our new Teammates. Spearheaded by one of our recruiters, Kyle, our Blowout Party was one of a kind, filled with exciting activities and good food. It was a first for this year and we will definitely do more moving forward. I can’t wait to meet our new Teammates soon and deliver a ridiculously good Blowout Party for them.

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After 11 years, my best friend and I had the chance to meet again! She and her family moved to the US circa 2006. Even though she would come back here in the Philippines from time to time, we never had the chance to meet. I am happy that I was able to see her, to hug her, and to tell her all of my stories. One day was not enough for us to do our catching up but knowing and seeing her again would be one of the best gifts that this year has given me.

In the hopes of living a healthier lifestyle and looking better than ever, here are some of my recent selfie. I am back at sporting a short hair and removing my facial hair every other day. A lot of people have been telling me to try to look cleaner. At first, I didn’t know what they wanted to say until I realized that I look differently without my messy hair and thick goatee and beard. Also, I’ve been jogging these past days. I promised myself to eat healthier and so to reinforce that one, I needed to exercise. The inter-site sports cup will happen this summer and I should be ready by then. We aim to win and in order to win, we all must be fit to play. I started mine and I will definitely continue this!

Just recently, TaskUs has been tapped as one of the major sponsors for Paragala: Central Luzon Media Awards and we were able to witness the best and the brightest stars in the media industry. I was able to meet a lot relevant people in the business and so our network here in Pampanga and the whole Central Luzon widened. I am thrilled and honoured that our ridiculously good company has been recognized and made a lot of noise before, during, and after the event.

Here are sine of my goals for the coming days/weeks:

  • Increase our candidate foot fall, thus close out the big ramps and classes this coming March and April.
  • Continue jogging and exercising everyday.
  • Increase engagement activities and initiatives for candidates and employees.
  • Watch move TV series and movies.
  • Save for my Cebu trip this June and our Japan trip this October.
  • Finish another book.
  • Research things and possibilities of getting to either Law school or Master’s Degree program in the future.
  • Find ways to not get bored at work.
  • Fall in love soon. Not that it’s a priority, but I want to keep this as an open option.

No words can explain how much I love how things are going my way and my pace. Nothing is going either too slow or too fast. I feel like I am on track in life not only because I know what I am doing, but also I feel good because of the people that surround me. This is the first time I can say that I enjoy everything that’s been happening. This would be the only chance I would say that I feel like I am growing. Here’s to more winning moments! +++++