Category Archives: The 6

The 6 Steps to Begin Developing Your Career

Travel Link Up – My Travel Wishlist for 2018

Travel bloggers come together monthly for the Travel Link Up, a fantastic way for bloggers to write about a particular travel theme while reading and sharing each other’s posts. This month’s theme is one’s travel wishlist for 2018. This rant will be my first with the travel link up, finally!

IMG-20170909-WA0034-01.jpgOne of my goals for 2018 is to travel more than I did last year. This, in part, is sparked by two things. One, my plans from last year was put on hold because of my repatriation back home. And two, this year’s destination wedding season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier! This is an opportune time for me to revisit favorites as well as discover new places.

So here’s my travel wishlist for 2018:

San Francisco Bay Area, California

I’ve been playing a tourist in my hometown since repatriating last summer. There’s so much for me to rediscover as I eat my way through the city and the Bay Area as a whole, really. Like trekking the hiking trails in Sausalito, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on foot, checking out the latest exhibits at the Asian American Museum, observing the marine animals at the historical Monterey Aquarium and show some love to the businesses reopening in the Napa Valley areas.

New York Tri-State Area

DSCN0211-01.jpgI’ll be heading to the New York area in the early summer for my cousin’s wedding! After dancing the night away, I’m going to try to cross a few things off my list that I didn’t get a chance to do during my last visit. Like, go see a Broadway show. I mean seriously, how have I been to New York City so many times and not see a single Broadway show? Preposterous! This year, I must see a show and I’m spoiled for choice with new ones coming out as early as March 2018, wow! I’d also like to head to Hoboken, New Jersey. It’s been on my radar as I hear they’ve got a booming food culture there.

Sicily, Italy

IMG_20160723_131933-01.jpegLater in the summer, I’m heading to the magnificent island state of Sicily for my dear friend’s wedding! I’ve been through most of Italy in 2016 but not to Sicily. Thus, my friends and I are planning to stay about a week to check it out in all it’s glory once we’ve recovered from dancing all night or two long. I’m being told that Mount Etna is a must when visiting Sicily. This should be a good way to work out all the food I plan on eating.

Dubrovnik and Fort Lovrijenac, Croatia

Another trip missed last year was Croatia. As a history buff, I’m anxious to see the ancient coastal city of Dubrovnik. Of course, I can’t be in Croatia as a huge Game of Thrones fan and not head to Fort Lovrijenac, where it’s the setting for Kings Landing. The scenery alone is a great backdrop for this historical fantasy. Here’s to taking a seat on the Iron Throne!

Luxor and Aswan, Egypt

IMG_0180-01.jpegSince I won’t be far, seems a short trip to the Middle East is in order. It’s been a good number of years since I’ve been to Egypt and of the few times I’ve been, I have yet to visit Luxor and Aswan. As a history buff, these historic provinces have so much to offer and I’m still making a list of all the things I need to explore. I do plan on going with a tour guide of sorts as to not miss out on anything.

Bali, Indonesia

I was so close yet didn’t get a chance to go as planned for my birthday last year. I’m hoping to make it this time around and explore the bounties the island has to offer. Fingers crossed there won’t be another volcano eruption, otherwise, I’m checking out Mount Agung and the surrounding towns.

Paris, France

This country, specifically Paris, is a coin toss for me because as much as I’d like to go, the fact that hijabs and niqabs are banned in its many public places doesn’t put me at much ease. I’ve almost never had a problem outside of airports during my travels but that’s not the expectation I have for Paris. However, I’d do anything to just sit in one of the eateries facing the Effiel Tower and eat my heart out.

Do you have a travel wishlist for 2018? Do share!

A Fresh Take on Goal Planning

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Happy 2017 peeps! Here’s to a successful, rewarding, joyous and blessed year ahead Insha’Allah!

As I went through my previous rants, I found one I had written some eight years ago for my career development blog on goal planning. Now as you have your resolutions set for the year, let me ask you, “when was the last time you actually went passed February with your resolution in mind?” Assuming probably minimal to oh dang, right?

Here’s my fresh take on goal planning and what you can take from a habit done eight years ago to apply it in 2017.

Is your new year’s resolution to lose weight? Finish college? Travel the world? That can be your resolution but with no real set goals, it’s never going to happen.

I think what many of us forget to do when we talk resolutions is coming up with tangible ones. We need to talk goals, break it down and work our way towards it. Remember, resolution technically means to solve a problem not achieve a milestone. We want to focus on achieving milestones, hence you want to focus on goal planning.

For example, If you have a weight problem, then your resolution is to lose/gain weight. Yet, if you have a weight you’d like to achieve, then your goal is to reach that weight.

Here’s an example I use often. I’m a bookworm, I love reading. Yet because of my hectic schedule, I’m not reading as much as I’d like. My new year’s resolution is to read more. Done, nothing tangible, nothing structured, nothing really to motivate me to read more books.

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My new year’s goal is to read twelve books. How will I do so? Here’s a copy of what I drafted for this year, a monthly and weekly goal plan to achieve my reading goal and resolution.

So take out a clean sheet of paper, write out your goal plan and post it somewhere you’ll see it. Also, highly recommend using that calendar on your phone and posting reminders for yourself. Every day, every week, every month. You’d be surprised come December 2017, and pat yourself on the back.

Happy New Year peeps!!

Living the Confused Expatriate Life – Part 3 of a Few

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 3 of a Few… Unprofessional
By: Ms. Hala

I have to admit, being part of a management team in a growing industry in this part of the world has it’s perks. Even though I’m technically an entry-level manager, I’m the only female ever to hold a managerial position in the history of this company. Females in this company are about 10% of the entire workforce. So I think that in itself is a huge perk.

I’ve been warned one too many times by colleagues with the phrase, “You’re not in America anymore. Welcome to the Middle East. This is how things work.” Yet I would always remind them that in my opinion, professionalism is universal. You can’t convince me that the lack of professionalism is the reason behind the Middle East’s successful economy despite the rest of the developing world’s economic downfall. It was the lack of professionalism that caused US taxpayers to bail out stupid big banks whom brought our economy to a  recession. So yes, I’m in the Middle East – thanks for the warm welcome – but that shouldn’t mean professionalism is dead.

Right?

Ummm… to some extent. You see, it’s not necessarily where you are working in the world but whom you are working with in the world. Yes, certain cultural etiquettes need to be understood and respected. However, many misinterpret these etiquettes to their advantages. Sounds a little too familiar? This is when I discovered that half the staff, a mix of various languages, nationalities, levels of management, are scared of me.

Yes, scared. Lack of professionalism is the culprit here.

Here’s the shpeal, I manage the logistics of this global division. I deal in large part with clearing and transporting agents, Qatar customs administrators and global suppliers in over 15 countries including the USA. On one lovely day unlike today, I realized that the term “professionalism” to some extent did not exist in the eyes of some people I deal with on a daily basis. I was only about 3 months into my position and the idea of how my job was to deal with extremely unprofessional people hit me, hard.

What the hell am I going to do? How the hell am I going to make it in this industry? How the hell am I going to even last in Qatar?

Damn.

There I was on the phone with the most incompetent person representing the clearing and transport agents behind the delays for our division in receiving units sitting at the ports for days. Paying customers threatening to cancel sales. Sales team members freaking out fearing losing those sales. Managers scrambling to meet their goals before month end just two days away. Our division simply trying to, you know, do business!

It was just me between my division and this incompetent imbecile whom was oblivious to the importance of his work for us. He kept going on and on with this bullshit, one lie after the other in the most unprofessional manner I’ve ever dealt with in my entire working life… I couldn’t take it anymore.

I hold two masters degrees in business, I have multiple years of experience dealing with people of all personalities and here I was unable to take this waste of oxygen anymore. I became the very thing I feared being in my career… unprofessional.

I just held that phone with a tight grip and gave it to this imbecile, cursing and screaming amongst a culture of appropriate and polite manners. “If your fucking company can’t get my shit done on time, I have 20 other cheaper and more competent companies that can! Don’t fucking bullshit me man because I don’t give a fuck! Just. Get. My. Shit. Done. Now! Do you hear me?”

The man on the other line just froze, sniffled and broke down like a two year old kid. He would get it done he said, by the end of the day. I slammed the phone, took a few deep breathes, checked I didn’t break the phone, then placed my hand over my dropped jaw… the entire office within sight had heard every single word I said. I turned around to one of my sales managers applauding me, “YES! It’s about time someone showed them who’s boss! They are always screwing us over!”

I just giggled in disbelief as I whispered, “I made him cry.”

Some had their jaws dropped while others laughed, “you made him cry?!” The rest continued to give me this wide-eyed stare, unsure what to make of me anymore. Conversing what had just happened, this apparently wasn’t the first time these agents had been delaying work fulfillment. They were behind lost deals and damaged goods in the past. Then, my boss called me into his glass office.

Damn.

“What the hell is going on out there?”

“Ummm, I was on the phone with what’s his name trying to figure out what was taking them so long to get our units delivered. And honestly,” I was trying to find that professional lady, she’s here somewhere, I know it. “I couldn’t help it when he started BSing me so I just gave it to him pretty bad till he cried. I know it’s-”

“You mean bitch!”

“Hey!” I responded, that the professional lady was now lost forever, or the rest of the day maybe. “This ‘mean bitch’ just saved your ass there. You’re fucking welcome!”

My boss just laughed, “Good, thanks! Please keep me posted, we need get these units to our customers ASAP. We have to meet our deadline and goals in the next couple of days.”

“We shall, we shall.”

The rest of that day, everyone gave me odd wide-eyed looks. Everyone asked me what happened, whom got the wrath of the American. In a few hours, our work was cleared, units were delivered, everything was good. It shouldn’t have taken me being unprofessional, was the thought at the back of my head. By the end of the day, I was shown an invoiced by one of our accountants, “are we responsible for these fines?”

Of course things didn’t end there, it got worse. The agents had sent us an invoice for their incomplete services, dated days before the shipments even arrived, with fines they racked up leaving our shipments for days at the ports. When I brought this to the management’s attention, they had a fit.

“We need to review all their back invoices.”

“This is a matter of principle.”

“Hala should be in charge of reviewing all these invoices before they go to the accounting department.”

“Right, she deals with them daily, she would be the authority approving whether or not we are responsible for these fines.”

Damn.

A little irked, I shot an email to their head honco on vacation for like the millionth time that if I didn’t get a corrected invoice, they wouldn’t get paid a dirham (thats pennies for you American folk). He of course complied by sending me the imbecil to my office to “clear things up” the next day.

Everyone slyly watched as the guy again started with his bullshit and knowing I might just explode, I took a deep breath and with a loud but very calm tone, “Listen man, don’t fucking start with me again. You guys fucked up and left our units out there for days. You need to own up to that, period.” I found her, I found the professional lady again and this one is awesome! “So you either get me the corrected invoice by the end of the day today or it’s free. Plain and simple, ok?”

He just stared at me and when he teared up, he walked away because he had to “take care of work.” No yelling, no scream, just slightly loud and straight in the face. Professionalism at it’s best, I thought, until I looked around again to the wide-eyed faces. It was official, I was the scary person in the office.

Damn.

“I heard she pushed him against the window, threatening to throw him over if he didn’t get us our stuff.”

“I heard him cry when she yelled at him… why did he even come to the office?”

“I watched her scare him straight while she sat there casually. He’s so much taller than her and he is scared of her. A girl!

“Now she knows how things work in the Middle East.”

Damn.

LinkedIN’s 2012 Top Over-Used Buzz Words

Before I begin, I’d like to thank Krista Canfield for reaching out to me to write this post. As you all well know, LinkedIN has an annual list of “buzz” words over-used by 135+ million users globally. I wrote a short piece last year when it aired on 7Live in San Francisco, CA. To be asked by Krista personally to write about the list again this year is an honor… so Thank You Krista!

LinkedIN’s 2012 Top Over-Used Buzz Words
By: Ms. Hala

 

It’s that time of year again when LinkedIN shares the year’s top over-used “buzz” words. Remember last year it was words like “creative”, “effective” and “track record” that topped the list. Do you think some of these words are still up there on top this year? Are you thinking of laminating your profile or resume (excuse me, I mean to say CV as it is said outside of the states) with these words? Did you follow Krista’s tips from last year to fix up your profile? Let’s find out!

According to LinkedIN, in the United States, these are the top over-used buzz words:

LinkedIN USA 2012

It really surprised me that the top three words for the US haven’t budged. I mean, “creative” is the number one word again… really? People, did we not talk about this last year? Don’t say you are “creative”, BE CREATIVE! Showcase your talents by using some of the helpful apps on LinkedIN to sprouse up our profile. The saying does state, “actions speak louder than the word ‘creative’!”

Let’s take a look at what the trends been like around the world this year…

LinkedIN Worldwide 2012

Seems the word “creative” was used across the globe almost as much as it was within the United States. In the Middle East region where I’m currently residing, the top words were “motivated” and “multi-national”. I’m not surprised with the later being on top in the area as the Middle East region is becoming more and more diverse with people from around the world tapping into the vast growing economy there. That’s why I’m here!

Curious what my profile looks like nowCheck it out!

My sincere readers, time to fix up your LinkedIN profile! Don’t create it and forget it either, constantly update you profile and keep it active, even after you’ve landed that awesome job! If you haven’t already, fix up your resume and upload it to your LinkedIN profile. This way, you are showcasing your experiences, talents and track record to the LinkedIN community. I would also recommend utilizing some of the new sections of the profile that’s been added over the year such as Projects and Organizations.

Remember the tips stated last year, being honest about your skill set and track record, simple but personable picture and linking between both your resume and profile.

Here’s to 2013… let’s get to work!

 

Sources:

 Krista Canfield, Senior Manager, Corporate communications (Consumer PR)

Top Ten Overused Professional Buzzwords 2012

LinkedIn Profile Tips

Krista Canfield

Krista Canfield, the Senior Manager at LinkedIn was on San Francisco’s 7Live yesterday with Brian Copeland and Lizzie Bermudez with a few good tips on making your profile stand out. As LinkedIn is my favorite professional networking site out there, felt it necessary to share that information with my readers.

Canfield started by discussing this year’s top over-used “buzz” words. The top five that you and I have been guilty of over-using on our profiles and resumes are:

  1. Creative
  2. Organizational
  3. Effective
  4. Extensive Experience
  5. Track Record

Other overused words were problem-solving, communication skills and interpersonal skills as detailed further on Digital Journal. My advice would be to really look at what your skill is rather then sugar coating it with smart sounding words. Let’s go a bit into detail of what we actually did, using simple English words. For example, what in fact have we created to be creative?

Canfield also stated that users shouldn’t simply say they have a lot of experience but actually list their experience. The more information you have posted on your profile from your resume, the more you are to stand out. Keeping it simple could be keeping you out of reach from many employers looking at your profile. I would also suggest that once you have perfected both your resume and profile, make sure to link your profile when you send out your resume. Why not have it below your name at the bottom of your cover letter?

Curious what my profile looks like? Here it is!

If you are going to have a profile, you need to make yourself approachable. LinkedIn asks asks for one small picture to add personality to your profile. When Bermudez asked what’s the worst profile picture Canfield had seen, she replied, “not having a picture at all is worse then a bad picture.” Of course, she noted, that one should have a simple, professional head shot for their profile picture. My rule of thumb is, if you’d post it on Facebook, maybe you shouldn’t use it on LinkedIn.

As I noted earlier, I too am guilty of some of these mishaps and am fixing up my LinkedIn profile as you read this! If you’d like me to look over your profile, all you have to do is ask.

Once an excerpt video of yesterday’s interview is made available, with permission I’ll be sure to post it right here!

100 Most Creative Example Resumes Of All Time via SaveDelete.com

First, my sincere apologies for my lack of career related posts. As many of my followers know, I’ve been out of the country since May with limited internet connection. I’m slowly coming back to my blogging after gaining some great understanding on job seeking and HR on an international level.

Of course the first thing that many people discuss is presenting themselves on paper, via resumes or CV (short of “curriculum vitae”) as it is referred to outside the United States. In doing a bit of research, came across this great article by SaveDelete.com that showcased some of the worlds most creative resumes/CVs.

100 Most Creative Example Resumes Of All Time

Many of these beautifully done resumes fall into the guidelines that I’ve been teaching for many years now. I think in the time that we are in now where we have more job seekers then we have employers, such creativity makes one stand out from the crowd.

I would recommend that anyone thinking of creating such a resume/CV to better understand how it would stand out in the industry you’re applying too. What may work when applying to a graphic design company for example may not work when applying to a sales company. Read each one carefully as many of them differ in industry, creativity and language of course!

Until next time, let’s get to work!

Fasting While Working

I owe my readers an apology for my lack of postings. If it is any consolation, one of the reasons I’ve been busy is due to critiquing your resumes and having career counseling sessions. Now you know I haven’t fully abandoned my job seekers!

Last year I wrote Fasting While @ Work to help both sides through the Islamic fasting month. With Ramadan just around the corner, I’ve decided to rewrite this piece to include more information and resources.

The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan begins on Wednesday, August 11th. For 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. If you’re a working student, it can be much more difficult. Trust me when I say, “I know the feeling”! When I was a junior in high school, I used to be in class all day before going to my night job and breaking my fast just an hour or two before going home to my moms’ home cooking. All through my time in college and grad school, I’d break my fast during my evening courses while some classmates look at me in amazement at the fact that I’m eating.

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 as it is necessary.

Photo Courtesy of SpecialtyHospital.com
The Dreaded Lunch Hour

Being from San Francisco, I must say that we are blessed with the number of mosques in or near the downtown area, including the financial district. Muslim employees should try during their lunch hour to go to a mosque near by. 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 worshiping and reciting the scriptures, right? Not sure if there is a mosque near your place of work? You should be able to find one through IslamicFinder.

If you’re a high school student, only go to a nearby mosque if your campus is an “open campus”. The Career Club does not condone cutting class or sneaking off campus!

If  there isn’t a mosque near by, there is always a quiet space where you can be to worship and read the Holy Quran. I’ve worked in many parts of the Bay Area where there wasn’t always a mosque near by. I ended up discovering a quiet small garden I could sit in or an empty conference room I had to myself during that time. Many businesses and organizations are highly respectful of one’s beliefs and practices as long as it does not interrupt their productivity. Do not expect for them to assume your needs, so make the request for space during your break in a professional manner.

For university students, there should be an MSA (Muslim Student Association) at your school where there is a designated space for meetings and worship. If not, please check where you can go, such as the library (where there is almost always secluded spaces for projects) or an empty classroom. For high school students, an MSA should have a similar situation at your campus. Otherwise try to find a quiet space on campus. When I was in high school, we had a few professors that kept their classroom open as well as the library being open during lunch.

The Fasting Breath

As Muslims, we believe that the most beloved scent to God (swt) is the scent of one’s fasting breath. However, that isn’t going to be the same amongst many mortals, Muslim or not. Nothing to be offended about as it is a natural occurrence of halitosis or bad breath when one doesn’t consume food or beverage for a while. What can you do about it? Simple things such as making sure you have good distance between yourself and others. Always brush your teeth, even if it’s rinsing with water. If you have a “miswak“, even better! Click here to read some good tips on things to do during Suhur (pre dawn meal) to assure that your breath stays decent throughout the day.

Etiquettes of Working With a Fasting Muslim

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

Also, as many of you may or may not know, Muslims do a physical prayer that does not allow for interuptions. This means that Muslims do not speak to others during their prayers. So if you walk in on someone praying, be respectful by being silent or even stepping out. Prayers shouldn’t last more then 5 minutes.

I always tell people that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Ask your Muslim colleagues and classmates about Ramadan while being courteous. There are several resources online to learn about Ramadan, including IslamicFinder.org, IslamiCity.com, Islamic Society of Northern America and Islamic Center of America.

May this month of Ramadan be of ease to all my Muslim brothers and sisters. Happy Ramadan!