First Impressions Count, And Do Your Homework
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 28th September 2009
Eunice Tan, who was part of the Young WIT panel at WIT*e – Inspiration & Mentoring, recalls how she landed that first job at Abacus.

Eunice Tan (pictured right) recalls her first days of job hunting. She was dropping her resumes into the mailboxes of hotels and airlines as well as scouring job search websites in the hope of finding a suitable job opening.

One day, as she was screening through the websites, she came across an advertisement by Abacus International.

"The job scope read something about having to deal with hotels and I kind of got excited about it. As I read further, one of the job requirements stated 2-3 years of experience. But that didn't deter me, I thought "oh well, no harm giving it a try." And I did. I got a call and was told to be down for the interview," recalled Eunice.

She landed the job. Asked how she aced that interview, the marketing executive, corporate and marketing communication at Abacus, told WIT, "Let's face it, first impression counts. So, confidence definitely played a great deal in the first interview. Preparation for the interview is rather integral as well. Anticipate questions which the interviewer may possibly ask and rehearse. Most importantly, be honest and sincere with your answers. It's a job which one will face at least 5 days a week, 8 hrs a day if not more."

Asked what motivates her, Eunice, who was part of the Young WIT panel at the last WIT*e – Inspiration & Mentoring, said there wasn't one single factor, rather a combination of everything.

"I guess satisfaction is really important to me as I want to enjoy what I'm doing. It's a job that I spend quite a fair bit of time on, so I want to be doing something that keeps me engaged and I find joy in it. There should also be some prospect of career progression.

"After all, I do not want to be doing the same stuff over and over again. Money is of course important. I guess most of us work for that salary packet, and we would want a fair remuneration for the time and effort which we put in. In addition, I feel that the learning opportunities being made available is also a motivating factor for me –  the ability to grow my knowledge, skills and ability. On that note, possibly recognition for what I do if I do well too."

For Eunice, working for a big and well-known company is important to start off one's career. "Fundamentally, I think most people would like to work for a well-known organisation. After all, most of the companies that have established brand values would be of a certain size and pretty established human resources and organisation practices that will encourage learning with structured career and reward programmes as well.

"Having said that, in bigger companies – you tend to be more specialized and might not understand how the other sections work.

"A small company has the advantage of greater learning –you will get your hands dirty in almost all part of the organisation. However, being a fresh graduate, it's hard for one to see the full picture, or know what the right processes or best practices are."

On what she felt was holding back young talent from entering the industry, she said, "Technology has changed quite a fair bit and some of the processes and thinking do need to be adjusted so that we can take advantage of what's there. There is technology that can help the travel industry to automate and improve their productivity, it will be great to see more embracing the use of technology.

"This is not an issue that affects the entire industry, I believe it is only certain segments of the industry that face this. A lot it has to do with the perception of that segment and the pay package. Attractive pay and career prospects always help.

"Also, the perception or myth that people might have that the tourism industry only gives you a job and not a career. The reality is, the industry provides both. Each of us will have to start out with the job and depending on your career plans, determination and training, carve out a career for oneself."

Eunice believes in constant learning on the job. "At Abacus, we have a really good learning framework set-up for us where we learn through a few ways – e-learning (we've got a myriad of elearning titles made available to us, from functional skills to soft-skills), on the job and, of course, if there are relevant courses or seminars."

On the use of social media to engage with employees and customers, Eunice said social media was one of the fastest ways of gathering perceptions and information. "For instance, a post of a simple comment on my Facebook status indicating what's good in a certain country will help me generate lots of ideas of where and what I should do.

"Abacus has recently created a Facebook page and it has been rather well received. We realise that people are reading and keeping themselves informed about what's happening even during their personal time."

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com

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