Archive for the ‘Interview Tips’ Category

The Malaysian Women Legal Counsel Association Members’ First Gathering

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

On 9th April 2017, the Malaysian Women Legal Counsel Association (MWLEC) organised their first members’ gathering in a friendly neighbourhood cafe. The gathering was a perfect opportunity for MWLEC to share the objectives and visions of the association with its members, and also to promote all upcoming activities for the year 2017.

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(Photo with the committee members of MWLEC)

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In 2015, the market was still doing fine, and companies were still hiring although there were concerns of a market slowdown;

In 2016, the market started to experience a slowdown and companies were very cautious about hiring. This led to a freeze in hiring and retrenchment exercises, especially in the oil & gas and financial industries. Furthermore, the property market also shrunk.  This had greatly affected the businesses of many law firms, especially law firms which relied on property and conveyancing works.

This year (2017), the market is still very slow and most of the hiring being done are for replacement purposes and not for purposes of expansion. However, there are certain areas of legal work that are still doing fairly well, e.g. construction disputes, foreign investment, and purchase of land by foreign parties. Divorce cases are increasing every year (always on a rise and seemingly not affected by market conditions).

During this period of economic downturn, big corporations are the ones that are being hit the hardest, and would either freeze hiring or hire mainly for replacement purposes. In contrast, smaller companies, especially those with stronger cash flow, are still boldly expanding in the current market conditions and are willing to hire for expansion as they see opportunities of gaining something of value for a cheaper price during the market slowdown.

Due to the decrease in the value of our Ringgit, some foreign companies have chosen Malaysia as their legal hub to provide support for both regional and global legal work, and these foreign companies are therefore still aggressively hiring. More international companies have set up legal hubs in Malaysia for cost-cutting purposes, hence more hiring is in turn being done, especially within the oil & gas companies.

Law firms are now very cautious in hiring and the outlook does not seem very optimistic, with some large firms notably having reduced the amount of increments and bonuses paid out. Some law firms are even cutting salaries and freezing bonuses, and some have even laid- off their lawyers.

Despite the market slowdown, where potential employers are cautious about the future market outlook, the output of fresh graduates continue to increase due to the establishment of more and more law schools. The Malaysian market is experiencing a situation similar to that which occurred in Singapore two years ago, where fresh law graduates faced challenges in securing pupillage posts and lawyers who have just been called to the Bar faced challenges in securing entry-level legal assistant positions.

However, Eddie is still generally very optimistic about the legal job market, as good legal talents will still be sought after in every kind of market condition. The key is to start equipping yourself to become a talent so that you won’t be affected by the market.

During the sharing session, these were the questions posed to Eddie, together with the answers he provided:

  1. We have heard that Chinese-based corporation are more generous in terms of salary offers, is that true or is it just a rumour?

Eddie:  So far, I do not have any direct involvement in recruiting for any Chinese-based corporation, but I have heard that they are willing to pay high salary and you are expected to work equally hard. This is due to the working culture back in China where they place a strong emphasis on efficiencies and results.

  1. Do retrenchment exercises carried out by financial institutions often involve their legal departments?

Eddie: Banks are still seeking out talents although they do not hire as many new employees as before. As Bank Negara has now imposed more stringent compliance demands upon financial institutions, there are more vacancies for compliance roles now as compared to before.

  1. In terms of industry, which top three industries have a stronger budget when it comes to hiring legal talent?

Eddie: It is very hard to answer that question according to industries as the offer may range widely within the same industry. I would say a candidate whose job scope is to support regional works will usually be able to command a higher salary. Secondly, foreign companies usually pay their employees higher salary as compared to local companies. In terms of law firms, the more reputable firms or boutique law firms would typically offer a higher salary.

  1. Can you share with us what are the three No-Nos during an interview?

Eddie:  Sure. Firstly, never badmouth your employer and the keyword here is “badmouth” as opposed to hiding the real reason for leaving. There is a fine line between badmouthing and stating the facts, especially when the push factor for leaving a particular job is people. No employer would want to hire a candidate with bad attitude or character (badmouthing is a sign of bad character), no matter how smart the candidate may be.

Secondly, when it comes to explaining your reasons for leaving, never say the reason is for MONEY ONLY. Why? If a candidate changes jobs just because of money, I doubt that the person will stay in any position for long, so again no employer would want to invest in candidates who have the short-term mentality. Anyhow, most employers will not be against the idea of you asking for a salary increase when you join them, so why highlight something that is not an issue?

Lastly, never be late, because first impressions really count. It is reasonable for an employer to perceive someone who is late for an interview as not being serious or keen about the particular job. Failure to be on time may also be attributed to poor time management, poor planning skills, and may imply that the candidate is unreliable, disrespectful and untrustworthy. You do not want to create such a negative impression even before being interviewed by the employer. In the event that you are late, always inform the employer in advance, provide an explanation of why you are late, and be apologetic.

 

 

When Should We Ask About Salary During A Job Interview?

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

interview tips

When do you think is the appropriate point of time to ask for information about the compensation package during a job interview? To be honest, this question never crossed my mind until I became a recruiter.

Recently, I read a piece of news entitled ‘This Woman’s Job Interview Was Cancelled Because She Asked How Much She’d Be Paid’ . I found this interesting and given that the topic seems relevant to job seekers today, I believe that it is important to share my thought on this issue.

First of all, I hold the view that asking about salary information before accepting a job offer is absolutely valid and reasonable. In fact, salary is one of the factors that many would consider as crucial when they are planning to make a career move. As much as we are motivated to work for a purpose or to make a meaningful contribution, we still require money for livelihood and to sustain our living. I believe this is an undisputable fact. However, the issue here is principally to do with timing; when is the right moment to ask about compensation during the interview stage? What are the implications of asking this question at an inappropriate point of time?

When to ask for salary information

The answer to this depends on how you came across the job opportunity in the first place.

In the event that you are approached by a recruiter/head hunter to explore a job opening, you may ask the recruiter about the salary budget of this role before you even agree to send your CV to him/her, assuming that in most scenarios, the recruiter would not know your expected salary and you won’t want to waste everyone’s time if the salary budget of the job does not match your expected salary. As long as you make your intentions clear to the recruiter before you ask this question, I think it should be fine. Anyhow, an experienced recruiter would take the initiative to check whether your expected salary is within the budgeted salary for a particular role before proceeding to recommend you to the potential employer.

Therefore, it is not difficult to ascertain when to ask the question on salary when you are dealing with a recruiter. In fact, this is one of the advantages of dealing with a recruiter in job hunting.

On the other hand, in the event that you apply for a job directly on your own or you are recommended by recruiter and have been shortlisted to attend an interview directly with the potential employer, when would be the right time to raise the question regarding salary package?

The short answer to the question is – you don’t raise the question of salary until the potential employer raises it, especially when you have informed the recruiter of your expected salary or you have stated your expected salary on the employment application form or on your CV, in which case, the potential employer is already well-informed of your expectations in terms of remuneration.

The logic behind this answer is that your expected salary is also one of the crucial information which an employer needs to know before hiring you. In view of this, if the potential employer does not discuss your expected salary with you during the interview, there are 3 possibilities as to why:

1. They may not be keen to hire you so they don’t need to discuss this with you at all. If this is the case, then they don’t need to bother to ask;
2. They are keen to hire you but would prefer to discuss this with you via the recruiter; or
3. They are keen to hire you but they already know your expected salary based on the information given by the recruiter and/or on your application form or CV.

Implications of asking about salary at a premature stage

This depends on how early you raise the question about salary. Below are several possible scenarios:

1. Asking the question about salary when you first meet the potential employer even before any discussion about the job takes place– this is a big NO NO. This clearly shows that your only motivation to apply for the job is money and nothing else other than money. If money is the only motivational factor, it is reasonable to assume that you will quickly move on to another job whenever you are offered a higher pay. Employers are not keen to hire this kind of employee as job-hopping disrupts the work productivity in a company.

No doubt, as mentioned, money is one of the most important factors which motivates us in our working life. However, when it becomes the only motivating factor to join a company, it may not be good for the development of your career too.

In addition, such action also reflects that you are simply too blunt and lack the ability to assess when to ask or to say something and when to wait for a more appropriate moment. This weakness is harmful to a team. I am sure you have come across such a person in your working life who in fact may be a kind person without bad intentions, but are just somehow rather thoughtless and annoying when they open their mouths.

2. Asking about salary after discussing the job, but before the potential employer raises the issue – as mentioned above, though it seems premature to ask, sometimes it may still be regarded as acceptable by some employers.

If an employer would get annoyed by this question after having discussed the job scope, even going to the extent of canceling the second interview on the assumption that you are too money-minded, this reflects that the potential employer is rather judgmental. In this case, you need to think twice before accepting any job offer from such an employer.

In conclusion, I always advise my candidates not to raise the question of salary before the employer raises it, since asking such a question at an inappropriate time may ruin the first impression that the potential employer has formed on you. Just like before when a boyfriend proposes to a girlfriend, if the girl’s first response is to ask him the amount of monthly living allowance that he can provide her after their marriage, I guess the boyfriend may really end up thinking twice if he should marry the girl after all.

Instead, during a job interview, you should take the opportunity to focus on discussing and understanding the role, the expectations of the employer, career prospects, and the company culture and direction, as these are more crucial information that you will need before you make an informed decision on whether or not to move to a new job.

About the author:

Eddie Law is a lawyer turns legal career adviser. He is currently the managing director of eLawyer Recruitment which specialises in helping lawyers to secure jobs in both law firms and corporations. eLawyer has more than 8,000 registered members (and still counting).  Eddie was described by Malaysian SME newspaper as a person who set the benchmark of legal recruitment industry in Malaysia. Eddie is passionate and generous about sharing his thoughts and experience on legal career related issues with young and potential lawyers, giving insight views of the career path of a lawyer, inspiring lawyers to excel in their profession, harness their leadership skill and personal growth. To-date, Eddie has spoken at Kuala Lumpur Bar, both public and private universities and appeared in numerous conferences, local radio stations, newspapers and online TV.