Lessons from surviving the workplace

Like my usual opening line, I don’t have intentions of blogging today. However, an incident triggered me to write.

On the way home, I had those recurring thoughts again. When will I find the courage and opportunity to leave my present work? I have all the reasons to leave. I’m on that stage when horizons are replaced by limitations. I have reached the finish line of my career and no other competitive race awaits me. All my cards lead me to the losing end. It doesn’t help that I often see my former colleagues and friends having the time of their lives.

Typing this, I remember that I’m about to reach my 13 years of working.  Maybe a milestone but as of now, my prevalent sentiment remains the same.

I’m overstaying for nothing.

Of the years I spent working, (cliche dialogue ahead) I have my own set of learning experiences. Things I never learned from school. Things I thought only exist in movies. Only to later find out, reality is way painful than those portrayed in movies and TV series.

One advice I heard from a superior was a classic

Always do your best. Keep on doing your best. People, particularly the management, will eventually notice your hard work and value.  Eventually, it will not be difficult to achieve that much prayed promotion.

I was less than 25 years old when I heard his advice. I believed and adhered to such principle in my 20s. Over time, I realized that surviving the workplace goes beyond working hard and working smart. Fine, sometimes it’s working smart > working hard. But based on my experiences, workplace survival entails a myriad of lessons you will only understand once it happened.

A few that I experienced and taught me a great lesson include the following

  1. You will lose friends at the workplace. It may or may not be your fault. But some situations will force you to burn bridges. A little lesser evil outcome would be a cold war with someone you once trusted and respected.
  2. You will embrace plasticity to some extent. In Filipino parlance, being plastic means showing off a friendly and heart warming image to someone you are dying to hate.
  3. There will always be bootlickers. You will always have that colleague who survives by kissing someone else’s ass. Unfortunately, some superiors love being patronized by this one-of-a-kind workplace prostitutes.
  4. Sometimes, you have to flatter or patronize someone to get a job done. Hell, it’s more than promotion and self-advancement. It’s making things happen for a particular project.
  5.  Once in your career lifetime, someone will backstab and use your name as a scapegoat for some selfish endeavor or mistake.
  6. If there are teachers’ pet in the classroom, the workplace has its own equivalent.
  7. You don’t adjust and cope with the demands of your workload. You adjust and customize based on what your superior desires.
  8. Someone will lie to you. Even those who came from the best universities in the country are capable of doing so.
  9. Once in a while, you will have better ideas than your boss. But because you want show some respect or you’re afraid of being tagged as “pabibo” kid, you will hold on to your silence. On the contrary, those who contradict this principle will end up being transferred to another department, outcasted by colleagues and experience a once in a lifetime superb promotion. The possibility of getting promoted is as blurred as your chance of winning the lottery.
  10. Like those usual scenes in drama series, you will wake up being framed up and accused of a workplace crime. You will be blamed for something beyond your control. You will be accused of something you don’t even knew was happening. It goes with saying that someone will always refuse to admit inefficiency. The person will drag everyone to the crime of workplace inefficiency. You will try to defend yourself, but in the end, you’ll clean up somebody else’s mess.
  11. How to get promoted at the workplace entails an algorithm of work place politics and minimal quantity of hard work and intelligence.
  12. Being smart will never be enough.
  13. The person with the loudest voice is always right.
  14. Consequently, my favorite thought and observation is, empty cans make a lot of noise.
  15. The person who can fluently and seamlessly speak in American English will always look as the smartest person. Although upon further analysis, I realized that most of them are nothing but hollow and empty cans.
  16. In different drama series, workplace quarrel meant confronting each other and hearing all those kinds of curses. In reality, you seldom see confrontation at the workplace. The battle entails complaining the person to his superior, writing a hate mail anonymously forwarded to the immediate superior, ranting in Facebook, tagging friends to plant hatred against another person, making the art of deadma and avoiding each other forever.
  17. Someone or some situations will make you feel demoralized and demotivated.
  18. It’s alright to feel demotivated, stupid and pathetic once in a while. Trust me, this will eventually make you stronger.
  19. The playing field will never be fair. It’s a sad reality. You can leave the organization, get used to the system, transform the culture which is near to impossibility.
  20. Being Filipinos, we turn these situations to a source of comic relief. We laugh about colleagues and the management involved. Bottomline, you still wake up in the same reality. There’s no guarantee that this will never happen again. It’s reality among all organizations
  21. I learned over time that  making other meaningful ventures other than your job works both as a defense and survival mechanism.
  22. Gossips are like appetizing dishes. Admit it, we love to hear it. Unfortunately, being an expert gossiper is not a good idea. Even though colleagues are benefiting from it, don’t ever earn that position. It’s tantamount to becoming the least trusted colleague.
  23. Fine, gossiping cannot be avoided. However! However, there’s a proper way to unearth or discover gossips in the most discrete and dignifying way.  Use your analytical and research skills. :p
  24. Secrets, secrets and secrets. A secret only remains as a secret when you keep it to yourself. Once you leak it to another person, even if that person is your most trusted friend… trust me, it is no longer a secret. You have opened the door to its explosion.
  25. Petty workplace offenses are punished while major offenses aren’t. Take it from a personal experience. I have colleagues, who were proven to commit fund malversation, used benefits of their position for personal gains, and committed something that led to the oppression of another person. Most of the time, people who made serious offenses are given the option to make a graceful exit. They were simply eliminated.  In another case, an employee who struggle with punctuality, failed to beat a particular deadline, will be subjected for painful disciplinary action. This makes me sad because more employees will feel the presence of equality, justice. In the end, everyone is demoralized.
  26. Frugality, prudence are great attributes. But don’t overdo it … Once in a while, treat your colleagues apart from your birthday. Give small gifts to a colleague who has been very supportive and contributing in accomplishing a project.
  27. Once in a while be a hidden angel to a deserving colleague. Help someone secretly. 🙂 Trust me, it will fill so fulfilling in the end.
  28. Use your vacation leaves, even if you don’t have the money to fund an out-of-town trip. It’s good to detoxify once in a while. There are a number of non-money wrecking activities you can do during a paid vacation leave.
  29. Don’t bring everything in social media. You can rant using a Facebook status message, but please.. filter its reach. Don’t semi-backstab someone in your Facebook account. You equally dislike people talking behind your back. Trust me, that semi-backstabbing session through status messages and comments will reach the person concerned.
  30. One thing you will never regret, always do your job. Accomplish your responsibilities, even on situations when you feel demoralized and demotivated. If accomplishing a task meant indulging to an expensive Starbucks frappe, huge bag of potato chips, sweetest slice of cake, oiliest burger … by all means, have it. You will gain more than enough respect and confidence from your colleagues. If the management does not recognize employees within your rank, the least you can do is to deliver even in the most hurtful and disheartening situations. You’ll never know, a colleague whom who have once assisted or served well will pave the way for a better opportunity. Great reputation is priceless. We all have that colleague, classmate, friend or popular celebrities, whose reputation cannot be salvaged even by hiring the best image enhancement company. Reputation is like virginity.  🙂 Once lost, you’ll never find and return it again.

That unfair job application process at GSIS (Government Service Insurance System)

I never thought of writing this post. Documenting my experience of applying to this government agency.  However, a previous similar post is generating hits in my blog.  I once wrote my degrading experience with Metrobank. I figured out, a lot of people are trying to exploit the internet to secure tips, reviews about job application on particular companies.

I applied at GSIS twice. My first attempt happened three years ago. I browsed their website for careers and saw some vacancies within my field. I submitted my application via email and expected nothing. Months after, I received a response. I was asked to report for an examination. Unfortunately, my first attempt was unsuccessful. While it was a sad experience, I appreciate the agency’s gesture of reaching out to applicants. I was also told that I could reapply after six months.

Two years after, I went for a second chance. I checked the job postings and submitted my application via email. Same old story, I didn’t have high hopes. Two months after, I was surprised with another invitation to take the examination.I conditioned myself not to expect anything. In the middle of a busy work day of March of this year, I received an SMS. I passed the examination. Finally!!!! I was told to wait for further notice, as they will forward my application to the department concerned. Months passed again. It was only around May when I received a second invitation via email. There will be a second leg of pre-employment examination. This time, the examination will be administered by the department that holds the position I’m applying for.

June, July and August passed, I never received any word from the government agency. I took the initiative to send an email. I was feeling optimistic because I was able to satisfactorily answer all the questions. Added to it, the entire examination came in full essay type questions.

Just when your hopes are going up, a sad news will break everything

I received an email containing these words

We have given careful considerations to your application against the criteria we have specified for this position. However, we regret to inform you that on this occasion, you have not been shortlisted for interview.

Pardon my words, wtf!

I just had another case of an organization who doesn’t understand the proper system of recruitment and selection.

First, I was asking for the results of my second examination. I was not told whether I passed or failed. I’m beginning to believe and adhere to the idea that the second examination was designed for nothing. I will later explain how I landed on this conclusion.

Second, “careful considerations to your application against the criteria we have specified for the position.”

If my credentials were not sufficient for the position, I SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ASKED TO TAKE THE EXAMINATION.

One does not have to be an HR practitioner to understand this basic principle. You don’t reach out to applicants who are not qualified for the position.  It defeats the purpose of making applicants submit a comprehensive resume and answer a lengthy personal data sheet.

It appears to me that the agency doesn’t really screen applicants. They probably accommodate all applicants for the examination. Those who pass the initial examination will be forwarded to the respective department and voila, same process again. Email and ask everyone to come over for the second leg of the exam.

True enough, I discovered insider information from HR practitioners of other government agencies. Here’s what I learned.

  1. There are government agencies that don’t really screen applicants. They just ask everyone who submitted applications to report for the date of the examination. It’s a stupid practice they have to follow so they have proof / documentation that there was allegedly a fair selection process that happened.
  2. Internal applicants and kins of employees are given favor against external applicants.

Let me tell you the usual scene I experienced when I attended the two examinations. I noticed the the bulk of my fellow examinees are employees of GSIS. They usually arrive together, wore uniforms, have IDS and are being cheered by the employees in the Human Resources Department.  The same went during the second leg of my examination.

The second examination, which was administered by the department that holds my applied position, contained questions that are biased to internal applicants.

I applied for the Corporate Planning Group and was required rank and explain the core values of GSIS. I remember browsing the GSIS website a few days before. I never saw the core values posted. Obviously, the internal applicants have an obvious giveaway advantage. Nevertheless, I tried my best to answer all the “biased” questions.

I don’t think it’s fair to pair internal and external applicants under the same recruitment process and standards. The internal applicants will always have the advantage. If GSIS intends to favor internal applicants, then they should initially offer vacant position to internal applicants. Those that are not filled by internal applicants should become the content of job postings for external applicants. I believe a lot of BPOs in the Philippines implement this practice. They offer junior to manager positions to their internal or existing employees. What is left is later offered to the public. This is also the BPO’s way of giving opportunities for night shift employees to gain the much awaited day job.  Hey GSIS, it’s also  good to benchmark.

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I would like to believe that people currently reading this post are attempting to explore information about GSIS’s job application process. Unfortunately, I was not given the opportunity to reach the interview phase. Hence, my knowledge extends to the “biased” examinations I took. Instead of feeling frustrated, I might as well share the few details I remember.

The first examination I took contained multiple choice questions. I can’t exactly remember if it went from 50 to 100 items. It was a standardized examination developed by the Civil Service Commission.  Topics ranged from vocabulary, reading comprehension, reasoning and mathematics.

For vocabulary, the test evolved on finding the best synonym or antonym for a give word. A few of the words I remembered was woot, contrite…

In the case of reading comprehension and reasoning, I remember being tasked to arrange sentences to formulate a comprehensive paragraph.

For Mathematics, the classic find the missing pattern / values and some word problems were given.  It would be better if you can still read figures in exponential forms, divide and multiply decimals… manually.

Recalling how to solve age, coin, distance and vector problems in Algebra will be of great help as well.  Age problems that goes like, if John is twice as old ad Peter in 10 years and the sum of their ages is 10. What is Peter’s current age. I also remember answering questions about distance, time, speed and vectors.

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My job application to GSIS may not be as worst as my experience with Metrobank. It went bad and frustrating on a different aspect. Bottomline, the playing field was not fair and equal. There are loopholes in their recruitment process.

Ungrateful

So I missed posting for June. I was aware, I just didn’t notice that June ended.

Instead of making a post to keep this blog alive, I decided to write a recent experience. As always, there was something that prompted. I had an experience that gave me the drive to write. Translation : I need to rant and vent out. Hahaha Pardon my negativity, but I guess, it has always been this way in this blog.

A few months ago or years ago, I wrote about loyalty. The post was influenced by someone within my immediate environment. I defined my thoughts about loyalty and how some people have mistakenly define loyalty as boot licking.

Anyhow, this post was caused by the same people who made me define my parameters of loyalty.

A few hours ago, I overheard someone called a colleague as julalay. The word is a colloquial gay lingo which refers to slave. Unfortunately, the term was directed to a fellow professor. That someone happens to be a student under the school’s scholarship program. She used the word to address one of her professors. As far as I know, the student had problems with this professor. I may not be clear with the details, one thing sure though, some policies were bent in favor of the student.

Setting aside their personal issues, I wasn’t comfortable when this student scholar tagged her professor as a slave. Sure enough, no one wants to become a slave or being called to that effect. I felt it was too much disrespect. All the more when the student happens to be a scholar…. When you disrespect your teacher, it also meant disrespecting the school that provided you the scholarship opportunity.

While I may not be the subject of the insult, I felt offended for the simple reason that I’m also an educator. I knew the rigorous process before someone can become a professor or at the very least, a college instructor. More than passing the recruitment process, one has to earn a masteral degree. Once employed, the professor has to undergo continuous studies while fulfilling the demands of teaching. In some instances, professors have to embrace degrading tasks and swallow their pride to facilitate harmonious working relationships among senior colleagues. In order to provide the best learning environment, teachers have to embrace the most inconvenient schedule and set aside time for rest to accomplish the after work of teaching.

Teaching is not one of the easiest jobs in the world. It has its own demands and accountabilities. To be insulted after adhering to all the demands of the profession will never be acceptable. All the more when the person who rendered the harshest words has been granted favor at the expense of the teacher’s reputation.

Summer of 2017

Last day of May and I almost skipped my effort to maintain my monthly blog post. As always, where did time go?

I can still remember the last few days of March leading to the annual graduation ceremonies. I fulfilled my last few responsibilities in my teaching stint. Office work was fine, but part of me feels that I’m not productive.  We were quite blessed with long holiday breaks from the Holy Week and the visit of some ASEAN leaders. We had our annual summer outing at the workplace and while I enjoyed it with my friends, I came home problematic when my mobile phone broke down. Acquiring another phone is out of the plan this year. Some blessings came because my reliable mentor gave me some freelance works. Added to this, my phone line enabled me to acquire a new handset at a discounted rate. I thought my problem was over not until Apple / PowerMac gave me one of my worst nightmares. The first handset I received was defective. It took PowerMac two repairs to declare that it’s gone to iCloud heaven. I received a replacement phone, which was again, defective. To my count, I’ve been to PowerMac service center twice every week to deal with a defective phone. With the experience, I would like to believe that this has to be my first and last iPhone ever. I’m really disappointed with Apple and Power Mac.

While typing this post, I remember another shattering story. Betrayal killed another friendship again. If this happened earlier, I would have blogged the entire story. Unfortunately, I feel tired to recall and relate all the details. I just can’t believe how some people would give up their integrity in exchange for some personal gain and advantage. What I know for sure, you can never have that trust and respect from other people once you resort in this kind of system.

As for my career plans, my application to this government agency was revived again. After passing the grueling exam, I never received any word from the HR. Two months after, I was requested to report for another exam. It’s been two weeks since I took the exam and as always, I’m left hanging in the tree of uncertainty.

I would like to write more but my thoughts are all scattered. One moment, I think about my career, changing life principles, financial state and later my long suppressed and expired?!? teenage romantic hormones are activated. :p A grown up who develops a crush and making all means to get his attention. Oh and watching some Korean dramas is giving me entertainment and making me hold on to false hopes.

My life and direction is currently filled with confusion, pathetic thoughts, heartaches, and disappointments. I feel like a failure although at some point, I’m trying to convince myself that I’m probably on a motionless phase. Nothing seem to happen, nothing seem to change because I’m not doing anything to move forward.

 

Missed March

Had it not because of the new followers and likes, I would not notice that I remained “post less” for March. I intend to keep this blog alive by maintaining at least one blog post in a month.

March was my busiest month at work. I had two major projects undertaken at work. The last leg of the project was the most exhausting. Reporting for work before 7 am and leaving beyond 9 pm. Added to this the overtimes I rendered days and weeks before the activity. Everything was all done last Wednesday. I took a leave on Friday and it was one of the best decisions I made. Having a three-day weekend was more than enough to rejuvenate and recover my tired self.

I’m typing this on a Sunday night and in a few hours, I’m back to my daily grind. There is still work ahead of me. While preparing my things, I felt that sudden sadness again. I feel like a huge mess and disappointment.

I’m tired of writing sad and pathetic posts. My thoughts are all scattered. But life goes on. I have responsibilities and obligations ahead of me.

P.S.

Weeks ago, I remember mentioning about my attempts to try my chance to my “dream” company. The second try gave me some optimism. I passed the initial examination. I was told to wait for the succeeding steps. It was a great boost but I haven’t heard from them again. Might as well forget about this and prevent myself to succumb to another failure.

Signs

There was a stage in my life when I would always ask for “signs.” This usually happens when I’m bound to make decisions. Years ago, I remember really liking someone. I’m not sure whether he felt the same. Although part of me believes he wasn’t in any way interested with me. Despite of everything, I had high hopes. I was optimistic. I believed everything will be possible. I also adhered to the idea that God does not refuse our prayers that came with the purest intentions.

Back then, time was not on my side. I was forced to take matters on my own hands. I have to know how he feels about me. Problem is, I don’t have the courage to directly approach him so I asked for signs. While inside the train, I prayed for a butterfly. If I see a butterfly, I’ll take it as a sign that he’s worth it. The chances of seeing a butterfly inside the train is impossible. Much to my surprise, destiny played on me. I didn’t see a live butterfly, but my attention was caught by a lady wearing a set of butterfly earrings.

At that time, I thought I was given a strong signal to believe and pursue my hopes. While I still can’t conclude this story, it’s been years since I last saw him. Nothing prospered. I got occupied with work, other endeavors and with the help of time, I started to forget everything. I don’t think about him as frequent as before. In fact, I started to forget that we share the same birthday. It was only as of typing this when I remember it.

Years passed and I reached my early 30s. I started to doubt and move away from the power of signs. Although admittedly, I still play the idea of asking for signs when faced with decisions. Like my decision to pursue another career. I sought for signs a number of times. Should I stay or should I go? I think this is the only time I will admit and write about it. Signs are telling me to stay. When asking for signs, I would end up encountering a quote or a reminder in my Facebook newsfeed, telling me to stay. Up until recently, I encountered an advice shared by a social media personality.

He said,  living is expensive. We have to accept the fact that survival is our main reason for working. So much self help books are encouraging us to pursue our passions, even though it seems like it can’t even afford to pay a one-month electric bill. We should hold on to our jobs but at the same time, continue to do the things that make us the happiest… even on the shortest weekends or the few hours left after work. We gain that priceless sense of fulfillment when we pursue the things that make us the happiest. Who knows, the future might have a better direction for us. The rare times we follow our passion will lead us to our life changing profession.

Everything spoke about me. On weekdays, I’m occupied with work. But I’m quite fortunate that I’m able to handle my responsibilities. Work is not really draining. It’s the absence of career progress that kills me and my dwindling self-esteem. On weekends, I write for another blog and capture some beautiful photos. I don’t have photography skills but lately, I discovered my niche. 🙂 I capture beautiful photos, compile them in my instagram account. It used to be  a hobby but eventually, new entrepreneurs started to notice my photos. To date, I’m able to score two clients. I manage their Instagram accounts and capture photos for them. Although I don’t get paid for this work, I’m happy receiving product freebies. I also became more attached with my other blog. Blogging, if you can call it writing, and photo styling have become my new found interest and passion lately. These are the shallowest things I do without any compensation, but gives me the much needed happiness and appreciation. I’m leaning to the idea of someday, I hope I can pursue a life from this interest.

Of the few times I discussed the life changing career decision with my friends, leaving always emerged as the best option. All reasons and situations lead to leaving as the best option. I had attempts. I looked for job opportunities but nothing transpired successful. A huge part of me feels afraid of all the uncertainty. My greatest fear is to move to another company ending up crying and telling myself, I should not have left. Life before was way better.

As mentioned in my previous post, I gave up job hunting last year. In 2015, I was an active jobseeker. It wasn’t easy because at that time, I’m also struggling paying bills of a family member stricken with an unexpected illness. Added to this the other bills I have to pay. I got tired and stopped everything in 2016.  When this year started, I tried my  chance again. I submitted an application to a “dream” company. This week, I got a notification that I’m schedule for an examination. It will be my second attempt to this company. Should I fail the second time, I guess I have to give up. But then last night, I read an account of Pia Wurtzbach’s experiences. Hands down. She is living proof that success can be achieved with failures.

As of typing this , I felt weak because I was reminded of the bills to pay. God, I’m so messed up. This also adds up to my reason of looking for another employer. I need to have a better pay but before that, I knew I have to be a better financial manager of myself.

I will not promise that I will stop asking for signs… even though I appear so lame and stupid. But what I can probably ask for, strength to overcome everything and the courage to continuously pursue the profession, make that passion I’ve been meaning to find.

Still Alive

Part of me wanted to maintain this blog. But my actions speak otherwise. I only log in to this account when the month is about to end. Just to ensure that I make at least one post every month. Suffice to say, it’s what keeps this blog alive.

From the way I sound, I act as if there’s some pressure I have to deal with. Like I need to post at least once a month or else, something will be at stake. Haha It’s a matter of personal pressure. I attribute everything to my blogging mojo over the past years. I used to be active here. I have one post every weekend. Or whenever something significant happens to my life, positive or negative, there’s surely a post to document everything. But over the past two years, I’m just here to keep things alive. To justify the domain name, which I already gave up by the way.

I miss writing about my sentiments. One of those days when I felt right but I chose to remain silent. Arguments and debates are never my thing. While part of me admits that I’m a confrontational person, I learned over time that some battles are never worth it. I used to be a silent person. I prefer to bear all the inconveniences. Over time, I learned that my timid personality will not bring me anywhere. So I learned to speak up and address my issues. I express my sentiments. I became brutally honest, which brought me another learning. Some people are not ready for the truth. To make a little discrete, some people can’t handle honesty. They prefer to keep silent and pretend that everything is perfect. So there, I have to relearn my soft spoken and quiet personality years ago. As it appears to me, my life evolves on cycles.

Other than my foolish and shallow sentiments, here are the other things that bothers or keep me alive 😉 lately

  1. The road to financial freedom … and it remains as a struggle. There are still debts.. growing debts to pay.. Part of me dreams of winning the lottery (who doesn’t) if such happens, then all my financial burdens will go away. Even if I only receive  even half a million pesos, everything will be well 😛 But I knew, this will never the right approach to learn and grow up.
  2. Weight gain problems … and I’m still expanding .. standing at 150 lbs, this is my heaviest in my entire years of existence. I started to engage in some physical activities and so far, my weight remains static. Although I’ve noticed improvements on my arms. The skin has become firmer. I’m starting to bid goodbye to my flabby arms.
  3. Still confused about my plans of moving to another job ….
  4. Starting to rethink about my career path… They say that you can find your true calling in life by recalling the things you love to do…..  back when you don’t have to worry about paying bills and all the grown up stuff. You might be surprised, I wasn’t into writing. I was into drawing, arts and craft making. Many years ago, everyone in the family is expecting me to pursue Fine Arts. Things changed, I ended with a quantitative degree in college. This was given the fact that I failed my Algebra subjects in two quarters back, in high school freshmen… I’m starting to think, I’m a person who lives in cycles of transformation ;P One day, I’m like this. The next day, I’m another person. In the end, I’m back to my old self.

I think I have written more than enough … for a month long absence. hahaha I need to get back to work. I have a long day ahead 🙂

Wishing everyone a great day ahead!