Confessions of a job seeker

Confessions of a job seeker

Recently, I joined the crowd of job seekers out in the market. Looking to find a new home. A place to belong. Where I can make a difference.

For a long time, I struggled with the hunt. I looked at my skills and experiences and thought, “I’m an experienced marketer. I should know how to market myself in a way that makes me look like the next best thing since the iPad.” And, “I’m a copywriter who creates taglines and copy that sings. Words that paint pictures in heads with different images depending on what the communications goal is. I should know how to write to sell myself.”

None of those thoughts were particularly useful in building interview-getting CVs. And I wondered why. It was also getting demoralising spending hours crafting CVs and cover letters to fit the job and getting zilch in response.

A different perspective

Then recently, something clicked in head. A smidgen of an idea that grew in shape. I didn’t recognise it for what it was until my subconscious finished working it out. And then I started writing what I knew to be true for me. Writing it out in my head as I went about my day.

That something? I had worked out that I had to look at it from a different perspective. Recruiters and hiring managers probably weren’t ‘judging’ me thinking, “hah, this guy says he’s got writing skills to persuade and I ain’t persuaded” or “this guy’s a marketer and I don’t see how he’s marketing himself to me”. They would be just screening and thinking, “would he fit into my team and help achieve my goals?”

A puzzle to solve

When that mindset shift happened, something clicked about how I could approach this job hunting exercise. Each job description is a puzzle waiting for the right person with the right tools to crack it. If a job didn’t fit me then I just didn’t have the right tools (skills/experiences) at the time.

I imagine a puzzle like The Incredible Machine, a Rube Goldberg-like system where my skills/experiences are tools in the puzzle, and I need to find the right ones to achieve the result I want – which is to get my CV considered for the job.

And several job sites I’ve read talk about the right CV is whatever it takes to land the job, so don’t get so hung up on the how. I needed to focus on the ‘product’. Me.

A product to market – me

When I thought about how to market myself as product, my mind started thinking about the little word hooks I could use to arrest attention, even if it’s just for a second. I also thought about how I make my CV a story. A story of growth and challenge. A story about what drives me. What is my goal? What is my purpose?

Sure, I can write about my purpose being get a new challenge at a large company. But it wouldn’t be very interesting. And it wouldn’t be from the heart. My best writing, even if it’s not perfect on a technical level, comes from the heart. When words combine together to paint pictures from my imagination.

A thank you to you, dear reader

It’s not going to be the same thing for everyone. Even you, reading this. You might have a different way of approaching CV writing or a different way of landing other jobs. And that’s just fine. As long as you’re getting good results, why change for someone else?

But if you aren’t, like I was, a mindset shift could be just the thing to tip the scales and have recruiters think, “maybe I’ll read just a little bit longer”.

If this little post spoke to you, please share it. If it didn’t, well, thank you for reading this far anyway. As a writer, every word is precious. The fact that you read more than one word already causes invisible choirs to sing in my head.

It’s better than a ‘like’ on Facebook or YouTube.

On writing: One simple check for clearer messages

Over my time in the UK, I’ve been constantly surprised at how things like word order within a sentence don’t receive enough attention.

For example, this line –
There should be a couple of videos floating around of me singing.

would read totally differently if the words, “floating around” was shifted towards the end of the sentence: There should be a couple of videos of me singing floating around.

The first means videos of this are available from several sources:


While the second can mean a couple of videos of this: 

floating singer1

The lesson here?
Pay attention to what goes at the end of the sentence because more often than not, that’s what’s going to define the message:
[There should be] [a couple of videos] [floating around] [of me singing]

Try to think of a sentence as having several sections and you’ll be able to better see how they interact.

While both are largely correct, the second adds ambiguity – and when every second of attention is precious it’s an unnecessary, unwelcome complication.

Beauty and the Beast – a tale that inspires

Beauty and the Beast – a tale that inspires

There are tales within movies to be written, tales of the feelings they stir.

A seed planted.
An idea whispered.
An ideal put forth.

Each movie weaves a tale of it’s own through the work of scriptwriters, and honed again by the rest of the movie’s crew. There are films you watch through your life where they hold in you and either reinforce your beliefs, giving you firmer ground to stand on, or place ideas and principles in you.

One such movie for me was School Ties, a little known film starring Brandon Fraser and Matt Damon. A film about friendship. And how racism can tear apart bonds of friendship that were in fact the threads of acquaintance.

Now, that the fairly longish preamble is done, on to the rest of the piece. It was a fairly long one but I promise to get to the point. Beauty and the Beast. A film I watched in my childhood at the age of 12 but never held a place in my heart like The Little Mermaid.

This 2017 effort was a new experience for me and I find it easier relating to its characters now that I’ve aged a little, even, grown a little. The whimsical fancy that brought such joy through its music now takes on a new tinge through its characters and motivations.

Growing up as a bookworm, I’ve related strongly to Belle and the idea of being given an entire library as a gift would have been one of immeasurable value though there are analogies that may conjure up a suitable image. The image would be different for each of you reading this though – for it has to be something you deeply treasure personally. And each of us is different in what we value.

I value ideas. And I love films with heroic themes because they inspire more ideas. More ideals even. That strength of purpose is strongest when tempered with wisdom and honed with gentleness. Once you pair that with a clear vision, a single-minded goal to achieve – you get something quite unstoppable.

I’ve long been drawn to motivational themes in stories. They resonate in me long after the closing theme fades away. Sometimes, that tiny spark is all that’s needed to drive action.

Sitting here in front of my computer typing in these thoughts, I feel alive. Where words are tumbling out in droves and even being written in my head during the movie. This. This is what drives me – the composing of words wrapped together in a semblance of a tale, a poem, a thought.

Who would read this? My friends perhaps. Maybe even some acquaintances or connections. People who have passed by me in life or in cyberspace. Either way, I hope a sentence here or even just a word sparks something in you to do something positive. Something that makes a difference in your life or another’s.

I’m not sure if this would end up being a series of thoughts written out after each movie I watch but I know I write best from the heart. And that’s always at it’s most open at the end of a film.

For every film, no matter how poorly it may have been set up, has a story to tell.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. 

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. 

Cliched, yes. But cliches aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves. They communicate concepts quickly thanks to their level of ubiquitousness (Thank you spellchecker for that word…). For today, you, dear reader, know that I speak of another new beginning. Another chapter of my life.

One door closes another opens as they say.  In my case, I believe that windows too shall open far and wide – for me to take stock and drive myself towards where my heart is.

In times of great change, there is a special opportunity to look inward. To look within yourself and see with greater clarity then you ever have before. That can be a curse or a blessing – just like most things in life.

When something happens, you have an opportunity to sit back and wait for something good to come your way or to take life with an iron grip and take charge.

I choose to take charge.

London London – Parody of New York New York – updated for talent competition

In early November, I participated in a Deloitte UK talent competition with a parody I wrote some 7 years back when I was in Malaysia.


I originally wrote it when I was really desiring to come and life and work in the UK (that dream has since come true) and it was for an accounting event that the Big Four was supposed to have their social clubs participate in.

By the time the event rolled around, the social clubs of the other Big Four firms had all pulled out from participating and I was left to hold the flag and represent Deloitte Malaysia’s social club.

I can’t remember what the event was about but I do recall Dato Ng Yen Yen was attending when she was the Deputy Finance Minister.

The original lyrics are in this post – London, London (Parody of New York, New York)

Video of my performance in Deloitte UK’s Got Talent

Happily, one of the celebrity judges was Nina Wadia, one whom I grew up watching in Goodness Gracious Me.

Updated lyrics for the talent competition:
Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today
I’m gonna be a part of it, London, London.
My visa’s approved. Took less than a day. (phew!)
Coz I’ve already bought my flight, London, London.

I want to wake up in the city that’s cold and rainy (erm…)
And find I’m making big bucks! And all in pounds too.
These little city blues, they are melting away
But I’m leaving all my folks behind (sniff, sniff) London, London.
If I can, make it there, I might do better than, Tony Blair,
It’s up to you London, London.

London, London,
I’m going to buy some land, maybe some in East end.
And hope my returns will double, tax exempted, audited too,
then I’ll know I’ve made it too

These little city blues, they are melting away
But I’m still leaving all my folks behind, in ol’ London,
And, if I can make it there, I might be bigger than,
David Beckham’s hair.

It’s up to you, London, London, London

Words (c) 2016 Johnathan Sia

Likely (fake) Kuala Lumpur branding discussion

Likely (fake) Kuala Lumpur branding discussion

DBKL: We want to show the old charms of KL.

Design firm: Ok. There’s a great font for that.

DBKL: But we also want to show the new

Design firm: Boleh. Can do contrasting fonts.

DBKL: And we also want to show off our asianness

Design firm: Boleh boleh. There’s a font for that too.

DBKL: Bagus

[Design work completed, approved, and released to the public]

Rakyat: Oo

Life in the UK test 2016

A couple of months ago, I had to pass the Life in the UK test as part of my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (which was ultimate successful, yay!).

After the test, I immediately wrote down as many questions as I could remember. I invite you, dear reader, to have a stab at answering these questions.

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