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Salam Ramadhan

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May this Ramadhan bring us closer to Allah SWT and may He accept our deeds.

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Your Resume is Just About One Thing

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Whether you are a fresh graduate seeking your very first job, or a seasoned (weary?) corporate raider in search of the quasi-mythical “better career prospect” , it’s worthwhile to put into as much effort as you can into building your resume because it is the instrument that will determine the type and quantity of bread you’ll be able to put on your table, and whether you can have caviar (or other indulgences) with that bread.

What I mean is, your resume will determine whether you’ll get your coveted dream job or end up with a job that will just enable you to “get-by” (and probably one that nobody wants, which is how you got it in the first place. It’s not about you, but the way you represent yourself in your resume and subsequent interviews, and this is what I’ll be advising you vide this post).

Trust me, it is harder for the veteran to squeeze in twenty years’ worth of accomplishments in 2-3 pieces of A4 than it is for the freshie to state his potential contributions to a bemused prospective employer. Whatever it is, the one thing and only one thing you need to remember when crafting or updating your resume is: YOUR RESUME IS ABOUT YOU.

And just about you and no one but you. It precedes you in your job application. Unless you are already well-acquainted by the prospective employer, this prospective employer does not know you or what you can do, so your resume must be the best representation of you, whether you choose the conventional resume type or the more creative video resume or social media resume or power-point resume. Whatever the format, the underlying principle is YOUR RESUME IS ABOUT YOU.

I am not going to embark on the ways and means of crafting an impactful resume. If you’re worth your salt as a jobseeker you should be able to Google that yourself. Hundreds of others have theorised about what they think make up an effective resume, mostly from their own experience at the receiving end. Read their views, they will give you an idea of where to start in putting my assertion to practice, which is YOUR RESUME IS ABOUT YOU.

My point is to stress to you that since YOUR RESUME IS ABOUT YOU, you should not misrepresent yourself or deviate attention of the reader of your resume to other things beside you.

Your resume does not begin with your resume, you know. It begins with your email address. If your email address is teddyluv96@gmail.com or kill_da_dog@yahoo.co.uk , this is the end of your resume. To begin your resume instead of murdering it “in utero“, please create another email account that is more professional-sounding. The best bet would be to use your real name or a variation of your real name.

You think the question of an email address is trivial? Well it is not. First of all it is the first thing that appears in the employer’s mailbox when you apply for a job with the employer BEFORE they even get to your resume. Getting a mail from a “teddyluv” does NOT impress. Cuteness is NOT for the workplace. A workplace is where you are paid for serving your employer, not for you to expect mollycoddling. And that kill_da_dog email address? There are more animal lovers out there than you think.

Well you may beg to differ but this is the frank situation of a master-servant relationship. If you do not convey the valuable first impression that you CAN do the job PROFESSIONALLY and INDEPENDENTLY, you will not get the job. It’s that simple. This is what I mean by not misrepresenting yourself. You know you can do the job, I know too (well I assume good of everyone), but the employer may not. Save yourself the disappointment, it’s free email after all.

Next, tell employers bluntly what you can do. Bluntly and directly. No flowers. No wishy-washy. No vague, ambiguous terms. Selling yourself is harder than selling ice to an Eskimo so if you can sell yourself you can sell ice to an Eskimo. OK put the Eskimo away, he is not important now. The important thing is you must not be afraid to sell yourself in your resume. I know it is easy for those who are already in sales (not because of the pun but because you can quantify your achievements) or if you have testimonials to prove your accomplishments. But what if you have the following:

  1. Gaps in your career history
  2. You were sacked from a job
  3. You have not made any significant contribution in any of your jobs (perhaps because you didn’t stay long enough)
  4. You are fresh and have no prior experience for the job

Then, the only way to retain the attention of your resume reader and to convince him/her to hire you is by accentuating how you can contribute to the company. What they can gain from hiring you. Tell them why they should hire you over the rest. Don’t be shy. Sell yourself articulately and honestly. Be frank with them about your skills. How you highlight your capabilities should dominate the rest of your resume and put any weakness or flaws you have into insignificance. But two things: don’t lie, and don’t boast. Keep it real. Everyone has virtues: think about yours before crafting your resume.

Lastly (by saying “lastly” I am not indicating that my three points here are exhaustive), do not colour your resume, whether font or formatting, and do not embellish it with frames or elaborate page numbering. Please. First of all it is distracting, looks like a takeaway menu and is totally unnecessary. I know some people do it, and I also know some people do it well so that the resume does not look like a takeaway menu. The question is, are you expert enough to pull it off? Otherwise, play safe, stick to black font on plain white background.

For a more personalised approach to building your resume, attend any of my workshops (announcements will be made vide this website). Every resume is just as unique as its owner, but, what unites the diversity is: YOUR RESUME IS ABOUT YOU, so let it speak wisely for you. The care and effort you make towards your resume is obvious to the prospective employer and very much appreciated too.

All the best in your job search.

 

 

Agribusiness in Islam: An En Vogue Career Path with Holistic Rewards

Merits of Agriculture in Islam

Business is an integral component of Islam, as is agriculture. The Holy City of Mecca provided Prophet Muhammad SAW the forum for preaching Islam, and early Muslims travelled extensively in connection with business through which Islam reached East and West Africa and East Asia. After establishing Medina, one of the first steps which Prophet Muhammad SAW took was the establishment of brotherhood among the Ansars of Medina and Muhajirs from Mecca, towards the economic rehabilitation of the Muhajirs with Medina as an agribusiness centre. Prophet Muhammad SAW also instituted many laws regarding cultivation and marketing of agricultural products. In their article “Agriculture and Agribusiness from the Perspective of Al-Qur’an and Al-Sunnah”(International Journal of Trade, Economics and Finance, 08/2013; 4(4):191-1960) authors Joni Tamkin Borhan and Muhammad Ridhwan Ab. Aziz stated that Islam views the agricultural sector as fard al-kifayah (an obligation of the society), and an important source of food production for mankind since ancient times that should not be neglected. Earnings through agriculture and agribusiness are regarded honourable endeavours from the Islamic spirit, because a person who is involved in food production is not only looking after himself, but also the rest of the community. This is actually akin to donation (sadaqah) in Islam. Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

“There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Bukhari)

And Allah S.W.T. stresses in the Qur´an:

“And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet), set thereon mountains firm and immovable, and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance. And We have provided therein means of subsistence, for you and for those for whose sustenance ye are not responsible.” (Surah al-Hijr:19-20)

and

“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it groweth seven ears, and each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah giveth manifold increase to whom he pleaseth: and Allah careth for all and he knoweth all things.” (Surah al-Baqarah:261)

From the above hadith and Quranic verses, the status of the farmer is one of nobility in Islam. Muslim youths of today should therefore take advantage of this bounty bestowed by Allah SWT to agricultural endeavours.

 

Are Islamic Principles Outmoded?

Islamic principles with regard to agriculture and agribusiness are still very much en vogue in this age of social media. Islam views science, technology and industry as the study of reality and of how matters can be managed to improve the condition and living standards of humanity.  Allah SWT has made this clear in Al-Qur’an:

“Do you not see how Allah has made serviceable to you whatsoever is in the skies and whatsoever is in the earth, and He has loaded you with His favours, both the open and the hidden.” (Surah Luqman: 20).

The central tenet of the Islamic economic system is to secure the satisfaction of all basic needs for every individual completely and to enable them to satisfy their luxuries as much as possible. This is achieved by obliging each capable person to work, so as to achieve the basic needs for himself and his dependants. Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

“Whosoever sought the life (matters) legitimately (halal) and decently he will meet Allah SWT with his face as a full moon; and whosoever sought it arrogantly and excessively he will meet Allah while He is angry at him.” (Bukhari)

Being a farmer is an honourable profession. Farmers will benefit mankind and other creatures of Allah SWT by providing food for them through agricultural activities. The main contribution of farming is the production of food sources to feed the nation. This worldly provision, however, is not just limited to guaranteeing sustenance for mankind. It also creates a sustainable and healthier environment. The spiritual contribution of farming is a charity towards mankind and animals, which carries a considerable reward in the afterlife. Islam raises the status those who are involved in and seek halal livelihoods in the agricultural sector, in which their efforts are regarded as acts of charity and good deeds. Islam as an all-encompassing way of life has elaborated aspects related to agriculture and agribusiness comprehensively from the very beginning. All these concepts and aspects of agricultural activities if applied accordingly in our modern lifestyle will contribute greatly to the development of the Islamic ummah. Islamic principles of farming are thus still pertinent and applicable today. A faith-based approach to agricultural literature, pioneered by Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) through their manual entitled “Islamic Farming: A Manual for Conservation Agriculture” was launched in Nairobi, Kenya in March 2014. This is the first manual that speaks to Muslim farmers in the language of the Al-Qur’an and As-Sunnah and offers significant potential to bring sustainable farming principles and practices to millions of Muslim farmers in Africa for the first time.

 

Farming is Fashionable… and Halal Too!

Muslim youths must see the concept of rizq, and the earning of it, from the angle of Islam. Nothing in Islam constricts development or disfavours innovation and creativity. As a matter of fact, Islam provides the ultimate guide for human progress and advancement through Al-Qur’an (read “Islamic Farming: A Manual for Conservation Agriculture” above). We have seen earlier in this article the virtues of farming and agribusiness, and bounties of Allah SWT for these agricultural endeavours, which collectively form the unique “fashionableness” of a farming career in the eyes of Islam. Now, Muslims must understand that, spending their youthful energy working in the farm is not the ultimate success. The ultimate success will come as thus:

“Say: Who has forbidden the fine clothing of Allah and the good and wholesome kinds of provision he has brought forth for his slaves? Say: On the day of rising they will be exclusively for those who believe during the life of this world” (Surah Al-A’raf:32)

And this is why, Allah SWT says:

“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise….” (Surah At-Tawbah:111).

So for the youths who have yet to have confidence to step into the farming world and make that very important change for themselves, their families, their country, the world and the ummah, remember the hadith of our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW:

“Let not the fear of people stop anyone of you from saying what is true, or doing something important, because what you say or do will not keep you from your rizq, or keep you from your ajl (life span).”

 

For our readers in Africa, kindly consult our associate The Sahara Green Company, Abuja (Twitter: @TheSaharaGreen)  to give your agribusiness career a headstart.

For our readers in Malaysia, do visit the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism Show 2014 (MAHA 2014) at Taman Ekspo Pertanian Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor in November 2014 to obtain the information you need on agribusiness. Visit the MAHA 2014 website for more information on the event. 

Impacts of Agribusiness Public-Private Partnerships in Africa -Nigeria

This week, our associate Sahara Green Company features Nigeria in their Agribusiness infographic series. Sahara Green provides data and advisory on agricultural development in Africa. Follow them on Twitter @TheSaharaGreen.

Sahara Green Company

Nigeria Impacts2

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Cradle to the Grave

“Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” – Prophet Muhammad SAW

In Islam, seeking ilm, or knowledge, is an act of worship that leads one to the path of Jannah (Paradise).

The niyyah, or intention is the most crucial aspect of ilm-seeking: pursuing knowledge must be for the pleasure of Allah SWT alone, and for the ilm gathered to be passed on to and shared with His creatures. Seeking knowledge to seek praise and rank amongst fellow mankind, or for other worldly motives, lead a person to ignorance and sins against the creatures of God, and ultimately, Hell.

Gather, therefore, as much ilm for the right reasons and do with them the right things.

Ilm seeking

Photo copyright of http://www.worldbank.org

Special Feature on Constructive Dismissal Part 4: LinkedIn, Squeezed Out – The Future of Constructive Dismissal?

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In the final instalment of our constructive dismissal series, we look at the historical case of Flexman v BG Group ET/2701998/11.

John Flexman is reportedly the first person in the world to bring a case for constructive dismissal over social media.

Flexman was the Graduate and Development Manager of BG Group, a gas exploration company based in Reading, England. The problem started when Mr Flexman uploaded his CV and ticked the box in his LinkedIn profile page to register his interest in ‘career opportunities’. He was contacted by his manager whilst on a family holiday in the United States and ordered to remove his CV. On his return he was accused of ‘inappropriate use of social media’ and called to attend an internal disciplinary hearing.

BG Group claimed that Flexman breached its social media policies by uploading his CV to LinkedIn and ticking the “career opportunities” box on his LinkedIn profile. It also accused Flexman of breaching confidentiality by stating on his CV that he was assisting the company in reducing its “attrition rate.”  Flexman eventually resigned and claimed constructive dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal upheld Flexman’s claim of constructive dismissal due to unacceptable delays in the company’s dealing of the case and the company’s failure to address a grievance related to the incident.

Forbes’ Kashmir Hill contended that the conflict between an employee’s desire to brag about what they’ve done at a company and that company’s desire to keep such things under wrap is a common one in the social media age. “As I’ve written before, corporate spies say there are lots of juicy tidbits to be found in LinkedIn profiles. Also at issue here appears to be a company’s sensitivity to its employees playing the field. Finding an employee on LinkedIn seeking “career opportunities” is a little like discovering your significant other has an active OKCupid account” writes Hill.

Through their omnipresence and power to make or break public perception of individuals and organisations, social media sites are now pervading into contractual relationships between employer and employee and destroying the sense of mutual trust and confidence. Employers must ensure they are one (or a few!) steps ahead of employees and have proper social media policies in place protect their reputation as well as stop possible leaks of confidential information.

To us at Har Abada Nasara, the Flexman Revolution is a prophetic indication of the shape of things to come in constructive dismissal. This case may set the trend for a more litigacious generation in the workplace. Employers in general and human resources practitioners in particular must be prepared for this wave of change brought about by a new breed of employees who have savoir-faire in both law and technology. The need for human resources practitioners to master more than just everyday operational personnel management skills cannot be emphasised enough.

Special Feature on Constructive Dismissal Part 3: “Jumping the Gun” Explained

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If an employee overreacts to the employer’s unreasonable act and quit before the employer actually commits a fundamental breach, the employee might be jumping the gun in presuming that a constructive dismissal has taken place.

Leaving hastily can be construed as abandoning employment. In Kerry Foods v Lynch [2005] IRLR 680, the employee was a manager in the appellant company. The terms and conditions of the employee’s contract of employment provided that he has to work a 5-day week, whereas other managers who were employed after him had to work a 6-day week. The company had indicated to the employee that it intended to persuade all managers to work a 6-day week. The employee had objected to the change and the company wrote a letter to him indicating that it intended to terminate his current contract in the absence of his agreeing to the new terms and to re-engage him under a new contract containing the new terms which was discussed.

The employee resigned and complained that the proposed changes to his terms and conditions had seriously damaged the relationship of trust and confidence between the parties. The Employment Tribunal found that the employee had been constructively dismissed, however, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that the company had provided lawful notice of termination, which could not constitute a breach of the implied term. The company’s service of a lawful notice of termination together with an offer of continuous employment on different terms could not amount to a repudiatory breach of contract. There had been neither a breach of the existing terms nor an anticipatory breach in indicating lawful termination of the contract on proper notice. The employee in this case had jumped the gun. The EAT declared that there was no dismissal, and set aside the tribunal’s decision and consequent award.

Back on home soil, the case of Malaysia Airline System Berhad, MAS Golden Boutique Sdn Bhd v Noridah bte Ahmad [2003] 2 ILR 561 illustrates the concept of jumping the gun in the context of a transfer. The 2nd company  in this case is the subsidiary of the 1st company, with the same Chairman.  After the Board of Directors’ meeting of the 2nd company, the claimant was asked to meet with the Chairman and the Executive Vice-President Corporate Services. The claimant was told by the Chairman that the 2nd company was not performing well and he wanted her to write in for a transfer or else she would be sacked. That same night the claimant wrote a letter to the Vice-President Corporate Services requesting for a transfer.  6 days later, the claimant sent another letter claming constructive dismissal, stating that she was forced by the Vice-President to request for transfer and that she did not deserve this treatment after having  served for 22 years with the companies, and that she had yet to receive a reply for her letter requesting for transfer.

The Industrial Court in Noridah held: “Going by the evidence and law, the court is satisfied that on the balance of probabilities the claimant had failed to prove that the companies had acted in the manner which resulted in the relationship of mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee had broken down. Evidence had shown that the 1st company was still willing to keep the claimant in their employment but the claimant in haste and on her own volition had abandoned the employment. It was the claimant herself, who had walked out of employment. The court therefore makes a finding that the claimant was not entitled to consider herself to constructively dismissed.”

Constructive dismissal is not the easiest of allegations to prove. Many employees get over-excited about making a claim for constructive dismissal without actually having a solid grasp of the facts at hand, let alone the law. Most base their claims on the advice of “friends” and rumours of success stories at the labour office. In truth, most constructive dismissal claims fail on technicality.

The most important thing for an employee to remember is to get your facts right in any circumstances. Never assume anything before you actually fully clarify your doubts relating to changes proposed by your employer. Be a little patient and wait out to see whether a breach actually takes place. If you jump the gun and quit your job without ample proof, your employer could just shrug it off and assert  they never did anything which would make you quit your job. Every employee must remember, the law does recognise the prerogative of employers to rearrange their commercial operations however they wish as long as the intention behind the action is bona fide in the interest of business.

If you suspect that you are being squeezed out of your employment by changes affecting your work, take it step by step.  Begin with a meeting with your manager or supervisor. Do this professionally: prepare notes of incidents or events leading up to your complaint or better still, transcribe them into a proper report format.  Voice your grievance calmly, stick to the facts and avoid getting emotional. You may also go directly to your HR Department if it is your manager who is the subject of your grievance. Be open to the responses you receive. Not every member of the management team is out to black-sheep the rest of the staff. If you are still dissatisfied, seek the advice of your friendly labour officer at the nearest Jabatan Tenaga Kerja or Jabatan Perhubungan Perusahaan. Same principle applies: bring your notes, include the transpire notes between you and your manager/HR Department. All the best.