Job Interviews: The Good and the Bad (Not so much the Ugly)

It’s an almost unavoidable fact of life, like death or taxes. At one point or another you will have to face the prospect of enduring a job interview or two.

As it is, my tenure at the English Training Centre which has hosted me and my first job in China has come to an end. Which leaves me in the often tedious and sometimes ego/confidence/soul destroying avenue of job hunting. This road, which most of us have walked before, is traditionally and inevitably full of ups and downs, twist and turns along with sudden and mysteries drops, sharp cliff faces and self-erecting walls.

It is a stressful period in anyone’s life as much as it is an anxious one. We all know anxiety operates like a parasite, requiring a host to latch itself onto before it can grow and fester. Finding a new job is the perfect home for such a pest.

One of the things I dislike the most about the entire process, if you mange to get this far, is the dreaded job interview. Sitting in front of a person or panel in either an awkwardly informal or rigidly formal atmosphere whilst every word you mutter, every move you make is observed, scrutinised and judged. It’s not all together that pleasant. But, at the same time it is a perfectly understandable and therefore necessary evil.

What follows is a list of some of the good and some of the bad points of going through an interview:

Looking Sharp

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Dressing to impress has become a staple of job interviews. Donning a well made suit (or perhaps jeans, a shirt and waist coat if it is indeed a little more casual) not only infers a whole host of good impressions and connotations to your potential new employer. But it also just simply feels great. Dressing well is known to provide that little confidence boost we all need from time to time. Standing with good posture wearing the right outfit we all feel invincible, which is ideal. Especially considering the likely fact your nerves will begin to crumble as you draw ever closer to the wonderful cornucopia of scrutiny that is a job interview.

Worry, Stress and Anxiety

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As alluded to earlier, interviews aren’t always great on the old ticker. They are a minefield of over worrying, stress and building anxiety. It’s a cocktail of pure evil! Of course there are those people out there who just swim through them as if conducting a leisurely swim at the local community pool. I am not however, one of those people. I am constantly drawn to what could go wrong, or worrying about saying the wrong thing. Despite always allowing myself ample time to arrive at the interview’s location, I constantly fret about being on time. The quick tips and tricks on the internet are no place of solace, all they do is add to the worry. Am I now shaking this man’s (or woman’s) hand strong enough to indicate strength and confidence, or does it just appear as though I’m trying to cut off all circulation to their favoured appendage? Does my tie colour portray or express the right image? And God knows what else that runs through my mind.

Meeting New People/Sharing Experiences

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It’s always interesting meeting new people, whether that be your competition for the once in a life top job at the incredible competitive cut-throat company you’re sitting in the lobby of, or the interviewer themselves. On top of that, interviews are one of the only socially acceptable times where you are in fact encouraged to talk about yourself and nothing but yourself. As a species humans are notoriously infamous for their love of talking about themselves (unless you’re a parent, in which case all you do is talk about the wonderful achievements of your children). Understandably there are those who don’t like meeting new people or talking about themselves, but we are trying to keep things positive here.

Rejection

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No one likes to be told no. But it hurts even more when you’ve placed all your hopes and dreams (and possibly next month’s rent) on getting this job. After you put in hours after hours of research on the company, perfected your answers to all those awkward interview questions, look up videos about sailing through an interview and having gotten so close to the finishing line you could almost taste it, yeah it really hurts. It’s one of the biggest fear factors behind interview stress, what if they say no? What does that mean? Am I not good enough?

But fear not, there could be a hundred possible reasons why they didn’t choose you. Maybe the position closed, their budget or need changed, maybe someone else was just more qualified. Or yeah … maybe it was just you, but there are plenty more jobs out there, don’t give up on hope, don’t let them win!

There you have it, some of the good things and a little of the bad. Let me know how you feel about interviews and everything that entails in the comments section below!

[Image(s) from PlayBuzz, AskMenMyBodyTutor, CaliberMag, Ted]

 

Shanghai in Bloom

Spring arrived in a rather unspectacular fashion this year. The weather has been uncharacteristically spotty with intermittent rain piercing deep blue sunny skies and and sunny skies occasionally breaking through intermittent rain.

But the coming of spring generally signals the onset of the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) season. As Katsumoto said in The Last Samurai, you could spend your entire life in search of the perfect blossom and it would not be a wasted life …. or you know, something along those lines.

For me that perfect blossom came in Gucun Park, Shanghai. What follows is my amateur (and I have to emphasis amateur) photography celebrating the beautiful blossoms.

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So, let me know if you’ve had the chance to witness the blossoms this year, or at any other time. Where were you? Who were you with? And if you had any hints and tips for a photography newbie let me know in the comments below!

Perceptions of Beauty: East vs West

Continuing the current theme of discussions regarding the standards of beauty throughout the world and in Asia (China), here I aim to draw your attention towards a video recently released.

Panda Guides through one of their many WeChat groups regularly posts a series called Laowai Adventures seemingly running out of Beijing. The videos often try to tackle cultural topics and differences, interviewing and consulting with individuals from both the East and West.

This week, they decided to go for … you guessed it, beauty! More specifically in a video entitled: Laowai Adventures Survey: How Beauty Differs Between East & West they took to the streets of Beijing equipped with a camera and 18 celebrity photos (9 from the west and 9 from the east). They proceed to ask citizens of the East for their opinions about the western female celebrities on show and vice versa. (They promise to do a male celeb version soon).

To find out what happened follow the link.

Let me know what you think of the video and your views on the topic below.

[Image(s) from Chinatravelgo]

 

Perceptions of Beauty: A More International Angle

The way in which we look and why, how we are supposed to look, behave, act and why have always been very tantalising subjects. They touch upon many common cultural threads that are interwoven across the globe.

We have already discussed perceptions of beauty in Asia (China) and the cult of less than healthy body shaming challenges it has generated of late.

But more recently whilst browsing the depths of the internet I stumbled upon a survey that caught my interest. It was entitled: Perceptions of Perfection Across Borders. It was commissioned by Superdrug Online Doctor, with the purpose of better understanding the ideas of beauty internationally. The survey tasked 18 graphic designers (female designers as they wanted to examine the kaleidoscope of beauty from a women’s perspective) to Photoshop the same image into what they believed reflects their country’s cultural stereotype of beauty and perfection.

This compelling concept produced some pretty astonishing results, highlighting the sometimes vast differences in what different countries and cultures regard as beautiful. Perhaps a good indication of the fact that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

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Looking over the images the designers produced truly brings to mind the word variety. What appeals to both men and women from country to country from body shape to facial features even hair colour is remarkable. It’s something I wasn’t fully aware of until this moment.

What strikes me the most are the adaptations made by the Chinese designer. Compared to those around her, she stands out in just how skinny she is, especially when considering her more voluptuous counterparts from Spain or South America. Oddly she appears almost unnatural, a porcelain doll falling strictly in line with the cultural indicators of perfection that have come to be expected.
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The ideal body type in China weighted in at only 7.3 st (that’s 46.3 kg or 102 pounds), followed closely by Italy at 7.7 st. A fairly considerably difference to say Spain, who came in at 10.9 st. These figures were based on a woman at the height of a 5’5″.

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The survey also produced an estimate of what these women would weigh, arguing China’s example, according to the predicted BMI (Body Mass Index) would qualify as anorexic!

Of course this is all conjecture, but it does encourage you to pause and think for a moment. The survey is relatively small in scope in that only one designer featured from each country that is featured. The small sample size reflects what these individuals believe and perceive as the ideal, which is important to bare in mind.

Having said that, they seem pretty spot on considering some of the conversations I’ve had regard this subject.

So having a look at the information for yourself, what do you think? What are your ideas of the perfect female (figure)? Comment below.

[Images from ocmomblog, OnlineDoctor.Superdrug]

A New Standard of Beauty? (in China)

Everyone wants to look beautiful right? But how can you ensure you meet and adhere to the current trends and measures of this so heavily sought after title?

In China, it appears the answer is an ever growing list of absurd beauty challenges that mark an unnerving trend emerging across social media platforms such as Weibo (China’s Twitter). Welcome to the word of body shamming. Until very recently I had so naively believed it to be a solely western phenomenon, but how wrong I was. Either it already existed universally or has become a terrible export of western image-centric culture.

You may already know that the desired or most ideal look, in South-East Asia, revolves around impossibly white porcelain skin, long black silky hair, a slight frame, big eyes and very poised pointed features. A list of ‘requirements’ that has spawned endless tubes of whitening cream, eye popping contact lenses and a rapidly expanding cosmetic surgery market.

But before jumping under the knife, smothering yourself in ladles of cream and living your life through the assorted rainbow of contact lens iris colours its best to check whether you already meet these culturally imposed standards.

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This first test is pretty simple. To ensure you have the necessarily frame to be considered beautiful all you need to be able to do is reach around your back and comfortably reach your belly button. Easy!

The result saw an explosion of young internet users rushing to prove themselves and their waistlines. The web was flooded with netziens uploading millions of images of hand wrapped belly buttons. Emboldened by the unnerving trend of positive messages of reinforcement lavished upon the participants. With the topic creating an incredible 104,000 discussion trend … somewhere the BBC reported.

Whilst a considerable chunk of social media seemed almost entirely in favour of the challenge, one male blogger took a stand by posting his somewhat successful attempt at the challenge. Instantly dashing ideas that you had to be skinny or of slight frame to either successfully reach the finish like (your belly-button) or to be beautiful.

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This champion for social normality (if such a thing exists), let’s just say champion for undefined or more open standard of beauty, received 2,634 likes and reached viral levels having been shared more than 8,452 times.

The test quickly drew criticism as being nothing more than a matter of flexibility in the shoulders attainable by anyone, regardless of their waistline. But here it seems it was 1-0 to unhealthy body images.

Collar-bone Coin Challenge

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Reportedly roughly a week later, having decided that one test of the perfect body wasn’t enough, Chinese social media conjured up their next figure defining test.

In this instance of completely sane body judging, your figure was considered to be ‘better’ the more coins you could fit on your collar-bone(s). The logic here is just striking, it’s a well known historic measure of beauty. One in which humanity has been taking pride in for an untold number of years. But hey, who am I to judge?

Sexy right? Just look at all those silvers resting on that bony outcrop, poised so elegantly – I think I’ve found wifey right there.

The craze also attracted a number of more comic additions, with people taking a stand against absurd perceptions of money laden collar-bones. They boldly undertook the challenge, except with a bit of a twist, balancing everyday items like eggs or phones.

A4 Paper Waist

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No, this isn’t the name of a new up and coming indie band, but forms the title of the next body shaming fad to have launched itself from within the bowels of China’s social media.

Requiring a little less co-ordination than balancing your loose change around your neck, this test simply demanded that you hide your waist behind an vertical A4 piece of paper. No cheating guys, it has to be vertical! Coming in at around 21.0 by 29.7 centimetres (8.27 by 11.69 inches) this challenge culminates in the ideal way to determine just how acceptable your waist line truly is.

Once again this fad attracted a mind blowing number of web surfers, who dutifully posed in front of the camera behind their glimmering white prison cell doors. Each one in turn successfully closing the cultural cage of imposed body images around themselves and others.

Once again a reasonable back lash occurred with citizens of the world taping several pieces of paper together or opting for slightly larger sizes like A3, before posing candidly in front of a mirror revealing their ingenious methods of fighting back.

Or by just highlight how ridiculous a challenge it really was:

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‘iPhone Legs’

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The ‘app’ly named iPhone Knee challenge was the next instalment in the continuing march of ‘hey look what I can do as it relates in no way to real or healthy concepts of beauty and appearance’ challenges.

The goal was once again not overly complicated, but did require the possession of an iPhone 6. Now with an artificial price tag, the reasonably well off could show off just how skinny and thin their legs were by gently resting their delicate hand-machine on their knees. Both knees had to be narrower than the 5.44 inch phone to be considered a success.

Resisting the personal urge to high five and congratulate each and every knobbly knee’d contestant. I looked on in wonder as once more people responded in their droves to the calling of the absurd, yet undeterred by all the ‘haters’ the internet had to offer. With one comment thread on Weibo attracting 1.95 million users alone.

Protests quickly arose, with anti-body shaming activists posing with the larger iPhone 6 plus or ipads, but alas it seemed to no avail.

2B or Not 2B

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Just take a minute, take one big step back and just re-evaluate your life. Does your face fit within the boundaries set by the humble 2B pencil? If not, how do you show yourself in public everyday you monster?

Moving to a so far untapped area of the body, those obsessed with being overly thin and inventing strange ways to measure it have hijacked your art supplies and are now judging you with them. Its a cruel and altogether odd world.

Luckily this challenge was more of a joke, with a little word play added for good measure. Whilst the tag line “I don’t have the A4 waist or iPhone 6 legs, but it’s okay – at least I have a 2B face,” was doing the rounds, the fact that 2B sounds like the Chinese ‘Èrbī’ (Idiot/stupid or to act stupidly) was greatly appreciated by the masses.

But this wasn’t to be the light at the end of the tunnel we had all hoped for.

100 Yuan Wrist

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The final extremity to be tested in this long list of inanimate objects and prevailing body parts is the noble wrist. Something so fundamental to the way in which we live our lives.

Much like the iPhone Knee challenge, this venture required a display of opulence and wealth. To pass the contestant had to demonstrate their naturally thin, and therefore beautiful, wrists by wrapping one in the velvety cushion of a RMB100 note.

Some daredevils out there even resorted to the use of smaller notes! Stepping up the challenge and laying down the gauntlet of skinny wristed-ness.

What this really proved, I’m still unsure. But much like its predecessors, to be considered an attractive fully functioning member of society this was a must. Otherwise, as penance, you were forced to have your wrists removed permanently.

… I’m just kidding.

When will this nonsense end!

Of course I am detailing all these latest misguided body-shaming methods because, sadly, I can’t do any of them! I’m just sitting here now seething with envy and jealousy. But what interests me is that I haven’t heard or seen any challenges for the men of this world. Whilst pressures for women to conform to certain images has been around for a long time. In more recent years the world’s media has began to bombard men with equally unrealistic standards. Why hasn’t there been, I don’t know the Bicep Bowling Ball Challenge? In which men must prove how manly they are by comparing their arm muscles to varying sizes of bowling balls? I’d issue such a gauntlet myself, strolling around the streets slapping people in the face with a white leather glove as if declaring a duel, if I had any muscles myself to speak of, or wanted in any way to condone these crazy body tests.

What do you think of the whole body image situation, thoughts and feeling? Did you or have you taken part in any of the challenges listed, or perhaps ones that I may have missed? Feel free to leave your comments in the box(es) below.

[Image(s) from BeyondApplesBBC, Daily Mail, Tech Insider, Mashable Asia, That’s Mags x2]

How to Write Your Next Best Post?

No doubt it’s a question that sits on everyone’s minds when they open up whatever medium it is they have chosen to write with. A question pounding in their mind as they stare wearily at that blank page. Whether it be with pen in hand or the constant blinding of the cursor daring you to start typing.

I know it’s something that keeps me up at night, like a perpetually looming spectre. How do you create an article worth reading, an article that will draw in the reader and leave them wanting more? So much more that they’ll return again and again to see what you’ll throw together next.

How do you know what kind of style to write in? Is there a preferred one or should you try and mash different forms of writing all into one article and watch them clamber over on another fighting for the readers attention?

Questions, questions questions, always more questions and very few answers. Of course the two best ways to find those answers are through two almost seemingly obvious methods: experience and research. Simply just writing and trawling the internet, reading the work of more experience successful writer as well as their hints, tips and how to articles.

But despite the overwhelming abundance of resources available on the great wide web, I always still find myself questioning.

How can you write about something you don’t know a great deal about? You don’t have the time to become an expert in everything. How do you format an article or piece, how do you lay out, order and present your information and what you want to say? At times the answers appear easy, like riding a bike. Whereas at other times the exact opposite can be true.

I realise by this point you’ve come to the conclusion that there is very little useful information about writing your next great post. So lets look at a few things that may in fact aid you in your valiant quest. (In no particular order.)

Do a Little Research

It helps! You don’t need to spend hours reading wordy research papers detailing the ongoing patterns and emerging schools of though surrounding everything you wish to write about. But if its a more technical topic or a matter of some significance like a world event, it’s best your understand the context and the facts. Not only will you produce a more relevant and accurate body of text, but you may avoid potential embarrassing claims or statements. Aside from that a little research may even open a few more avenues or ideas you hadn’t yet considered.

Read and the …. Read it Again

Seeking out the work of your favourite writers and authors is an fantastic way to grow as a writer. So go out there and get reading. By all means enjoy their work, how it flows and reads, their witticisms, their character development and story telling whatever it may be. Then read the article or story etc. again. This time read it through a more analytical lens. Read it slower, take notes and pay attention to how the information is delivered as well as the information itself. Think a particular chapter, paragraph or sentence was particularly smooth for instance. Read it and re-read it, how would you have written it, what are the differences between how you’d approach the information? What can you learn from these differences and apply to your own work?

Read greedily, read expansively but also read carefully. The best advice will always come from those at the top of their field, those who have already made it.

Practice

Shed those demons of insecurity by practising your craft relentlessly. Write about anything and everything that interests you. When you start writing about things that interest you, your passions and things you love ideas, articles topics and all that goodness will come to you in floods. (Disclaimer: I can’t promise you anything though, but, I mean it should.) Practice techniques and styles you’ve read about, seen, heard about or maybe even developed yourself. Practice until it all becomes second nature. Practice until you can apply all these methods and stylistic traits together in some beautiful amalgamation of beautiful prose.

So how do you write your next best post, article, poem or whatever? You just write it!

[Image(s) from Pexels]

 

The Fast Track to Killer Confidence

All you need in life is confidence, it makes everything better! At least that’s what the internet will have you believe. But it’s something that isn’t always that easy to come by.

How is confidence defined? Dictionary.com suggests the following:

  1. full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed. 
  2. belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance;assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him.
  3. certitude; assurance: He described the situation with such confidence that the audience believed him completely.

At its core confidence is fundamentally the practice of belief, more specifically self-belief. You will grow in confidence and self-confidence if you just believe you can. If you cast out all the negatives thoughts from your mind, that little voice that whispers ‘you can’t, you can’t’ in your ear whenever you are alone or whenever you need it the least.

How do you know your lacking ever so slightly in the confidence department? You’ll just know, but what you might not be considering is that will everyone else! Both confidence and the lack there-of generate a number of behaviours that other people can read all too loud a clear.

Confident people stand tall, proud and all majestic. Their actions aren’t governed by the thoughts of others, or indeed what people may or may not think of them. Such people aren’t afraid to take risks, admit when they were wrong or change if change is needed. Finally, those insufferably confident people exuding their aura don’t chase recognition but allow their actions to speak for themselves, whilst graciously accepting compliments if they arise. As you can imagine, those who aren’t brimming with self-assurance act in pretty much the opposite way.

But fear not, there are a many ways to reach your goal of obtaining that life-changing confident glow you have always dreamt off. Here are just a few:

Fake it!

The first, fake it! Self-confidence is a fickle mistress, one day you’ll be merrily skipping down the road together hand in hand. The next, she’ll be throwing your clothes over the balcony of your 26th floor apartment hoarsely screaming at you. So fake it! Fake that swag, that smile and pretend to be the person you want to be until you are in fact that person. After all,there’s nothing wrong with faking it from time to time. (We don’t need to get into that conversation about whether women fake it or not.)

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Make a Few Little Changes

Aside from that there are a couple of little tweaks you can make to add that feel good factor to your daily life.

  1. Smile at yourself in front of a mirror every morning. I know it can feel a little strange/awkward grinning at yourself like an idiot first thing after you’ve awoken. But seriously, try it for a few days and you’ll notice the difference. With all that positive chemical goodness flowing through your veins.
  2. Tell yourself ‘you can’ or adopt some other positive mantra. Once you’ve got your happy thought (thanks Peter) hold on to it. After you’ve spent a little of your morning smiling, repeat that mantra to yourself. This can be done either out loud or in your head. But I’d recommend repeating it in your head if you live with others, they don’t need to know just how crazy you really are.
  3. Adjust your posture. It’s been said, by scientists I may add, that standing in a more confident pose will begin to make you feel more confident. Who knew? How do you stand more confidently? It’s pretty straightforward. Stand ‘powerfully’ with your feet shoulder width apart, square-off your shoulders, straighten that spin and keep your head up.

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Work Hard and Train Hard

A lot of your problems will stem from the fact you don’t think you’re good enough, you’re not competent enough. Whether that is true or not is not for me to say, but if you find yourself in that frame of mind then you need to change it ASAP. Practice, practice, practice. (I used the rule of three there so you know it’s important.) If you want to remove that feeling of inability then get good at something. Anyone in this world can do literally anything they want if they set their mind to it and forego all the quintessential excuses. You want to become a painter or a photographer? Then paint and take photographs. You want to become a world renown orator, get speaking and delivering those speeches. Want to be the best window washer you can? Clean windows! Just go do whatever it is you want to do.

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Self-Worth

Last but not least, you’ll need to go out into the big wide world and generate a little self-belief. This isn’t going to come from others (although a little encouragement never hurt anyone) it has to come from you and you alone. Only you can truly convince yourself that you’re worth it (and you are). Only you can drag yourself from the comfort of your bed every morning and face what ever the world has cooked up for you.

Self-worth isn’t determined by how much money you have, by how big or expensive your car and house are (if you have one that is). It doesn’t require you to meet crazy beauty standards imposed by your peers and the media, it doesn’t mean you have to walk, talk, act or eat certain things in certain ways. It only requires that you do you. Regardless of whether you’re the muscle bound body builder pumping iron from dusk till dawn (or the other way around) or the geeky guy sat at home ploughing hour after hour into World of Warcraft, EVE Online or League of Legends, if you love it then do it.

What will follow is the confidence you’ve always dreamt of.

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Life, One Step at a Time