toh chun ho

In Loving Memory of Toh Chun Ho, 1955 to 2017

Every man’s story is different, and this is a story about a boy from Muar who started with a simple life and went on the have an adventure of a lifetime. He was the son of a taxi driver, and spent most of his childhood collecting stamps and reading books. He loved reading stories of big adventures and beautiful journeys. But the boy from Muar wouldn’t have guessed that he would have quite the story of his own.

He landed himself a scholarship to go to Kuala Lumpur to do his degree in Universiti Malaya, and in Kuala Lumpur, he met a girl from Ipoh. They fell in love, got married and started a family with two boys.

He loved his wife, and did everything he could for her, always patient and trying his best to be a good husband. He tried so hard to be a good father to his sons and did what he could to be close to them. His elder son became an Arsenal fan, and suddenly, he was an Arsenal fan. The younger son got into tennis at school, and until today, he has become a big tennis fan too.

When asked what was his advice for raising kids, he would say “I’ll bring them to the playground. Because every child only has a few years when they are truly care-free. Don’t take their childhood away”.

He lived his life giving to his family and taking very little for himself. Because he wanted them to be happy, and to live a better life than perhaps he ever could.

But six years ago, he had a heart attack, and that reminded him of his mortality. So he decided that he should try to see the world more. Together with his wife, they’ve walked the streets of New York, London and Paris. They experienced the snow storms in Japan, bathed in the sun in Maldives, cruised through the seas of Russia. They swam around the islands of Phuket, rode bicycles in Perth and hustled in the night markets of Taipei.

He was happy. In the past few years, not only has he seen the world, he’s watched his sons mature and was very proud of them. The younger son was doing well in his job in Paris, and his elder son had started a business that was getting popular. Whenever he spoke about his family, he spoke with pride.

Sometimes he would remind himself how much time had passed since he had the heart attack, because it always felt like he was on rented time. He knew he would have missed all of this had that heart attack claimed him six years ago.

Then on 28th May 2017, life brings you back full circle. While sitting on his sofa at home, watching his elder son’s favourite team Arsenal win the FA Cup, his story came to an end. As he sat there, he passed away peacefully alone.

What an adventure. An adventure that a simple boy from Muar, sitting there collecting stamps and reading his favourite book, would not have thought he would have. It was a beautiful journey that deserves to be celebrated.

Thank you for everything you have given to us. We always thought that one day we would have the chance to take care of you the way you took care of us, but you probably wanted us to remember you at your best.

We love you papa, with all our hearts.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

Marcus Aurelius

derek toh politics at work

How to write job descriptions on job portals to attract talent

There’s a bit of confusion about how job descriptions should be written when you are advertising your jobs.

Most employers believe that in order to avoid an irrelevant candidate applying to their jobs, a job description should be an extensive document that captures ALL the roles and responsibilities of the job, along with a detailed list of every experience that the candidate should have before applying.

So if a candidate is irrelevant to the job, they will spend time reading this lengthy, detailed job description, realise they are not suitable, and then decide not the apply. And the candidate that fits the job will read the description and think “this is the perfect job for me!”, and apply to the job. Pretty sound logic right?

Not really.

Lengthy, overly-extensive job descriptions do not prevent a spammer from applying to your jobs (because they don’t really read the job descriptions anyway!), and in fact, causes a potentially good candidate to not apply to your job because of one of the following reasons:

  • The job description was just focused on the job, and didn’t really answer their question “Why should I apply for this job”
  • The job descriptions describes the “perfect” candidate, and a jobseeker spotted something a responsibility that they may not be experienced in doing. It may be only a small part of the job.

This idea leads to many poor decisions on how the job description should be written employers advertise their jobs. It’s the reason why many job advertisements are written badly, and fail to attract the right candidate to apply to their jobs.

It’s an advertisement to help you attract the right candidate to apply to your job. Therefore, stop thinking about this as a job description and start thinking about this as a job “advertisement”.

That’s it. It’s not a contract of responsibilities, you can sign that later when you actually hire the candidate. But when you first post that job vacancy, you need to be SELLING to the candidate, not keeping them out. Don’t think putting a long list of requirements is going to keep the bad candidates out, because the bad candidates probably don’t read your descriptions anyway, so you will get their CV regardless.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines that will have you craft an effective job description:

1) Keep it short

If you can’t capture what the role is about in three or four bullet points, you may not fully understand the job, in which case the candidate isn’t going to either. Less is more. Split it up into clearly identifiable sections, as a suggestion:

– Who we are (maximum 3 sentences, with information on what your business is about , the location and who they will be working with)

– Key responsibilities (maximum 5 bullet points, ideally 4)

– Requirements (maximum 5 bullet points, ideally 4)

2) Write from the jobseekers’ point of view

When describing the job, communicate from a jobseekers’ point of view, focusing on what they will find interesting. For example, if you are hiring an accountant, stating “you will be working closely with and learning from our company’s leaders to achieve our financial goals”, sounds much more interesting than “to submit the annual report by the required deadline, and to demonstrate good stakeholder management skills”.

3) Use simple language

Unless absolutely necessary, you should use simple language to describe what the role is about. Using big words only make the writer feel smart, and in most cases, does not actually help you filter out poor candidates anyway (remember: spammers don’t read job descriptions, you will only end up keeping a good person out). Your goal is to attract as many good applications as possible, even if they are not the perfect fit. So why scare applicants away with complicated language?

4) Inject some personality about your company

Write in a way that showcases who you are as a company. Don’t be boring. Tell a short story about your company and its’ vision, it’s people, or maybe just write the job description in a style that reflects the personality of your company.

I once saw a job description for a sales role that read “Your goal is to make money for the company so we can pay everyone and don’t have to eat maggi goreng everyday”. You could tell immediately that this company has a sense of humour, and may make a connection straight away.

Stuck? Here’s a simple trick

The key thing is stop thinking about a job description which you are posting on a job portal, as a contract of responsibilities. Instead, start thinking of it as a job “advertisement” i.e. you are using this to attract as many good applications as you can (don’t get distracted by the spammers, tell will apply to you job whichever way you write your job description).

If you are stuck in terms of how you would write a job description, try this. Ask the hiring manager “Why would a high quality candidate, that is already be employed elsewhere, be interested in this job?”. Be honest, and once you can answer this question, you can craft your job posting message around the answer.