Desiree Kaur

Freelance Writer & Business owner
Last Updated: October 9, 2017
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Career Development

            Most of us like to think of ourselves as citizens of the world, living in a borderless world where our place of residence is split between various social media outlets; Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and the likes. To some, it results in social media turning into their daily journal or diary, an avenue for show-and-tell of everything and anything about their lives. Yes, everyone has a right to say and do as they please, but there is also a risk that someday it may affect your career. In this day and age, what you say and do on social media may affect your employability.

            According to a survey by CareerBuilder, an American human capital solution company, over 70% of employers, go through candidates’ social media pages to screen them prior to hiring. Social recruiting is not uncommon either. This is when employers hire someone dedicated to research job applicants online. With no holds barred on the world wide web, searches on candidates are not merely limited to social media platforms but also include search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing and the likes. Therefore, one’s online image is crucial as in some cases, it is the first impression given to a prospective employer.

Everyone wants to be taken seriously when being considered for a job. There is cause and effect for every one of our actions in the social media world. Hence, take note of the following that employers look out for when screening potential candidates:

  • Postings related to consuming drugs or alcohol.
  • Anything that constitutes poor communications skills.
  • Unprofessional or inappropriate screen names.
  • Inappropriate videos, information or photographs.
  • Postings with negative comments on previous employers or fellow colleagues.
  • Discriminatory or inappropriate comments on religion, gender or race.
  • Criminal activity.
  • Sharing of confidential information from previous employers.
  • Lying about qualifications or work experience.
  • Intentional absence from work or college / university classes.
  • Posting too frequently.  

While there are many don’t’s for an online persona, do not be demotivated by it. A negative image online leads to less likelihood of being employed, however, the other extreme of having no online presence at all, is a deterrent too. Being a ‘ghost’ online is detrimental to your employability criteria. Employers are less likely to even interview a candidate who has no online presence whatsoever. So, instead of deleting all of your online profiles or hiding them, here are some ways you could use social media to your advantage and boost your profile:

  • Firstly, do you have an online persona? Consider carefully the platforms you are on and the type of information you post.
  • Use social media as an avenue to showcase a positive image of yourself.
  • Showcase your creative side. If you have other non-academic skills, showcase them. Employers also look for well-rounded employees.
  • Complete all of your social media profiles. This is where you can include all academic and professional qualifications and any other supporting information to strengthen your profile.
  • Consistency of information across all platforms is crucial. It must also match details within your resume.
  • Include links to work samples or projects you have done or been involved in.
  • Use LinkedIn recommendations and testimonials to your advantage. Encourage former lecturers, professors or managers to provide feedback on your strengths. What other says about you, are a direct reflection of your personality and professionalism.
  • Add your social media links to your email signature. This way, prospective employers can find you online easily and it also tells them, that you take pride in your online persona.
  • Be engaging on stimulating topics. While there are some pit falls and areas to stay away from when commenting on social media, it is also good to show that you have an opinion. For example, showcasing that you take a stand on animal cruelty or domestic abuse indicates your ability to make a stand and support social issues.
  • Be sincere in your postings. While there is pressure to have a positive online persona, it should not come across as insincere, fake or forced.

The job markets is extremely competitive these days, hence there is always the extra pressure of standing out and being unique in comparison to fellow job seekers. So, exercise caution in “trying too hard” as well. Spruce up your online persona’s and make it relevant to who you are and want to be as a professional. While it is important to keep the prospective employer in mind, be cautious that every individual is different and each employer will have its own set of criteria, likes and dislikes. There is no “one size fits all”.  Harvey Mackay, renowned businessman, author and career columnists once said, “You'll never please everyone, but you only have to please a few people to get an offer."

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Supply chains are currently in crisis. They have been for a long time now, ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic reshaped the way the world works. Stressed shipping networks and operational blockages – coupled with China’s insistence on a Covid-zero policy – means that cargo tanker rates are at an all-time high and that there just aren’t enough of them. McDonalds and KFCs in Asia are running out of French fries to sell, not because there aren’t enough potatoes in Idaho, but because there aren’t enough ships to deliver them to Japan or to Singapore from Los Angeles. The war in Ukraine has placed a particular emphasis on food supply chains by disrupting global wheat and sunflower oil supply chains and kicking off distressingly high levels of food price inflation across North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It was against this backdrop that Indonesia announced a complete ban on palm oil exports. That nuclear option shocked the markets, set off a potential new supply chain crisis and has particular implications on future of crude oil pricing and biofuels in Asia.  

A brief recap. Like most of Asia, Indonesia has been grappling with food price inflation as consequence of Covid-19. Like most of Asia, Indonesia has been attempting to control this through a combination of shielding its most vulnerable citizens through continued subsidies while attempting to optimise supply chains. Like most of Asia, Indonesia hasn’t been to control the market at all, because uncoordinated attempts across a wide spectrum of countries to achieve a similar level of individual protectionism is self-defeating.

Cooking oil is a major product of sensitive importance in Indonesia, and one that it is self-sufficient in as a result of its status as the world’s largest palm oil producer. So large is Indonesia in that regard that its excess palm oil production has been directed to increasingly higher biodiesel mandates, with a B40 mandate – diesel containing 40% of palm material – originally schedule for full implementation this year. But as palm oil prices started rising to all-time highs at the beginning of January, cooking oil started becoming scarcer in Indonesia. The government blamed hoarding and – wary of the Ramadan period and domestic unrest – implemented a Domestic Market Obligation on palm oil refineries, directing them to devote 20% of projected exports for domestic use. Increasingly stricter terms for the DMO continued over February and March, only for an abrupt U-turn in mid-March that removed the DMO completely. But as the war in Ukraine drove prices even further, Indonesia shocked the market by announcing an total ban on palm oil exports in late April. Chaotically, the ban was first clarified to be palm olein only (straight refining cooking oil), but then flip-flopped into a total ban of crude palm oil as well. Markets went haywire, prices jumped to historical highs and Indonesia’s trading partners reacted with alarm.

Joko Widodo has said that the ban will be indefinite until domestic cooking oil prices ‘moderate’. With the global situation as it is, ‘moderate’ is unlikely to be achieved until the end of 2022 at least, if ‘moderate’ is taken to be the previous level of palm oil prices – roughly half of current pricing. Logistically, Indonesia cannot hold out on the ban for more than two months. Only a third of Indonesia’s monthly palm oil production is consumed domestically; the rest is exported. An indefinite ban means that not only fill storage tanks up beyond capacity and estates forced to let fruit rot, but Indonesia will be missing out on crucial revenue from its crude palm oil export tax. Which is used to fund its biodiesel subsidies.

And that’s where the implications on oil come in. Indonesia’s ham-fisted attempt at protectionism has dire implications on biofuels policies in Asia. Palm oil prices within Indonesia might sink as long as surplus volumes can’t make it beyond the borders, but international palm oil prices will remain high as consuming countries pivot to producers like Malaysia, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, West Africa and Latin America. That in turn, threatens the biodiesel mandates in Thailand and Malaysia. The Thai government has already expressed concern over palm-led food price inflation and associated pressure on its (subsidised) biodiesel programme, launching efforts to mitigate the worst effects. Malaysia – which has a more direct approach to subsidised fuels – is also feeling the pinch. Thailand’s move to B10 and Malaysia’s move to B20 is now in jeopardy; in fact, Thailand has regressed its national mandate from B7 to B5. And the reason is that the differential between the bio- and the diesel portion of the biodiesel is now so disparate that subsidy regimes break down. It would be far cheaper – for the government, the tax-payers and consumers – to use straight diesel instead of biodiesel, as evidenced by Thailand’s reversal in mandates.

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Part of this situation is due to market dynamics. Part of it is due to geopolitical effects. But part of it is also due to Indonesia’s knee-jerk reaction. Supply disruption at the level of a blanket ban is always seismic and kicks off a chain of unintended consequences; see the OPEC oil shocks of the 70s. Indonesia’s palm oil export ban is almost at that level. ‘Indefinite’ is a vague term and offers no consolation to markets looking for direction. Damage will be done, even if the ban lasts a month. But the longer it lasts – Indonesian general elections are due in February 2024 – the more serious the consequences could be. And the more the oil and refining industry in Asia will have to think about their preconceived notions of the future of oil in the region.

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Market Outlook:

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