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“When And How Should I Resign?” And Other Career Questions You Wanted To Ask, Answered By Career Coach Malou Treñas Del Castillo

Malou Treñas del Castillo has been in the corporate setting for so long, effectively climbing up the ladder to success, year on year, company after company. Until one day, she realized, “Why continue in this high-pressure setting when I can use all the knowledge I have amassed in my career and use this to help other people get to where they want to be?”

It took her a life-altering experience and a eureka moment to finally find her calling, and now she is a career coach, licensed psychologist, workshop facilitator, and speaker.



READ: Malou Treñas Del Castillo Almost Lost Her Speech To Brain Surgery—Now, She Speaks For A Living


Metro.Style sits down with the career coach and asks her some of the burning questions we have about our careers.


When attending a job interview, what are some of the most common interview questions and how should you answer them?

Tell me about yourself. Focus on areas you are good at and enjoy, and prioritize what you think this particular employer may value. Hint at your track record of success and use your personal branding statement.

What are your strengths? Choose strengths that you know are needed for the role you are applying for. And always be ready with an example of how your strengths have helped your former employer. This shows that you are not simply identifying skills that they may deem attractive, but that you have actually used these strengths on the job.

What are your weaknesses? Interviewers know that you do have a weakness, and they want to know if your weakness will be detrimental to the job. An effective way to answers this is identifying a real weakness, but make sure it’s not in the area and skillset necessary for the job you are applying for. Make sure to follow through with what you are doing to improve yourself.

What is your expected salary and how much are you earning now? If possible, postpone this discussion to the final stages of interview, when the employer has shown a real interest in hiring you. Let them first realize how good you are. For you, learn first about the scope and responsibility of the job and the benefits before naming your price. Many people think that they should pad their current salary to get an even higher offer for the next job, but I highly discourage this as many employers will ask you to submit a payslip or ITR (Income Tax Return). I suggest that you answer the salary question by giving an annual range of what you currently earn, and say you prefer to keep the exact information confidential. This gives you more room to play around an expected offer.

Do you have questions for us? Start with questions about the company and its plans, and ask about scope of the role and its place in the organizational chart. Ask about how the performance of this role will be evaluated. Ask if you can follow up in a few weeks' time about the status of your interview so you have a better idea of when you might hear from them.


Why do I feel unsettled in my job when I think I am in the right industry, doing the thing that I’ve always wanted to do?

There are certain skills that we’re good at and we love doing it. And there are certain skills that we’re good at it but we don’t enjoy doing it, but we end up doing so much of it because people are so used to delegating that to you. And you keep doing it because money pays. There’s an exercise for that to figure out which skills you are both good at and like to do. And most of your time should be spent doing that. That puts you in the zone where you feel fulfilled, and could say, “I am doing well.”

Sometimes we can also feel a little restless when there’s a dissonance in values between you and your employer or the workplace. Values can be moral values or other values like, for example, you want to be creative, but you’re in a job that you feel you are stifled and can’t move. You like to feel a sense of stability and security but you don’t have a full-time job. You like having friends in the workplace that you can talk to but there’s no team. There’s a whole series of values and the key is knowing what those are and seeing if those are present in your workplace.

When I get a little overwhelmed or a little down, I ask myself, “What’s the lesson here? What are you supposed to learn from this and how is this gonna help you grow?”


I feel like I want to shift careers but I'm scared. Do you know someone who has successfully shift careers and what did they do?

I had one client, he was in his 20s and has been working in HR since graduation. He lost his job and when he started seeing me, it was basically to fix his resume and prepare for interviews. But in the process, I noticed that he was so demotivated to get back to work. So I asked him why he’s doing HR, and he said, “Because my dad does that. So I do it because I want to have money and do the stuff that I enjoy.” That made me ask him, “What do you enjoy?” He says, “Sports.”

He plays for the village basketball association, he plays golf. So I asked him, “What do you like about sports?” He said that he liked organizing events for his village, he likes marketing it so people will engage in it, and he likes participating in it. So we did some career tests, and ang lumabas talaga is sports-related marketing and events. So I asked him if he wanted to take a shot at that.

The long and the short is we identified that he could do sports on the marketing side. So we fixed his resume and brought out all his experiences related to marketing and events.

The best way to find a job is through your network. That opens the doors to opportunities. He got his first job as assistant event manager. It was the lowest of lows, but he was there in the field! He got in! And because he was already there in that arena, he networked some more, he started to make events on his own, and eventually, he was hired as the product manager for one of the biggest sports retailers in the Philippines.

When I coach, what I do is I help identify your objective, what you want to get to. And then we look at what the options are, because there are always options.


Why does it feel like my friends are always doing so much better than me?

A lot of people are pressured by what they see on social media. But I always remind people, “What you see on social media, that’s edited na.”

With what I post on social media…before I get the right picture of myself in my office, I have to take like 10 shots. I have a friend who reached out to me lately and said, “Wow you’re so successful.” But I toil, I’m working non-stop, I’m exhausted, I have bills, sometimes hand to mouth. But for me, on my social media, I post what I think will inspire people to continue working harder, to look for their purpose, and to make them aware that there is somebody who can help them. I’m not going to post some ugly picture of me!

So don’t be so affected by what’s going on in other people’s lives. Get to know what’s going on in your life and what’s important to you, identify what you want to do, what your passion is, and work towards that. It’s not a competition. The competition is with yourself. Everyone has something amazing in themselves, inside there. And my goal is to make you aware of what that thing is, and given that thing, what do you want to do to use it?


Is it the time to resign?

What are the things that you want and what are the things you enjoy doing? What are the most important values? When someone doesn’t take the time to figure that out, when something seems attractive in the other plate, they immediately go. But that shouldn’t be the case. Figure out your top 10 values first, rank it, before you jump from the frying pan into the fire. So you know when you should move or not. It’s also typical for people to make tiis for the money. But it’s important to figure things out first so you don’t make a mistake when you transfer.

It’s okay to be selective. But be clear on your selection criteria, hindi ’yung transfer ka lang nang transfer. There is no perfect employer. Some of your values will be aligned with your employer, some values will be incongruent. It’s best if you can have a good majority of your values aligned with your current employer to feel satisfied. But if a job has ceased to provide you with this sense of accomplishment, perhaps it’s time to look for growth elsewhere.


When is the right time to exit?

Studies show that it can take around 4 to 5 months for a job search to succeed for mid-level employees. For senior managers, it can take up to 6 or 8 months. Create a cash flow plan for the next six months for your potential source of income, to cover your expense before your resign. This will reassure yourself that the decision to quit won’t leave you vulnerable and financially unstable.

And leave only after you have achieved some degree of success. Therefore, if future employers should question what you were able to do in the job, you can confidently speak of real accomplishments.


What is a career coach? How does career coaching work and do I need one?

A career coach helps a person find out what he can do best, and how he can find the best fitting job where he will be happy, flourish, and find financial rewards. 

The first career advice I give is for you to really find out that thing that you are good at, or you have the inclination to do, or that you love. It can be a list of tasks or it can be an arena of life that you totally enjoy. From there, we can try to find the right environment for you to practice what you love. It can happen that you love doing this thing but this environment where you are working in is not bringing out the best in you so it’s not motivating for you.

A career coach also helps people figure out the values that move them. What are the things that motivate you? Those have to be in the environment that you go into, otherwise you may be demotivated, you may not succeed, you may not flourish.  Sometimes, we may feel like we are working in the top companies in our field, but somehow we are not happy.  We then feel unsatisfied, ungrateful, or confused. I help individuals discern, what is that thing that makes you happy anyway?  It’s different for every person, and it’s important you find out what are your unique motivators so you can seek a job that gives you that.

After we figure that out, we talk about how to go after this job.

Career coaching is for anyone at any point in their lives, from students starting to choose their course to retirees who want to know where they could go and what could they do after.


Malou answers more career-related questions and talks about the whole shenanigan about getting the job of your dreams on her recently published book titled, The Career Roadmap: Your Personal Guide to Corporate Career Success.