Graduating and entering the workforce is an exciting time in one’s life. However, like many things that the pandemic has dampened since its emergence, entering the workforce now is challenging. According to the Malaysian Department of Statistics, 202,400 graduates were unemployed as of last year. For those seeking employment, 45.1% took 3 months or less to find a job, while 30.1% was unemployed for 3 to 6 months. Thankfully the government recognises graduates’ struggles and has rolled out many benefits to help them weather this storm. That’s great, but some do not have the luxury of waiting too long to land themselves a job when they’ve graduated. Though there is assistance provided, what other initiatives can be undertaken by ambitious young graduates to help their resume be at the top of the stack.
Social media ready.
Living in a time when digital connections matter, most of us are active users on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok or more. Social media is a great tool to keep in touch with friends and family, but do not forget professional social platforms such as Linkedin to build connections, network and grow your profile. In Malaysia, there are more than 5 million Linkedin profiles. One of which could make a big difference in your career.
Start building your Linkedin profile from your days in college or university. Use it as a source of encouragement to grow your achievements not only academically, but via active participation in clubs or societies . Be more active on a professional level by upskilling yourself with leadership workshops and more. With all your effort, you might even land yourself an internship placement in your dream company, which could lead to employment.
Prepare your cover letter.
We receive hundreds of resumes and applications for numerous job positions every month. While there are excellent resumes, completed with key elements, language checks and are well-formatted, many lack cover letters.
A cover letter should be a necessary component of any job application. It introduces you, your resume, and provides the recruiter with a quick snapshot into how you’ll make a great candidate for the job you’re applying for. Not to mention, cover letters make a first good impression and that most certainly counts for something. Here are some tips to get started on your cover letter:
- Keep it short and sweet. Remember, cover letters provide a quick snapshot of you, your background and your experiences in relation to the job. Keep the details in your resume or for your interview.
- One size does not fit all. Some details remain the same but make it a point to customise each resume according to the job you’re applying for. Understand the job description and highlight how you can make a difference.
- Use formal language. Your cover letter is an official document and needs to use both appropriate formatting and language.
We hear you. Job hunting is not as easy as we would like it to be. Furthermore, competition is in abundance. It is taking longer than expected for most. Instead of feeling down and demotivated, how about adding that little extra ‘flavour’ to your list of skills by learning a new one? It could be refining a craft that you already have, pick a hobby that could earn you some income, or stand out and improve your soft skills. Showing initiative and interest in developing oneself is an excellent reflection of one’s character. Here are some platforms to consider:
A government initiative to assist graduates or just about anyone. This site lists various opportunities for upskilling and reskilling, with initiatives by MDEC, UNITAR and more.
From storytelling to data analysis, Udemy offers a wide range of short courses. Be on the lookout because many of the popular courses are offered at a discounted price from time to time.
Skillshare offers both free and paid courses. New users will also enjoy 1-month access to Skillshare Premium, including a broader range of courses from leaders and professionals.
Courses are offered by known educational institutions such as Harvard University, Berklee College of Music, Australian National University, etc. With such prestigious names, edX definitely offers courses that you would want to be added to your resume. Short courses range from Psychology, Humanities, Arts and Culture, Physics, and so much more. Free versions of the courses give students limited access to course materials. If the course is of interest to you, enrol for the paid version to gain access to all the course materials and earn a certificate upon completion.
Don't get complacent.
Congratulations! You’re a graduate (or really close to becoming one) and now ready to enter the workforce armed with years of knowledge you’ve gained from your studies, armed with your cover letter and resume. You’ve even taken the initiative to improve your soft skills with courses. But that job offer did not come as fast as you’d hope. What now?
Don’t get complacent with all you’ve achieved. Perhaps, find a mentor that can be a long term guide to you achieving your career goals. Put your hard learnt skills to good use and learn a thing or two along the way by offering your services to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) of your choice. Bring out the inner-entrepreneur in you and start a side hustle from that hobby or interest. From candle-making, website development to e-commerce, there are many opportunities today.
Prepare to make an impression.
Becoming an interviewee requires skills of sorts. You may have an excellent resume to boot, but bad interview skills will leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. The kind that you don’t want.
While there are undoubtedly many tips you’ve learnt along the way, here are some pet peeves from the team that are often taken for granted:
- Be sure to turn up on time. Interviews are now conducted online or face-to-face, depending on the current situation with the pandemic. Do pre-interview checks, such as ensuring the distance from your house to the office so you’ll arrive with some extra time to gather your breath. If it is online, have a backup plan if your internet decides to disappoint on the interview day.
- Dress the part. You would like to land a job and be noticed for your achievements. Hence, leave that party dress or beach shirt in the closet for your next social engagement. Whether online or face-to-face, make an effort to dress appropriately.
- Background checks. No, we do not mean hiring a private investigator to do some checks on the company. But instead, do a desktop search to find out more about the company’s background, past activities and achievements. When answering questions during the interview, slip in some answers with the information you’ve gathered. This indicates your interest in the job and the extra effort you’ve taken to prepare for the interview.
These are challenging times for many, graduates included. Many businesses are challenged, hesitant and careful in making business decisions, including hiring. Some have resorted to a freeze in employment, making it all the more challenging for graduates today. However, hard work, perseverance and patience have never failed. With the right effort, we’re optimistic the right job will come along.