Job hunting can be a daunting task especially when you’re a fresh grad with no experience. You can send hundreds of applications, and still get no reply. Here are some tips to help you get noticed and stand out from the rest of your peers.
Find out who’s hiring
A great way to find out who’s hiring is by vising career fairs where you can learn about the hiring market. There are plenty of career fairs, from school-organised ones like NUS’ career fair, to industry-specific ones like IAS and Workforce Singapore-organised fairs. Some career fairs have walk-in interviews for potential candidates. If you see a job/company that interests you, speak to the people there and request for their name cards. Be proactive and send them an email displaying your interesting in joining them.
Alternatively, visit social media pages of companies you’re keen on working with and apply direct. Job portals are also a great place to scout for positions, but if you prefer a little help, you can also apply for jobs via a recruitment agency (they’re free for job seekers). Companies like Randstad and Ambition are open to fresh grads.
Next step: network. Surveys reported that 70% to 85% of all jobs are filled through referrals and networking. This is where you can form friendships instead of just connections – and people can tell if you’re being authentic. It’s these relationships that will bring you opportunities you may not see at the moment.
Prepare a good resume
Everyone knows the importance of a good resume. If you’re a fresh grad with no work experience, add a section for ‘Career Objective’ where you outline what you want to achieve with the skillset you’ve learned at school.
Include any internship experiences you’ve had, since they indicate the type of job and responsibilities you can handle (if you haven’t done any internships yet, we advise you to do one). Adding school clubs and organisations you’re part of will show how sociable you are, and how committed you can be.
Other helpful information to add include any languages or special skills you may have – foreign languages, SEO knowledge, videography skills, etc will score you some extra points.
Not all employers look at paper qualifications
There is no stigma to passing with a second-lower honours, just as there isn’t a guarantee of success if you’re a first-class upper. And unless you’re in STEM or Law, some companies don’t even look for freshies with matching qualifications. For example, the Apple Store hires non-tech people for their tech roles – their rationale is that you can teach people skills, but not good attitude.
So, when applying for jobs, you don’t need to narrow your search down to what you know – expand your horizons. And even if you don’t succeed the first time, try again, but this time expand your skillset.
Attitude is probably the most important non-technical skillset to have – and we’re not talking arrogance or overconfidence (it’s the last thing employers want). It’s the same quality you look for in a friend: someone who’s down-to-earth, dependable, and keen to learn. You can show a bit of your personality through your cover letter or email – just make sure the tone of your letter matches your personality.
Learn about what motivates you
If you’re not sure what type of career suits you (or what jobs to apply for), take a personality test. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test (like this) can help you determine if you’re a thinker or a feeler when it comes to decision making, and if you rely on facts or intuition to interpret new information. This will help you narrow your search, and you’ll avoid getting a job that only seems good on paper.
It also helps to determine what motivates you most (ie. status, salary, passion etc.). You’ll have to pick one, because chances are that you won’t get to have it all – especially in your first job. If you’re motivated by status or salary, focus on looking for a job that offers you those, but remember that your salary shouldn’t be used as a measuring stick against your classmates.
Extra skills to help you land your dream job
There are many job-seekers out there looking for the same position as you are. In order to nab that position, you have to stand out.
One way is to ensure your skill set matches the job requirement – identify the gaps and take training courses to bridge it. Employers are more likely to hire candidates who have up-to-date skills, as well as skills beyond their core competency. Do your research, and take some professional courses to pad your resume – for example, SkillsFuture courses are available at subsidised rates, or you can take online courses.
Another thing to consider is an internship (especially if you haven’t done one for your course). It’ll not only give you a real-world learning ground, it’ll also help you pad your resume for your potential future full-time employer. Sometimes, it takes an internship to help you discover what you’re really good at (or bad at). Some people actually end up getting hired at the place they intern at, so don’t scoff at an internship opportunity.
Are you also considering getting part-time jobs while job hunting? It’ll help you pay the bills, and depending on the job you can use it to pad your resume and learn new skills (ie. barista). Remember that a part-time job should be just that – it shouldn’t last so long that you forget your end goal.
You still can’t get a job after all of the above
If you’re still stuck in the career search stage, maybe you can consider getting the help of a Career Coach who can help you create an ideal resume and ace your interview. You can also ask for advice from your school’s career advisory centres – remember they’re there to help students secure jobs.