THE job market is now very competitive and demands are constantly changing. Therefore, talent expectations have also evolved with the disruptive and uncertain economic climate in which we find ourselves, say employability and human resources specialists.
Young job seekers and recent graduates who have just graduated from two years of e-learning can navigate the hiring process to find a job by being nimble and continually looking for ways to improve, says Awatif. Ghapar, a human resources professional specializing in early career development at international professional services company PwC Malaysia.
“It starts with good personal branding – from activities during college days to graduation. How does your profile present you as an individual? Does he have the skills and criteria that employers are looking for? Says Awatif, who is a member of the founding team of One Step Closer, a social enterprise supporting employability.
“If you are an engineering student or graduate, are there any extracurricular activities such as competitions, final year project achievements, internships, special projects, etc.? who can help your career? ” she says.
An equally important step is to create and maintain networked relationships. Highlighting a common mistake, Awatif explains that networking isn’t just about adding prominent personalities to your LinkedIn connections.
“Keep in touch with your lecturers, university career centers, your peers, etc. Start conversations online, interact with them and stay in touch. It’s even better if you can make a good impression. You could share positive and constructive thoughts about the work they do or seek advice or mentorship, ”she explains.
Those who are still looking for a job can continue to improve their skills by learning a new language, acquiring digital skills or working part-time.
“It shows that you want to learn and develop continuously, no matter what your situation. It also reflects your resilience and your personal motivation,” Awatif explains.
Capitalize on online skills
Although many new graduates have been forced to switch to online learning and may not have had as many opportunities to hone certain skills that require face-to-face interaction, ‘classic’ skills like communication , self-leadership, problem solving, and even Microsoft Office are still very relevant, Awatif says.
“It’s just as important for new graduates to know how to communicate online; this includes basic etiquette for email correspondence, social media interactions, online interviews and managing different stakeholders in a virtual setting. There is less body language to use as a cue, so new graduates must learn to communicate virtually effectively, ”she says.
Presentation skills are also essential and go beyond software like Microsoft PowerPoint. There are many tools and platforms that can be used to present information, Awatif explains, the most common being Google Apps, Power BI, Powtoon, and Canva.
“For some roles, managing social media, creating content, and designing visually appealing posts on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. can also be essential, in addition to the ability to analyze data to better reach different audience groups, ”she says.
Other essential digital skills that are valuable include data analysis, software development, data science, creative digital writing, e-commerce, and statistics.
“Business decisions are often made using data trends. Interpreting and presenting data are therefore very valuable skills. The digital approach to engaging consumers has pushed demands for creativity to align with digital skills, ”she says.
She adds that job seekers can maximize their opportunities by visiting multiple job portals, submitting resumes and job applications for review, networking with seniors or mentors in their chosen fields, and participating in virtual career fairs and recruiting events.
There are many online resources – government and private sector initiatives – such as MYFutureJobs, HRD Corp, TalentCorp, Coursera, Acumen Academy, Google and so on that offer free or subsidized courses for development, Awatif explains.
One factor that is often overlooked is a person’s presence on social media. Many recruiters consult candidates’ personal pages on social media to filter candidates. So it’s important that what you post online reflects how you would like to be viewed by potential employers.
Job seekers looking for employability assistance can visit One Step Closer at onestepclosermy.carrd.co for free resources and career advice.
Guarantee a job early
Despite changing environments, having a good CV is still a necessary requirement for job seekers, says Dr Norazharuddin Shah Abdullah, former director of the Center for Alumni, Careers and Employability of Graduates of the Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Right now, many applicants are submitting one-size-fits-all generic resumes when there is a real need to create tailor-made resumes for each application, says Norazharuddin, who has an engineering background.
As digital skills have become more important and the necessary basic computer skills base has grown significantly, these skills alone are not enough.
“The bigger question is how to integrate, manage your own IT capacity and be relevant or even ahead of the scope of work,” he says.
Now skills with certification have become the item of choice with more courses available online. This is also the case with online activities, says Norazharuddin, noting how much demanded influencers, media developers, and digital sales and services skills are.
“The most important thing for new graduates to do now is plan for an appropriate end phase – short, medium and long term goals. They need to be flexible enough to ensure relevance in order to stay ahead of their peers and be noticed by the stakeholders they want to engage with, ”he says.
“One of the possibilities for getting a job is industrial training. University courses for new graduates may require an industrial attachment as part of graduation, and this training or industrial attachment may be the first step towards employment, ”says Norazharuddin.
New graduates should also consider the government’s initiative for the employability of graduates for various industries. Such programs require industrial collaborators to provide training and up to six months of internship, and can be a stepping stone to full-time employment.
Universities also have an important role to play as a bridge between students and industries, says Norazharuddin.
“The program needs to change and be flexible enough to keep up with market demands. If universities fail to sell themselves, the burden will fall on the students. Universities need to do much more, ”says Norazharuddin, stressing that it is vital that universities have employment centers and industrial collaborations.