Graduates must rise to the challenge

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 May, 2009, 12:00am

Companies are implementing drastic cost-cutting measures to conserve resources during the economic crisis, so graduates and those with limited work experience will face a bigger challenge finding employment this year.

A difficult economic climate means permanent positions are scarce in the job market and young people need to be more resourceful and proactive in finding work opportunities to gain experience.

Graduates must invest time and effort to develop strategies to build and expand a career network.

Other than subscribing to services at the career centres at university or college to help find placements, career networks can be expanded by connecting with professional associations.

Many disciplines such as accounting, engineering and banking have established associations for their members. Take advantage of the resources available at these associations. Attend their activities and events such as seminars and workshops where you are likely to meet representatives of different organisations and senior management of participating companies in the industry.

Take the opportunity to arouse their interest in you and get their contact details for follow-up.

Consider contract or part-time employment in the field or profession you are interested in if permanent work is not available. This will give you the opportunity to develop your professional knowledge and broaden your interpersonal skills and understanding of how business is conducted in the corporate world. This will also enrich your r?sum? and give you greater career choice.

Alternatively, consider volunteering in a company related to your field of study or in an area you may want to pursue in your career. Take the initiative to contact the organisations, state your objective in the communication and demonstrate sincerity and a positive attitude when approached.

A reumedemonstrating your volunteer or part-time work experience is essential to giving you a competitive edge and maximising your chances of securing permanent work. You can rely on the people who you have worked with to attest to your abilities and skills and to be your referees while you are job-seeking.

Preparation is vital in maximising the chance of success at an interview. Spend time reviewing the job advertisement and think about the qualities and requirements the company is looking for. It helps to research the organisation, including its corporate values, products, services and latest developments.

Make sure you arrive at the company at least 10 minutes ahead of the interview time. This will give you some time to ease into the mood and make some observations about the company. A lot can be read based on the d?cor and various awards and displays in an office waiting area.

Try to predict possible questions that may come up during the interview and devise appropriate answers. Invite your family members, friends and teachers to comment on your answers and role-play the interview with them to hone your interview skills. Also check the latest salary index to know your worth so that you can prepare for salary negotiations.

Most of an interview will focus on you and will cover your academic achievements, knowledge, skills, previous work experience and career goals. Make sure you have a good understanding of your strengths, accomplishments and shortcomings. Show your confidence and ability to get your message across during the interview. As a sign of respect to the interviewer, dress appropriate to the level of job you are aiming for and wear conservative office attire as a general rule.

Pay attention to social etiquette such as a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and a sincere smile.

Always maintain a modest tone and a confident smile, keep your information concise and relevant, and answer the questions as truthfully as possible. Look for cues in the interviewer's questions where you can demonstrate your strengths, achievements and knowledge about the company and the industry.

Do not be afraid to turn questions to your advantage and sell yourself for the position.

At the end of the interview ask the interviewer what the next stage will be and when you can expect to hear from them, or even whether it would be better if you contacted them to follow up.

Part with a firm handshake, get the interviewer's e-mail contact and send out a written thank you message within 24 hours of the interview.

By observing these simple rules, you stand a much better chance of landing the job you want.

Bernard Wan is assistant editor of Classified Post