In the first part [Read :Tips before career hunting - for graduates] of this topic, 3 of 5 most common reasons given by employers about the quality of graduates entering the employment sector were briefly discussed. Includes with the explanations were tips for graduates which hopefully can be useful as a guidance. Let’s continue to further elaborate on the remaining 2 reasons; of which are to be the ‘trickiest’ among all.
Reason 4: Inability to market/sell one-self effectively
Inexperience is often seen to be a handicap for fresh graduates. It is very rare for students to get exposure or training on how to evaluate one-self and how to evaluate information regarding the employment market for a specific industry, at the university level.
It is a fact that fresh graduates are lacking in term of working experience. However, it is not fair to rate all graduates with only one unanimous standard for them. Employers, upon seeking for the right candidate to join them, are actually doing some ‘shopping’ by looking through the choices they have before making a ‘purchase decision’.
A good employee candidate is supposed to be attractive and provide value for employer’s investments. With the increasing number of competition, employers now have a variety to choose from. Looking from a perspective of choosing the right candidate, a graduate should be able to i) attract employers with knowledge and skills, ii) rate one-self based on the value of qualification and other skills, and iii) put an acceptable value or price, which is within the given industry standards.
TIPS (i): It is all about the package one could offer to the potential employer. To get a fair amount of attention, one must be able to make the ‘buyer’ to notice, pay attention, be influenced and start thinking. A good example of getting people to notice is through a good built resume. There are numerous tutorials about how to build a good resume. First impression is critical. Hence, one must be able to articulate the right amount of information, especially about the knowledge and skills one have. While trying to describe yourself, write them from the perspective of employer. For example, if there is a job opening for a sales executive where it requires skills to build a report, and you have good skills of using Microsoft Excel; elaborate further of your ability to use Ms Excel to produce type of reports. You are offering your skills to accommodate the needs of the potential employer.
TIPS (ii): Rating one-self for an employment is as equally critical as the item described above. It will show the maturity and confidence level of one-self, professionally as well as personally. When you present yourself to a potential employer, put a price to what you can offer to them. However, before assigning a financial value, one must be able to clearly rate one-self, based on the combination of qualification, knowledge and skills. Rating yourself can be tricky. However, since there is no one else knew you better than yourself, perhaps you could start by making a fair comparison of what are the strong points you have and assign a standard or level using an acceptable scale. If you know that among your fellow classmates your strongest skill is in presentation, you could add points to the basic scale. Basic scale could only be set at the lowest requirement, i.e. 2nd class degree. So, if 2 individuals with 2nd class degree are to rate themselves; Mr A is without skills, and Mr B is with skills, Mr B could add points to the scale for his skills.
TIPS (iii): Assigning a value to the package will assert additional influence to potential employer’s perspective. Similar to a normal shopping experience, if you are to choose between two same items, but both have different price, it will automatically trigger your sense of wanting to know what the differences between the two are? If you know that you have additional soft skills on top of the qualification, compared to another candidate whom only has a paper degree to offer, to grab a potential employers’ attention you can immediately give a value (i.e. expected salary amount) to yourself. Always remember to slightly overrate yourself, so it will give both you and your potential employer some space for negotiation. In addition to assigning a fair financial value to one-self, always do homework and check the industry standard’s of the salary benchmarking. For certain given sectors, employers are actually obligated to follow the standard industry practice. Even when there is a good candidate is already in front of him/her, chances are they will just have to let them go.
Reason 5: Poor understanding of job expectation (roles and responsibilities)
Aside from the knowledge, skills and qualifications of an individual, one would definitely have to start learning about understanding roles and responsibilities expected for a job offering. Even a clerical position in two different industries can be very unique in terms of function and responsibilities, although the tasks done are very much the same. Job description (JD) often includes brief details of the company and industry, as well as the expected responsibilities (tasks) for the said position. Failure to understand the roles and responsibilities of the advertised position will only make things difficult for an individual to write a good resume and to be presentable during interviews.
TIPS: Know the function well by doing some homework about common tasks or deliverables of the expected job. Look at the company objectives and try to translate them into the job function. For example, if the job description for an advertised Site Engineer stated that supervising a construction is required; understand clearly the supervisory function and responsibilities. This information is then to be used as a reference or serve as a guidance to further understand the expected tasks, e.g. to be based on outside office, to manage a group of team, to act on behalf of company to make an immediate decision, etc. All these information should be relayed during interview in the sense where your proposition includes the ability to deliver the expected tasks. One can confidently say during the interview for the supervision function, one can utilize the basic management skills he/she has.
Hopefully this entry is useful for reference and guidance for all, especially graduates who are still struggling to understand the ‘tough’ competition of finding the right job with the right knowledge and skills.