For fresh graduates, landing your first ever job can be stressful and time-consuming because most of us have not acquired expertise in the job-hunting area. We also don’t keep tabs on available jobs.
Having an industry expert to give us advice for job searching would be most helpful, for an insight from job applications to interviews to actually landing your very first job.
Who better to ask advice from than Derek Toh, the founder and CEO of WOBB, an online platform for job seekers to find their job of choice and ideal working culture! So, if you’re searching for a job, keep your eyes open and take note.
First off, the preparation phase is crucial. From putting together your CV, applying to different companies and waiting on that reply, the more informed you are about the do’s and don’t(s), the better it is.
The Job Hunting Phase
1. Let’s start with the basics. Landing an interview is the first phase, but what criteria do employers focus on when considering an applicant?
Derek: CV writing is a big topic in itself, but if I needed to narrow this down quickly, I would advice jobseekers to keep their CV to one professional designed page.
Clearly highlight what makes you a good candidate, and be ruthless about removing details that are not the most important in your CV.
The reason this is important is that employers don’t spend a lot of time reading CVs, so the simpler and clearer your CV is, the higher the chances of them spotting something they like about you, and not get distracted by less important information. You still have an opportunity to showcase all your skills and experience during the interview.
2. Instead of a Cover Letter where you state why you want to work at the said company, would a Pain Letter be better? You can mention the skills you’ve gained, the problems you’ve solved and recognition you’ve got from your experiences.
Derek: Yes, it’s great to showcase your skills that are relevant to the company, rather than WHY you want to work there. After all, your reasons for wanting to work there are more about you, and less about why the company would want to hire you.
You should ensure that it’s personalised to the employer you are writing to. Focus a bit less about yourself, and more about the company and how you can contribute.
3. Some jobs are not posted online. Will it help for fresh graduates to call the companies they’re applying to? Also, why is it that some companies do not post their available vacancies online?
Derek: It shows initiative if you make an effort to call the company that you applied to, and it helps you stand out as well.
Admittedly the impact might be a bit less if you are calling a large company, because the person answering your call may not relay this to the person looking at your CV, but if you really want a job in a particular company, it’s always great to show effort.
Some companies don’t post their vacancies online because they have different methods of getting talent; perhaps their own employees are referring candidates to them, or their brand is so strong that candidates automatically write in to them even if they don’t see an advertisement.
However, often it may just be that they haven’t had the time or resource to post it online. If you proactively approach them, you may uncover a vacancy you didn’t know existed!
The Interview Phase
1. First impressions are everything. Dressing professionally, body language, arriving on time and being prepared is just the tip of the iceberg. How should fresh graduates conduct themselves for their first interview?
Derek: Research the company and the role you are applying for thoroughly. There have been many occasions where I’m so excited about the skill of a candidate, then to realise that they didn’t bother doing any research about us. That’s immediate rejection for most employers.
You can then show the company that you’ve done your research through the conversation you have with them, and also through the questions you ask them.
2. Asking your potential boss about your salary may be quite sensitive. In your opinion, how should he or she go about asking?
Derek: You should never ask what the salary of the role is. I know salary is important, but once you ask this question when the employer has not made up their mind about whether to hire you, you’ve left an impression that it’s less about the role and company, but more about money.
You should never be the person to bring this up—wait for the employer to do so instead.
If you feel you need to know the answer to not waste your time, I would imagine that the job and company are not that exciting for you anyway.
3. When it comes to social media, it is said that employers assess their potential candidates based on their profiles. What is your opinion regarding this assessment?
Derek: It’s important to note that social media profiles are all public. And a jobseeker should expect that some employers will review this, therefore if it’s an issue for you, don’t post anything you don’t want an employer to see.
I personally do not do this because I believe how someone wants to live their personal life should not impact their professional work. I mean, what would you expect to see on someone’s social media profile? Photos of them reading and doing work?
Of course, you’ll see parties and the occasional silly things. Having said that, anything that’s posted online pretty much stays there forever, so be conscious of what you post. As an example, if you complain a lot on social media, an employer would assume that you like complaining, and that is likely to also be a fair assessment.
First Job Phase
Great! So, they have finally secured a place in their company of choice. But as with every new phase, there are new obstacles to face. One of the things that new employees worry about is the office culture.
1. You are still new to the company. So, you want to give a good impression. But what do you do if your boss asks you to do more than is required in your job description?
Derek: As an employer myself, I would say that when bosses make a decision to bring you on board, it’s like bringing on a member of the family, and they would hope that you will do what’s important to make the family work.
Often this includes work that may be outside your job description. This is where it gets a bit challenging because you’ll have to make a judgement call about whether your boss genuinely needs help, or if they are taking advantage of you.
Sometimes it comes down to your assessment of the character of your boss. Are they demanding because they have high expectations and standards of work, or are they asking for more just to take advantage of you? If you see this as an issue, whether because you feel it’s unfair or from a contractual perspective, you can and should bring this up with your boss. You could describe your point of view to them.
But you’ll have to realise that if your boss asks you to go beyond your scope of work because they genuinely need help, and not due to bad intentions.
Once you start treating this as a transaction of services between you and your employer, they will also start treating you in the same way. You’ll have to decide if you are comfortable with this. It will be challenging to want the trust and relationship with your boss to go beyond a transaction if it doesn’t work both ways.
There you go, words from an expert in this industry. However, words will only bring you so far. Ultimately, it all boils down to your very own effort. Good luck!
This article was written by Alia with the title “Advice for Fresh Grads Seeking Jobs – Derek Toh, Founder of WOBB” and was first published on Wobb, a job application platform for millennials who value the importance of good working culture.
Feature Image Credit: WOBB