How can job seekers increase their game in this hyper-competitive market?

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

About 4.6% Malaysians are still unemployed as of August 2021. There are some who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and those who chose to resign due to the lack of manpower and increased pressure on the job. With the great resignation, many are actively seeking a new role - creating a competitive job market across industries where everyone is hyper-focused on growth and up-skilling (and these are not wrong!). Not only talents, but employers are also struggling to find a balance juggling this "new normal" in the workplace. So how can you upskill yourself in order to stand out to your future employers?


Uncertain candidates, uncertain employers, and both in a competitive job market is there even a silver lining in this situation? And the answer is, yes! Let’s talk about how we can help you to stand out and the next steps in your career.


Adjustment to Industry Standard

According to Awatif Ghapar, an HR Practitioner in PwC Malaysia, young jobseekers and fresh graduates who have just completed two years of online learning can navigate the hiring process to secure employment by being agile and constantly seeking ways to improve themselves. With the increased shift to remote or hybrid work environments, job seekers must utilize the time they have at hand to adapt to this work model. Some great practice grounds would be online courses and networking events. This would expand the horizon and perspectives through engaging with different individuals across industries.


Personal Branding

Personal branding is another important, yet often overlooked element. And you guessed it! Pretty straightforward, keep a good profile in their resume and any online public presence. Traditionally, appearing good in a resume would be good enough. For instance, this would be viewed as a good candidate: an IT graduate who has exposure in competitions, the niche/practical final year projects, any special skills or projects on their own initiatives.


But now, with the surge of importance of branding and online perceptions, perceptive and in-depth employers would also pay attention to your online presence that is available to the public. With this in mind, keep your online presence aligned with an image that you would like to project to your employers. We are not saying that you got to stop being yourself, what we are suggesting is that you can keep being yourself and be mindful of what is appropriate to be shared publicly.


The next few tips are derived from an article originally published by The Star.



Value of Networks

Armstrong Williams, an American journalist once said, ‘Networking is an essential part of building wealth.’ It is equally important to build a network and maintain relationships with others. However, having prominent relationships with LinkedIn connections is merely not enough to build your network.


One of the ways you can do so is by maintaining a relationship with your university lecturers, career centers, and peers even after graduating. Either just by keeping in touch with them, going out for a coffee, or just by asking how their day went, it helps strengthen the bond and maintain a good relationship. Whenever you are able and need it, seek guidance on how you can grow as an individual or simply share experiences. Networking with seniors or mentors in their chosen fields, and attending virtual industry talks, career fairs and recruitment events will help job seekers expand their horizons.


Apart from that, remember to constantly upgrade yourself by learning something new. Maybe pick up a new language? Attending training programs? Volunteer? Or working part-time in the industry that you are interested in? All these whilst looking for a full-time job. This shows that you are eager to learn and continuously improving to be better in your skills in any circumstances given. PS: It will also allow you to take a break from job hunting, we all know it can be taxing!


Capitalizing on Online Skills

The majority of us were forced to shift from face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings due to the recent pandemic. As a result, people were unable to meet and would have to communicate online via social media platforms through email, text messaging, or video calls. Moreover, fresh graduates were not able to have the opportunities to enhance their skills in class such as leadership, problem-solving, or even using software like Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and so on.


It's critical to understand how to communicate effectively both offline and online, which includes email etiquette, social media interactions, online interviews, and managing multiple stakeholders in a virtual environment. Since people are meeting virtually, there are fewer signs of body language that can be seen, so job seekers should learn how to deliver their communication effectively to their future employers.


Aside from that, presentation skills are equally important where companies might ask the candidate to prepare beforehand for the interview in some cases. Candidates should be able to learn and explore various online presentation platforms such as Google Apps, Powtoon, Canva, or even Microsoft Office Powerpoint. Roles such as social media managing, content creation, and designing visually appealing posts on LinkedIn, Tiktok, Instagram, and so on might also be key, to having the ability to analyze data and the latest trends for different target groups.


In addition, data trends are important as they influence businesses’ decisions, hence gathering data interpretation and presentation are highly valuable skills. Demands for creativity have been pushed to be in line with digital skills as a result of the digital approach to consumer engagement.


Many online resources– both government and private sector efforts – such as MYFutureJobs, HRD Corp, TalentCorp, Coursera, Google, and others – offer free or subsidized upskilling courses. It is encouraged that job seekers attend these courses offered by these sectors in order to enhance their knowledge and skillsets.


Lastly, it is important for job seekers to make sure that their social media presence is presentable as recruiters check applicants’ social media pages to filter out the candidates. Thus, it is important that what you are putting out online can reflect upon your job application to your future employers.


Start Seeking Exposure Early

Despite changing conditions, having a good resume is still required for job seekers in order to secure their employment in companies. Candidates would have to tailor-make their resumes by putting an effort in making their resume content stand out from the rest but still remain professional rather than submitting a generic resume.


Since most courses are made available online, skills with certification have become the item of choice for job seekers. Social media influencers, media content developers, and digital sales and services skills are currently in high demand as people are constantly web browsing on their devices. The most important thing that job seekers do is to plan the goals that they want to achieve within a time frame - short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. They must be adaptable in order to keep ahead of their competitors and be noticed by the stakeholders they want to collaborate with.


Another opportunity for securing work is the industrial training route. Academic courses for recent graduates may include an industrial attachment or an internship placement as a requirement for graduation, and that industrial training or attachment might be the first step towards employment. Universities would have to make sure that they are able to market themselves well by having job placement centers and industry collaborations such as job career webinars for students to get an idea of where to start their employment journey. It is crucial for them to know what are the upcoming trends and what skills are required for them to be able to secure job placement.


 

To sum up, job seekers would constantly need to keep themselves updated with skills and knowledge on the latest market demands that future employers are looking for in a candidate. It is vital for candidates to build a network and maintain a good relationship with their previous university lecturers, peers, and even career centers. Personal branding and basic online etiquette are also important to make yourself stand out to your future employers. Additionally, getting yourself equipped with skill certification through training courses is one of the key factors that future employers are looking to employ.


Did you know that our company does provide training programs for individuals as well? We have a mentorship program, campus and community workshops for university students and individuals seeking to upskill themselves. Contact us now to know more.

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