Fresh out of polytechnic and with little but a diploma to your name, chances are, getting a job will be harder than you could possibly imagine with competition from foreigners, more experienced jobseekers and of course, the friends you graduated with.
By Azhar Jalil
If you’ve lived in Singapore long enough, you’d know it’s all about the rat race. So while you can pat yourself on the back for now after having achieved that diploma, don’t stay aloof for too long...
The latest surveys show that the local pool of diploma holders grew by 32% over the past decade, definitive proof of the government’s success at creating a more educated workforce. What this means to you however, is that competition for jobs is now stiffer then ever, more so when you haven’t really got an edge over anyone else.
Here’s a reality check: studies indicate that one in 10 of the jobless here are diploma graduates, with the fresh and young graduate demographic typically experiencing higher unemployment rates. Rejection after rejection will only leave you exasperated and despondent, but what can you do to boost your employability?
First off, understand that job-hunting is all about selling yourself. The better you’re packaged and the more bells and whistles you’ve got, the likelier you are to emerge ahead of your competitors and land that job.
Chase that paper
If you rest on your laurels, you’ll only get left behind. The paper chase is still a hallmark of working here and it seems to be here to stay. After all, as a fresh polytechnic graduate, what else have you got to show besides your certificate and transcript?
If you’ve still got it in you, go straight for a degree. Doing so will not only give you more valuable paper accreditation but also a better standing when push comes to shove in a tight and cut-throat labour market.
Get with the programme
Make the most of the free time on your hands now by taking up recognised courses that are relevant to your chosen line of work. They should equip you with a variety of skills and upgrade your proficiencies. UniSIM and MDIS offer such certifications and programmes that are well-accredited and recognised locally.
Not all employers have the effort, patience or money to train fresh hires. By being already equipped and proficient, you’ll be that much more enticing to managers who will be grateful for the opportunity to put you to work immediately.
Give in, give out
Of course, having been in school for the past decade or so, it’s quite understandable if you don’t feel like hitting the books again for a while. Why not volunteer instead?
The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) manages an online database that connects volunteers and their interests with associations that will benefit from their expertise. Volunteers can also choose to take up leadership positions, and assignments can be based both locally and abroad.
While the social organisations and their dependents gain from your help, you stand to benefit as well. Volunteering allows you to build your leadership and organising skills while also giving you relevant exposure to grow from.
If money is your thing though, consider giving entrepreneurship a try. Not only will a successful business be very useful in lining your pockets with money, doing business can also help build up a network of contacts. The value of having a wide web of acquaintances and associates cannot be underestimated. Who knows if you might earn a personal recommendation from anyone in your contact list?
Besides being able to hone your sense of initiative and enterprise, an entrepreneurial experience will also instil confidence while building up your initiative and financial skills.
Intern for now
If you find that a full-time job is really unattainable at this stage, it’s not so bad to intern and temporarily settle for less. Choose a company with a good reputation and sound people management, so that your time spent there won’t go to waste. It’s not unheard of for well-received interns to be offered permanent positions at their host companies.
Interning will also give you a good impression of what the working world is really like, from dealing with office trolls, right down to managing your paycheck so you won’t have to “eat grass” a week before the next payday.
Look far, look wide
Actually, you’ve already taken the first step towards boosting your chances of success by picking up this issue of Career Central and reading it. Make use of the vast amount of career tips and resources available in this magazine and also online at community.jobscentral.com.sg to give yourself a leg up in your job hunt.
Remember that it’s all about creating a package that will promote yourself well. Your selling points are the successes you’ve achieved through these interim activities. Quantify these successes and include them in your résumé to make it meatier than your competitors’.
With these to beef up your résumé and a little bit of luck, you’ll definitely beat the rest to the punch and surge ahead of the competition.
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