Career advice from the pros
Congrats, you’ve finally emerged unscathed – or not – from years of education with some viable qualifications. But here’s when the inevitable quarter-life crisis sets in as you try navigating the trappings of the working world.
If you completely identify as a Confused Millennial and are in need of some pro-tips, we’ve attended Jobstreet.com’s Career Fest 2017 and gleaned some invaluable career advice. These nuggets of wisdom will prove to be illuminating and could transform you from cannot-didate to a can-didate:
1. “I started my career cleaning toilets.”
– Adora Sarah, Marketing manager, PEZZO group
Having a career isn’t a simple 3-step process of studying hard, getting a degree and landing that dream job. So it’s no surprise when our first jobs don’t pan out to be what we’d expected, some of us quit within just a few months before trying to make the best of it.
Adora Sarah, marketing manager of PEZZO group, relates her journey to Marketing for the F&B industry as one that started from the ground, and that included getting down and dirty.
“Starting from the bottom is key to understanding what goes into the minute, daily operations of an organization across departments especially in the F&B industry.” she says.
Adora fondly relates her job experience as Operations Manager in McDonalds, “I had to make burgers, bag fries, mop the floor and open doors for customers. All of us had to start from ground zero, including cleaning the toilets.”
Even though taking on new roles or experimenting with different job scopes at the start of your career might seem daunting, just do it – because it’s your level of initiative and expertise in the field that makes you stand out from the crowd.
2. “It’s possible to enter the media industry without relevant qualifications.”
– Joyce Yang, Senior Content Strategist at The Smart Local
Here’s putting it bluntly: your qualifications don’t always matter. Rather, experience and portfolio is what counts for the most.
On how to even get your foot in the door to the ever-evolving media industry, Joyce Yang, Senior Content Strategist at The Smart Local, recommends experimenting as widely as possible by taking up internships and freelance jobs to build your portfolio for full-time positions.
A strong portfolio is your gateway to this industry, and “by building up a portfolio, you demonstrate that you’re as qualified as people who have studied 3 years of communication studies.” she advises.
So rather than moaning about being stuck in a job that you hate, be responsible for accelerating your own learning curve. In Joyce’s own words: “It really doesn’t matter where you are right now as long as you have a clear vision of where you want to be and actively plot your way of getting there.”
3. “Smart and lazy people make the best workers.”
– Imran Bustamam, Head of HR for Ninja Van
Describe yourself in 3 words – undoubtedly one of the trickiest questions to answer in an interview. But newsflash: just being “hardworking”, “meticulous”, or “punctual” ain’t gonna crown you employee of the year. So what exactly are new age employers looking for?
For Head of HR for Ninja Van, Imran Bustamam, cognitive ability is invaluable. “It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, what’s more important is the ability for you to pick a new skill up quickly.”
Imran also adds, “there‘s an old adage that you have to be hardworking at your job, but I think smart and lazy people make the best workers because they try to find shortcuts everywhere.” he says. Of course, this doesn’t mean slacking – Imran emphasises that the ability to learn on the job is of paramount importance.
4. “Don’t just focus on having the perfect resume.”
– Yohan Launay, Senior Software Engineer for Google
There’s no such thing as the perfect resume. Well, not when you’re competing with thousands of others who’re just as eligible as you.
Yohan Launay, Senior Software Engineer for Google, shares that even with a Master’s degree in Computer Science, he did not get a single response to any of the 500 resumes he’d sent out. What actually landed him a job was meeting the right people.
“Don’t just focus on trying to have the perfect resume, try to network – that’s the most important part.” he says.
But more than an impressive resume and the right connections, it’s a solid portfolio that will set you apart. Yohans’ advice: build a strong portfolio through side projects, whether it’s creating a website, building an app, or managing a YouTube channel.
“What I look for is your ability to solve problems and you can demonstrate that by having side projects in your resume. If you’re just pure booksmart, I’m not interested.”
5. “Your starting pay is not as important as your ending pay.”
– Vincent Wong, Country Head for ShopBack Singapore
For most of us brand-conscious millennials, it’s in our DNA to chiong for a job in more “recognisable” companies. But Vincent Wong, Country Head for ShopBack Singapore, says that it’s more important to work with nurturing mentors since “the people that you work with will be very impactful to how you view your careers.”
Vincent also believes that “your starting pay is really not that important because at the end of the day, it’s what your ending pay is.”
He subtly serves a check yo’self to entitled fresh grads, saying, “I don’t believe that a fresh grad has any credentials to ask for a high pay. I have nothing to show, and I have not given anything to demand for a high pay.”
6. “In this day and age, failure is an opportunity.”
– Geraldine Chan, Senior Sales Operations Manager at Adecco Personnel Pte. Ltd.
Rejection is something that we’ll all face while building our careers, but as the so-called “strawberry generation”, some of us might turn to wallowing in self-pity as a result. But as Geraldine Chan, Senior Sales Operations Manager for Adecco poignantly puts it, “in this day and age, failure is an opportunity – a sign that someone has invested in you to fail”.
She also emphasizes the importance of being an agile learner and seizing opportunities to experience other areas of expertise through job rotations or internships.
“The ability to learn about other people’s jobs or about other circumstances will help you do your job better because you’re no longer working with only your own perspective but with the perspective of how other functions in your organization works”, she says.
7. “When you sit down in front of your interviewer, it’s about informing, persuading, and entertaining.”
– Chris Henson, Master Trainer at The Emcee Academy by The Flying Dutchman
If there’s one thing that could make or break your interview, it’s your voice.
Take it from Chris Henson, Master Trainer at The Emcee Academy by The Flying Dutchman: “When you sit down in front of your interviewer for a job, it’s about informing, persuading, and entertaining.”
Think of it as a sales pitch – you’ve got to persuade your interviewer to give you the job. Be relatable and build a rapport with you person you’re speaking. And unless you want to end up sounding like a bot, don’t script yourself. Just remember useful information in point-form to bring an effective message across.
Get career tips and find your dream job with JobStreet.com
Whether it’s resume writing and interview tips or general career or life advice, with these golden tips in mind, it’s time to go forth and start your career on the right foot with JobStreet.com.
More than just an online jobs listing portal, JobStreet.com is also upping their game as your go-to career partner by providing job seekers with invaluable career resources and networking opportunities such as Career Fest.
On top of exclusive insights to a range of industries and the chance to engage with your dream employers, you’ll also be able to find career tools, like Company Reviews that will help you find a job tailored to your needs and expectations.
So for millennials who’re new to the working world, take advantage of JobStreet.com’s online and offline resources that’ll not just help you gain employment, but also guide you through career decisions!
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