10 Job Hunting Tips For Fresh Grads That Your Schools Wouldn’t Teach You

How you can secure that dream job


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So you’ve penned your final paper, completed your final project, and now you’re faced with the daunting challenge of finding employment. Everybody is scrambling to write their resumes, submit their multiple applications, and pray for some interviews.

There are so many people applying for so few jobs, you’re afraid you’ll never find one. Afterall, your proficiency in multivariable calculus and understanding of Biomolecular electronics alone is not going to land you a job. You need some soft skills too.

Here are the 10 best kept secrets to ensure your job hunting journey is a smooth-sailing one. From polishing up your resume to nailing that all-important interview, we’ve got you covered.

1. Cookie cutter resumes won’t make the cut

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It is a tough world out there. The competition for the best jobs out there is as stiff as it has ever been. HR departments look through thousands of applications a day, so your resume has, at best, a few seconds to impress them.

If you submit one that’s generic, the only thing you’ll do is put them to sleep, and they will hate you for wasting their time. Or worse, you forget to swap out their competitor’s name in your cover letter. Gg.com.

To get a good chance of impressing your potential employer, make sure you tailor your application to the company you are applying for. If it’s a startup, write your resume to show off your personality; if it’s a big corporation, be formal. Also, if you’re going for a colourful resume, it wouldn’t hurt to match their corporate colors. I mean, imagine sending a red application to Pepsi.

2. Revive your LinkedIn profile


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LinkedIn is the Facebook equivalent for working professionals. If you’re looking for a job, yours better be well-maintained, because people will definitely be looking for it once they pick up on your application. If they see a dodgy LinkedIn account, down goes your chances for an interview.

Also, LinkedIn is a great place to put all the impressive supplementary information you couldn’t fit into your one-page resume. Just leave a link to your LinkedIn account at the bottom of the page. This way you can save the text on your resume for things more interesting and relevant than your full academic background.

3. Private your Facebook account


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It’s safe to assume that employers today are just as tech savvy as you, and it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll stalk your Facebook page before any interview.

Unless you have a very “clean” facebook page, you don’t want your potential boss and colleagues seeing your angry facebook rants, or unglam drunken photos before they even meet you. And this way, they never will.

So put up a smart looking profile picture and banner so you look like a respectable human being, and set all the security settings to the highest level. This is advised for all your Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, Twitter accounts as well, unless you have nothing to hide.

In which case, bare all. But still there’s no knowing what your interviewer might take offence at.

4. Ask non-lame questions about the company


Your potential interviewer’s reaction when you ask him what his favourite movie is Source

At the end of most interviews, you can almost always expect the “do you have any questions for us?” question. This is a tricky question that can either be a trap, or a chance for you to shine. The trick is to research the company thoroughly, and avoid asking stupid questions to which the answers can be found on the first page of their website.

If you are opening a new tab right now to google up some questions, STOP. You can take inspiration from what you find online, but always tailor them to the company that you’re applying for, or you’ll still sound like an idiot.

Instead of asking “What are the prospects for growth for someone with this job?”, don’t be a lazy pig, and read the annual report of the company you’re applying for. This way you can phrase the question in the context of their past year’s performance.

Your interviewer will be like “dayummm this guy is not here to play”, instead of like “This is like the 1337th time I’m answering this dumb question, when is lunch?”.

5. Address your application to the relevant people

Knocking on the wrong doors can be very frustrating Source

Generic job applications to a company’s central HR email address tends to have a lower success rate, because of the sheer amount of people applying through the same channel. Most of the time, you’re as successful as a stormtrooper trying to shoot a Jedi. And it feels like you’re smashing your face against a brick wall or computer generated replies.

The best way around this brick wall, is by contacting the specific person within the organisation that you want to work for, or through a referral from a friend already working in the company. Some of the best positions out there aren’t even advertised. Ask around your group of friends if they have any lobang for you. If you don’t ask you’ll never know.

6. Scout the location before your interview


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You can tell alot about a company by snooping around its location. It can have a glitzy website, but if you visit their office, and it’s in a dark corner of some industrial estate, then you’ll know that maybe it’s not as big or reputable a company as you thought it was.

Looking at the premises and the decor can also tell you a lot about the office and its culture. An office full of cubicles, will have a very different working environment compared to an open concept office. If staff desks are decorated with lots of photographs, soft toys and snacks, they’re invested in the company. And if the tables are clean, they’re either hot-desking, or everybody’s on their way out.

7. Be kiasu and start well before you actually graduate

Don’t be like Rachel Source

There is some time between your final exams and graduation, so don’t waste time, start sending resumes. Early birds get the worm, kiasu fresh grads get the best jobs.

Also, don’t be too picky about the companies you apply to, looking down on small companies will limit the amount of learning you’ll get. You can always reject them if you don’t like the job – after all, it’s good to have all the options first, and compare between different offers anyway.

8. Show off your skills, not your GPA

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A company will hire you based on what you can do for them, not how many points you can score on a standardised test that has no relevance to the real world. Your scores aren’t going to tell them how well you can do the job you are applying for.

Instead, focus on upselling your CCA involvement and internships that might showcase the soft skills you’ve acquired that will help you on the job. Also it shows you’ve spent your time meaningfully. Who wants to hire a no-life mugger? Workplace dynamics is important too!

Also, if you can send in samples of your work, all the better. If you’re a designer, design. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a coder, code. Just make sure it’s tailored towards your potential employer.

Case in point: this woman built an entire webpage as her application to Airbnb. Check it out at nina4airbnb.com. Even the webpage name is on point.

9. Don’t look like a derp in your resume photo


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The photo in your resume helps to put a face to your name. It reminds the person reading your resume that there is an actual human being behind the text. But there should only be one photo, no need to attach a whole album of your OOTDs.

First of all, make sure it is a proper photo, preferably shot in a studio with proper equipment. Taking a selfie with your handphone is not going to work as a resume photo for most companies. Your resume photo is not just to win them them over with your great looks, it should convey personality too.

I know, that’s a lot to ask for in just one photo. Don’t worry, a picture speaks a thousand words. Wear a suit and smile your brightest smile, you can’t go wrong there.

10. Suit up


Suits are full of joy. They are the sartorial equivalent of a baby’s smile” – Barney Stinson Source

Whether you’re a man or woman, nothing says you mean business like a suit. A suit will make you look smart and professional, which in turn will make you feel more confident, and that’ll go a long way during your interview.

Dressing appropriately is showing that you respect the company and the interviewer, and they will take you seriously as well. Even if the job you’re applying for doesn’t require formal wear in the office, or you were told specifically to come in smart casual, you should still wear at least a blazer when going for an interview.

Go forth and conquer

With these tips in mind, go forth and dazzle the interview panel, getting one step closer to all your aspirations. Being well-prepared is half the battle won, so good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour!

Yip Jia Qi

The Answer is not 42. It's good food and great company!

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