Fresh graduates – winning the uphill battle

By Stanley Chan – Consultant, Human Resources & Administration, Links International Hong Kong

Being a fresh graduate and starting your job search is an uphill battle in the concrete jungle. Living in Asia does not make things any easier.

It has become the norm in Asia’s top cities for kids from the age of six to study over 10 hours a day, followed by additional after school lessons, all the way through their schooling.

In a recent article according to the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2016, Hong Kong was listed as having the most competitive economy in the world. Therefore, fresh graduates with a clear career goal should utilise every opportunity to set themselves on the correct path to achieve these goals and beat the competition. Hopefully the below information will help you in gaining an additional competitive edge on your job search.

Knowing what you want and setting the correct direction

The first step to anything is always the hardest. It is important to start on firm footing doing something that you are interested in and enjoy. Whether for monetary reasons or genuine interest, the ultimate goal should be set out beforehand. Which industry would you prefer? What job role will you feel confident in? What experiences are required to move forward?

As is life, things don’t always go as planned. Goals and interests change by internal and external factors. Similarly, job opportunities and job functions also change in the course of time. However, having a sense of direction will help set a beacon to look up to during tough times. In comparison, finding a random job you do not enjoy, only to leave within a year is not the best approach. In the long run, this might work against you, as the time spent in this role may not lead you to your eventual objective.

Seek constructive criticism

There are lessons to be learnt from negative experiences. They help us grow and tell us what we need to further improve upon. Throughout academic life, in order to succeed, you do your homework and hit the books during your studies. For the most part, you are equally rewarded by the effort and time you put into it. However, entering the job market will provide a different set of challenges and skills that may not always be tackled by the same strategy.

Recruitment consultants generally will offer constructive criticism to candidates who request it. Whether you need to work on your CV, introduction, posture and gestures (too much or little), weak answers to standard questions, or even appearance and presentation, a recruitment consultant will be able to spot room for improvement and will be willing to share that information with those who seek it. Knowing is half the battle, so ask your consultant for their honest feedback during your next interview in order to present yourself to the best of your ability to gain an advantage.

Putting yourself in the best position

When you enter the job market, there may be a list of top companies that you want to work for. You’re probably not the only one. Some of these opportunities require prior exposure before consideration. While you may be scratching your head wondering why you weren’t able to land a certain interview, consultants in a specialised field will be more knowledgeable on company requirements and will be able to share with you hidden information not mentioned on job advertisements. They will be able to offer suggestions on what additional opportunities are available to help build on your experiences to your targeted role.

In addition to doing your own preparation in understanding the role and company that you are applying for, consultants generally also know additional information, such as possible tests and questions that may come up during the interview. Therefore, if the opportunity arises, ask your recruitment consultant questions to understand what will be required, in order to prepare and present yourself in the best manner. This will put you in a better position in comparison to other applicants.

Hope for the best

You’ve done your preparation, now go in with your strongest effort and hope for the best. You’ve tried hard and should leave the interview with no regrets. Sometimes things end up smoothly, and when they don’t, you must always remind yourself that the experience alone is something to be proud of. Never take rejection personally, as that time and energy should be converted to productivity. Reflect upon things that could have been done better, and turn that into a positive for your next opportunity.

If you’re looking to take your career to the next level and would like some advice on how to win that uphill battle and stand out from the competition, please get in touch with us now!