Graduating from university can be a liberating feeling. But what comes next — whether it’s getting your first job or learning how to manage your expenses — can be rather intimidating too. In the inaugural story from “Perspectives from a Fresh Graduate”, SNCF content strategist Ler Jun, who has recently graduated from the University at Buffalo – The State University of New York, shares the nifty tips and tricks to better navigate the job market, especially amidst the pandemic.

Know that paper qualifications are not everything

For many fresh graduates, job hunting after university can be both confusing and daunting. Some new graduates may struggle with securing their first job with little to no working experience, while others may face hiccups negotiating their job benefits. Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognise that while paper qualifications do open up some opportunities, they are not everything.

Why? That’s because academic excellence rarely reflects career excellence nor do grades reflect qualities, such as teamwork, creativity or leadership, that are valuable in organisations. “Career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem – it’s more about finding the right problem to solve,” says Dr Adam Grant in a The New York Times Op-ed. Put differently, there are other factors that affect your eligibility (such as your personality or working experiences).

Refine your resume, polish your LinkedIn

First Job Interview Resume Making

But you have got to start somewhere. Post-graduation, you should some spend time sprucing up your resume, cover letter and even your LinkedIn profile. Your resume and cover letter should reflect your past working experiences, your core skillsets, and achievements. Creating a LinkedIn profile can help gain visibility from potential recruiters too.

Here are some practical tips to include on your resume:

  • Look for keywords in job postings and add these terms if they are applicable to you
  • Use a professional font and ensure consistency
  • Use sub-headers or section headers to better categorise your resume
  • Adopt the active voice (“Planned ABC project” instead of “ABC project was planned by …”)
  • Highlight important achievements
  • Upload a high-res professional profile on LinkedIn

Try, try and try

It pays to be acquainted with various recruitment portals. Some of the popular recruitment portals, include LinkedIn, My Careers Future, Cult Jobs, and Job Street to list a few. Alternatively, you can also join job-related Telegram channels, such as #SGUnitedJobs or Singapore Careers, for opportunities too.

Take your time to sift through each posting and identify jobs that align with your interest, your skillsets, and industry of choice. And when you have done so, cast your net wide and send out your applications. Finally, it is also wise to customise your resume to befit the company’s job description. You may also opt to find ways to improve your skillsets.

Practice with a friend (or a mirror)

First Job Interview Trying Asian

Now that you have created your resume and sent out your applications, you should familiarise with what goes on in a job interview. From in-depth YouTube videos to blog posts, there are plenty of resources online for your perusal. I recommend taking an hour or two a day to internalise these content.

While you are at it, you should come up with a couple of answers to some of these common interview questions (think “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “Why do you want to work with us?”). In fact, you should consider getting your friends on board and make the entire learning process fun and interesting.

Be kind to yourself

Along the way, you may see some rejections coming in. Do not be disheartened and have faith in yourself. Learn from your failures and use these hiccups to empower you. In the meantime, you can consider freelancing or doing on part-time gigs to make ends meet.

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SNCF wishes all fresh graduate all the best in their job hunting and may you clinch your first job soon!

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