According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the number of people who are unemployed in Malaysia increased by almost 50% in April 2020 compared to the same period last year.
The Social Security Organisation’s (Socso) Employment Insurance System (EIS) has also reported that job losses can be expected to accelerate from April 2020 onwards, with job losses increasing by 50% to 200% year-on-year for each subsequent quarter in 2020.
Witnessing the escalating number of layoffs and job cuts, how could eager young minds who have just graduated expect their careers to take off?
INTI International University and Colleges’ industry partners – JobStreet Malaysia, Talentbank and Advanced Micro Devices Inc – believe fresh graduates can be more career-ready by acquiring certain competencies, attitudes, and skills.
“Without a doubt, the current job market is challenging for both experienced workers as well as fresh graduates,” said JobStreet Malaysia country manager Gan Bock Herm.
“Though we have seen a decline in job postings of up to 70% in March 2020, this has since recovered to about 50% since the easing of the MCO.
“We expect that the job market will continue to improve as the economy opens up,” he said.
He added that fresh graduates should remain hopeful and be proactive in securing employment.
To emphasise his point, Gan cited the outcome of a recent survey conducted by JobStreet and said 25% of the employers surveyed will be looking to hire again in the next six months, and this will include entry-level graduates.
Echoing this, Ben Ho, who is the chief executive officer at Talentbank, a corporate body that focuses on producing career-ready candidates from all disciplines, said: “We foresee that it will take an average of six to nine months for fresh graduates to land a job.
“Following our digital career festival that ran throughout May and June, we noticed that employers are still hiring fresh graduates as there were more than 800 vacancies listed at the event.”
Besides the science and technology sector, JobStreet’s research indicates that the top five industries still taking in new staff amid the pandemic include the information technology, food and beverage, government, and health and safety sectors.
“My company is still hiring for junior positions and we are open for fresh graduates to apply,” said Chandra Segar, the regional employee relations and human resources operations manager at Advanced Micro Devices Inc, an American multinational semiconductor company with a chapter in Bayan Lepas, Penang.
An experienced recruiter, Chandra opined that those who have just entered the job market should adopt a very open mindset.
They should start with securing any job that is available in the market presently as there are plenty of things to learn in any profession, he said.
To land a job fast, graduates should try to contact employers or business founders actively via LinkedIn and offer a voluntary internship or apprenticeship instead of applying via multiple job sites, Ho advised.
“Once accepted, graduates could request for a permanent role after three to six months,” he said, recommending fresh graduates always initiate self-learning and pick up skills like digital marketing, basic programming or other capabilities related to the Industrial Revolution 4.0.
Though inexperienced, young jobseekers have their advantages.
Gan added: “According to JobStreet’s Laws of Attraction survey, Malaysia has a multi-generational workforce.
“While Gen X and Gen Y form the mainstay of talent with experience, Gen Z has confidence and skills with new media and technology, which adds value to an organisation.”
In a press release from INTI, Gan, Chandra and Ho, provided the following tips to help fresh graduates ace potential interviews:
> Customise your resume for each application and avoid using a standard template.
> Take interview opportunities seriously; carry out research about the company, the vacancy and how you can contribute to the role.
> Wear the right attire even though you are being interviewed online, and be mindful of the time arrangements.
> Minimise the likelihood of any Internet connectivity issues; practise your mannerisms and responses beforehand using a webcam.
> During the interview, highlight your “unique values”. These might include experiences like managing a project within a short time, organising an event, acquiring soft skills, and gaining abilities (while studying) deemed suitable for the job at hand.
> Never ask about the salary being offered or the working hours during the interview; only negotiate on this when the recruiter gives you an offer.
> Thank the recruiter at the end of the interview. Follow up with the recruiter via email on the agreed time. If the recruiter doesn’t send you a reply, do not assume that you are not getting hired. Give them some time to come back with their feedback.
> Fresh graduates can also post questions on asktalentbank.com.
While it is a particularly difficult year for fresh graduates everywhere, INTI chief executive officer Tan Lin Nah believes it is also an opportunity for them to experience how the job market and the hiring process have changed due to Covid-19.
“We are grateful that many of our industry partners continue to guide our students during this time and develop their awareness of what the future workplace will look like.
“Collaborations between education institutions and the industry are more important now than ever to help students and graduates get on the right track to their future careers,” she added.