It is that season of the year now. No, I am not referring to Christmas. I am referring to the job hunting season. In Singapore especially, most people tend to start looking for jobs towards the end of the year. As I have not yet formally entered the workforce, I do not know how true this is, but I have had seniors from university mention to me that people tend to leave around the year-end after collecting their annual bonuses, thus creating openings for jobs.
As a fresh graduate, before me lies the very daunting task of job-hunting. That involves creating resumes, writing up cover letters, scouring through job listings for suitable jobs, and finally just praying something clicks. It is very anxiety provoking and I am sure, like me, many young adults face this as they start their careers. While I have no solution that would completely take away the anxiety or give you a job, I did come up with a few strategies I find useful to follow during this time.
Keep a schedule
I cannot stress enough how important this is. Waking up late, sleeping late, binge watching episodes- do these sound familiar? I bet they do! While they are not bad occasionally, it takes little time for these practices to become a habit. That is a rabbit-hole you really don’t want to get into. Have a fixed bedtime and wake up time, and adhere to it. Give time at least every other day for an hour of exercise. Allocate some time in the day for job-hunting (I give two hours daily). I have also created a spreadsheet which keeps track of all the jobs I have applied to. While it may sound counter-intuitive, try not to spend your entire day looking through job listings. You will burn out fast, and end up applying to unsuitable jobs. Apart from that, having a schedule will help you get adjusted to working life, so having to wake up at the first sound of the alarm will not come as a shock once you start working.
Create multiple resumes and cover letters
This is a no-brainer really. Nothing looks worse than sending in an irrelevant, generic resume and cover letter. Try not to rush through your applications. Yes, job applications are really boring and having to fill in the same information over and over can get tiring real fast. But make sure you tailor your resume and cover letter to each job application. I would suggest highlighting achievements that are more relevant to the job. For example, if you are applying for a job at a school, highlight any activities you did that involved teaching and children. This was a tip given to me by some hiring managers I spoke to.
This was one of the most important tips given to me by former colleagues and seniors at university. Being an introvert, this task is the most daunting of them all. The word “Network” sounds so scary! I can barely muster the courage to talk to people I see daily, let alone total strangers. Set aside some time two or three times a month to meet new people and connect with them over coffee or lunch. Especially useful would be people from prospective companies. You can learn about the company work culture, any open positions (and if you make enough of an impression, they may even recommend you to the HR). I admit I have not been doing this very well, owing to my shy nature. I am trying to get out of my comfort zone, and sometimes it works. At other times, it is just awkward but I learn from that and hone my networking skills from my experiences. I have made many new friends over time through this. The key is to be yourself and to take rejection from those who cannot help you with grace.
This ties in with my earlier point about networking. Volunteering is a form of networking. Many organizations require volunteers and are more than happy to have you on board. Throughout my undergraduate years, I volunteered at various places regularly. I learned a lot of skills and made so many wonderful friends and mentors. I even landed a part-time job at one of the organizations I volunteered at. Apart from gaining useful contacts, it opens you up to so many realities of the world. Volunteering helped me come out of my sheltered, privileged bubble, and see the different facets of life. I got to learn so much about Singaporean society and social policies that I would have never known about had I not volunteered.
Read and upgrade your skills
You may have a fresh degree in your hand now, but that doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Even something as simple as skimming through the news daily can increase your general knowledge. I suggest apps like Flipbook, which has neat little snippets on current events. There are so many resources online for those looking to learn a skill. I am particularly fond of MOOCs like Coursera. I am doing a free online course on Advanced Excel, and I have learnt so much already! I dedicate 1 hour daily to read or learn something new. It will add value when you work, and new knowledge always makes for interesting conversation!
Job hunting can be stressful, especially as the weeks go by and you have still not landed even an interview. But do not despair, keep going at it and eventually you will get where you are meant to be. I find job-hunting to be a combination of the right timing, patience, and meaningful effort. This list is by no means exhaustive. You might have your own ways of dealing with the pressures of job search or working at a new job. These are techniques I use, and I sincerely believe they will all pay off some day. Feel free to share your tips in the comments section and good luck to all those looking for a new job!