Whether you spent your university days mugging furiously or trying valiantly not to pass out at Zouk, at some point you realised you had to clean up your act and prepare yourself for the working world.
But buying a suit from G2000 doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in for that high powered corporate job you’re hoping to snag. The transition from student to working adult is quite a jarring one, especially if you didn’t get much work experience before graduation.
If graduation is looming and you haven’t gotten a job yet, here are four things you should do before you hit the ground running.
Clean up your social media accounts
When you’re 20 years old, you have a very different idea about what’s considered acceptable on social media to employers. Half of you have no clue just how conservative the corporate world can be.
Chances are you’ve got a bunch of pictures of yourself flashing the middle finger, plastered out of your mind, posts persistently airing your political or religious views, or complaints about how much you hate school/work/your life.
Guess what, when you enter the working world, and especially if you’re in a conservative corporate environment (just because your boss takes you out for lunch now and then doesn’t mean the “real you” would necessarily be appreciated), you want to delete all remotely objectionable traces of yourself from social media.
Unless your boss is 70 years old or you’re applying to be a loanshark runner, you can take it for granted that you will be googled, and those risqué pictures on Instagram and moralising rants on Facebook will be discovered. And the slightest thing that makes an employer think you “wouldn’t be a good fit” is also the thing that will make him choose another candidate instead of you.
Take a crash course on your desired job and industry
Okay, we get it, you’re young and you just spent the last four years watching every single episode of South Park and experimenting with your alcoholic limits.
That’s precisely why we’re telling you to do some real research on your desired job and industry beyond just googling up the company and reading the “About Us” section on their website the night before an interview.
It never fails to amaze me how clueless fresh grads are when they start out at their first job. Many are totally unaware of what the job entails or of the job scope in their new position. And that includes a great many who’ve done internships but weren’t allowed to do “real” work and instead spent all their time hanging out in the intern’s room with the other students.
And that’s why when their interviewers ask them questions like why they chose to apply to a particular department or what kind of work they hope to do, they are totally clueless. When they actually start work, they realise the job was nothing like what they envisioned, and so the job hopping begins.
You wouldn’t buy a car without first reading up about the specs, asking about a particular model on car forums and then test driving the real thing. Yet people end up applying haphazardly for jobs that “sounded nice” on Jobsdb.
Before you start spamming job search sites with your CV, spend a few weeks doing some investigation into your various options. Ask your seniors at uni out for a coffee and pick their brains about what their jobs are like, and speak to them about the various options open to you—they’ll have a better idea about the sorts of jobs their industry friends and ex-classmates are doing.
In this way, not only do you speed up your own job search, you also get to avoid spending the first few years of your career in a job you didn’t realise was so awful.
Build your work wardrobe
When I got my first real corporate job, I realised I had almost no office attire. The week before, I ran out and bought two pencil skirts at Forever 21 for $20 each.
On my very first day at work, one of the partners at the company burst out into a shriek when I was introduced to her. “Wtf are you wearing?” she howled. “That skirt is two sizes too big. Is it even yours?”
Conversely, many young employees get obsessed with wearing a new outfit to work very day, and spend all their time after work shopping for new clothes for the coming week. Heck, I know fresh grads who were buying $3,000 handbags and $700 shoes on a $2,000 to $3,000 salary. That’s one habit you want to nip in the bud early on.
Instead of waiting till the day before your interview to realise the only thing you can wear is your retired father’s suit from the 70s, plan your clothing purchases way in advance. If the laundry gets done weekly, determine how many items you’ll have to buy to last a whole week and then budget from there. If you’re on the market for tailored suits or shirts, you might want to plan a budget trip to Bangkok or Vietnam ahead of time instead of paying triple the price in Singapore.
You need to think of your professional wardrobe as finite, rather than as an ever-growing pile of clothing you constantly add to on impromptu shopping trips.
Think of it this way—you’re being paid to go to work. If you’re going to spend your entire salary on work-related expenses, why even bother working?
What else should university students do before they start their first jobs? Tell us in the comments!