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3 Tips For Job-Hunting Fresh Grads Who are Desperately Looking for Work in This Lousy Job Market

Joanne Poh

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So, academic year 2015-2016 has come to a close. If you’re one of the thousands of fresh grads being poured unceremoniously into Singapore’s job market this year, expect stormy skies ahead, because 2016 is one of the tougher years in recent times for job seekers. If you’ve been looking for that coveted entry level position at the big MNC, tough luck, because those positions are going to be in short supply.

As you bid farewell to student status and officially join the ranks of the unemployed, here are some tips that can help you weather the storm and find a decent job that doesn’t involve McAnything.

 

Look for alternatives to MNC jobs

Due to the fact that 2016 is a lousy year for growth, that coveted MNC entry-level position is going to be harder to find this year. That sucks for the class of 2016, since MNC jobs usually provide the highest salaries and the best working conditions.

Few grads want to work for chronically understaffed SMEs, which not only offer jobs which are less prestigious, but also are notorious for overworking and underpaying their employees, and skimping on benefits like annual leave.

But if you really can’t get a job at that fancy multinational this year, it may not be a good idea to spend the next 12 months playing Pokemon Go until something good comes along. It’s time to seriously consider alternatives to MNC jobs—preferably positions with potential for growth, and where you can learn a thing or two.

It’s true that many SMEs offer limited opportunities for growth, but as a fresh grad who’s presumably clueless, it’s unlikely you’ll hit a plateau that soon. In addition, more and more young people are starting to flock to startups, since they’re seen as offering more fun working environments and, if they do well, offer lots of opportunities for advancement.

 

Consider contract roles at MNCs

If you can’t get a permanent job at an MNC, the next best thing is to sign on as contract staff. Contract positions lead to perm jobs at MNCs more often than you might think. A sizeable percentage of my friends who work at big banks got their foot in the door by taking on 6 month control roles.

So when they are offered by companies you really want to join, definitely consider taking on a contract role. At this early stage in your career, you’re still very employable, and won’t have to worry about being out of work for years if your contract ends and you’re not offered a permanent role.

If you have seniors working in MNCs you’re interested in joining, ask them when the company is hiring contract staff. MNCs sometimes hire entire teams of contract staff when they have a project that urgently needs to be completed, and they often do so mostly through referrals from their existing staff.

 

Pick roles in growing industries

The industries and types of companies you choose to work for early on in your career can save you from a lot of heartache later on if they’re in growing industries. That’s because picking roles in industries that are on the way up will mean that positions will open up faster than candidates can fill them, which will also mean your ascent of the career ladder will be much faster and smoother.

Digital plays a big role in deciding which industries have growth potential and which are going to become obsolete, so it’s a good idea to let that be your guide when deciding which skills to cultivate.

For instance, anyone in marketing should make it a priority to master SEO and social media management, while aspiring PR pros must be well-versed in online community management. Joining companies that specialise in these areas is not a bad idea.

Even in seemingly unrelated industries, it is possible to pick companies that operate in areas that can benefit from digital technologies. For instance, if you are looking for a finance-related job, you might want to consider roles in a growing fintech startup like MoneySmart (ahem, just sayin’).

As a fresh grad who’s still looking for a job, what are the biggest challenges you’ve faced to date? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.