How To Graduate During A Recession (And Land Your First Job)

Graduation can be scary. During most of your life, you may have just followed a predetermined path: primary school, secondary school, university. It may be the first time you have made an important decision in your life. There is no program to follow and no notes to tell you that you are doing a good job.

On top of that, you face the economic impact of COVID-19. The employment rate rose to 3.9% in March this year, the highest in ten years. It may be more difficult for you to find a job than your older peers.

But don’t be discouraged. Here are eight things you can do to get your first job.

1. Perfect your skills and build a portfolio

If you have just finished your studies, you may have found yourself with some free time. Use this time to work on skills relevant to the roles you are looking for. With sites like edX, Coursera and Khan Academy, learning has never been easier.

And while online courses are great, you will also need to show potential employers that you have perfected these skills. Create a portfolio of your work – it can be a blog, a GitHub profile or a Behance portfolio. Make sure something can be seen as an example of your work.

2. Learn how to write a CV

Resumes are often the first point of contact between you and a potential employer. If you don’t take this step, you may not have another chance to impress them.

There are a lot of tips on writing good CVs, so take the time to browse through the online resources. Here are some basic tips you will come across:

  • Use a CV template. I do not know where to start? Search for a model or download one. It helps you decide what information to include and how to organize it.
  • Adapt to work. As a recent graduate, you might be tempted to inflate your resume with a long list of part-time job experiences, extracurricular activities or volunteering. While they may be useful to include, be sure to use only what is relevant to the job you are applying for. Consider how you can link your experience to key phrases in the description of a job offer – this could mean developing a unique resume for each job you are applying for.
  • Proofread (more than once). If your CV is riddled with spelling and grammar errors, an employer can expel you. Have a friend browse your resume or run it through a grammar checker like Grammarly.

3. Prepare for the interviews

Even a good CV cannot save a bad interview. As with CVs, there are many online resources on how to prepare for an interview. Here are a few tips:

  • Research the role and the company. This helps you determine if you are suitable for the role (and vice versa). It also helps you prepare answers to interviews that correspond to what the employer is looking for.
  • Prepare the answers. You can’t predict all the questions your interviewer will ask, but preparing answers to common interview questions (do you have a career plan, why do you want this job, what are your salary expectations, etc.) can go a long way? far.
  • Prepare to ask. Asking questions about the role or company (what the hours of work look like, the number of people on the team) shows employers that you are interested. And while the potential employer questions you to see if you are a good candidate, you should also take this time to find out if this job or business is right for you. for you.
  • Do a mock interview. Ask a friend to help you practice the interview questions and answers. This helps you gain confidence for the real thing. A friend can also help you report mistakes or blunders that you may not have caught yourself.

4. Follow a schedule

The job search can be overwhelming. You may feel constantly under pressure to be do something during your job search.

It is easier to set a schedule so that you know what to do on a given day. For example, set a day to search for potential employees and another day to submit candidates. Record the details of each application by listing the company details, the job title, as well as how and when you applied for the job. This helps you keep track of when you need to track your apps.

Here is an example:

Examine lists on job search portalsSearch for potential companiesWrite applicationsReview and send requestsTracking past applications

5. You may have to accept a lower-paying job

During an economic downturn, some industries may experience lower profits. Companies may not be paying the same wages as new employees before the recession. That said, you should always search online to find out the average starting salary for this position in order to have an estimate of a fair salary range.

There is another caveat – a lower starting salary can lead to lower earnings for life if you don’t negotiate your salary. So, when you are more experienced, consider negotiating a raise or changing jobs for a higher salary. According to Michael Page’s Salary Guide, Malaysians can expect an average wage increase of 10% to 25% when they change jobs.

6. Explore similar roles

Your dream job may not be available at this time. It doesn’t matter – if you know what field you want to work in, you can consider applying for a different role in the same field. For example, if you are looking to find a copywriting role but have not been able to land one, consider responding to this job posting for a social media specialist.

Although this is not the exact role you have defined, it can help you develop transferable skills. Who knows? Keeping an open mind helps you explore other career options that you may want to further appreciate.

Still not sure what type of job you want to apply for? The 80,000 hour site is a great resource that can help you narrow down potential options to a shortlist and explore how those options are. The site focuses on finding fulfilling careers with positive social impact.

7. Take advantage of government initiatives

If you are having trouble finding a job, you can take advantage of a few government initiatives:

Let’s learn digitalFree access to nearly 3,800 courses, including professional certification courses via Coursera (typically costs US $ 399 per year).Unemployed MalaysiansMDEC
#KisahSiswaAccess personalized coaching sessionsMalaysian undergraduate or Malaysian new graduate (employed for less than two years after graduation)TalentCorp
MyASEAN internshipInternships with the best employers in various ASEAN countriesHigh-performing youth who are currently studying or have graduated in the past six monthsTalentCorp
GLOWFree training and mentoring program that provides income-generating advice online as a freelancerGraduates with a diploma, bachelor’s degree or professional certification; master computers; good command of spoken and written EnglishGlobal workforce online

8. Learn to budget

Okay, this one doesn’t really help you get your first job, but it’s something you’ll need to do when you start earning your first paycheck. Learning to budget in your early twenties can have a huge impact on your finances. Here are a few things you can do to get started:

  • Build an emergency fund. Build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of living expenses. This helps you cover all emergency expenses (without having to rely on your parents). It is also useful if you want to change jobs later – you will have a little cushion to rest on when you are looking for a job.
  • Rest assured. If you no longer qualify for coverage under your parents’ insurance policies, you will need to get yours. For starters, it is important to get medical insurance coverage (which is more affordable the younger you are). You can consider other insurance policies later.
  • Follow a budgeting system. A popular system is the 50-30-20 budget – this means allocating 50% of your salary to needs, 30% to wants and 20% to savings. Next, think about how you can invest these savings. As a recent graduate, you may not have a lot of financial obligations yet – so if you can afford to save even more, this could speed up your journey to financial independence.

Graduating during a recession will not be easy – but you will have to keep going. Take the time to develop new skills or new interests. Find ways to keep learning, even if you have a less than ideal job. Today’s economic difficulties can become valuable learning experiences that will help you orient your career better. Good luck!

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