How to Achieve Your Ideal Career

Besides impressive paper qualifications, there are three other P’s – preparation, planning, and positive action – that are just as important to help you to optimise your job search process.
Nurhuda Syed
Editor, gradsingapore
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Prepare

A job search is not as simple as blindly blitzing out applications to prospective employers. Prepare years ahead of graduating and find yourself reaping the returns when you actually start applying for jobs.

Spend time researching

  • Graduates often neglect research during the application process. Start early and tap into as many sources as you can. For instance, talk to seniors who are already working to find out about their experience thus far. 
  • Alternatively, you can approach the school's career services centre for more information. Understanding the market and expectations of different roles can help you plan your education and career, especially when you're applying for internship or picking majors. 
  • Keep yourself up-tp-date with current affairs - both local and global - as it'll make you more marketable. Being aware of industry-specific news also showcases your enthusiasm and interest in the job. 

Do some networking

  • Widen your network! Research shows that 40% of graduate job seekers here obtain information through a private contact, and an estimated 40% of jobs worldwide are based on recommendations. Families and friends are the easiest way to start growing your network. 
  • Keep in touch with contacts from past work experiences or internships. 
  • Attend networking sessions organised by the school's student clubs or societies, or source your own by looking at event websites that promote sessions based on collective interests. 
  • Also, there's always LinkedIn. 

Plan

Besides working on contingency plans, map out the types of employers, roles, and even sources you'll tap on in pursuit of getting the ideal job match. 

Don't limit your job search...

...to brand name employers

  • MNCs and popular employers often receive an overwhelming amount of application for a limited number of positions. Don't stake all your hopes solely on a select few big name employers. 
  • Instead, apply for roles in both big companies and SMEs. As a fresh graduate trying to get ahead in your career, you'll want to accumulate as much relevant experience and skills as you can - both of which can be acquired whether you're at a small or big firm. 

...to one specific role

  • Consider different roles that may have a similar job scope or those that call for skill sets that you're keen on learning, and list them down for refrence when trawling through job sites. 
  • You could even explore industries that would traditionally not be associated with your major, and find out what job opportunities are available for you in those fields. Keeping an open mind during the application process can lead to unexpectedly interesting job matches. 

...to job portals and classified ads

  • Some employers may choose not to advertise on external platforms for budgetary reasons, so you'll need alternative ways to look for leads if you want to work for them. For instance, you can apply directly at their employer hubs. 
  • Alternatively, contact the company's HR department directly about possible job openings and send in a speculative application to showcase your interest in working for them. Even if they have no openings for you, this lets you widen your network - which you can leverage on in the future. 

...to only Plan A

  • Be ready with alternative plans in case a prospective offer falls through. Doing a constructive review of failed applications will help you draw up your plan for upcoming ones. 
  • Also, keep in mind that not all "good" interviews turn into job offers. Manage your expectations and work on your next plan in case you get a no from the last company you interviewed with. 

(Take) Positive action

There's honestly no other way to get yourself out there except to do the necessary ground work. So take the right action throughout the process, and don't let your opportunities slip away. 

Continue applying for jobs even in tough times

  • Don't let news of a recession or competitive job market throw you off your job hunt. According to the Graduate Employment Survey 2015, a minimum of 70 percent of graduates was hired in permanent positions upon graduating. There's never really a lack of entry-level jobs. 

Customise your résumé and cover letter for each application

  • Sending the same exact résumé and cover letter to 100 employers may save you a whole lot of time and effort, but you'll fail to stand out from other equally-qualified grads. 
  • Seasoned recruiters can identify a mass-produced cover letter/email or résumé in a single glance. Personalise your letter and show how your experience match the requirements of the role on offer. If recruiters like what they read, they'll want to meet you to see if you're the right person for the job. 

Follow up on your applications

  • Reply to prospective employers a.s.a.p. as they are probably interviewing several other candidates and may overlook you if you fail to respond in time. Some employers may also be rushing to fill the position, so don't lose out. 
  • Thank-you emails post-interview can also influence the recruiter's decision to shortlist you for another round of assessment as it may help recruiters keep track of potential candidates interviewed.

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