Top Three Employment Trends Graduates Should Know in 2018

Discover the trends that are making waves in the recruitment game across industries.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

The year 2017 ended on a good note, with Singapore’s economy surpassing the forecasted growth by 3.5 percent, according to a report on The Business Times. Even 2017 wasn’t bad for the recruitment scene– hiring rates saw a healthy increase across several industries. 

Whether the year 2018 can build on the momentum of 2017, especially when it comes to recruitment, still remains to be seen. With 2018 well underway, experts have reported on several trends that are predicted to stir things up in the recruitment space.

Graduates should keep abreast of these changes, and understand what to expect when they are job searching. Here are three trends that graduates should know about.

Trend #1: Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in recruitment

The application of AI can be found in different aspects of businesses across a myriad of industries – from businesses using algorithms to target their ads to a specific group of audience, to automated chatbots to deal with client inquiries round the clock.

AI is now starting to knock on the doors of HR departments with the introduction of AI technology in the candidate screening processes. According to a report by Hays, organisations are now adopting automated and machine-learning algorithms to screen résumés and communicate with candidates.

Besides that, some employers are also using automated screening tools such as programming tests, personality assessments and simulations to sift through bulks of job applications and shortlist candidates who are identified as the right fit.

What this means for graduates

The use of AI in the recruiting process can be good news for job applicants as it alleviates the issue of human or personal biases (which can sometimes happen on a subconscious level) when shortlisting applicants.

However, the application of AI in recruitment hinges on an applicant’s data – and the scope of your data may not only be limited to the information you provide on your digital résumé. The digital footprints that you leave on social media as well as your online behavior and habits will most likely be used as data for the intelligence models to determine whether or not you meet the criteria set by the employers.

While this may be useful for employers to shortlist well-rounded candidates for the job, jobseekers may find this recruitment practice intimidating as their personal habits may be under scrutiny. It is therefore advisable for graduates to be cautious of what they post on social media, especially when these posts are made public.

Trend #2: IT and tech skills increase in demand

This trend is not something new, but has definitely gained even more significance as we enter 2018, and very likely in the years to come.

In line with the government’s effort to strengthen Singapore’s digital and technological infrastructure in its plan to make the country a Smart Nation, companies from both the public and private sectors are encouraged to incorporate technologies into their businesses.

These can be seen in the government’s support and resources towards innovation efforts, such as the S$19 billion budget allocation for research and development as part of the Research Innovation Enterprise 2020 Plan, and the launch of enrichment programmes, such as SkillsFuture and Code@SG, aimed to introduce IT and future-proof skills to the public.

The strong IT and tech foundation that the government is building will not only help push the national economy forward, but also equip professionals with the technical knowledge and skills to remain competitive in the workforce.

What this means for graduates

Regardless of the career sector graduates want to get in to, they will not be able to escape IT’s pervasiveness in just about any business under the sun – especially in Singapore, a Smart Nation in the making.

While those with an IT and tech background will have an upper hand when it comes to technical skills, graduates who are not as well-versed should take the time to develop certain skills that are important for today’s modern workspace. Microsoft Office proficiency, for instance, is a basic requirement that employers expect from graduate jobseekers.

Graduates can also go the extra mile in their upskilling efforts by developing skills and knowledge in data analytics or management, coding, digital media and/or financial technology, which are hot skills to have in the job market today.  

Some skills may not be as relevant to your career field, so it is important to do your research to find out which of these technical skills will help make you more competitive in the industry you are looking to join or for the job you want to pursue.

For instance, as an aspiring writer, knowledge of HTML skills would be useful, as you may have to work with digital content on an online platform, while a marketing graduate may find that data visualisation skills are important to have, especially when presenting their market research to an audience.

Trend #3: All eyes on soft skills

As much as technical skills are high in demand given how businesses are moving towards automation and digitisation to improve operational efficiency and productivity, soft skills are just as valuable in the eyes of recruiters. Key soft skills to have include collaboration, adaptability and analytical skills.

Collaboration is important not just for people-to-people relationships, but also for prospective employees to be able to work with emerging technologies. The rapid changes in technology and the significant impact these changes have on businesses also mean that adaptability is a prized soft skill that graduates should have. Employers value jobseekers who are able to embrace changes and challenges, in order to move the company’s business forward.

While intelligence systems are increasingly used to solve problems faced by businesses, there is still a need for humans with good analytical skills to identify such problems and know the right solution to apply to a problem. Graduates with superior analytical and logical thought process will impress recruiters, and will certainly have an advantage over other job applicants.

What this means for graduates

Academic performance and having the right technical skills may get you shortlisted in the job application process, but what employers look for are well-rounded candidates with both the technical know-how and soft skills.

Unfortunately, soft skills cannot be learned through textbooks, so graduates with little out-of-classroom experience may want to take some time to develop these skills through internships or work experience. However, if you have experience in school clubs or societies, you can also use these experiences to sell the soft skills that you have gained or honed.

Graduates must also to be able to demonstrate that they have these skills by using specific examples of their experiences during job interviews as well as in their résumés. For instance, when talking about collaboration or teamworking skills, you can cite an example from your group project experience where you worked together with team members from different backgrounds to reach a common goal.

Having concrete examples and experience will help convince recruiters that you possess the soft skills that you claim to have. Hence, it is advisable for students and graduates to equip themselves with work experience and soft skills as early as possible before entering the workforce on a full-time basis.