By NINA TI
You no longer break a sweat while job hunting. Specialised job boards, human resources (HR) websites and recruitment agencies are a click away on your computer or a flick on your smartphone.
But does it always work? Are you getting in the door, or just adding to the cloud?
More alarmingly, are you the kind of jobseeker who is hoping to nail one good job or “expression of interest” by sending out massive numbers of emails?
Precisely because email and online job postings are impersonal, it is easy to get blown off and ignored. Therefore, more and more people are beginning to understand that reaching out in real-time is extra effective compared to hiding behind the keyboard.
Nothing beats a phone call, or a word-of-mouth mention. However, if you are just entering the job market and do not know anyone in recruitment or HR, then seek out other opportunities to show your face and/or be heard.
In February this year, nearly 25,000 jobseekers did just that. These jobseekers turned up for a career fair in Kuala Lumpur, pounding the convention centre floors armed with not just bags of resumes but also bringing with each of them a corporeal package of charisma, image and ambition.
These new graduates and jobseekers, who comprised local and foreign talent, thronged the Mega Career and Studies Fair, which is a twice-yearly recruitment and upskilling event held at the KLCC Convention Centre.
The Mega Career and Studies Fair 2015, organised by GTI Media on Feb 7-8, was a highly anticipated event for jobseekers and prospective postgraduate students.
This time around, it was a huge industry accomplishment and a monumental affair as the two-day event managed to gather 60% of Malaysia’s 100 Leading Graduate Employers under one roof.
The sheer number of visitors crossing the threshold broke previous records and was indicative of the manner in which Gen-Y jobseekers, savvy young men and women with brains and attitude, are no longer clicking distractedly in virtual hideouts, but are throwing themselves out in the real world and actively meeting recruiters.
Despite the positive signs, a number of recruiters were left feeling tickled.
During preliminary interviews, many noted that the Gen-Y crowd, while very connected and fast in problem-solving, were overly confident and preferred to “wing it”.
One of the biggest problems appeared to be a lack of focus. Applicants had to work on multiple leads.
For the unprepared, this was very distracting since there were 116 participating graduate recruiters at the fair with so many diverse roles on the table.
So, if you are as a jobseeker who is willing to go the extra mile for career opportunities, what can you do to be one of the chosen?
Needless to say, you should do more than show up with an armload of resumes, praying and spraying.
Win people over
As a member of the exhibitor team, I was privy to the going-ons at the fair. Based on what I observed, I feel there are a few things that jobseekers can do to improve their chances of getting shortlisted, and hopefully get picked for a follow-up interview.
1. Do your homework
Understand that the interview is not about you!
The interviewer doesn’t really care about your practised answers to the strengths/weaknesses question, your grades or your clean driving licence record.
A good interviewer cares only about one thing – the company.
The questions you are asked are meant to see if you are a good fit for its work culture. Preparation is key. At a minimum, you should have read the company’s brochures or visited its website.
Review the job posting, and try to understand what it requires. Once you have solid information about the company at your fingertips, you will come across as a potential partner who can join the company and hit the ground running.
2. Pay attention to your body language
Try not to appear nervous or needy. Job-hunting is a bit like dating – no one is going to ask you out if you look like you are falling to pieces.
Be prepared to handle yourself in a calm and professional manner, especially under a barrage of questions. A good way to improve the way you conduct yourself is to do practice interviews.
The second time you tell a story will always be better than the first, even though your answers are essentially the same.
Listen carefully and answer precisely. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, put them in your pockets.
3. Be mindful of your social media
Recruiters today are savvy; they look beyond carefully crafted resumes.
They prefer to understand you better by checking out the stuff you do when you think no one is looking.
Thanks to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn, there’s a whole lot of honest information about you out there, which you have created yourself.
It is known that colleges and universities take into account the visibility of a person’s social media opinions when filtering new student applications. Now, employers are joining the game.
What you have put on the world wide web is open to interpretation. To you, it might all be done in the spirit of playful expression, but to others, it may show elements of undesirability both as a co-worker and a potential HR investment.
4. Ask questions
People overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do their whole lives.
Don’t be afraid to ask about the company’s values and what you would be doing if you got the job.
After all, job-hunting is more than just selling yourself.
You will need to learn the art of listening and asking the right questions. This could be the partnership you want, or not.
Have two or three questions ready, so you show you are passionate about joining the team. Asking questions also show that you are inquisitive, and sharp.
If flexible work hours are important to you, but you fear sounding like a wimp, ask the interviewer what the office looks like at 8pm. The point is, you can find out a lot just by interviewing the interviewer.
The word out there is yes, the big companies are hiring; they are also actively taking steps to attract, engage and retain talent.
As a matter of fact, we are seeing it now – in the way organisations in banking, finance, oil and gas, and property development are slowly evolving and improving on theiremployee value propositions.
Meeting a representative of the company is a good chance to give and get feedback. Things to remember (before, after and during any face-to-face encounter) is to try to relax and be yourself.
However badly you want the job, always remember to stay in your own skin and be thankful for people’s time.
Nina is the production editor at Leaderonomics and insists that her opinions are entirely her own. If you have an exciting business event or feel that you are a fascinating person, do contact Nina at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately for some help on how to shout it out in www.leaderonomics.com. For more shoutouts, click here.
Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 7 March 2015
Nina Ti is part of the team that manages social media and distribution of digital content for Leaderonomics. She writes on HR and management topics. All views and opinions expressed here are her own.