“What next?” The question on every student’s mind as the course nears completion and the commencement/graduation ceremony draws closer. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could cut out that uncertainty and land yourself a job even before you have graduated?
If your university offers campus placements, you are one step closer to that goal. But there are other ways in which you can hunt for and secure a job even as you complete your graduation.
Use the online channels effectively
1. Start with the basics. Search.
Searching online is a skill. If used right, Google alone would be sufficient to find relevant job options. It can help you find employers by location, by job description and within specific websites. If you are unsure of what job title to search for, it can help you with that too.
In fact, Google has recently launched in South East Asia a feature that makes job searches even easier by giving you listings consolidated from several job portals. Users who type in their job search terms into the search bar will now be able to see a consolidated list of job openings from jobs posted on over 1,500 sites. You can’t have to go to individual portals like MyCareersFuture.sg, FastJobs, JobsCentral or LinkedIn before Google has done the work for you!
When you’re in your final term, spend less time on social media and put in some time to search for opportunities instead.
2. Job-specific websites
Sites like Angel List and StartUpJobs compile jobs in start-ups, while Mashable lists jobs in digital and tech companies. Remote OK posts contract jobs and jobs that you can do remotely. And then for the rest, there are websites like Indeed, JobsDB Singapore and LinkedIn to help you find internships or entry-level jobs.
3. Social media channels
If you have identified companies that you would wish to work for, follow their social media channels. There are several hashtags like #hiring, #jobopening and #careers that companies use when announcing job availability. Follow these hashtags and search them for opportunities across the world.
- Follow recruiters, companies on Twitter and LinkedIn
- Comment, share and engage with them on interesting content
4. Company newsletters
Sign up for newsletters from companies that you want to work in. This helps you stay abreast with developments in the company, know more about new areas it is foraying into, and identify opportunities that may come up for you as a job seeker.
Here are other sign-ups you should consider:
- Job search websites will keep you updated on company profiles as well as tips to aid your job hunt.
- Talent acquisition companies or recruitment agencies also send out newsletters on the latest positions they are recruiting for. Singapore-based, 33 Talent or Aspire, are some agencies you may want to sign up for.
5. Participate in company contests
Any chance to interact with your favoured companies is good—it gives you a peek into some aspects of how they work. Competitions like hackathons might be a good place to start with. Know someone who works at one of those companies? Find out more about the company and its work culture; it’s a bonus if you hear of a job opening from them!
While hackathons are more popularly known, here are some other contests that might help you know more about the company and win too:
- Social media contests that urge users to try their product or service
- Case study competitions
- Influencer-based contests
Spruce up your online presence
6. Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for your career, no matter what stage you are at. From finding an employer to connecting with experts in your field, there is a variety of things you can do. Maintain an up-to-date profile, with a professional photograph, contact details and a resume that highlights your skills.
Liz Ryan, author of ‘Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve’, says on Forbes: “Your headline, your name and your profile photo are the only cues that user will get before deciding whether or not to click through your headline to your full profile. Make your headline count!” Additionally, participate in discussions and write to company leads in sectors that you want to work in.
7. Maintain a positive and professional online persona
You probably use other platforms like Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family. While you are job hunting, you might want to think twice about what you are putting up. You definitely don’t want your future employer seeing a drunk pic from last Saturday night.
8. Share the right things
On social media platforms, share information and articles on sectors that you are interested in. Also, use these mediums to showcase yourself as a good candidate to a potential employer. You should be able to demonstrate good communication skills, creativity, your passion for your chosen line of work and a well-rounded personality. You could also start a blog to talk about your interests and passions. In the long run, this could go into building your portfolio too.
9. Highlight the right skills
Your profile on LinkedIn might list out all your skills and passions, but when you are applying for a job, you need to do a little tweaking to present your strengths to match the requirement. Highlight those interests, experiences and skills that would be relevant for the job.
Here are more effective tips:
- While sending out cover letters, use words and skills highlighted in the job description to elaborate your experience
- Move up the relevant skills and highlight them with projects and university positions.
10. University placement offices
Your university’s placement office is one of the most obvious places to start your job hunt. This is where you can find out about future events and companies that may be recruiting from your campus.
For instance, the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, holds networking events for companies to meet students. There are also recruitment talks during which companies introduce themselves to students and talk about their work. Similar events are held at the National University of Singapore as well.
11. Networking meetups, seminars
Apart from the events mentioned above, look out for industry seminars and talks in your area of interest and sign up for those. Say your interest lies in Digital, then DigMarCon maybe an event you want to be at. And if it is Fintech and finance, then keep an eye on Money20/20 dates.
Websites like Meetup will also keep you posted on events across the city.
12. Alumni network
Look up the alumni association of your college. Bigger institutes have global alumni networks thanks to old students who have moved to other countries. And these are networks you should tap into for more than one reason. Register for alum dinners and reach out for coffee sessions with an alum who is willing to help.
13. Seek out mentors
LinkedIn and Twitter make the world very accessible. It isn’t a difficult task to get in touch with industry leads or experts in a field. If you find someone who you think might be a good mentor in your professional journey, they could well be worth writing to.
Experienced entrepreneurs are often willing to mentor passionate youngsters, and they could also help to expand your network.
14. Ask friends and family
Amidst trawling through professional groups, don’t forget that you have a rich network right at your fingertips that you can tap with ease – your friends, family and professors. They are most likely to be as varied in experience as it comes. Tap this network for any job or internship leads, for introductions to company leads and any other help you may want on the job front.
Professors are usually connected with alum networks, other leading universities or companies, so ask them for references when you have something specific in mind.
15. Participate in job fairs
Every now and then, a job fair comes around, with companies looking for bright, young recruits. Prepare yourself for it before attending one – be well dressed as there may be on-the-spot interviews, carry several copies of your resume, do your background research on the companies that are attending.
16. Walk in and have a chat
If the job fair didn’t give you access to the company you want to work for, why not walk in and ask if they are hiring? Granted, it is not going to be easy, and it would help to have a contact person inside whom you can ask for. But if not, you can still request for a chat with the HR or the hiring manager.
What you should do:
- Request the receptionist for a quick chat with the hiring manager. Be nice.
- Leave your resume behind, in case he/she is not available
What you should not do:
- Hound like there is no tomorrow.
- Not leave the office and come back every day
17. Sign up for a graduate training program
A graduate training program is conducted by companies for fresh graduates, to ease them into the working world. It offers students orientation on how the company works, trains them in basic skills and eventually may lead to them being absorbed in the chosen field. Several companies offer such programs in Singapore, in sectors ranging from banking and finance to retail.
Get an internship or work pro bono
18. Find campus jobs
On-campus jobs are an excellent way to get some work experience. From research or administrative assistant to a barista, there are different jobs that you have access to. More often than not, campus jobs will also require you to attend interviews, giving you an early experience of what awaits you in the job market.
19. Take on multiple internships
Internships are an excellent way to get first-hand experience of how things work in a company or how a particular role plays out. Your time as an intern will be spent observing, learning and being mentored by a senior. If you make a good impression, you could be amongst the first to be in consideration if there is a job opening.
The internships that you arrange through college needn’t limit you. If there are companies that you would like to intern with, walk in to drop off your resume and make a request for an internship. Check LinkedIn and portals like InternSG for internship opportunities.
20. Do pro bono work for non-governmental organisations
There is always room for interns and volunteers at NGOs. Spend your summer holidays working for an NGO pro bono. This will be precious work experience for you as you could be involved in a variety of roles – organising events, designing fliers, helping with accounts, assisting research.
21. Volunteer at company events
Like we mentioned earlier, any interaction with your company of choice could offer an insight into its work culture and the nature of jobs. Volunteering at company events can be one way of working closely and interacting with existing employees. Watch out for event announcements in the newsletters and make a request to volunteer.
22. Proactively tackle a problem
Say you’re an aspiring UX designer and you’re hoping to join a local bank in Singapore. You might notice that their mobile banking app isn’t well-optimised for customer experience. Rather than hope to change things after landing a job, proactively develop a solution based on how you think the app should work. Publish your work on a blog, push it out on LinkedIn and get the word out. If you did a good job, chances are high that someone will notice and ask you for an interview.
Broaden your focus
23. Take additional courses
Sign up for new courses to pick up something new, thus enhancing your chances of getting a job. It could be coding, animation, short-term management courses, soft skill training or even learning a new language. You may land a job through these additional courses, as you meet a new set of people and expand your network beyond your specialisation.
24. Broaden your country focus
Don’t limit your job search to Singapore. Many Singaporeans don’t even consider the option of moving abroad, simply because it’s so comfortable in Singapore. Look for jobs without location constraints and you will find a lot more options. Not to mention the richness of experience that you would get in another country and a different culture.
25. Scholarships and fellowship programmes
Look out for scholarship programmes offered by companies, which would pave the way for working with the company later. Similarly, get yourself into fellowship programmes that offer an opportunity to intern or work later. For instance, the Changi Airport Group’s scholarship comes with an internship in the business areas within the airport.
26. Start your own company
Why wait until you finish your studies? Start your own company while you are still in university. If you have a million-dollar idea, there is no time like right now to get going with it. Find mentors who can help you through the steps, organise investment and put your team together. For inspiration, here is a bunch of student entrepreneurs in Singapore.
27. Begin a passion project
If starting a company is not feasible for you, take up a passion project. it can evolve into something much larger and important. Tech in Asia, a leading platform for Asia’s tech communities initially started as a website for tech and social media news when the founders were still in university.