By San Peng
A chief-sub at a newsportal receives an email from a 23-year-old. The recent graduate enquires if there are any vacancies for journalists. Impressed, the chief-sub asks Jenny* (not her real name) to email her resume – which arrives 10 minutes later.
The “resume” with cover letter consists of two paragraphs on her objective and “skills”. Stunned, the chief-sub says: “I clicked on the document repeatedly because I thought I’d downloaded it wrongly. But no – it was just the two paras.”
Angie Raj, co-owner of public relations and event management firm, Impact Communications, recalls a recent encounter with a would-be employee in her mid-20s, who was supposed to join Angie’s small but expanding business.
“She rang a day before she was supposed to start work, telling us that her grandfather had died and that she needed three weeks off. We tried to negotiate with her. We told her we would give her two days of compassionate leave but we really needed her to start work on that particular day as per the contract.”
The young woman did not show up. Angie was not surprised but did feel a bit cheesed off because she had turned down an equally qualified candidate in favour of the no-show one.
“We had turned down someone else and could not ask her if she’d reconsider our offer. The person did not realise this, but she had wasted a lot of our time and money,” says Angie.
Many employers are only too willing to share their stories about “encounters” with the cohort known as Millennials (those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s). For every positive story, there are countless not-so-nice ones, ranging from rudeness to cluelessness.
Some candidates ring a day before to confirm their interview slot – only not to turn up at the appointed time. There are no calls or a text message. Just silence. Then, there are graduates who “copy and paste” resumes – but forget to change the name at the top of the resume. Or turning up at interviews – with their parents and siblings in tow. Or demand an unrealistic starting salary when they have zero experience.
It’s tough out there
Every year, about 180,000 Malaysians graduate with diplomas and degrees from institutions of higher learning. In a study published in 2011, the Education Ministry said out of the more than 174,000 graduates it traced, nearly 25% remained jobless six months after graduating.
Many youth lack an understanding of the jobs market. Having been spoon-fed throughout their schooling life, many are also unprepared for an increasingly globalised jobs market. Today, many jobs are being outsourced – especially in software, IT, web design and banking – and if you are not on a par, be prepared for a long futile search for employment.
Here are some tips for Millennials who want to land a job but do not have much experience in applying for one.
- Be serious. Looking for a job is not some “fun” activity. Act like an adult and you will be treated like one. If you are preparing a resume for the first time in your life, do research – plenty of it online and offline. Start with a proper template (download or use the ones in Word). Get someone to read it for typos, grammatical mistakes and please, no matter how tempting, do not – do not – lie. Your resumes should not contain the following: “cute” email addresses (such as email@example.com), stains, doodles or illustrations, cropped mug shots of your Bali holiday photos or career “goals” like “dream of retiring at 25, LOL”.
- Show up and dress appropriately. If you’re stuck in a jam, ring or text and apologise profusely but you should have left your house three hours earlier. Punctuality is generally considered a sign you have passed the first test of employability. Another tip, recce the place a day earlier if you really don’t know the address. Do not wear your “best” clubbing outfit, “statement” Mickey Mouse ties or show off your “inspired-by-Rihanna” tattoo.
- Know the industry you aspire to join. Angie says: “If you want to join the PR industry, make sure you at least read the newspapers!” Go to a firm’s website before you turn up for an interview. Find out who the chief executive officer is and any info on the person interviewing you. Find out the job scope and understand fully what is expected of a new employee.
- Facebook and Google are an employer’s newfound best friends. Be careful about what you post and share on social media. If there are any dubious posts, delete them now.
- Attitude. Even if you have little or no experience, employers don’t care as long as have the right attitude. For example, you are polite, cooperative and willing to learn. At the probation period, if you have good IT skills, volunteer to help older folk in your company with any tech problems. Be flexible and show willingness to do various tasks to achieve a common goal.