Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 42, Tuesday June 6, 2006




No Vacancy? No Way!!

Not surprisingly, when it comes to career plans, most of today's undergrads claim that they have lots of 'dreams' (apparently planned-out goals come later!) one of which invariably includes, quote, 'going abroad for a foreign degree, working there for some time and coming back with loads of experience and money', unquote.

Sharmin, 22, a BBA undergrad at NSU explains, 'You see, if you wash dishes or drive cabs for a couple of years, you make good money. I don't think people now want to wait till post grad to enjoy the fruits of life! They want it all early. But yes, for marriage and settling down, most of the people who go abroad will come back.'

So, money is what whets today's undergrads' appetites when they're out hunting for jobs. I must confess, as a member of today's generation myself, we have become a part of the global consumer culture phenomenon an absurd orgy of indulgence in ever more luxurious consumer goods. Hence the adage 'money talks' is as strong and real as ever!

And so to most undergrads 'hot' jobs are found at reputed MNCs and NGOs, where the pay is 'great'. Interestingly, ad agencies are looked upon as 'grooming houses' and not the final destination for new graduates. A laughing Shaquib, a 23 year old studying Media and Development Communication at IUB, quips, 'Yeah…tertiary-sector wise communication looks attractive. I mean, radio sucks while TV channel seems enticing but the field is still green. At the moment though, jobs, say in the banking sector seem sounder as they ensure job security. The social status attached with it also helps make it easier to get a bride with such jobs!!'

What about the other spectrum? What do employers seek in freshers? One of my friends, an HR executive at a top MNC, explained that they consider the following (in the order given) when checking out raw recruits:

1. How serious are they about the particular job they're appearing in the interview for? How long are they going to stick around?

2. How hungry are they to become successful in the career that they've chosen? Do they have a strong desire to improve their skills and knowledge?

3. The institution they have studied in subject wise. Business graduates are usually chosen from IBA, followed by NSU, IUB, etc., economics and accounting graduates are usually chosen from DU, and so on.

4. Where did they do their internship and for how long? The experiences and skills gained matter. Are they able to meet deadlines, work under pressure, multitask?

5. Their oral and written communication abilities.

6. And yes…appearance and attitude does matter not handsome or beautiful but smart, well-dressed, confident, persuasive, courteous, and being able to get on well with others. The last is considered to be very vital as in any given job and your ultimate success will come from you being a true team player.

Noted point 4? Most college undergraduates or freshers, as far as I see, approach their internship as a means to an end the final grade to clinch the whole four year deal so they end up doing internships in any given organization just to get it over and done with. And yes, as interns, they do want to learn, but they have a recurring tendency to assess the job market; pinpoint where the plentiful, lucrative jobs are; and then, without a second thought, direct their energies toward entering that field. The problem with this approach is one can land a career in the hottest, trendiest field which just happens to be a terrible match for the jobseeker and can lead to unhappiness and a jarring career change later on. What they're forgetting is that an internship, other than being a great way to make contacts and meet potential employers, helps solidify plans and develop specific areas of interest within one's career choice. So, here are a few 'tools' to approach one's internship the right way…

Tool 1: Knowing Yourself & Where You Fit
Do devote yourself to figuring out your true occupational callings before you even think about the job market. Here're a few basic steps to fit the round peg in a round hole!

1. Decide what you want out of your job. Ask yourself what it is about a job that'll make you excited to go to work on it every day. Some answers might include prestige, power, control, money, a sense that you're helping others, and creative stimulation.

2. Make a list of the skills you will bring to your job. Are you a good writer? Do you have a good eye for design? Are you well-organized? Think of everything you have to offer an employer. Don't forget the skills you gained from doing volunteer and extra-curricular work!

3. Make a list of skills you want to gain from your job. What have you always wanted to learn how to do this? Do you want a job that will hone your number-crunching skills? A job that will perfect your presentation and speaking skills? A job that will push you to learn a foreign language?

4. Make a list of careers that match your skills and passions. Determine your long-term and short-term career goals. Don't forget to look into jobs in the non-profit sector.

5. Read articles and books about the careers in which you're most interested. Through this process, you'll eliminate some of the careers you thought were contenders and gain a sense of why the remaining ones appeal to you.

Tool 2: Your Résumé
Now, while it's awkward to 'toot your own horn,' you must make the effort to distinguish yourself from all the other competitive job seekers. Forget about being modest. Your résumé is no place to be humble. But how do you design yours so that it comes off not as a pompous recitation of accomplishments the way a politician may do his, but as a compelling summary of your most attractive qualities? Well, first remember what your résumé is not for: it's not meant to get you a job. Not yet, anyway. Its mission is to get you a job interview which would hopefully lead to a job offer. But think of that as a long-term goal. Your résumé should get your foot in the door by attracting the reader's attention enough to wangle an invitation for that first big look-see. Here's a brief guide to constructing a professional résumé for freshers:

1. Start with your full name and contact details.

2. State a clear, specific job objective that is tailored for the particular position you're seeking. Beware of generic objectives such as 'to secure a regular position.'

3. Write a brief summary of qualifications as it gives the impression that you know your strengths very well and can help employers evaluate your credentials in a paragraph or so.

4. Emphasize your educational preparedness. Don't believe the fillip that grades don't matter in the real world; in the beginning at least, they do. And don't underestimate the value of extra curricular activities either. Did you organize any university festival? Were you instrumental in organizing seminars? Did you contribute to the university newsletter? These activities demonstrate interpersonal, communication organization liaison, coordination and leadership skills.

5. Include work experiences if any. Part-timed? Was a teaching or research assistant? Do mention!

6. Either include references or don't. Writing 'References will be available on request' is just wastage of space!

7. Leave out as much extraneous (read: personal) information as possible. These include names and occupations of parents, birthplace, age, sex, race, religion, marital status, health, physical appearance, personal habits, etc. Reserve them for the interview proper.

8. Be concise. A standard résumé should be no more than two pages.

9. Proofread for typographical, spelling errors and inconsistencies!

10. Make it an easy read. Today a good 20 to 30% of candidates get rejected because they haven't presented their résumés well. Also don't go overboard and experiment with flashy colours (like blue or green) or with fancy graphics and visuals; stick to the simple and straightforward.

11. Don't lie even if it's a small lie. HR departments in most companies do take pains in verifying claims.

12. Final suggestion. Once written, show your résumé to friends or mentors for comments and suggestions before rewriting the final draft of your masterpiece.

Tool 3: Cover Letter
Never send a résumé without a cover letter as its purpose is to express your interest in an organization and to request an interview. Prepare several versions of it as each job application will require a very different cover letter.

Tool 4: Interviewing skills, preparation and practice
Ben Franklin's statement 'Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.' perfectly summarizes the job interview process. When it comes to job interviews, be prepared. It's more important than job knowledge, skills and experience. It's your secret weapon to acing the interview and coming out on top, regardless of how 'good' the other candidates are.

Tool 5: Networking
Don't know how to go about finding job openings? Well, other than contacting your university's career services centre, do shift your own networking skills into high gear. Start asking friends and family members to ask their co-workers, friends, hairdressers, optometrists, accountants, and other acquaintances if they've either heard of any available, relevant job openings, or if they know of someone to whom you ought to talk. Don't think I'm joking. By not utilizing every networking opportunity, you are greatly limiting their potential for success in your job hunt. Indeed, 70% of all new jobs are found not from answering the want ads or sending out hundreds of unsolicited résumés they're acquired as a direct result of networking!

· Check out Internet job listings, like bdjobs.com, grameenjobs.com, etc.

· Visit the websites of companies where you'd like to work. See if they have any job listings posted there.

· Visit job fairs.
So to all you freshers out there work hard and go land that job!

By Simin Saifuddin

For greater, in-depth advice on all the above 'tools' do visit websites like freshersworld.com, ResumeEdge.com, etc.


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