What Employers Want
The type of job you are applying for has its own requirements.
Photo: Zahedul I Khan
There has been an era at the beginning of Bangladesh's existence when the job market for fresh graduates was extremely limited. The defence sector was a call of rescue, providing stability and guaranteed escalation in career opportunities in that period.
Fortunately, times have changed. Bangladesh has risen as a nation, has seen tremendous growth in its service sector which in turn translates into jobs for the new generation of highly globalised graduates. Now we can afford to dream big; we dream of not only working in a multinational but creating one of our own. But is this pool of opportunities limited to a select few? Is there still scarcity of a class of workers while many others continue to struggle for a beginning?
The answer is both yes and no. The job market has improved in all aspects but some areas have done more than improve, they have evolved. On the other hand the fresh-graduate labour market too has seen a drastic change; with one group evolving into international standards while another just improving over time.
So what are the characteristics which differentiate a person from other candidates? Fresh graduates who have started in their respective fields with a 'bang' have come up with some answers.
Of-course the type of job you are applying for has its own sets of requirements. A technical job, for instance, will place greater emphasis on your technical skills, a managerial job will look into your communications skills in more detail while a marketing job will search for creativity and innovation. The challenge however lies in not only possessing the required qualities but also in demonstrating them most effectively in the most appropriate places.
“Ace-ing your job interview is just as, if not more, vital as ace-ing your exams.” Says, Mehtaj Binte Saad, a fresh entrant in HSBC's Future Leaders Development Program. “Gone are the days when your transcript spoke for you. Although your grades do provide an initial impression, employers nowadays look for the complete package and that includes how you talk, how you dress, in short how you present yourself.” Next, she goes on to say, your extracurricular activities are looked into to verify that you are not all book smart and not at all street smart.
When we say extra-curricular, traditional thinking relates to debating only, but the field for ECA activities have thankfully expanded exponentially. Today, those who are not the greatest of public speakers can demonstrate their team building, leadership, creative or stress management skills in organised sports (for both boys and girls), event organising and many more activities. Today's employers have learned to value the effort and achievement in leading or helping a football team to victory thus allowing you to play guilt free.
“ECAs are also necessary because for a fresh graduate that's the only work experience there is,” continues Mehtaj, “when your interviewer asks you to relate a challenging experience, you can't talk about a difficult exam; you have to talk about that project which won you the competition or the challenges in attaining that gold medal in swimming or something of that sort. If you don't have these stories then you fall short of hitting that high mark which others will hit.”
You need to show confidence to fare well in the job market. Photo: Zahedul I Khan
Although she spoke from personal experience in the business field, her advice can be projected successfully into all other fields with minor adjustments. Technical jobs, as stated before, puts greater emphasis on the courses you have passed and how successfully you have passed it. But even here, a piece of paper can only say so much. The burden of relaying the important information is still on the interviewee. If you are looking for a processor job in the back office you have to show that you are patient and dedicated and hardworking. Proper communication is the only way to portray that.
Interviewers looking to hire technical employees know that at the undergrad level only basic technical knowledge is provided. The real technical skills arise through on-the-job experience. Hence when choosing their employees, these people look for young men and women who can show a passion towards learning and challenges, towards gaining experience and towards learning from failure. Having an open-mind is perhaps the best external addition to a grand and colourful CV.
“Openness in learning is also the central determinant in landing a creative job” states Rowena Arefin, event manager at Asiatic Events. “Creative fields require a lot of revisions in ideas and incorporations of others ideas thus an open mind is the basic essential.”
“Openness and adaptability are important in not only getting a job but in also staying on top of it,” says Aumio Shariar, E-Business Manager, Personal Financial Services, HSBC and Sadia Musarrat, Assistant Manager, Cards and ATM, HSBC. “Openness applies to both openness to different ideas, and openness to learning. In large multinationals, much of the work is structured and job descriptions are precise and come with detailed guidelines. All they need is someone with a good basic education and one who is eager to learn and apply his/her ideas to add value to the work. Thus to be able to adapt to and accommodate changing job responsibilities and nature of work will definitely be valued by his/her managers.”
A 'can-do attitude' also adds to your value addition as an employee. On the job you have to do an assortment of activities many of which you are familiar with and still many you could never have comprehended. You need to show you can do it all and you need to show this with confidence.
Having great social skills also helps, once you are in the job, since you need to build positive relations with the other departments and your own department as well. In today's interdependent organisational climate, a social non-entity is more valuable than a reclusive genius.
Value addition to one's job is a new idea in the Bangladesh market but it's fast gaining popularity. Employers are now seeking out workers who not only allow them to tick all the 'requirements' boxes but also fill up the last option of 'others'. So the next time you face an interview board, make your own checklist of things to demonstrate. Confidence, openness, adaptability and most importantly, presentation. Yes these are all bookish words you have heard before but applying them is a whole new task.
So what difference will you bring to the table?