Stuck looking for a job? A recruiter gives advice

PHOTO: Pexels

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the global economy badly, and jobseekers are bearing the brunt of this pressure.

We spoke to a recruiter, Cynthia, who sheds some light on valuable tips that will guide you through this gloomy period, no matter which stage of your job hunt you are stuck at.

Cynthia is a passionate talent acquisition specialist who has 8 years of recruitment experience under her belt. She is currently driving talent acquisition at Publicis Sapient, recruiting for SEA and Japan markets. She has experience in digital recruiting across APAC for Oracle, American Express and Kelly Services.

If you’ve been feeling frustrated as of late, here are some actionable suggestions to get you up and running.

Which of the 5 stages of the hiring journey are you stuck at?

We have identified the 5 most common stages that candidates are finding themselves stuck at right now. No matter where you are, there are tips and insights on how to make it work for you, so do not give up just yet!

1. I was shortlisted and interviewed, but have not heard back

2. I received an offer with a lower salary. Will taking this up impact my career progression?

3. My offer got rescinded / The company I interviewed for told me they are no longer hiring. What can I do now?

4. I am still hunting for jobs, but haven’t found one even after applying for 100+ jobs.

5. I am considering giving up and waiting it out for the right opportunity. Should I do that?

1. I was interviewed and am currently in the midst of the recruitment process, but I have not heard back. 

It can feel frustrating to not hear back from a company especially if you’re halfway through the hiring process. However, as things evolve rapidly in these uncertain times, many companies are taking some time to get back about their recruitment plans and decisions. Still, Cynthia stresses the importance of expressing interest in a company.

Be proactive: Keep up to date with the company’s latest news, and reach out!

Keep yourself updated on the company’s latest updates and news, and touch base every one to two months to let recruiters know that you are still active in the market.

As Cynthia shares, “I would be more interested to talk to talents who proactively reach out to me. 2 talents emailed me recently and asked me how things are going, and I remember them. This is the importance of being proactive.”

PHOTO: Pexels 

2. I received an offer with a lower salary. Should I take it up? How will this impact my career progression?

With the current economy, many jobseekers are being offered salaries that are either lower than their expectations (for fresh grads), or lower than their existing salaries (for working professionals).

A lower pay could be due to a skill gap from changing to a different role

First, it is important for jobseekers to try to understand the reasons behind being offered a lower pay by their employers. Cynthia shares that the majority of employers try to at least match, or increase a candidate’s current pay. Hence, a lower pay may be a result of a skill gap arising from situations like shifting to a different role.

Negotiate for opportunities to grow in your new role to make up for the salary reduction

If you are contemplating taking on the offer despite the lower payscale, Cynthia stresses the importance of articulating to your employer your desire to grow.

“Tell your employer how you want to grow in the next 2 years. Even if they are unable to match your current pay, they can explore other areas to add value, such as by providing more international exposure or new skills to learn, so that it balances out the difference.”

Ultimately, the decision on whether to accept the role rests in your individual desires and motivations. Ask yourself: Can the difference in salary be balanced by other growth opportunities? If so, be sure to communicate this clearly to your employer!

3. My offer got rescinded. The company I was interviewing for told me they are no longer hiring. What can I do to remain competitive? How can I improve my resume?

It can be demoralising to go through weeks or months of the hiring process only to get your offer rescinded. However, before you scramble to apply for more jobs, take some time to improve your resume.

Show, Not Tell: Reframing your resume

Cynthia stresses on the most important thing she looks out for in resumes- the ability for candidates to articulate the outcomes of their work, rather than simply listing their job scope.

“I recently hired a fresh graduate who joined us in March this year. What I looked out for was her part-time and internship experiences. She was able to articulate clearly what exactly she did, the projects she worked on, as well as the outcomes she achieved during her internship period. Rather than simply listing down what you did, the employer wants to know what you really achieved during your internship and part-time job.”

As you get more experienced, you can go a step further to improve your recruitment chances.

Demonstrate A Desire To Learn And Upskill

When reviewing candidates, recruiters also look out for an indication of one’s desire to grow and learn. As Cynthia explains, “Have you upskilled yourself through the last couple of years? Have you gone for certain certification courses or attained certain accreditations?”

Don’t rush the process. Brushing up on certain skill sets or picking up relevant knowledge can help increase your competitiveness in the job market.

You’ll Stand Out If Your LinkedIn Profile Isn’t Just About Work: Recommendations, Headline and Personality

Cynthia shares that recruiters are increasingly looking at candidates’ LinkedIn profiles, especially in social recruiting. Here are some things she looks out for:

  • Recommendations: What others say about you gives recruiters an indication of your credibility
  • Headline: Are you able to clearly articulate how you can value-add to an organisation?
  • Personality and Flavour: Tell recruiters a bit more about yourself. Who are you as a person? What are your interests and what do you believe in?
PHOTO: Pexels 

4. I am still searching for jobs, but haven’t found one even after applying for 100+ jobs.

If you have been facing some difficulties landing a job, there is a new glimmer of hope as the government rolls out 11,000 traineeships to support graduates.

More jobs are now available with the SGUnited Traineeships Programme

While many companies are going through hiring freezes, many are looking to lend support from the government to roll out the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, which will provide graduates with jobs across more than 1000 organisations.

“I do see some light. It is not that we are not hiring. I think that as we start to see a bit more clarity in terms of how the economy and business are doing in the next 6-12 months, we will be able to have more visibility in terms of the number of headcounts we can continue to hire. I have submitted my interest for the SGUnited Traineeships Programme and also discussed with my leadership team to understand if we can tap on the government grants to continue with the graduate program.”

A different perspective on hiring freezes: What they tell you about employers

In fact, hiring freezes can indicate that companies care about protecting their current employees. Cynthia shares that from the organisation’s point of view, “the reason we have a hiring freeze is because we want to make sure that we come up with a plan to retain our own people first. Taking care of our people internally is so much more important because we don’t want a situation whereby we employ more people and our people end up not having enough work to do.”.

PHOTO: Unsplash 

5. I am considering giving up and waiting it out for the right opportunity. Should I do this?

Many fresh graduates are torn between waiting until times are better, or taking on a job with lower salary or jobs that they are not interested in. Cynthia’s response to this dilemma is simple.

It depends on your financial situation, but you can make both options work

The obvious practical consideration is whether you are able to make ends meet and survive without a job for the next 6 months. Cynthia’s perspective on this is “if fresh graduates have a 6 month window period, there is no harm waiting a little bit longer for the right opportunity.”

However, if this is not a financially sustainable option, short-term roles can offer you relevant and useful exposure as well. Cynthia’s tip is to “think of the long-term roles that you are intending to apply for, then look for related short-term roles to gain exposure first.” For example, if you are looking to pursue a marketing-related role in the future, look for part-time or short-term marketing opportunities, as this will increase your employability in the future.

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