Malaysia's job seekers must tough it out

Opportunities to grab: Locals working at a recently reopened wet market. Such markets are hiring more locals and workers can earn up to RM3,600 a month on overtime and tips. ­
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - Chin Jie Xun used to hold three jobs but found himself without income during the movement control order (MCO) period. The 34-year-old personal fitness trainer and kickboxing coach who was also helping his family run a learning centre for children could not carry out any of his tasks, and decided to take up his gym partner's offer of work at a wet market.

"I started working here a month ago, I wanted to supplement my income, " he said, adding that he had also wanted to help out his friend.

Although he admitted the work was tough, Chin was grateful because he could earn about RM80 (S$26) to RM100 (S$33) for six hours of labour.

He advised those entering the job market not to feel discouraged and to be ready to fight in a tough economic climate.

"If there's work to do, then just do it. It's better than staying at home and sleeping, which wouldn't bring you any money, " he said.

Like Chin, many fresh graduates are hit hard by unemployment and limited job openings amid a volatile Covid-19 economic landscape. But they cannot afford to give up.

IT graduate Althony Lim, 22, said although there is still a number of job vacancies in his field, the opportunities are fewer now.

"Looking for a job in my field is still considered fine at the moment.

"But there are fewer opportunities compared to a few months ago when I was looking for an internship, " he said.

Tough times: Lim says there are fewer job opportunities in his field now compared to a few months ago. PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

Lim, who will graduate in about a month's time, said he had been actively applying for work since April but have not landed a job.

"So far, I've applied for close to 20 jobs through various hiring platforms and about 10 employers have reverted.

"I have yet to get any job offers, but I still consider it alright as the hiring process is still ongoing.

"However, the number of recruiters who searched for me on LinkedIn had dropped from over 90 a few months ago to an average of about 60 recently, " he said.

Like many of her peers, Serena, 22, is currently finishing her internship at a company but worries about the prospects of finding a job after that.

Serena, who studied International Business at the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, said most of her coursemates were facing challenges in securing a job post-internship.

"After MCO started in mid-March, many of them had to either work from home or stop completely.

"I believe even after MCO or our internship, it'll be even more challenging for us to land a job as most companies will be focusing more on recovering rather than hiring fresh graduates for the time being.

"However, these may be different for companies under essential services which will require more employees to sustain and manage the surge in demand, " said Serena, who graduated in May.

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Serena is also worried about the "Last In, First Out" policy practised by some companies, whereby the most junior employees are retrenched first.

"This will affect us more as we are lacking in experience and knowledge compared to those who have been in the workforce for years.

"However, I believe as fresh graduates, we should focus more on what we will be able to gain and learn from the company and how we can provide value to the company, " said Serena, who gained valuable experience interning with a company which fell under the essential services category.

"At the end of this month, I will be attempting to find another job more suited to the course I studied or something I'm passionate about, " she said.

Student Ching Xiang Jun, 22, said he is still waiting for his final results before he sends out job applications. "I have completed the syllabus and my coursework, so my university lecturer said I can start looking for jobs.

"However, looking at the market and the economic situation now, I think it will hard to get a job, " said the Bioscience with Chemistry student, adding there are limited job vacancies, especially entry-level jobs, in the research and development area of his field.

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