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Alignment with Prospective Employers is the Key to Securing Employment

When a question mark hangs over the future of the globe, the economy slows down, and there is a mismatch between supply and demand in the labour market, entering the workforce is a big challenge for new graduates.  

In the aftermath of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Faculty of Business is organizing web-based seminars on “Getting Ready for the New Normal” to inspire students and the wider community. The first in the series, entitled “Landing a Job during the COVID-19 Pandemic”, was aimed at the graduating class.

Addressing the webinar on 11 June 2020 were Mr Teddy Liu, General Manager, Group Audit and Management Services, New World Development Company Limited; and Dr Salina Chan, Senior Director, Learning & Development and Human Resources – APAC, Fossil Group, Inc.

While competition for jobs is unusually severe, there are more opportunities in some sectors than in others. The speakers pointed out that success in securing employment depends largely on how an applicant’s potential matches with the employer’s expectations. While digital know-how is much sought-after these days as people are increasingly connected in the virtual world, creativity, foresight, and leadership are always in demand.

Applicants should align themselves with prospective employers in terms of values, goals and culture, and convince employers of their readiness to play a part in the organizations’ growth with evidence from what they did and what they are doing. During the process, make use of touchpoints and pain points. Touchpoints are where applicants’ aspirations and employers’ visions coincide and where employees and employers meet on their journeys. “Let employers know that you are going in the same direction,” said the speakers. Pain points are problems and needs of the organizations and opportunities for applicants to propose solutions. “Let them know that you can contribute,” the speakers added.

Putting ideas into action, Mr Liu and Dr Chan emphasized that having the right Attitude, Skills, and Knowledge (A-S-K) is crucial.

Attitude is extremely important. Applicants should show sincerity by tailoring a CV, including a personal statement, for each application highlighting the required competencies and their relevant experience and personal characteristics. Be honest also at interviews. “Instead of denying that there is a dark side to your character, let the interviewers know how you overcame it, resolved conflicts, and handled difficult situations,” the speakers commented.    

Skills refer to both hard skills and soft skills. Apart from the professional capabilities that students develop in academic programmes, interpersonal skills and presentation skills are some of the most intensely demanded generic competencies. The ability to solve problems, a strong sense of teamwork, and the willingness to learn and improve are also essential.

Knowledge includes not only professional expertise and managerial abilities acquired at university but also familiarity with the sectors/professions and the departments/units that the applicants want to join as well as the positions they wish to fill. They should research the employers and let the latter know how their abilities, experience and personalities can fit them perfectly for the jobs and the workplace cultures.

In preparation for job hunting, Mr Liu and Dr Chan encouraged graduating students to build up their networks through professional and social platforms, develop personal stories of learning through experience, and keep abreast of news about the sectors and organizations they wish to join.