Just Graduated, Now What?

3 Must-Know Tips To Secure Your First Job

By Lee Shi Yun 

Congratulations on graduating! You’ve spent years spent poring over textbooks and assignments, with your nose buried in your laptop, gaining knowledge through blood, sweat and tears. These surely would have guaranteed you a job and prepared you for a successful career ahead, right?

It can be really frustrating because no one really teaches you how to secure your first job. Oftentimes, we’re just thrown into the deep end and left to figure it out on our own. Wild.

Applying for a first job as a fresh graduate can be daunting, as we are entering a much more challenging market environment than ever before. Have you seen entry-level job advertisements that state “minimum 1 year of working experience” or “relevant working experience is an advantage”? Companies demand fresh graduates who are already independent, versatile and able to hit the ground running. So, how exactly do we navigate these uncertain and volatile times? 

Here are 3 tips we’ve gathered to help you secure your first job:

#1 Flaunt your Work Experience

Most employers would prefer candidates with a little experience in their relevant industries. Aside from the shiny degree you have obtained after years of hustling in university, real-world job experience will make you more employable!

Since your resume would be the first encounter with your potential employers, it’s also important to portray work experience to them. One of the ways to do this is to frame your past work experience in a way that is relevant to what you want to do. Look out for transferable skills that you’ve picked up from your co-curricular activities or part-time jobs during your university years. 

For example:

Past experience: President of a student association.

What to emphasize in your resume: Communication skills, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, leadership abilities, problem-solving skills, etc.

Don’t worry if what you’ve done is not closely related to the job that you’re applying for, there will surely be some overlapping skills or duties that you can highlight in your resume or during the job interview.

Some of you would have had a bit of industrial experience from your university internships, but did you know there are also programs that provide more exposure after finishing your studies, such as the PandaCUB Management Associate Program? 

PandaCUB (Management Associate) Program is a 24-month tailored program for ambitious, agile, creative, and resilient minds who are up for a challenge to go beyond expectations. It is designed to develop future leaders for foodpanda Malaysia by providing challenging and purposeful opportunities that accelerate their readiness to take on business managerial roles. The program encompasses rotations across verticals, enabling them to build strong competencies in multiple disciplines. This includes extended leadership exposure, formal training and professional development.

How it works

  • This is a 2-year program on a 4 x 6 months rotation.
  • You will be assigned projects within each rotation.
  • Post-rotation, there will be project presentation and performance evaluation.
  • Year 1 – local exposure, year 2 – APAC / Global exposure.
  • Upskilling via talent development programs.

What’s in it for you

  • A performance-focused experience in a collaborative team environment.
  • Opportunity to fast-track your career into managerial roles.
  • Extensive learning programs for your needs.
  • Exposure to top-level management early in your career.
  • A diverse workforce in an inclusive work environment.

PandaCUB Program is open for fresh graduates with a minimum CGPA of 3.2 or its equivalent and with less than 2 years of working experience. Candidates should also have active involvement in extracurricular activities and excellent verbal and written English communication skills. To apply, click here.

#2 Write an Amazing Resume and Cover Letter

Companies have to review hundreds or even thousands of resumes from their candidates, so how can you stand out? 

Do more research (Google is your best friend) by searching for tips on how you can write the perfect resume and cover letter. Ensure that all the important information, such as your contact information, past education, work and volunteer experiences are included in the resume. 

Since most people don’t include a cover letter for their applications, if you do, and if it’s good, you stand a good chance of being called in for an interview. The cover letter is an extra tool to tell your story and gives companies more reasons to hire you beyond what is mentioned in your resume. 

Most importantly, remember to proofread them to eliminate all grammatical and spelling errors.

Furthermore, don’t just do the bare minimum by sending out the same resumes and cover letters to all the companies, customize them! This may be a challenging feat, but try to look for small ways to emphasize your past experience and tailor it to the job scope of the role you’re applying for. This would show the recruiter that you’re motivated and willing to go the extra mile.

#3 Make a Good Impression During the Interview

No matter how many interviews you’ve been to before, they can still be nerve-wracking to many fresh graduates. 

One of the first questions you may be asked is “what do you know about our company?”. Since the first impression is important, it definitely helps to have done your homework by researching the company beforehand. 

Your interview preparations should also include practicing your answers to questions commonly asked during interviews as well as pertaining to the job description of the role you’re applying for. You may search for interview questions online and spend some time thinking about how you can best answer the questions. You can even write down your ideal response and rehearse your answers before the interview. You’ll sound more prepared and articulate during your interview, which leaves a better impression amidst the sea of equally qualified candidates.

When prompted for questions by the interviewer, don’t just shrug and say that you don’t have any. Take this opportunity to ask questions to determine if the job and company are suitable for you. You can ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role you’ve applied for, the challenges in the job or the working culture in the company. Asking these questions will also make you look more motivated and enthusiastic. 

Applying for a job after university is a huge move into “adulting”. We may face many hurdles along the way, but they will prepare us to be stronger to face any unprecedented challenges ahead. 

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour!

Written by: Lee Shi Yun (Serena) 

Serena has always liked to see the world in a positive light, despite all the adversities life has to offer. She enjoys a good cup of coffee with a slice of cake while watching a feel-good movie on Netflix. During stressful times, she winds down by immersing herself in the sights and sounds of nature.