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Insights on Job Hunting under COVID

 In Career Insights, Leadership, Learning & Networking Event

On 22nd May, AIESEC Singapore had the fourth networking session in our ‘Thrive in Adversity’ initiative. We were privileged to have Yuvan Mohan from Citi, Sergey Buldakov from Phoenix Partners, Rondy Krish from AXA, Harsh Raghuvir from Clarion Partners, Leon Khee Pay from Schroders, and Sabrina Ho from half the sky®.

The theme for the session was ‘Job Hunting under COVID’, for which Sabrina shared with us her advice and personal stories on job search strategies, as well as tips on resume and Linkedin profile enhancement. From the networking space, we also learnt a lot about the outlook of finance industries, tips to get into the industry and techniques to utilize our network. We would like to share some of our main takeaways from the learning topic sharing and  networking space.

 

Job Hunting Under COVID

Tips for Job search during COVID

What are some techniques to do job search during this period of time?

  • Apply with a purpose. Always start with figuring out your WHY, think about what you want to get out from the job or internship.
  • Learn to be your own career manager. Do not rely on any external parties to plan your path. Set your own goals, keep track of your progress and make sure to follow up on the application. 

What kind of attitude should we uphold when doing job search, especially when we don’t get any replies or face a lot of rejections?

  • Be adaptable. Do not be afraid to take a job that is outside of your comfort zone. On the other hand, when it comes to pay and location. Be open for non-paid internships, take it as a chance to get on-the-job experience. 
  • Be resilient. Always remind yourself to be able to bounce back from failure, think about how to enhance yourself.  

Linkedin profile and resume building

How can we enhance our resume?

  • Sabrina highlighted that inclusion of keywords and consistent formatting are the keys to enhance our resume. 
  • To start with the basics, we have to make sure that our resume can pass the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before the hiring manager reviews it. It is essential for us to include keywords from the job description and incorporate them into the skills and experience that we have. 
  • After your resume passes the ATS, the hiring manager usually spends only 6 seconds skimming through our resume. Therefore, consistency in the format is very important. Just make your resume simple and tidy by using professional fonts like Arial and separating the sections clearly. 
  • Additional tips to impress the hiring manager would be putting up quantifiable achievements of your experience. For example, how many times have you got promoted or how many people did you lead in the team. 

How can we stand out in our LinkedIn profile?

  • Make use of the featured function, to make your personal branding visual to the network. You can try to showcase your blog entry, portfolio, website and etc. 
  • Do not neglect the volunteer experience. This is the part that can showcase your leadership and societal awareness.
  • Be active on the network. Follow professionals who are an icon of the industry. Share articles that you are interested in. 

Tips for interview

How can we present the best during an interview?

  • It is important for us to showcase how we can add value to the company during the self introduction. Focus on transferable skills (qualities that you learn from school that can be transferred to the workplace, e.g. problem solving), attitude and potential that you can bring to the company. Hiring managers care a lot about candidates’ potential, not only on what they can bring to the company, but also on how an individual can grow within the role. 

What are some tips for virtual interviews?

  • Do the same preparation for physical and virtual interviews. Maintain your energy level by thinking about what excites you about the role and how passionate you are towards joining the company. 

 

General Industry Outlooks

Finance Industry

Leon mentioned that even with the current economic situation, large outlets such as banks in Singapore would continue to receive government assistance to hire graduates. His own stint in Schroders was funded by a similar scheme, after the financial crisis in 2008. However, not all financial institutions are equipped to move their onboarding processes online yet.

Overall, opportunities are still out there, just that fresh graduates would take longer to find a job, or are less likely to land their dream role right from the get go. Hence, it is important to be open minded!

Rondy added other points for those interested in joining the finance industry. Firstly, the knowledge studied in school might not be as relevant since it is mostly theory. Instead, it is more important to display an interest in the role and the financial industry.

The most important skill to succeed in this industry is communication skills. Students do not need to have strong technical skills, but it is important to have good networking skills. Also, first impressions count. The way someone presents himself/herself, even how the resume is organised or the types of data or visuals used inside, is taken into account.

 

Real Estate Industry

Harsh mentioned that job functions in real estate are very similar to functions in investment banking or private equity, because real estate is often viewed as a financial investment. Ultimately, the sector chosen is not very important. What is important, however, is a technical skill set with focuses on Excel and spreadsheets management.

For those seeking jobs in real estate, it is important to think through a hiring managers perspective. They want their people to be able to do the job with minimal training. As such, knowledge of the fundamentals and basics would be good. Newcomers will gain the required on-the-job experience within the first few months.

 

Career Advice

Many of the speakers told us that it was important to speak to senior employees in the industry through networking while students are trying to figure out their career paths. 

Yuvan highlighted the usefulness of technologies and social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. Even if they don’t directly allow people to land a job, they can help people understand industries better. He suggests that students use it to reach out to industry professionals for calls (or meet-ups when possible again) to learn more about industries they are interested in. Senior management or otherwise, these professionals would often be willing to spare students the time and opportunity to learn from them.

Rondy also strongly encouraged students to join available mentorship programmes to meet mentors within their interested industry. These mentors can guide students who are navigating their career path to identify skills that are required to join the industry. 

For those who are interested in fields that are different from their course of study, they can identify the transferable skills in their current course and the gaps that are lacking to land into their dream job. Since there are many online courses, one can always close the gaps by learning the relevant skills online. Sergey mentioned that part time jobs are equally important as they show employers that the candidate is motivated. 

Given the negative job landscape, Leon suggested that students can use this downtime to learn new skills or to tidy up their resume. He added that employers may also be interested to know how candidates are spending their time during this circuit breaker period. 

 

For those who do have an internship currently…

Sabrina provided advice on converting an internship to future opportunities. Most important of all is to network! She recommends talking to everyone, including even the pantry uncle, whenever possible. Also, it is worthwhile to go above and beyond the given job description, asking for opportunities to do more whenever possible. Finally, display good work ethics – be hardworking and contribute to the company.

 

Finally, some advice for those interested in management associate programmes…

Yuvan shared with us his experience in such a programme. Most importantly, companies are careful in selecting management associates as it is an investment lasting multiple years for them. They are looking for generalists – people who can fit in many different departments and roles. Job roles are not identified, and you can expect to be rotating between departments based on business needs. As such, you need to show how versatile you are, and keep an open mind! 

Overall, the application process demanded a variety of skills, as it involved written, case study, group interview, and one-to-one interview components. Besides this, he noted that companies are looking mainly for soft skills, such as the ability to facilitate discussion, absorb knowledge quickly, and articulate clearly. The application process for him was really long – in total, he went through 6 rounds of interviews! As such, it is necessary to manage your emotions throughout the process too.

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