New graduates need more than a degree and experience


SINGAPORE, 22 August 2014 A lively panel discussion themed ‘Future Proofing Your Career’ was today organised by jobsDB and the Singapore Management University at the campus’ Mochtar Riady Auditorium.

Leading the discussion around Singapore’s job landscape and recruitment and retention strategies were senior executives from multinational and local companies:

  • Julian Persaud, Managing Director of Southeast Asia, Google
  • Mags Hizon, Leadership and Org. Development Manager of Unilever Asia
  •  James Loo, Senior VP Group HR of DBS
  • Sheldon Fernandez, Managing Director of jobsDB Singapore
  • SMU’s Professor Tan Hwee Hoon (moderator)

“With an increasingly competitive job market for employers and job seekers alike, it is pertinent to understand, especially for new university graduates, the new dynamics in recruiting and retaining talent. That’s exactly what we achieved at today’s panel, which provided a good range of perspectives from multinationals and locals across different industries – tech, banking and FMCG – with many useful takeaways for students”, said Sheldon Fernandez, Managing Director, jobsDB Singapore.

Tackling the main question, ‘What are employers looking for?’, panellists did not discount the relevance of a degree but encouraged students to demonstrate soft skills and a range of passion points, as well as take a more realistic stance to salary expectations and rate of progression.

The thoughts expressed reinforce the findings of a recent jobsDB Hiring Index Survey which polled 233 Singapore-based companies and found that the top reasons for not hiring new university graduates include ‘no suitable vacancies’ (67%) and ‘having too high salary expectations’ (33%).

In the same survey, 74% of respondents indicated a preference for diploma holders with degree holders coming in a close second. This points to the more holistic approach companies are taking when hiring graduates. Besides a degree and work experience, candidates are assessed on their attitudes, values, leadership potential and ability to articulate personal and professional goals.

Increasingly, in such a competitive job market with graduates outnumbering jobs, panellists agreed that being the right fit for the company’s culture is now as important as coming with the right skills and qualifications.

Top tips on future proofing your career were shared by panellists, including:

  • Keep your eye on the prize – what does the long term growth plan look like?
  • Demonstrate staying power – employers are likely to ‘bin’ the CV from someone who’s worked at four companies in five years
  • Don’t rely on a one-size-fits-all CV – play up different skills in CV versions that have more relevance to the roles you’re applying for
  • Pick the job you’re passionate about over the one that pays more – the remuneration will likely balance out over the longterm with the value you bring
  • Make your CV stand out – explore innovative ways of selling yourself, like creating a short video for example
  • Where else do your passions lie? – employers want to meet well-rounded talent so share your interests outside of work
  • Don’t be afraid to fail, and talk about what you learnt from this in an interview – it demonstrates your ambition

Said Mr Sim Cher Young, Director, Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre, SMU, “The Centre provides the critical springboard to our graduates towards their first job. This is all but just a starting point and at SMU, our graduates are ambitious and talented, and we stress the importance for them to be prepared and remain adaptable in the today’s fast-changing world. Today’s event is an example of the importance of connecting our students with industry for them to gain useful insights to be market and career ready as they enter the work world.”