Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Job Seeker vs Career Seeker

When it comes to issues on employability, we probably have heard both sides of the stories. Job seekers complain there is no job in the market. Employers grumble they can't get people. At same time, employers continue to lay off employees. Some even find it difficult to confirm employees they recently took in who are under probation.

My Personal Experience
I was speaking on "Career Opportunities" at a local private college sometime early this year. During the Q & A session, a final year student asked me this - "Why is it so difficult to get a job? Employers looking for staffs and we are looking for a job...as easy as that". I was utter less for a while. My straight answer was "Boy,you gotta win the heart of a girl if you want her,..and, haven't you been listening to my talk? If you want a job, dish washing is a job. I'm very sure many restaurants would be happy to take you in",

I stop doing job interview unless for senior post in Skali but many occasions that I did then, end up with me lecturing the interviewees instead. My favourite first three questions then were:-

(ii)  Tell me what you know about Skali?
(iii)  How can Skali help you?

I find it amazing when someone came to an interview not knowing exactly what they want from the company neither they know about the company itself. I always tell them the "those days" stories where, during "my time", I had to go to libraries and look for some journals, annual reports and press releases to know more about the company I was about to go for an interview. I would have got myself prepared with information about the company as much as I could before going for any interview.
Information is Just A Click Away
Today, is the new age of digital world where all these information is just a click away and yet one came to and interview with naked mind other than looking for a job??

Correlation between Grades and Employability

Given a common denominator where everyone came from the same university or college. Everybody got different results when they graduated. Some with high and some with low grades.

Five (5) year from now, some will make it and some will not make it
I like to somehow start my career talk with this statement - "Guys, look at all your friends around you today. Five (5) years from now, some will hold high executive posts in private or public companies, some will not even get a promotion for 5 years, some become successful entrepreneurs, some will probably be bankrupts, some become market influencers and many more. And there will be lots of surprises...the unexpected. One thing for sure, the grades you gonna get won't dictate where you gonna be."....Huh??? That seems to the general respond every time.

So Why Can't Get Employed
There are reasons which are beyond and within one's control.
(i)  Beyond One's Control
  • Employers seeking only for experienced people
  • Irrelevant experience
  • Mismatch between industry requirements and courses undertook by graduates
(ii)  Within One's Control
  • Not seeking for employment themselves
  • Choosy
  • Opt to be entrepreneur before time…
  • Unemployable
Here I would only focus on those factors which are within one's control.

Not Even Seeking for Employment
Weird but it is true...there are graduates who are not even looking for employments. I've encountered and spoken to some of them and these what I found:-

a) Prefer to depend on parents - Beats me...and I always thought this would be applicable only to "well to-do" families. Apparently IT IS NOT !!! I don't really know why is this happening but I believe it has something to do with how the "nowadays" parents bring up their children. Which perhaps I would probably one of those to be blamed too.....God help me.

b) Influence from friends and partners - the people around other than the parents do play an important role in influencing their attitude towards employment. 

c) Afraid of challenges and the unknown - some feel employment would change their lifestyle and will no longer enjoy freedom. There are also certain level of inferiority attached to these group where dealing with new people and other "what if" factors freak them out.

Choosy
Despite unable to be employed, there are some who are choosy and would only consider if location is near, remuneration is good, normal working hours instead of odd hours or extended hours

To be choosy is some times ok. There is a saying .."One who choose makes it from one who let fate decides". However choose only when:-
You know where you are going and, when
You know your capability and values

Opt to be Entrepreneurs

Today there are many types of "money makes money" scheme which somehow many people mistakenly associate it with entrepreneurship. Going into business too is always mistakenly being associated with entrepreneurship.

Kaya Kaya Kaya!!!!!!
Images of man or woman flashing money seems to be common marketing gimmic for such schemes...Since doing business is more often been associated with high financial returns and freedom, some newly graduates incline in embarking into becoming entrepreneur or such scheme instead. 

But the truth remains:-

(i)   More than 70% didn't make it in the 2nd year. Believe me, been there, done that!!!
(ii)  It takes more than just courage to be an entrepreneur. One needs to have strong  PASSION, PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE. Apart from that, a fundamental business knowledge including accounting and finance would help too..

Unemployable

Strong word but what it actually means? One could not make any sense when a person went for say 5 interviews and all of them offered him while another went to 10 interviews and none offered. Even more astonishing is that the one who has been offered had a much lower grades than the one who has not been offered. The person who continuously failed to be offered an employment after series of interviews is "UNEMPLOYABLE". Why?

 A good grade doesn't guarantee good placement or employment. It would open up doors to be called for interview. Ultimately, employers look at the whole package of the interviewee as a person. And these they don't teach in colleges and universities.

(i)    Self promote or self selling
(ii)   Problem solving
(ii)   Handling pressure
(iii)  Communication skill
(iv)  Relationship management
(v)   Other soft skills or ancillary values..

Often than ever, colleges and universities encourages students to prolong their studies, from diploma to first degree then second degree, then masters or even PHD. Some event paint and glorify the certificates with guaranteed employment with high remuneration etc..... for obvious commercial reasons.

Anyway, if universities and colleges don't teach these soft skills at all, why then there are still quite a number of them who are EMPLOYABLE? To  me the answer is:-

"Those Unemployable are JOB seekers while those Employable are CAREER seekers."

Delivery Boy - My First JOB some 25 Years Ago. Emm...wonder if the tight jeans still fits me?

A job seeker is what I was perhaps about 25 years ago...A merely job seeker's primary motivator would be remuneration. If remuneration something that could sustain his/her monthly expenses or more, next would be the working conditions, working hours, type of commitment etc. A kitchen hand cum delivery boy paid quite well in Australia then....A$300 a week, free food, driving instead motorcycling, how could I complain  :-)

More often a job seeker has no medium or long term plan or no plan at all other than getting a job to pay off expenses. Any opening in the newspaper or online, he/or she would apply for and  very much at random too without knowing the nature of work, the company's background or have any idea how long he/she gonna be or wanna be working in that company.

Some would take a shorter cut by registering their names at various employment agencies. And this is where the issue of Underemployment came about.  More readings on this at "Underemployment - Capabilities vs Certifications".

Because of this, most of job seekers don't even get themselves prepared for interviews. On the other hand, a CAREER seekers would typically have the following values and attitude towards employment. They:-

(i)    have short, medium and long term objectives
(ii)   have short, medium and long term plan of what they want to be at each stage of their lives
(iii)  know the kind of experiences they need to gain in order to achieve their objectives
(iv)  have a target organisation or companies they want to be associated with
(v)   know roughly how long they gonna stay at each organisation
(vi)  know roughly what they can contribute to each organisation

Because of these attitude, naturally they will come prepared in any interview and have done extensive research before hand.

To sum up, what it takes for someone to be employable?

(i)   One has to do more than just getting certificates
  • Need to develop interpersonal skill. This perhaps can be done by joining various college activities and clubs. A pure bookworm won't generally acquire this skill.
  • Communication skill is too important to ignore. A good command in English is a must in today's working environment, be it private or public sectors.
  • General knowledge is another area often neglected. In today's information based economy and lifestyle, this requirement becoming more needed than before.
(ii)   Plan one's career while still in university

One must visualize who, what and where about themselves over the next 5 years. Hence list down targeted companies etc. 
Preparing for interview will come naturally and consequential if one manage to develop and acquire the above skills.

As for me, writing blogs, which is Never too Late, too is  part of my medium to long term plan :-).....Sorait.

More articles coming up...click here to see On The Way.