While Singapore’s labour market experienced a shock in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has since seen a steady recovery with unemployment numbers likely to keep improving.
But we’re not out of the woods, yet. In the foreseeable future, fresh graduates may have a tougher time gaining entry in some industries, given that they will not only be competing against their peers but also against more experienced applicants.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways students can become more competitive in the labour market, even before graduation. If you’re still in university, here are some employment-boosting ideas you should be considering.
1) Earn a Work-Study Diploma
One of the most straightforward ways to increase your chances of getting hired right after graduation is to earn a work-study diploma or a similar apprenticeship certification.
Many businesses are especially interested in graduates of these courses because they are guaranteed to already have significant experience working in a professional environment, making them less of a hiring risk.
2) Pick Up a Challenging Hobby
You might be surprised how many popular hobbies involve skills that are directly translatable in professional settings.
Hobbies that involve technical challenges such as baking, photography, music production, and many others often require you to exercise skills that could be useful in your future workplace.
In any case, most hobbies will allow you to exercise critical thinking and make executive decisions—both things that will benefit your future career.
3) Read Extensively about Your Desired Industry
Your instructors may not necessarily be able to keep abreast of all the new developments you will need to learn about. As such, you should consider taking the initiative and doing your own reading about news and developments happening in your chosen career.
If nothing else, having current knowledge of your industry can give you a significant edge over less-informed job candidates once you graduate.
4) Learn a Foreign Language
Being proficient in a foreign language can open doors not just in your home country, but in others as well. Many businesses today are very keen on addressing the needs of ever-more niche markets, both domestically and overseas.
Knowledge in foreign languages and customs can make even a fresh graduate especially compelling for businesses and other organisations with global intentions.
5) Do Meaningful Volunteer Work
Volunteer work is largely recognised as professional experience in many contexts, and doing work for a recognised volunteer organisation could be counted in your favour.
Additionally, being a volunteer in a group that does something you’re passionate about will improve the chances of you being given more varied and interesting responsibilities, which will help your resume stand out even more.
6) Develop Work-Ready Skills Well Before Graduation
The term “work-ready skills” may seem vague, but it does mean something specific. Work-readiness involves both cognitive skills and soft skills that help facilitate competence in a wide variety of professional contexts.
Reading comprehension, knowing where to look for information, applied maths, critical thinking, and systemic understanding are all examples of cognitive skills that were probably not especially emphasised at school but are extremely important in most workplaces.
Things such as knowing how to read the room, understanding one’s own state of mental health, integrity, cooperation, discipline, and diplomacy are examples of critical workplace soft skills, which are likely even less emphasised in school.
Developing these skills takes years, if not a lifetime.
If you’re just about to enter university or take other diploma courses, it’s time to start valuing these skills and applying them at school well before you graduate. When employers see job candidates that display these traits, they are more likely to prefer them over others who lack them.
7) Start Developing Your Resume ASAP
Resumes are more than just a formality. To a certain extent, they can define your value as a potential employee.
It’s worth considering that there’s also more to developing a resume than simply filling it up with relevant work, school, and volunteer experience. It has to be structured in such a way that it is both appropriately written for your desired industry and helps sell the idea that you are, in fact, worth hiring—even if you are a fresh graduate.
By conceptualising, developing, and preparing your resume ahead of time, you not only get to tick off that box before you graduate, but you also improve your chances of having employers more interested in you!
These are just some of the most straightforward ways you could improve the odds of finding a job right after you graduate.
While you may need to invest some time, effort, and money to do some of these, they will likely help make you more employable not just for your first job but for the rest of your future career as well. We hope that this article has been helpful and all the best!