I know that it is just the sembreak and that March is 5 months away. But hey, we have October graduates remember? So in this light I wanna write about common fresh graduate dilemmas and scenarios. These may also apply to people who are looking to transfer line of jobs and/or industries – those who are looking for entry-level careers.
Isn’t it odd sometimes that a job is tagged as an “entry-level opportunity” when in fact it requires a minimum of 6 months to 2 years of relevant experience? Example of entry-level titles are – Marketing Assistant, Purchasing Assistant, Training Associate, Training Assistant, Logistics Associate, Production Assistant, CAD operator, Administrative Assistant, HR Assistant and many more. More often, they have an “assistant” or an “associate” in their title. But I find it really weird to see job postings which supposedly are for fresh grads BUT requires few years of relevant experience.
“How will I have that relevant experience if all job openings require few years of experience?
I am very sure that majority of us asked this question before. It makes perfect sense to ask this questions especially if almost ALL so-called “entry-level” jobs require a relevant experience. You just got out of school and they expect you to have that relevant working experience?
Note: For every fresh graduates, it always a must that you think ahead. You think and imagine of what do you want to become and where do you want to be 10-15 years from now. And from thereon, you can start at the bottom.
- On-The-Job training. Some schools require this. Be it on HR, Journalism, Broadcasting, Communications, Engineering, HRM, Accounting, Marketing, etc. Once you have this, you are ahead of every fresh grads in your batch. This will give you the realistic job preview of your chosen field. This will also enlighten you of some of the actual processes within your discipline and that when an interviewer asks you few things about your degree, you can be confident and competent enough to answer back – because you already have experienced it.
- Apply to those who just indicated “Fresh Graduates / Entry-level candidates are strongly encourage to apply.” When you do this, you increase your chance of being contacted by the company. Because you don’t have the experience yet, it is now up to you on how to sell yourself to the interviewer. That is why impression management is very important during interviews. Also, focus more on the relevant skills and courses that you have and relate it to the job that you are applying for. You gotta convince them that you have the skills and the aptitude and that you just need to have that first 2 weeks of supervising and after that, you can now work independently.
- Make yourself look like you are “trainable.” In relation to number 2, if you did’t have the experience but the employer sees your potential, then you can probably land the job. Again, you have to convince them to bet on you and that you are worthy of becoming their colleague.
- Apply for Management Trainee posts. When we say Management Trainee, we basically mean here that the company is probably expanding and that they need a pool of young and talented fresh grads to be trained to become the next people who will handle the company’s processes. Often, you will undergo a training that lasts from 1-4 months. And base from your performance, they will put you in a position that suits your skills, inclination and attitude. Management Trainee posts often accept only fresh grads of a particular year. Why? Because unlike people with work experiences, fresh graduates are still empty cups that need to be filled. As the saying goes, you cannot fill a cup that’s already filled. So employers choose to get the best fresh grads, train them and mold them to become the next leaders of the company.
TOO MANY COMPETITORS
“Yeah. There maybe a lot of jobs that attract entry-level/fresh graduates people. But I am not the only fresh grad in the Philippines.”
Every year, there are about 500,000 graduates all over the Philippines. How will you make yourself stand out from the rest?
- What are your assets? First, look at your personal skills and traits. There is this one study before that physical appearance really affect hiring decisions. So if you think you are good-looking and you have that charisma, then might as well use these during interviews. If you think your are a good communicator, then use this to connect to the interviewer. You know, employers don’t hire people when they feel that they won’t enjoy working with you. I don’t wanna sound discriminatory here but for those people who consider themselves as “not-so-good-looking” just like me, hey! Heads up! We can improve our physical appearance by wearing clothes and dresses that amplifies our pleasant and professional demeanor! You may not have that model or celebrity-like aura but still you can land the job by presenting your “best” self. We don’t need looks by the way when working. We need the skills, attitude and that excellent work ethics – and this by the way is the best asset of all, just so you know. DISCLAIMER: When I say physical appearance, I mean the total appearance, not just the looks. It also includes the way you carry and present yourself.
- Look at your resources. This maybe a cliche and perhaps the root cause of corruption in the Philippines but hey, you can use your connections to land your first job. If you are planning to pursue a marketing career then you might want to ask your friend who works in an advertising/marketing firm. Or if you wanted to be in an entry-level HR position, then you might want to ask your uncle if they have an available clerical HR position in their company. This saves you time and effort. You will also be somewhat sure of the company that you will work for. It will also prompt you to do your best because someone from the inside referred you for the position. You basically carry their name in everything that you will do and I am pretty sure that you don’t wanna put their name on fire right? There is this one study that employee referrals are the most successful hires. So if I were you, utilize and exhaust all the possible connections that you have.
- Be resourceful. If you don’t have that connections, don’t worry. “Maging maabilidad ka.” As they say it in Tagalog (Not sure though if this is the exact translation). If you are job hunting and you have exhausted all your connections, then it is time for you to work it on your own. Instead of using Jobstreet, why not try other non-mainstream job boards? We have JobsDB, Best Jobs PH, Bull Horn, Monster Philippines, Linked etc. You can even look at the career section of company websites. Remember that there is greater chance of being short-listed if you sent your application directly to the employer rather than through job boards. And mind you, almost all of the greatest jobs/positions are not advertised through these job boards. They are hidden somewhere else. You just have to look further and be resourceful enough to find these. In this way, you also have lesser competitors. By the way, you can also do walk-ins! Some companies prefer this. And this often leads to faster application which means faster employment!
- Amplify other advantages. Look at your credentials. If you were a prominent person in your university back then because you are the head of the student council, then you might want to amplify these during interviews. Also, you can bank on other trainings and activities relevant for the position you are applying for. Do not forget to put in your resume and mention the seminars and workshops that you attended before. If you are a member of a famous varsity team back in college, why not use this as well? If the employer is from La Salle, then he would be more than willing to hire someone who is from the Green Archers, right? You can also amplify the name of your affiliations. Admit it or not, there are also some universities that ring a bell whenever read in your resume by prospective employers. University of the Philippines. Ateneo de Manila University. De La Salle University. University of Santo Tomas etc. If you are from these universities, prove them that you embody the values of these schools. Who knows, they might just say yes – for now. But you have to prove even further that you are more than a fresh grad.
“I got an offer. But the salary is way lower than what I actually expected.”
Honestly, when I got out of school, my expected salary was P17,000 – P20,000. I became idealistic and that I banked too much on the fact that I came from a reputable university. And then I encountered this interviewer who seemingly slapped me with a question “Why 17-20K? You are a fresh grad.” Indeed, coming from a top-tier university is not enough.
- Research. Know the basic pays/salaries of your chosen field – your expected salary should be at par with these rates. For entry level positions in whatever field except IT, it is common to have a starting pay of P10,000 – P15,000. Beyond that is already a blessing or a luck. It won’t take long after these pay rates jump to a substantial amount – higher than what you thought. You just have to have that right skill and set of experience.
- Consider your expenses. Maybe you should also look at your travel and food expenses. If the job is just near your place, a 10-13K would suffice for an entry level job.
- Consider the opportunity and the company. Your first job might be a low-paying one but it can direct you to a promising career. It will equip you with the necessary experience and skills you need whenever you consider looking for another job in another company/industry. The truth is: EVERYONE STARTS AT THE BOTTOM. EVERYONE HAS THEIR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. For sure, after a few, you can be in a position that is more favorable for you. And 10-15 years from now, when you look back, you will just smile and thank God that you got that low-paying job that set the pace of your career.
So fresh grads, are you ready? I know you can be great someday. This is just the start of your career. So, let the job hunting begin!
(Credits go to the owner of the photo/s. Photos are not mine unless stated otherwise.)