I just graduated, but the job landscape looks bleak and uncertain. Should I hold out for my dream job?

Graduating into a pandemic job market is tough. Staying adaptable and curious helps – so may a traineeship offered under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme

Many fresh graduates may be experiencing a rocky start in their job search, but learning how to keep an open mind and tap available opportunities may help get your foot in the door. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Finally, after years of schooling, you are ready to enter the workforce. Long before the ink dries on your diploma or degree, you already dreamed of scoring a job that matches your interests, fulfils your potential, and perhaps even enables you to ease your parents' burden. It will be a sign that you are finally an adult, a door to more opportunities to come.

But then came Covid-19.

For many who graduated into the workforce during the pandemic, the journey has been more turbulent than expected. Jobs, especially good ones, are harder to come by.

Should you hold out for your dream job or settle for the first offer? Should you take up an internship? When will the job market return to what it used to be like?

One recent graduate, seeking advice from Workforce Singapore (WSG) career coaches, asked: "I am offered a full-time position for a job that is not really relevant to what I have studied… Some SGUnited Traineeships seem appealing but I am worried the pay would not be enough for me to support myself and my family. What should I do?"

Another wondered how an SGUnited Traineeship might "set the benchmark" for one's career in terms of progression and pay. "How do I let [employers] know I deserve a 'normal' pay?" the graduate asked.

It is perfectly normal for young job seekers to feel anxious about what seems to be a bleak and uncertain future. But the fact is, Covid-19 is throwing up new opportunities. Don't let it stop you from getting your career started. The key is to be versatile and adaptable.

The triple A approach: Adopt, Adapt, Acquire

WSG career coach Sharon Wee suggests that fresh graduates develop what they call the "triple A" mindset: Adopt, Adapt and Acquire. Adopt a new mindset by being proactive, positive and resilient; adapt to the new normal by networking with people outside your immediate circle and keeping abreast of trends and opportunities; and acquire new in-demand skills while you hunt for jobs.

Do also assess your finances, the prevailing market conditions and your existing skills before turning down a job offer that isn't exactly what you had hoped for.

The reality is, not everyone gets to do what they want immediately, especially when times are not ideal. Some people take a longer time to find their dream job. But with each career move they make, they pick up or hone the skills that eventually help them secure the role they have been wanting to get.

Ms Wee advises fresh graduates to "stay curious and be open to new opportunities while navigating your preferred interests".

"Develop and hone essential soft skills such as interpersonal communications, teamwork and analytical skills, which will provide you with an edge as you know what it takes to adapt to a workplace environment," she adds.

Against the backdrop of a weaker job market, notes WSG career coach Sharon Wee, it's important for fresh graduates to acquire knowledge and practical experience to boost their employability and help them add value to their job roles and long-term career goals. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

One good way of demonstrating your adaptability and willingness to learn is through an SGUnited Traineeships Programme. The programme features traineeship opportunities of up to six months, with a monthly allowance, across diverse industries for fresh or soon-to-be graduates of ITE, polytechnics and universities.

As an SGUnited trainee, you will gain industry-relevant skills and build up your professional contacts, hence boosting your employability. The traineeship may just be your stepping stone to a permanent job.

Seek new opportunities to launch your career

It certainly did so for Mr Muhammad Syakir Bin Mohamed Saleem.

Only 15 months ago, the future looked bleak and riddled with uncertainty for the 23-year-old. He completed his National Service in June last year and set his sights on joining a stable, well-established company in the logistics and supply chain industry. After all, he has a polytechnic diploma in international logistics and supply chain management.

But after sending nearly 20 applications through MyCareersFuture, Mr Syakir was going nowhere in his job search. Finally, two months later, PSA Corporation contacted him via the job portal to offer him a trainee role as an assistant cargo solutions executive under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme.

Mr Syakir started work in August last year. The role required him to liaise daily with customers and partners, which improved his teamwork and collaborative skills. What he learnt in school also stood him in good stead, keeping him on top of day-to-day freight forwarding operations that required him to prepare documentation, keep track of vessel arrivals and shipments status in order to meet customers' service KPIs.

Mr Syakir's ability to pick up know-how and skills was soon rewarded: PSA offered him a permanent job in January this year.

Ms Nur Syahidah Binte Mohamad Zaki is another recent graduate who stayed adaptable despite setbacks in her first foray into working life. The 21-year-old holds Nitec certification in opticianry (2017) and a Higher Nitec certification in chemical technology (2020), but the jobs she was keen on would only accept diploma holders.

She then turned to the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, which she had learnt about at a career fair in the ITE. Ms Syahidah had always wondered what went on behind the scenes at pharmacies and was curious about drugs and their application, so she kept an eye out for openings in pharmaceutical sciences.

It took a while, but last November, Ms Syahidah was hired as a pharmacy assistant trainee at Changi General Hospital, where she helps to prepare and pack medication prescribed for patients. The work has deepened her knowledge of drugs and medication - something that will come in handy when she pursues further studies and, one day, a career in healthcare.

Do you have a story to share on how you've seized new opportunities to start your career? Write in to WSG here.

Your views and opinions may be published in WSG's marketing materials on digital and print platforms.

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