3 ways fresh grads can get through the unemployment phase

Use the time on your hands now to hone your skills, take up an internship for experience and research the market. (Rawpixel pic)

There is no denying that right now, the world is grasping at straws amidst the sudden Covid-19 pandemic.

The situation is so dire that the world might be facing the “worst economic crisis since the 1930’s Great Depression,” said Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund.

There is even talk that the economic fallout from the pandemic will force half of the world’s population of 7.8 billion people into poverty.

While the US is expecting an economical downfall unlike no other, many other countries are as well. Malaysia is no exception with Bank Negara Malaysia already warning of an impending recession this year.

No one is safe. Once thriving companies and organisations are either shutting down or making it mandatory for employees to work from home.

Those in the private sectors are particularly affected, taking the brunt of the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Mass layoffs are common across industries, leading to a prediction that Malaysia’s unemployment rate will grow from 3.3% to 4%, according to Million Vision Practitioner.

These are staggering numbers as Malaysia’s unemployment rate during the global financial crisis of 2009 was 3.7%.

For fresh graduates, the news couldn’t come at a worse time. Admittedly, it is tough to stay upbeat when one’s future looks so dismal despite having the necessary academic qualifications to excel in a particular field if given the chance.

Soft skills include your creativity and social intelligence – assets that are needed in every organisation. (Rawpixel pic)

The good news is that while the country’s unemployment rate is expected to increase, so will job vacancies. Companies will soon be rushing to get things back to normal thus needing an extra pair of hands on deck.

The stark difference is, these companies will now be extra particular about who they recruit.

This means fresh graduates will have to know how to navigate the job market well.

1. Hone your soft skills

Since you have time on your hands right now, use it to research what high-level skills employers are currently looking for.

Technical skills can only get you so far. If your technical proficiency and knowledge is not part of the country’s essential services, it cannot guarantee your employability.

However, if you feel a certain technical skill you possess is worth polishing, by all means, go ahead! But to truly set you apart from thousands of other candidates, soft skills are what you need to improve on.

Soft skills include your creativity and social intelligence. Creativity thrives anywhere and everywhere, especially in organisations.

If you have sharp creative skills, it means your ideas are both innovative and problem-solving which will allow businesses and organisations to grow.

So boost your creativity by asking for feedback, collaborate with others, or simply jot down your ideas.

Social intelligence, meanwhile, is the ability to get along with others, build relationships and navigate social environments.

In order to hone your social intelligence, perfect your conversational and listening skills, and sharpen your knowledge of social cues (eg: verbal or non-verbal signals expressed through the face, body, voice, motion).

Do your research on which industries thrive in recessions and start applying to them once the job market is back up. (Rawpixel pic)

2. Take up internships

Experience comes in many shapes and forms but when job hunting, you need solid work experience. But how is it possible to have work experience when you are unemployed, or your job was scrapped during the pandemic?

The answer lies in internships. Take up internships for the experience. Now you can apply your technical proficiency in the workplace to show your capabilities and that you are “coach-able”.

Remember, the skills you learn and the exposure you gain during your internship will make you a valuable candidate in the future.

Alternatively, you can also “create” your own internship by taking part in a volunteer campaign or offering to help out a local business.

3. Target specific industries and companies

To increase your chances of getting a job, try to identify growth industries and companies.

Since not every industry and company has been affected in the same way by the pandemic, you will see industries such as travel, hospitality and aviation taking the worst hit from Covid-19 travel bans.

On the other hand, the e-commerce market is growing rapidly as more businesses turn to online retail in turbulent times. This will result in more career opportunities for fresh graduates in this area of work.

Yet it must be said that while certain industries are heavily affected by the pandemic, some will bounce back faster than others. So do your research on which industries these are and start applying to them once the job market is back up.

It’s easy to fall into a pit of anxiety because of the current situation. However, it’s important to focus on what you do have control over — so improve your skills, get relevant experience and do your research.

School Advisor provides information on private and international schools, extra-curricular activities as well as other education-related topics in Malaysia.