Here at Citadel Search, we see hundreds of applicants to our more popular job listings, and those numbers have only gone up during the pandemic because of the entry of more workers who have been negatively impacted by COVID, making the fierce competition for jobs even more challenging. How do you, as an early-career job seeker, stand out in the crowded playing field and ensure that you catch the discerning eye of recruiters and hiring managers?
Tips For Early-Career Job Seekers
Tip #1 – Plan your Career Early
If you are an early job seeker, we will suggest you plan your career. Citadel Search has coached many early-career seekers to obtain meaningful job internships that will add value to your career. In 2020, many internships were rescinded, hence for those of you who managed to clinch job internships, treasure them and make sure you perform at these internships. You will never know how your bosses may speak well of you to your future employers if you had demonstrated great work outcomes. Remember to keep focus that your internship experience will help you eventually when you enter the workforce. Stand out by doing an effective job and not goof off during your internships.
Tip #2 – Be a T-Shape Employee in your Early Years and Progress to become Key-Shaped Later
For those who are already in their first job and are thinking of securing your next job, remember employers generally do not like job-hoppers. 3 – 4 years tenure is a minimum for you to learn and contribute effectively. In the first year, you are generally just learning and not contributing directly to the bottom line.
Stand out by using your early years to gain as much experience as you can. Use your energy and volunteer in as many projects as you can. Go for breadth and be a T-shape employee as you are still developing and finding your strengths.
Some people are very positive in the beginning but later run out of steam as routine sets in and the learning curve steepens, then performance drops. Be different, be that positive ball of energy in the team. Inspire others and be collaborative. See what is important to your boss and ask him or her if you can be of help. Bosses have a keen eye for positive contributors on the team.
Tip #3 – Find Your Strengths and Get Feedback
Be conscious of your strengths and get feedback. Most early career job-seekers are so caught up in the grind of work that they miss the forest for the trees. It is essential to ask for feedback from your bosses because often, your bosses are able to acutely identify your strengths as well as your skills gaps. More than an opportunity for personal development, it also provides insight on how you can forge a career progression path in the organisation. Be prepared to hear both the good news and also the bad news. However, most early job seekers are afraid to hear the bad news as they are not accustomed to receiving “negative” feedback. Having courage to hear both is vital in shaping your career as you progress. Additionally, it is helpful to work on both your strengths and weaknesses early in your career.
Tip #4 – Get a Mentor/ Career Coach
There may be senior colleagues who may be open to coach and mentor. If you have not been able to secure an internship, fret not. Schools in Singapore, including universities, often have their own career guidance counselors. Seek them out and get their consent to help you navigate your career within the organisation. They may also have internal and external networks they can tap on to help you. We have seen candidates who had very illustrious careers owing to having a mentor or a career coach early on.
If you have decided that it is time to move on and out, then do check out our job board for the latest job postings. Our article “How to ace your interview” can also be a comprehensive guide to help you do well in job interviews.