Having various cross-functional experience with top Fortune 500 multinationals, Vignesh Baboo, Human Resources Leader at GE, is well positioned to advise graduates on the moves that could lead them to a coveted job interview and career progress. Here, he shares insights into how graduates can prepare themselves for the transition from campus to the corporate world.
#1 MAKE THE TRANSITION
Transitioning from full-time student to working adult can be very challenging. “You would have to face real consequences head-on,” Vignesh says. “For instance, in university, any late submission would only affect you, but as a working adult it becomes clear that your ability to meet deadlines will affect your colleagues.” It’s a whole chain reaction that can also put your career prospect in jeopardy.
“Bear in mind, things you are assigned to do at work might be something never covered in textbooks or by lecturers in class,” he says. Vignesh suggests fresh graduates not to lose heart if they can’t get it right the first time. “Keep on trying; don’t be shy to seek assistance from your peers and you’ll get there.”
#2 FOCUS ON YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
“Stretch yourself to come out of your comfort zone. Be proactive and look out for activities that develop your potential,” says Vignesh. It’s also part of building your unique selling point (USP), as leadership positions require proactive thinking, dynamic attitude and social savvy.
Deep diving into communication skills, it is surprising how underrated it is among graduates. This could also be your “make or break”, especially in an environment where graduates are expected to work with teams across borders. Good communication skills would lead to good rapport with your peers and this could be your guide to identifying your passion and laying the right foundation for your career path.
#3 MASTER THE NETWORKING BOOST
Securing a job is not just about what you know, but also who you know. “The job market is very competitive these days,” says Vignesh. “It’s not only about what you have to offer but also creating the visibility to your potential employer and making your presence felt.”
He advises graduates to take the initiative to attend career talks, engagement sessions with industry leaders, and work on employer projects that bring them to the attention of potential employers.
Volunteer activities – working with NGOs, for instance – are also a great platform to meet new people who can be connectors to your future hiring manager. “More importantly, such involvements can also boost your confidence level and leadership skills.”
#4 PACKAGE YOURSELF FOR THE JOB HUNT
It is more than having the right academic qualifications to clinch a position, Vignesh stresses. “The first impression is always important,” he explains. “That starts from the photo in the resume to attending a face-to-face interview.”
Job application photos should never be casual. He also suggests keeping the resume simple and result-focused. Ideally, it should be presented in point form and not more than two or three pages long. “It saves time for recruiters to vet through an avalanche of job-seekers’ applications.”
A solid resume would reveal a candidate’s skills set and talent, as well as potential growth. “It is crucial for the candidate to include experiences and achievements they’re passionate about, for it may be just the thing they need to land the job.”
#5 ACE THE INTERVIEW
Job interviews, especially for fresh entrants, require two or more meetings. Interviewees should refrain from salary enquiries at the first encounter, Vignesh advises.
“This (prevalent) mindset among fresh job seekers should change,” says Vignesh. He points out that, at entry level, remuneration is pretty much fixed. The salary scale also depends on whether it is a multinational or a local company. Other factors, such as the applicant’s professional exposure and the job scope, come into play. “The right time to ask is at the final interview when they know the job is in the bag,” he emphasises.
Before an interview, brush up on the company background. The knowledge indicates your interest to the employer. It is also helpful to learn more about an interviewer before the meeting. “In these days of social media, it is all out there,” Vignesh says.
The hopeful employees should establish their confidence level by making – and keeping – eye contact. “The idea is to keep it casual and candid, with everything to the point.”
#6 LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
In the early stages of their career, graduates should seek to gain valuable experience, which can be leveraged in the latter stages of their profession. “Doing different things to enhance your creativity and entrepreneurial skills will enrich your career profile and accelerate career growth. It is vital to equip yourself with the appropriate experiences and knowledge before bargaining,” says Vignesh.