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New graduates need more than a degree and experience

Zafirah Salim | Aug. 25, 2014
jobsDB and SMU organised a panel discussion on how to future proof careers, and the discussions revolved around Singapore’s job landscape, as well as recruitment and retention strategies.

(Clockwise from left) Sheldon Fernandez, Managing Director of jobsDB Singapore, Julian Persaud, Managing Director of Southeast Asia Google, James Loo, Senior VP Group HR, DBS,  Mags Hizon, Leadership and Org. Development Manager, Unilever Asia, Professor Tan Hwee Hoon, SMU Professor in Executive Teaching (English & Chinese)

What are employers looking for? While a degree is still relevant, students should demonstrate soft skills and a range of passion points and take a more realistic stance to salary expectations and rate of progression.

These are the main take aways from a panel discussion themed Future Proofing Your Career organised by job portal jobsDB, and Singapore Management University (SMU), which was held in Singapore last Friday (August 22, 2014).

The panel discussion was moderated by SMU's professor, Tan Hwee Hoon; and the panelists included Julian Persaud, Managing Director of Southeast Asia, Google; Mags Hizon, Leadership and Organisation Development Manager of Unilever Asia; James Loo, Senior VP Group HR of DBS; and Sheldon Fernandez, Managing Director of jobsDB Singapore.

The thoughts expressed by the panelists reinforce the findings of a recent jobsDB Hiring Index Survey which polled 233 Singapore-based companies. Survey findings revealed that the top reasons for not hiring new university graduates include 'no suitable vacancies' (67 percent) and 'having too high salary expectations' (33 percent).

In the same survey, 74 percent of respondents indicated a preference for diploma holders with degree holders coming in a close second, which highlights the more holistic approach companies are taking when hiring graduates. Besides a degree and work experience, candidates are assessed on their attitudes, values, leadership potential and ability to articulate personal and professional goals.

Increasingly, in such a competitive job market with graduates outnumbering jobs, panelists agreed that being the right fit for the company's culture is now as important as coming with the right skills and qualifications.

Summing up the discussion, panelists also shared some key tips in future proofing careers such as demonstrating staying power in a company, and picking a job you're passionate about over the one that pays more.

"With an increasingly competitive job market for employers and job seekers alike, it is pertinent to understand, especially for new university graduates, the new dynamics in recruiting and retaining talent. That's exactly what we achieved at today's panel, which provided a good range of perspectives from multinationals and locals across different industries - tech, banking and FMCG - with many useful takeaways for students", said Sheldon Fernandez, Managing Director, jobsDB Singapore.

"The Centre provides the critical springboard to our graduates towards their first job. This is all but just a starting point and at SMU, our graduates are ambitious and talented, and we stress the importance for them to be prepared and remain adaptable in the today's fast-changing world. Today's event is an example of the importance of connecting our students with industry for them to gain useful insights to be market and career ready as they enter the work world," added Sim Cher Young, Director, Dato' Kho Hui Meng Career Centre of SMU.


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