Forget about demanding at least average starting salaries. According to recruit firms, those who are fresh out of school seem to be more willing to settle for a smaller paycheck.
The reasons are not new—slowing jobs growth, a rise in redundancies, technological disruptions, etc., these alarming changes could very well be Singapore’s new constant.
Though most of us would naturally fret over and complain about the current gloomy state of the jobs market and its equally bleak outlook, it is more important to figure out what the situation means and the mentality that one would need to survive.
Read related: Singapore’s Current Economy In 4 Charts
In search of a job
Your first job might not be your dream job, but that’s alright. As the hiring outlook for 2017 remains cautious, it is harder for fresh grads to be selective about the type of work they take.
In other words, it is highly likely that the first role that you take on as a fresh grad will not be fully aligned with your interest(s), or even your background or field of study.
The remuneration might also be-less-than satisfactory, but the greatest takeaways are the real-world work experience, new insights into the industry, as well as the social connections that you have formed at the workplace.
Underemployed and/or underskilled
There is an almost 100-percent chance that you will not have the opportunity to utilise all the knowledge and skills that you have gained in school previously. Also, given the tight job market, many fresh graduates are taking up part-time and freelance jobs.
At the same time, it is also highly likely that school has not equipped you with the most up-to-date skills that you would need in your job. This problem is also known as a skill gap, which according to Glints, (a career development portal for young people) is a growing major problem.
Here are some takeaways for you:
1. Despite it being a substantial investment, a degree (diploma or tertiary) by itself is no longer a golden ticket to guarantee one a smooth-sailing career due to the oversupply of degree holders. As much as we are tired of hearing it, internship and related volunteer work experiences make a difference in improving the chances of getting employed.
2. Don’t just fill the position, but learn and acquire marketable skills on the job, whether it is full-time, part-time, freelance, or an internship. Form good work relationships with your mentor(s) and more experienced colleagues.
3. Make prudent financial decisions that match your financial situation. For example, you should be extra cautious about making expensive purchases when you earn a small wage.
Also, to be brutally honest, graduation trips are not for everyone. If funding that trip means that you have to borrow money or empty your bank account, you should probably move it down your priority list.
Considering a job change
With fresh grads “spoiling the market”, you may need to adjust your expectations if you’re an experienced worker considering to change your job. Be reminded that the influx of fresh grad job-seekers (who now expect a lower pay) may work against your favour.
Young and hungry versus experienced but pricey? Some companies would choose the former over the latter.
Given this, in the hunt for your next job, you may have to “demote” yourself and consider applying for a position that is lower than your previous one.
Upgrading your skills
Industries go through revolutionary changes every decade or less. You might even find that what you have learned during your college days or in your previous employment(s) have become obsolete to the current work field.
You’ll notice that new industries sprout and thrive while old ones that used to do well are past their glory days.
The key is never to stop learning, even if it means that you have to re-learn something that you’re already an expert in.
Here are some takeaways for you:
1. Make good use of your SkillsFuture credit scheme to bridge the skills gap.
According to a SkillsFuture report released at the beginning of this year, the most popular courses were those related to information and communications technology (ICT), unsurprisingly. Also, roughly 63 percent of those who used the credit scheme were older workers aged 40 and above to hone their computer skills. You know where the trend is heading.
One may argue that $500 may not be much, but learning something that could potentially help you perform better in your existing and future job, versus learning something just to kill time, can produce two entirely different set of results.
2. Don’t forget to set aside emergency funds or a “war chest” that will make your life easier in the event of a retrenchment or a rocky career transition. Financial blogger AK recommends using fixed deposits.
3. Connect with your younger, more tech-savvy colleagues. It may be a humbling experience, but a good way to learn a thing or two from young minds that will drive the future.