Job Search
Strategies

Job Search Strategies

Watch and Learn

Job portals are a quick and efficient way to find a variety of suitable job options. However, only 20-30% of available jobs are posted on portals (Belli, 2017). To gain access to all the other hidden jobs out there, adopt a multi-pronged approach in your job search.

01

Networking

Networking is about building and maintaining new professional relationships. Networking has immense social and professional value for your career and can open doors to opportunities. According to a 2017 LinkedIn survey, almost 50% of professionals in Singapore attribute landing their current jobs to networking. Finding a job via network referrals is more efficient and has a significantly higher success rate than applying via job portals. In fact, 80% of available opportunities are not formally posted online (Collamer, 2013).

Networking

Why is Networking Important

  • Networking allows you to multiply your career opportunities as your contacts invite you to apply for roles not yet advertised.
  • By talking to people from different companies, you expand your knowledge of an industry or subject and learn about what fields interest you.
  • Applying your networking skills helps you to build professional confidence and interpersonal skills, which are desired capabilities that employers look out for during job interviews.

You Already Have a Network

Our network of connections includes family members, friends, classmates and many more. Start with the connections listed in the diagram below. As you engage your network, recognise the value in your own set of knowledge such as fresh perspectives on current issues and work with the mindset that you are naturally building relationships through reciprocity and common interests.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Professors and Lecturers

Set up an appointment with your lecturer to ask questions about a specific industry or job function you are interested in. Even if they are unable to assist you in your specific area of interest, they may be able to direct you to someone who can.

Personal Contacts

Look back at your experiences and the connections you made throughout university and all other stages of your life. Make a list of people you can invite for a coffee chat to gain some career advice and industry insights. They may go on to introduce you to other people that can contribute to your job search.

Alumni Events

Look back at your experiences and the connections you made throughout university and all other stages of your life. Make a list of people you can invite for a coffee chat to gain some career advice and industry insights. They may go on to introduce you to other people that can contribute to your job search.

Career Events

CFG organises a wide range of career events throughout the year, giving you the opportunity to engage with prospective employers and make direct connections with recruiters. All scheduled career events are published and announced via email and our weekly e-newsletters.

Career Advisors

You may set up an in-person meeting with your dedicated Career Advisor on NUS TalentConnect. They can support your career ambitions in a vary of ways, such as providing career consultation, resume critique, mock interviews as well as internship and networking advisory.

Navigating a Networking Event

Research the event and prepare your conversation topics

First, determine what you hope to achieve at an event, such as finding information on a particular industry or identifying internship opportunities.

Next, look at the event guest list and identify who you would like to speak to. Use LinkedIn to find out more about these individuals so that you can prepare topics of conversation.

Prepare some questions beforehand.

Open a conversation with your prepared elevator pitch and keep the conversation flowing

A well-prepared elevator pitch about yourself allows you to introduce yourself confidently. Then keep the conversation going by utilising questions and discussion points you prepared.

Use open-ended questions

By asking close-ended questions like, "Do you like your job?", you are inviting a very short response such as yes or no. Instead, ask an open-ended question like, "What do you like about your job?". This allows the person you are speaking with to say much more.

Develop and maintain relationships, not contacts

Be authentic and focus on the quality of these encounters rather than the quantity to make each networking moment meaningful. Exit the conversation gracefully by thanking the person you are speaking with for his or her time and views.

You can suggest continuing your conversation online or staying in touch through email and LinkedIn. Make a positive impression by following up after the event by recapping what you learnt from the conversation and how you applied the advice given. Follow up periodically with a friendly email or by sharing interesting articles and events that may be of interest.

02

Informational Interview

An informational interview is a friendly conversation on the phone or over a coffee where you ask a professional about his or her career experiences. It allows you to learn about job roles and industries that interest you. For example, you can ask about the day to day work involved in the role, the personality and skills needed to succeed in the role, hiring trends, etc. The more you learn about different jobs, the easier it will be to identify the right path for you.

Often working professional will oblige when students approach them for informational interviews as they see it as a way to do some good.

Do not go into the informational interview with the intention of getting a job. It is a discussion to learn from the professional. If he or she is impressed by you, he or she will consider you when an appropriate opening comes up.

App

3 Tips for Informational Interviews

Before

Begin by sending a brief email explaining how you found their contact details. Explain your interest in learning more about their field and request for a suitable date and time. Be sure to also briefly state how you became interested in the specified industry and be clear about your goals for the meeting. Be open to connecting via a phone conversation or email if the contact is unable to meet you.

Email Template

Dear [Professional's Name],

I am [My Name] from [NUS/Faculty/Year]. I noticed [Observation about the work the person does] and I’m interested in [name of industry/job function].

Do you have time for a chat, either in person or over the phone so that I can ask you some questions and get some career advice?

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.

During

During the interview, be prepared and clear about the questions you plan to ask. The duration for an informational interview is about 20 to 30 minutes. You may bring along your resume but only provide it if asked. Be prepared to answer questions about your technical and transferable skills, internship experiences, club activities and other interests.

Useful questions to ask include:

  • What got you interested in the role/company?
  • What are the responsibilities of someone doing this role?
  • What does it take to be successful in the company?
  • What skills and experiences should I develop before applying?
  • What’s the culture of the workplace?
  • Do you know of other businesses and roles I should be considering, given what I shared about my background?

 

After

After the interview, send a thank you note within 24 hours to show your appreciation, highlighting what you have learnt from the conversation. It is also a good idea to ask for referrals to other people who might be able to share industry insights with you.

Designing Your Career: The Informational Interview by Stanford Life Design Lab

03

Speculative Applications

A speculative application refers to writing in directly to employers to express your interest in a particular role. Finding a named contact is the Number One rule of making a speculative job application. ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ emails sent to HR departments are likely to be ignored. You may be able to get a specific referral from networking, but if not, a quick phone call to the company to ask for the name of the recruitment personnel will enable you to personalize your email. Alternatively a LinkedIn search is likely to list people in the company you are intending to write to.

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Speculative Application Tips

Start with some brief and engaging information about your skills, passions and interests that are aligned to the needs of the company. Explain your motivation for applying to the company or department.

Tailor your resume and cover letter to persuade the company that you are a strategic hire.

Research into their recent projects and activities so you can outline your understanding and highlight how you can contribute in your cover letter.

Follow up with a phone call or an email after a few days to improve your chances of success.

04

Job Portals

Job portals are a quick and efficient way to curate suitable openings for yourself. For instance, you can browse through more than 1,000 jobs and internships on NUS TalentConnect at any given time.

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Access NUS TalentConnect (https://nuscsm.symplicity.com) to view curated entry-level positions for NUS undergraduates and postgraduate students. Apart from graduate employment postings, local and global internships, temporary and part-time positions are also available. The platform also allows you to see 'trending jobs', i.e. jobs that your coursemates are applying for. You can also subscribe to company alerts so that you are notified everytime your favourite employers post new openings.

The how-to guide in NUS TalentConnect will help you get started in creating your profile page, uploading your resumes and cover letters. Use the guide to also search for opportunities that match your skill set or the industry of your choice.

Other Portals

There are many online job boards you can utilise in your search, such as LinkedIn, Startup Jobs Asia, Careers@Gov and others listed below. However, we recommend starting your search with NUS Talent Connect as the jobs there are specifically curated for roles suitable for NUS students and recent graduates.

05

Direct Applications via Company Platforms

Do you have dream companies that you wish to work for?

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Double your Application Chances

Take the initiative to seek out opportunities in companies that interest you. Many employers maintain a list of available jobs under the 'Careers' div of their website. You can also identify openings by following their LinkedIn page and other social media pages. If there are no suitable openings published, consider writing a speculative application.

06

Career Events

The Centre for Future-ready Graduates offers a range of different career events, giving you the opportunity to engage with prospective employers and stand out from the crowd by making a positive first impression.

HR managers and other senior leaders are often present at these events to identify candidates for their teams. This proactive approach is practised by many companies today.

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4 Steps to Networking at Career Events

  • Analyse

    Analyse the list of participating employers and make a shortlist of the employers you wish to connect with prior to the event.
  • Research

    Research the company's strategy, culture, mission and values. This will help you explain why you wish to work for them and are a good fit.
  • Craft

    Craft your elevator pitch and practice before the event.
  • Follow Up

    Follow up with an email to thank the recruiter for speaking with you. Take the opportunity to reiterate your interest and demonstrate your suitability for the role.
 

Take the effort to dress professionally as first impressions count.

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short, clearly crafted, and well-practiced 30-60 second pitch about yourself.

Introduce yourself, communicate your key skills and attributes and identify your goal and objective.

Craft your own pitch

Who are you

Hi, I am [Name] and I study [subject/specialisation].

Speak about your 'why' or purpose

I am passionate about [state your interest], because [Why do you care about this? What do you want to do about it?].

What do you want from the conversation

I would like to learn/ask you [What do you want to speak about?].

Are you ready to test your elevator pitch?

References

Additional Resources