I've written about this issue before. But, after a meeting with Benny Moe yesterday (he's the General Manager for JobsDB.com, Malaysia), i was given so much inside insight into the problem that it has prompted me to write on this issue again.
One of the requirements of Benny's job is the need to be in close acquaintance with HR managers from all over the country. Many of them use JobsDB to find employees - they pay for the ads that JobsDB advertises and they pay to contact potential employees on the JobsDB database. Its fairly distressing that many HR managers are becoming less and less satisfied with the quality of fresh graduates that are looking for their first serious job.
After a lengthy discussion with Benny, these are the top 4 questions you should NOT ask an employer if you're a fresh grad:
1. Is this a 9 to 5 job? Or 9 to 6? Do you work 5 or 5 1/2 day weeks?
HR managers HATE this question. When you ask them this, it automatically sets alarm bells off in their minds - is this guy a "punch card" worker? I don't want a punch card worker, i want a worker who will get the job done even if it means working till midnight 7 days a week!
For us, the employee, this is an important question because it gives us a rough indication of the sort of effort that will be expected of us on this job. But, if you really need to find out, find out using other means.
2. Can i take 3 weeks unpaid leave?
True story: Employee has been working 3 months. Asks to be allowed unpaid leave for 3 weeks to follow parents for a holiday. Employer was left with an option: say yes and lose 3 weeks of productivity (he may not be paying your wages, but the company still loses in other ways), say no and be faced with a resignation letter (and the associated costs of finding a replacement). HR managers are increasingly being placed in lose/lose situations. They are getting sick of it.
According to Benny, the problem lies in the attitude of today's employees, fresh graduates in particular. They don't want to work long hours. They still live with their parents, therefore they are under direct and constant coddling from their parents. They want to take long holidays, they get "sick" often, they don't understand the meaning of the word "sacrifice".
3. Can i have a RM2800 salary? When do i get a raise?
The average starting salary for a fresh graduate nowadays is RM1300 - RM1500. Don't expect any more, not even from organizations that you think should be able to pay more.
Fresh graduates are becoming increasingly arrogant in their wage demands. Even if you believe that you deserve a high starting salary, it should be understood that organizations need some concrete evidence of your ability to work. That means experience, either with them or with some other organization. Don't demand what you don't deserve even if you think you do.
4. Do you expect me to work for less than RM2000?
In short, HR managers normally do expect you to work for much less than that. A case that Benny personally experience involved a fresh graduate who told his prospective employers that he wouldn't work for anything less than RM2k. That person is still jobless today. Why? Because he's too proud and arrogant to accept lower standards.
This really is an attitude problem among the fresh graduates of Malaysia. At last count, we've got thousands and thousands of unemployed fresh graduates. This may indicate a lack of jobs but it really doesn't. Benny told me me that there are enough jobs in the market to take these unemployed fresh graduates 3 TIMES OVER; there are 3 times more jobs in the market then there are qualified people to fill them. But the problem is that everyone wants to hold out for higher pay, better benefits and a cushier office, or what have you. Very few are willing to put in the sweat and chew the fat. Young Malaysian adults have become soft and spoilt.
I've said this before, and i'll say it again: busy is better than bored. Any job is better than no job. Flipping burgers at McDonalds is better than waiting at home waiting for Accenture to call. Work, damn it. Don't complain when you don't have a job - don't ask why the government hasn't done more to help you, don't moan about the "weak" job market. Those are just excuses and it helps you least of all to use them. For every unemployed fresh graduate out there, there are 3 jobs waiting for you. You just need to lower your expectations temporarily to accept one of them. Once you have the experience, then, only then should you begin dreaming about THE perfect job.