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Bright hope, top job tips for graduates

Published on Thursday, 24 May 2012
Hunting for a lucrative career, senior secondary students take their chances at a Hong Kong job fair.
Photo: Xinhua
Alex Tham
Pallavi Anand

With the new batch of university graduates hitting the job market, Hong Kong employers are still cautiously optimistic in their hiring intentions. However, the job market has picked up in the past four to six weeks, notably in the commercial sector, according to Pallavi Anand, director of Robert Half Hong Kong, one the world’s leading financial recruitment firms.

“The retail and consumer goods industries are booming, with job opportunities available for new graduates. They can also consider applying for jobs in banking and financial services, but they do need to stand out from the competition as exceptional candidates. Overall, we anticipate that the job market will remain positive for fresh graduates,” she says.

The hottest jobs this year are in the commercial sector, which is looking to employ graduates as accounts assistants or in more specialised roles including accounts receivable or payroll officers.

 “In banking and financial services, employers are looking to hire people for back-office positions, such as accounting officers and middle-office roles in trade support or trade administration, as well as front office ‘client-facing’ positions,” says Anand.

 “Graduates who are interested can move up to a specific area including credit risk, market risk and compliance, which are also the hottest areas in the banking and financial services industry now,” she adds.

For entry-level finance and accounting positions in the commercial sector, average starting salaries for those with a commerce or related degree can range from HK$12,000 to HK$15,000 per month. The average starting salary for graduates seeking finance or accounting positions in banking is HK$15,000 to HK$18,000 per month.

Offering tips and advice for fresh graduates on ways to impress employers, Alex Tham Koy-siong, senior co-ordinator for admissions in the Provost’s Office of City University (CityU) of Hong Kong, advises graduates to tell prospective employers their success stories.

 “When preparing your résumé, look at the requirements of the recruitment advertisement and try to relate your experience to it.

“For example, if you are applying for a sales and marketing post, then highlight your experience in part-time sales, never your experience as a private tutor,” says Tham, who is also admissions tutor at CityU’s department of marketing. He adds that instead of simply listing their experience, students should go into detail to elaborate on them.

“The details will encourage employers to ask you more about the experience, and this is the chance for graduates to demonstrate their success stories,” Tham says.

Preparations for an interview begin with answering a phone call from the employer. “When graduates receive an interview call, they often quickly note down the time and address and hang up. This is unwise,” Tham says.

“Instead, take some time to ask questions. Will there be a written test? Is it a group or individual interview? How long it will take? Who will be conducting the interview?

“The answers to these questions are the keys to help you prepare. Last but not least, get the company’s contact details so that you can call them in case you get lost or have any other problems,” says Tham.

On the day of the interview, it is wise to arrive early to give you time go into the toilet  to freshen up.

Giving the interviewer a firm handshake and presenting certificates in a neat and tidy folder can win points for a candidate as well.

“Folded pieces of paper are a huge turnoff. Besides certificates, it will be a plus if you can show pictures of activities that you have hosted or participated in at university to demonstrate your ability,” Tham says.

“It is a nice gesture to ask the interviewer for a name card and to send him or her a thank-you note within 24 hours after of the interview,” he adds. 

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