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Fresh-graduate frustrations

Published on Friday, 26 Apr 2013
Debbie Matson

You must receive dozens of letters from fresh graduates who are confused about career planning. Unfortunately, I am one of them. When I look for a job I see thousands of industries and functions and I feel so frustrated because I don't know enough about them. I am interested in HR - especially recruitment and compensation - but I hear people say it is simple and you cannot earn as much as in finance or sales. I am tired of these opinions and I think HR could be very interesting. Could you give me some job-hunting advice? Joe

Congratulations on challenging the ideas others have and focusing on what is important to you. Work is where you will spend much of your time in future, so you need to find a task that interests you and people who inspire you.

A good thing to do is to make a list of everyone you know - friends, family, teachers, neighbours - in a company or a position that interests you. Ask them to take five minutes to describe what they do at work, what challenges them the most and what they like best. You can then filter this list for people to contact who may help you get a better idea of what is good for you.

A first job out of school is only the first step and is usually when you will start to really understand what people do in different job functions and what type of work environment you like.

Going into HR is a great idea as you get to see all facets of a company and meet many key players. If you choose a specialised area such as compensation and benefits or talent management, you will develop technical skills that can help you advance. A large company is a good place to start, where you can be exposed to a wide range of business activities.

Debbie Matson is managing director of Links International. With a strong regional presence in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, Links International provides recruitment, payroll and HR services.

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