How to enhance your employability: Five quick tips from SMU’s career centre

Written by Ho Yan Yan, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

The Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre (DKHMCC) focuses on enhancing the employability of SMU graduates. Each SMU student has a personal career counsellor to guide them throughout their four years in SMU. Furthermore, DKHMCC’s start-to-finish programme includes the Finishing Touch Workshops, networking sessions and career talks. This staunch support from the career centre is one of the primary reasons why SMU has a 91.7% overall graduate employment rate.

We interviewed Mr Sim Cher Young, the Director of DKHMCC, and here are some tips he has for SMU students and graduates!

1) Bring a rifle to the shooting range, not a shotgun.

You should be targeting specific jobs and writing to specific companies. 
Always tailor your applications to that job and company. Avoid generic cover letters and everything-in resumes.

2) Woo your long-term partner with your key attributes

Align your four-year preparation at SMU with the role that you are applying for, and convey the highlights succinctly in your cover letter and resume; this includes your career interest, field of study, relevant internship experience, how participating in SMU clubs or societies has provided you with skills that will augment your application, and exchange/overseas internship experiences that show how serious you are about cross-cultural assimilation.

3) Prepare your interview answer script.

There are several types of interview questions that you should prepare yourself for. They are Communication Skills Competency,  Team Work Competency, Analytical Thinking Competency, Independence and Resolve Measurement and lastly, Efficiency and Focus Competency.

4) Don’t give ‘canned’ answers.

Employers often lament students giving standard and rehearsed answers—so they switch off mentally. 
Practice giving natural, spontaneous answers with your career counsellor, Career Champions, or friends.  Relating personal experiences and achievements can liven up your answers and help you stand out from other candidates.

5) Make the right impression.

Dressing right can increase your confidence and help you make the right first impression with the employer. Take note of the colour of your attire and your hairstyle. Be neat and dress right for the occasion. Remember to maintain eye contact and smile! The most important thing is to practice, practice and practice. Reduce the frequency of unconscious behaviour such as shoulder shrugs and “ermmmms” or “aaahs”. Last but not least, be on time!

We hope these tips are as useful to you as they have been for us!  These concepts are taught in the comprehensive Finishing Touch Workshop series which grooms SMU students in terms of presentation and building a personal profile that attracts employment opportunities. Stay tuned to this blog to know more about how DKHMCC prepares SMU students for the corporate world.