Employability in a Transforming Workplace

By Laura Fernandez

As another semester draws to a close, a new cohort of graduates will be entering the workforce – A workforce which has fundamentally changed in only a matter of weeks.

How can students remain employable in such a dynamic job climate? In a recent live-streamed Q&A, members of the Business and Economics Young Alumni Committee, Luke Corson and Lily Hodder spoke about the importance of keeping yourself relevant; platforms you can use to connect with organisations and individuals; and how to present yourself in a digitised world.

The key to ‘keeping yourself relevant’ is learning, and what better time to learn than in lockdown? Luke, who is a Digital Strategist at ntegrity agency, advised students to learn about their future industry through reading and documentaries, then to stand out by demonstrating knowledge and a personal perspective on current affairs. He suggested that rather than setting an initial goal of getting a job from a networking opportunity, students should instead focus on getting to know the individual and the industry, by having a two-way conversation.

YAC Team members
Luke Corson and Lily Hodder of the Young Alumni Committee.

Lily, a Consultant at Deloitte, recommended utilising LinkedIn to search for people and organisations of interest, then setting up a virtual coffee catch up through a personalised message. Students have access to a wide network of alumni through the University’s ‘Ask Alumni’ program, as well as virtual internships through InsideSherpa.

Industry partners have also offered their advice on building employability in times of uncertainty and change. Nada Marie, Director at Graduan – Malaysia’s leading career and employment resource – asserts ‘graduates today need to learn a new skill to make themselves more relevant and employable. For example, learning to code or a new language. Being adaptable and agile is crucial.’

The focus on upskilling was highlighted by ShineWing’s HR Team: ‘A technology focused mindset will be highly sought after by businesses. Acquiring technology skillsets in addition to focusing on your current studies, is more important than ever as businesses seek to develop services and products for consumers.’

The ShineWing HR Team says employers are looking for well-rounded graduates who can ‘express original thought in a group setting, while being a team player and working towards a shared solution… and bring a multitude of different experiences and skills to the role. Use this time to get involved in different initiatives that align with your personal values and goals. Developing your interests into hobbies/skillsets is an important way to show future employers that you are committed to continuous self-learning.’

For international students, ShineWing suggests using this time to practice English skills and build confidence communicating in an Australian business context – both written and verbal – through undertaking mock interviews or group debates on relevant topics, such as ‘How COVID-19 has impacted the graduate community.’ Students can show initiative and proactivity through starting virtual study/support groups with their peers, agreeing on objectives, and demonstrating outcomes.

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Glen Zhang, Senior Consultant at KPMG, emphasised the importance of prioritising physical and mental wellbeing and keeping in touch with support networks, particularly in difficult times. He offered the following advice to students interested in pursuing a career with KPMG:

- Do your research: Research the firm and career opportunities available in preparation for the next recruitment cycle.

- Practice makes perfect: Review the recruitment process and start practising psychometric tests and video interviews now.

- Connect: When you find an area you’re interested in, try to connect with its team members on LinkedIn to learn more about the team, work, and culture

- Undertake a virtual internship: For example, KPMG’s Data Analytics Consulting Virtual Internship

- Stay up to date: Follow KPMG on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with future job and internship opportunities