Saturday, July 08, 2006

Innovation: Another competitive advantage for new graduates

After few years of book eating and number crunching, graduates reach their convocation deadline. However, an innate stress would affect the happiness of graduaton and the acquisition of a new prestigious degree.

Jobs offers are not waiting on the street and one cannot admire her/his new degree unless it adds to his financial stability after long years of cash distress and accumulated loans.

How can students sell themselves and claim their superior skills in a world with continuous shortage of offer supply and huge skills supply at the other side. For each one offer, thousands of CV bombard the HR officers who try their best to review some of the CVs. A lot of HR officers dare to admit their inability to review all applications because of the Goliath pool of CVs they receive through their busy fax lines and overwhelmed email inbox.

For any HR officer, she dreams of being able to pay referral bonus for an officer referring a good applicant instead of wasting long hours reviewing unknown applicants who might be only copying others' CV in order to impress the company and win an invitation for an interview. One MBA graduate that he got only 2 interviews out of 100 applications he sent.

Weird right?

Is it a problem with the newly graduates who are selling themselves?
Is it a problem with lazy HR officers who do not put enough time to review all the applications?
Is it a problem of the huge supply pool of excellent applicants for a given position?
Is it a problem of baby boomers who are not retiring easily and locking the positions longer?
Is it a problem of overseas outsourcing?

Lately, Fortune magazine emailed several MBA students and MBA alumni asking them about their experience with job hunting and whether baby boomers represent a problem for new graduates. Outsourcing is shifting a lot of jobs overseas as well and this does not need any proof.

However, there should be a way for a newly graduate to prove his competitive advantage and how to send the right signal to the recruiter that she is the most suitable applicant for a specific job. What is this winning formula?

Frankly, I do not know but there should be a way to fight up the social ladder and find the needle within this hay stack. Like businesses has to fight to sell their products and prove their superiority in the market, newly graduates has to fight and prove their skills in order to sell their profile. Gone are the days that a dull CV would ensure a new graduate a decent job.

Let us all brainstorm and look back at ourselves in order to find our weaknesses and strengths. When I know what I have and what I lack, I can position myself within better in the job market and I will have higher confidence knocking the doors of the companies where my toolset would contribute positively to the business processes. If I can not win the approval of my to-be-manager, how shall I get the acceptance of my to-be-customer.

Lately, I have been reading a lot about Innovation of product and services offering. Does this ring a bell for a job hunter? It should.

Innovation is the way for future businesses. Established firms would not survive without this new two edge sword. IPod?? What does the IPod teach us?
staple Easy Button? Samsung new LCD screen? Yes innovation was the key for these companies to get back into the market and build a better stock price.

How can Innovation help me to position myself better in the market?
Is there an innovative mindset for a newly graduate to differentiate himself/herself in the job market?

I think so.
This will be the topic of my next article. Keep in touch :)


Bilal Abdul Kader said...

Yahya, a journalist friend of mine, sent me this comment on this topic:

The problem is you are under the impression that education will lead to financial success. I have not found that to be true in my life, and in fact it is a myth.

It is a lie to get you to work harder to keep the wheels of capitalism rolling. I have never taken a course with the view to gaining money or a job, but took courses for the sheer pleasure of learning.

I have never gone hungry a day in my life, and thanks be to God for that. This way, I don't have to stress myself over whether the course will be helpful for me in the future or not but instead enjoy the learning experience.

I set out on a road having no idea where it will lead, but I enjoy the trip along the way.

Trust me, you will get a lot more out of your education if you see you
classes in this light. Degrees are pieces of paper which mean nothing
in relation to who you are as a person or your self worth. The process of learning is a process of discovery and with each new discovery comes pure ecstacy that money or prestige cannot give you.

You only have one life to live, and then it is over. You may want to
ask yourself "whose life am I living, mine or someone elses?"


Bilal Abdul Kader said...

Another reader (Rotti) has posted this on the other blog page

I was at a loss to explain the underwhelming response I had when I went job searching in 2001-2002. I had a brand new Masters Degree, but it seemed that I couldn't get any company to look at me. Of course, this was right after the big dot-com bust, and there were huge numbers of people who were also dusting off their resumes. Still, as time slipped by without success, I had to wonder: how did it all come to this? Are things really so bad? Did anyone else find that some interviewers at job fairs were not giving anyone their business cards, were not taking resumes, and just refering everyone they met to the Careers section of their company website? Was I so complant and did I manage my career that badly? Most of all, how could I get out of this rut?
In a nutshell, I was in a career-re-building situation. I eventually found work, and as it happened, it turned out to be a job I really like. Not wanting to ever find myself in such a vulnerable position ever again, though, I've been keeping an eye on the job market. Where possible, I've also been participating in professional organizations, beefing up my network of contacts, and yes... taking more classes. I'm about two-thirds done with my MBA, and as I glance at the job fairs that are done through my university, I have seen some improvement. However, you wouldn't know it by looking company career websites or talking to their HR people. Trying to get in through the front door seems to be as frustrating an experience as ever. This is pretty consistent with what career counselors tell us about the "underground job market" -- where most people these days get their jobs through people they meet or know personally.
I guess the lesson learned from all of this is to stay alert for your next job opportunity -- even if you are already working, and even if you have an MBA.