How to get a job after graduation

By Robert Half on 28 April 2023
Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes

As Hong Kong’s job market rebounds from the pandemic, now’s the time to get your job hunting skills in great shape.

Jobseekers in Hong Kong have plenty to celebrate. Hong Kong’s unemployment rate fell to just 3.3% (seasonally adjusted) in February 2023, down from 5.4% in early 2022 according to figures from the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD).

Looking ahead, government projections suggest the Hong Kong economy will rebound in 2023, with the job market expected to improve further, buoyed by the return to more normal trading conditions and a rebound in inbound tourism.

While the employment market is looking positive for professionals seeking a new role in Hong Kong, it remains important to brush up your job-hunting skills if you have just graduated. A few simple steps can give you an edge over other candidates, and help you secure your dream role.

If you are wondering how to get a job after graduation, here are a few tips to set yourself up as a leading candidate.

Update your CV

A sensible first step in any job hunt is to update your CV so that it accurately reflects your career history, skills and achievements, and the potential you offer to an employer.

Previous jobs should be listed from most recent to oldest, and focus on a results-based approach to describe your duties and accomplishments. Provide a concise, specific description of each past role, and where possible, spell out the value you’ve delivered to the company using concrete numbers. For example, you may have implemented a new invoicing system that resulted in a 10% uptick in on-time payments from debtors. If you don’t have this kind of data, describe the achievements of your team. The main objective is to reinforce the value you can bring to a company.

Your CV should also mention your soft skills. Flexibility, adaptability, self-motivation and problem solving are evergreen skills that employers value regardless of the economic climate. Try to highlight how you applied these skills to the role at hand by giving concrete examples.

While you’re updating your CV, take a few minutes to refresh your LinkedIn profile. This can maximise your chances of getting noticed. While you’re on LinkedIn, think about any possible contacts across your professional network who could support your job search. There may be companies or target industries looking for talent with your particular skillset.

Related: How to make a CV stand out in Hong Kong

Draft a stand out cover letter

With your CV in great shape, it’s time to turn your attention to a cover letter. Most CVs these days are submitted electronically, however a cover letter is still usually included as the first page of a document or included as an attachment.

A cover letter is typically the first thing an employer reads about you, so it’s worth taking the time to make it stand out. It doesn’t need to be long – four paragraphs is ideal. But your cover letter is an opportunity to create a great first impression, display your enthusiasm for the role and encourage the hiring manager’s interest in you.

A cover letter should be tailored for each role you apply for. This gives you a chance to address the particular requirements of each job, and showcase how you can add value to the business.

Preparing for the interview

Being invited for an interview is a critical step in your job search journey. It’s your best chance to show the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the role, but there is also plenty that can go wrong if you are unprepared. That’s why the solution to nailing an interview is plenty of prior preparation.

On a practical level, it’s worth planning how you will get to the interview in order to arrive on time, and decide the most suitable clothing if the meeting is in-person. Many companies in Hong Kong may still want to conduct job interviews online, and where that’s the case, be sure to check all the necessary equipment is working.

There are plenty of other ways to prepare for the interview. Research the company and industry (if it’s new to you) so you can engage in an informed conversation with the hiring manager. Interviewers often ask candidates about the business and what it does. If you can’t respond, the hiring manager may conclude that you’re not really interested in working for the company. 

Review the job description thoroughly. This can be your best guide to the questions the interviewer is likely to ask, allowing you to plan your responses. Taking a closer look at the job description also gives you a better understanding of the skills and experience the role requires – and how you can make a valuable contribution. Thinking about how you’ll frame your experiences, strengths and weaknesses can also help to calm any nerves you may have about the interview.

Related: How to give a self introduction in an interview

During the interview

If you are looking for a job after graduation, there is a chance you have never been through the professional interview process.

There’s always a lot riding on a job interview, and it’s not just about what you say, but how you respond to the hiring manager. A useful rule of thumb is aiming to make your responses relevant to the role you’re applying for. This allows the interviewer to make a connection between your past experience and the benefits to the company of bringing you on board.

Hiring managers often open an interview by inviting you to “Tell me about yourself”. This is where your elevator pitch comes in. Keep it sharp, relevant and to-the-point. Start with your current job, a brief mention of how you got there, and wrap up by saying how your career history has given you the experience needed to be a great fit for the role. It can sound like a lot to fit in, but remember to keep it succinct.

If you’re asked about your strengths, don’t be embarrassed to discuss your skills and achievements. Aim to outline strengths that align with the job description, and offer examples of how your strengths have benefitted previous employers. As a guide, you may explain that you’re very adaptable, and this has allowed you to step in when other team members have been absent from the office.

On the flipside, you may also be asked about your weakness. That’s a lot trickier. The best approach is to mention a real but not deal-breaking weakness, then explain how you are working towards overcoming this weakness. For example, if you tend to be shy while delivering presentations, you could explain that you have enrolled in a public speaking course.

Related: How to negotiate salary as a fresh graduate

There’s no getting around the fact that at some point in the interview process, the topic of salary will be raised. This is an area worth researching ahead of time. Data from C&SD shows the average wage rate in Hong Kong rose by around 2.3% in the year to September 2022, and it’s important that your salary is matching broader market trends.

Plenty of resources are available to understand how salaries are shaping up in Hong Kong including Robert Half’s Salary Guide. You’ll find up-to-date remuneration trends for a number of different roles and industries across Hong Kong. If you’re uncomfortable specifying a set figure, you could flip the question and ask the interviewer about the company’s preferred salary range.

The hiring manager is likely to wrap up the meeting by inviting you to ask any questions. Even if you feel you have all the information you need, it’s always better to ask something than nothing. This shows your enthusiasm for the role and the company, and it confirms that you’ve been engaged throughout the interview. You may want to ask practical questions such as when the successful candidate would be expected to start with the company. Or you may prefer broader questions such as “How would you describe the company culture?”

After the interview

When you’re looking for a new role, it’s not enough just to be interested in the job. You must show you are interested. While it’s always exciting to hear back from a hiring manager shortly after the interview, you don’t have to face a nerve-wracking wait. It’s quite acceptable to follow up on an interview a few days later with an email or phone call.

Regardless of who you follow up with, stay friendly and positive. Every contact you have leaves an impression on someone – and it could be a person who has a say in whether you’re hired for the role. So you want to create a good impression.

If your job hunt is stalling

It may take just one round of interviews to land a great job, especially if you are a fresh graduate. But that’s not always the case, and it can be hard to stay positive if your job search becomes protracted. A few strategies can boost your chances of being offered a role:

Consider contract roles

Widening your search to include temporary or contract roles can improve your opportunities of securing a role. Not only does it keep your skills up to date, it’s not unusual for a temporary placement to become a full-time job.

Invest in your skills

Digitisation is reshaping many roles and responsibilities across workplaces in Hong Kong, and this is impacting the in-demand skills employers are looking for. Continuously upgrading your skills, especially in regards to technology, can help you match changing workforce demands. You can also stay up to date with the current skills in demand for your specialisation in the Robert Half Salary Guide.

Work with a recruitment professional

Uploading your CV to recruitment sites such as Robert Half, is a great way to get a job after graduation. Working with a recruiter allows professional consultants to review your qualifications and experience, and match you to relevant positions. Connecting with a recruiter can also be a great way to know if you could benefit from brushing up on any skills.

Above all, be patient with the job-hunting process. It can be worth the wait for the ideal role to come along – one that rewards and satisfies you, and helps you progress to the next stage of your career.

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