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If you’re leaving business school in this horrible hiring year, here’s what could help

Three Asian university graduates

Congratulations for the hard work you put into your education and the impeccable timing of leaving business school during one of the worst hiring years in recent memory.

I graduated from the HKUST MBA programme and if you’re like me, and probably the majority of graduates, you haven’t been able to line up a job via your school’s career services office.

The current economy is tough, so let me offer some suggestions that may help you with your search.

Friends and family

I know this is probably obvious, but it’s amazing how much likelier you are to get hired if you have been vetted by a referral. Would you take on a person if your good friend said they would be a great addition to your team, or if a random stranger emailed you their CV? Also, many companies offer referral bonuses to employees (up to thousands of dollars).

Alumni networking events

I attended Cornell University and was able to leverage on my undergraduate network. I also went for an Asia regional conference in Hong Kong. These events are a great opportunity to meet new people who work in the industry you are targeting. They may be able to talk to you about their experiences or even send you internal job postings. At the very least, you’ll probably meet a few new friends and expand your business card collection.

Temporary/contract roles

Generally, candidates prefer permanent jobs because of the benefits and the (perceived) job security. However, recruitment, particularly in banks, is virtually at a standstill for these roles. On a positive note, I’ve found that many companies are still willing to hire employees for contract work, usually to fill in for someone on maternity leave or for an ad-hoc project. The terms of the contract can be short, typically six months, but if you make a strong contribution, the firm will be hard pressed to let you go. Contracts can be extended or eventually converted to a permanent position if you’re adding value.

Recruiters

I used a consultant to look for a contract role at Deutsche Bank, but I think recruitment is a tough business in this economy. Recruiters will often ignore you unless your CV matches 90 per cent of the job description. I’ve had to chase recruiters by email and phone, explaining exactly why I knew I could do the job well. It was quite a bit of work, but for the contract role I got lucky and found a new and eager recruiter.

Side projects

Before I started my job I had plenty of time on my hands; you can’t search for a job 24/7 after all. So I started an online blog about something I’m passionate about, the travel industry. 

Utilise your time to launch a business, write, tutor or teach. Who knows, perhaps your pet project may even turn into reliable income one day. I think many people have great ideas, but never have time to see them through. Don’t sit idle and be miserable because you haven’t found a job. Find something you can be enthusiastic about and you’ll be much happier; it’ll show during interviews, too.

Christopher Tin is a Hong Kong-based financial professional. The views expressed are his and not those of eFinancialCareers.

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