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How to Secure a Job in a Changing Labour Market

(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).

The question of how to secure a job is a frightening one for many university students and recent graduates, especially now that decoding the labour market has turned into such a difficult task.

It is also a question that young people can expect to confront more than once during their working lives. It concerns university students early in their educational journeys, at graduation time, and even after they start careers.

The Right Start

While concerns over how to secure a job are understandable, a state of constant anxiety will get you nowhere. Getting beyond those worries requires a different way of thinking, moving out of the scope of helplessly surrendering to the status quo, to knowing the way out of that situation.

Searching for a suitable job includes many elements, one of which is finding the work that meets your needs and provides you with professional success and job satisfaction. However, you remain the most prominent element; you must be ready to win the job once it is announced.

There are job opportunities in the market, so why do some people not have a job? To answer this, you must put yourself in the employer’s or the recruitment officer’s shoes and try to think as they would for a few minutes.

You have to realise that nobody is going to pay a salary to anyone unless they have made sure of the person will be a valuable employee, one who will return their salary in the form of efforts and production toward achieving the goals of the institution, almost double what they get. Therefore, no one will risk employing you and giving you a large salary until they have made sure that you meet the job’s qualifications and requirements.

Planning to Enter the Labour Market

Concerns over how to secure a job are understandable. Getting past them requires a different way of thinking.

There are several steps that enable a university student or a recent graduate to enter the labour market properly.

1- Exploration

People are different in their interests, skills, and personalities, as well as in their ideas about the job that suits them and will provide for professional prosperity. Accurate knowledge cannot be achieved based on others’ advice or anticipating the matter theoretically.

Therefore, people seeking or preparing for a job must each discover the answer by themselves, by identifying the labour market’s fields, and noting which of them better suits their interests and passions.

Students can use their time while still in school to learn about the labour market and the available specialties by doing business volunteering, searching for internship opportunities during vacations, and participating in job fairs.

2- Acquiring Skills

Skills are a determining factor for most jobs. The more skills you have, the greater your chances of winning a particular job are.

There are two types of skills needed by the labour market: technical skills and soft skills.

Technical skills are the basic skills you must master in order to perform the tasks associated with a particular job. For example, you cannot work as an artist without having skill in drawing.

Job fairs are a good source of labour market information for students. Above, a job fair at the University of Mosul last month (Photo: U. of Mosul)
Job fairs are a good source of labour market information for students. Above, a job fair at the University of Mosul last month (Photo: U. of Mosul)

Soft skills are personal skills that you can use in any professional field. Soft skills relate to how you work and interact with others. They include communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and team working skills.

Students should seize the opportunity to acquire as many skills as possible during internships, which will ensure your excellence.

3- Freelancing

Many jobs require past experience; something some students may complain about lacking. Gaining professional experience while still in school is possible through self-employment in limited-time job opportunities that you can apply for after demonstrating to an employer that you have the qualified skills to carry out the required task.

Freelance jobs websites are now widely available, and anyone can find them, using a search engine on the Internet. University career offices may also offer guidance about online job opportunities.

4- Networking

In Arab countries, people often mention “wasta” (sometimes translated as “sway” or “nepotism”) when talking about who is likely to win certain job opportunities. But there is another more powerful and continuous process that can be the key to success in professional life, and that’s networking and establishing professional relationships.

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Having professional relationships with people who can vouch for your skills is a means of getting nominated for jobs that come open in your field.

In the era of social media, it is no longer difficult to establish such networks, especially with the availability of professional websites such as LinkedIn, through which you can present and market yourself. Attending public conferences and seminars can also provide an opportunity to build a network of relationships.

I fully understand the reason for the fear of the future, which affects many students and recent graduates. I am well aware of the magnitude of the emerging challenges in life, suddenly from time to time, but changing this will not happen by giving in to feelings of fear and anxiety. We must work today to be ready for tomorrow.

Hatem Kenawi is a career services provider.

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