Last year, since the pandemic first struck, almost 1000,000 workers were laid off in Malaysia. This has been happening everywhere around the world, with COVID-19 causing record unemployment rates. If you have just lost your job, or have been out of work for a while, we understand how terrifying it can be. It can also be discouraging to get back into the job market, especially with how much it’s changed. From shifting industry hiring patterns to fundamental changes to the way we work, it’s important to understand the current circumstances and be prepared for uncertainties in these times.

To increase your chances of finding a job in this environment, you must stand out. Although companies have started hiring again, their budget cuts mean reduced hiring – intensifying the competition. If you’re not confident about how you’re approaching your job search or the application process, you can always seek the help of a recruitment agency. These firms can help provide you with the necessary market information needed to look for a job, strategize your profile to appeal to employers, hone your interview skills and knowledge to prepare you for interviews, manage your salary expectations according to market information, and advise you on career moves that best align with your aspirations. Here are some tips from Jane Foong, a Recruitment Consultant (Language and Finance Shared Services) at HAYS:


What’s the most common mistake people make with their resumes?

One of the most common mistakes is over elaborating or under elaborating on their resumes. You should not try to copy out your current job description word for word, but instead state your main responsibilities and highlight your leadership experience and achievements. Remember that HR managers go through more than a 100 CVs everyday, so don’t be afraid to bold or underline your best achievements to get their attention.


How can candidates stand out from the rest?

A concise write up on your aspirations, key skills and achievements in your resume is key to appealing to recruiters. It is also important to research your company and even your interviewer’s background before your interview so that you can ask the right questions. Don’t forget to smile and have a positive attitude to leave your interviewer with a good impression!


What is the most important thing to prepare for interviews?

In this day and age where a majority of our interviews are conducted online, one of the most important things is to prepare the tools you will use. Whether that’s Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Bluejeans – try to play around with the software in advance. Always log on 10 minutes earlier to avoid any sort of technical issue. And finally, dress smart even if you’re just sitting at home!


How should a candidate negotiate their salary?

When it comes to salary negotiation, we generally recommend that our candidates ask for an adjustment of about 10-15% more than their current salary package, which includes any fixed allowance and/or contractual bonuses. But before a candidate starts negotiating their salary, I would encourage them to look at the company’s benefits, such as job security and career exposure, to inform their decision of how much they should ask for – sometimes other factors can make up for a salary that may not be as high as they may have originally wanted.


If you’re interested in working in recruitment itself, HAYS is hiring! They’re looking for young professionals who are interested in developing their careers in a fast-paced environment and learn about a spectrum of industries and sectors. 

With January and February known as the most popular hiring months, it’s time to either create or update your resume. If you’re writing your first resume, we know just how nerve-wracking it can be and have asked Sarah from Weber Shandwick Malaysia for help with a step-by-step guide. She oversees their internship program, which has provided her with years of recruiting experience. Read on for her tips on how you can put together an effective resume:

1. Don’t forget the basics!

Always include your name, phone number, email and address – these are the first things employers see and learn about you. An address allows them to know where you’re based. If you’re afraid of adding a photo because you don’t want to be judged – forget that perception! Include a smartly dressed photo of yourself to make it more personal, and put a face to the name.

2. Keep it short and crisp

Employers might have a minimal amount of time to review your resume, especially if they have a few to go through, so it’s important to make it a seamless process for them. Avoid submitting more than 3 pages (1 is ideal) by placing your information in easy-to-read columns or tabs. Summarise the content or use shorter sentences to provide a clearer and more concise picture – be careful of using jargons or short-forms that the interviewer might not understand. 

3. Highlight your skill set

Remember, your resume should showcase a skill set that matches the job’s requirements. Elaborate on the relevant work you’ve done and frame it well – for example, instead of saying “contacted F&B vendors for an event”, you can present it as “managed F&B requirements for an event”. You would also need to highlight your proficiency in certain work tools/programmes e.g. if your work requires video editing, include what programmes you use and are well-versed in.

4. Add your important achievements

Got a milestone you’d like to mention? This is your time to shine! Add the awards you’ve won, such as ‘Employee of the Month’, to help prospective employers see why you would be a valuable employee. Think of your resume as an advertisement for yourself.

5. List down your past experiences

Don’t just share where you’ve worked, but also, how you’ve contributed to each company – and your best work! Details are important here (to showcase the extent of your work scope), but only highlight the key ones not every employer you’ve worked with.

6. Include your education and certification 

Share your educational background and, more importantly, your professional certification for industries/careers where it is a prerequisite – for example, accountancy and financial planning.

7. Have references

Some companies may want to check in with referees to get a better sense your work style and capabilities. Make sure you suggest referees who can give an objective overview of your work experience and, if possible, someone who is central to the work you did (such as a direct supervisor). 

8. Prepare supporting materials

Compile your academic transcripts, sample essays (including ones in the languages you are proficient in) or other work you’ve done (in any form e.g. photos, videos or designs). Always ask the interviewer if they require supporting materials, so you can prepare them for their reference. 

9. Don’t overlook the design

You don’t have to be a designer to put together a clean, readable resume – simply make sure the formatting and alignment are in order. However, if you are a design student and the job you’re applying for is in the creative industry, you might consider adding shapes and colours, or using a more eye-catching layout to showcase your creativity and stand out from the crowd.

10. Make sure you proof read!

Some prospective employers may be put off if there are too many errors – this shows poor quality control and an inability to pay attention to detail. For a better first impression, make sure the language used is grammatically correct. Check your resume several times for grammar and spelling errors.

Even if you have a job, keep updating your resume so it’ll always be ready to send out. Who knows, an amazing job opportunity may come around and you’d want want to apply for it right away. Good luck!