Picture this: you’re on a recruitment spree, and some of the emails you receive from interested parties read as follows:

  1. Dear Miss, hear I attached my resume for your perusal. Thanks.
  2. I am a graduate with a Bachelor Degree of Health Sciences. I am currently working in ******** as a radiographer. I am applying for this position mainly because I want to learn and gain experience in other field of works. I interest to apply job vacancy for Admin Executive in your company.

Emails like these deserve outright rejection. It makes us wonder – how serious are Malaysian graduates about getting themselves employed? Some even do not attach a cover letter to their resume. There seem to be no desired employable characteristics. Are they aware that first impressions really matter? Take the first candidate for example, is the employer expected to connect extra speakers to the PC in order to ‘hear’ him well? Were these candidates not exposed to letter writing skills and etiquette? As employers, we wonder – is it that difficult to get a decent fresh graduate to be part of our workforce? Based on the Labour Force Survey Report 2016, only 12.4 percent of our workers possess a university degree, either Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD. The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) on the other hand reported that in 2016 alone, there were 200,000 unemployed local graduates in Malaysia. The number does not include the ones who have just completed the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), diplomas and certificate programmes. In the first quarter of 2017, it was found that Malaysian employers are still facing numerous problems in hiring new graduates. The Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education and Jobstreet had collaboratively conducted a number of surveys on local fresh graduates and their employment patterns last year, and found that one in four Malaysian fresh graduates remain unemployed for six months after their graduation, and that a majority of unemployed fresh graduates (51%) are from local public universities. So, what do these statistical figures tell you?

Three main reasons why local fresh graduates remain unemployed are: poor attitude, lack of English proficiency, and poor communication skills. Not forgetting, some unrealistic expectations for wages and benefits.  Imagine a fresh graduate with zero working experience expecting a starting basic salary of RM3,500. That is too much, don’t you think so? Yet, we still wonder why Malaysian graduates remain unemployed. These graduates probably do not realise that what is expected from them at work is vastly different from their worry-free campus life. More than just reporting for duty at work on a daily basis; employees are required to produce goods and services to generate revenue directly or indirectly for their respective organisation. Without knowledge and skills acquired through job experience, they will not be able to produce enough to earn their keep. Fresh graduates need on-the-job trainings in order to progress. What they studied in the universities is largely academic, with little application in the real world. Instead of grumbling about the lack of employment opportunities, fresh graduates should focus on improving their attitude towards their job searching efforts. Whether we like it or not, this issue has got a lot to do with the generation gap. Younger job applicants of today may have excelled in their studies; however, they intriguingly have very poor communicational skills. They generally cannot put a decent English sentence structure. According to Christopher Raj, the President of the Association of Hotel Employers (AHE), out of 10 job applicants in the hospitality industry, 8 or 9 could not speak English. “The problem is bad, not only among school leavers, but also graduates from our local universities. You ask them in English and they answer in Bahasa Malaysia. Another problem with the Gen-Y employees is that they cannot work themselves up from the bottom, despite being impatient to get to the top. Graduates these days come from colleges and immediately want to become managers, without even any experience”, said Christopher, who has been in the hotel industry for more than 33 years.

Efforts are being made by the Government to produce a knowledgeable workforce that is competitive in the global market. Through the Graduate Employability Management Scheme (GEMS) by TalentCorp for example, graduates are provided with added values in terms of professional qualifications, appearance, and personality, to assist the graduates in securing jobs in line with the employers’ requirements. With all efforts put in by the Government in increasing employability among Malaysian graduates, it all ultimately boils down to the attitude of the individuals themselves. The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination. In the words of Napoleon Hill “The starting point of all achievement is desire”.