Rabu, 22 September 2010

The Unemployment Issue Among the Malay Job Seekers

The issue of unemployment is not only affecting fresh graduates. I have also discovered that the Malay candidates, in particular, are facing stern challenges to make entry to the employment world. I do not have the current racial breakdown statistics of unemployment, but logic and hunch always tell me that the Malays have the worst problem when it comes to unemployment.

Recently, I had a chance to talk to a friend, who happens to be a division head of a government linked body. His unit was in need to hire a few people to fill some of the recently vacated jobs. He (a Malay) and his colleague manager, a Chinese were part of the interview panel assigned to select suitable candidates. The task would be straight forward – just pick the most suitable one who merits the job.

As of most conventional job openings, most of the candidates are made up of the you-know-who, the Malay candidates. About 80% of the candidates are in this category. You would think with the significantly high number, the task of finding a few good candidates among them would not be the most difficult job in the world.

Sadly, this was not the case. According to this friend, the quality of the Malay candidates was shockingly appalling. The remark is applicable both for those who sent their resume as well as those who attended the interview. The Chinese and Indian, who made up the minority portion of the overall candidates, created better impression in their job application and subsequently performed much better during interview.

In truth, this is not the first complaint I received about the dire state of Malay candidates in the employment market. It is not going to be the last either. Having been in the recruitment industry for years, I myself have experience this countless of times. Perhaps we can term it “The Malay Job Seekers’ Issue.” (Really, it is not that difficult to become an unsuccessful job seeker).

It went to a point that the feeling of anger, fear and embarrassment boiled inside me. If the problem persists, then we are going to witness a worrying increase in the Malaysia unemployment rate. Look, I’m not saying that I want all Malays to sweep all the jobs. I want them to change so they can be competitive enough and that they can be offered the job because they truly deserve that. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to be seeing this trend now.

Yes, being a Malay, sometimes I was angry at my own race for not being competitive enough. People kept asking me why Malays are the difficult lot when it comes to hiring. I know a lot of people would not be too happy with this writing but I figure someone, sooner or later, need to highlight this. I am not harboring hate for or within my own race but let me say blatantly that Malay job seekers are weak. I am not going to change this sentiment until when I see it changes.

What goes wrong?
Here I try to elaborate a few points that make Malays weak in the quest of landing a job and establishing their career. While the points specifically address the Malays, to some degree, they are also applicable generally to others as well. If you can heed to some of the points here then you would be able to improve your chance in the ever challenging job market considerably.

1. You’re that serious (even when you think you are)

I have received resumes from candidates who made this silly mistake of applying for an Account Assistant position but using their previous resume that applied for a Secretary. They did not bother to take a second look and check all details are in order. No effort whatsoever to tailor their resume to the position being applied. What matters is that they get their resume out of their mailbox. Even if you say you really are serious, I am still not convinced. I’m not even sure you finish reading up the job advertisement before applying.

2. You do little, but talk too much

I have seen in the blogosphere and heard in coffee shops friends complaining that some jobs in certain sector are filled by those with ‘cables’ and ‘connections’. I am not going to argue about that but this almost reaches a saturation point that would make everyone believe that this is a true prophecy. If you are kept bombarded with the same sentiment over and over, then it’s going to naturally blend in your blood and that your mind will be populated to the core. Your air will remain as negative as, well, a negative ion.

Instead of believing it to be the truth, why not try it yourself for a change? Prove that without knowing any insider, you can still make it good in this world. There are too many oysters around and you just have to work a little bit harder to find them. I have seen friends successfully doing that and they are now doing well shaping up their future career. Persevere and have patience.

3. You do not have the ‘adab’ 

To many, the task of writing a simple cover letter seems so daunting that many candidates choose to be ignorant rather that be more responsible. When you go to someone’s house, do you just barge past the door and into the house? No, you greet and give salam first, wait for the house owner to come out and invite you in. That’s ‘adab’.

The case is similar when applying for job. You can’t just send your resume with an empty email content, or merely saying “please find the attached resume for the position of [whatever].” If you have been doing this, you seriously need some attitude adjustment. Show the employer you’re doing some serious endeavor and that you lay out enough groundwork before making your move.

4. You want to be with your own flock 

Malays are most comfortable when they are within their own flock. Just look at the lecture theatres in the universities and colleges. You would hardly see Malays sitting in the middle of Chinese, Indian or mixed groups. If you insist, I do not have much issue with this, but then, you must understand that, at one point, you are going to have gonna do things differently and independently.

When you are in organization, you can’t run the team according to your whims and fancies and are not at liberty to just induce people into the team because you like them. Meritocracy should prevail here. Otherwise, all hell will break lose. Malays are too afraid to compete independently. During interviews, I have been asked by the Malays if my company is a Malay company and if the Malay makes up the majority of the workers. They are zooming for their own comfort zone. This is sad.

5. “You go to a t-shirt shop to buy a sandwich”

I received emails almost on daily basis and out of the emails I received, more than half are those asking to find a job. Mostly are local Malay job seekers. I do not know how writing a one-man career blog qualifies me as a job provider, but this is the reality that I have to swallow.

People thought I can create and offer jobs with a click of a finger and that I also possess that magic wand that can make their problem finding job go away in an instant. If you want to look for jobs, go the right place, right channel, right people. Don’t go to a shop selling t-shirts when what you need is a sandwich.

The points you have seen above is not uncommon as I believe you have somehow seen, heard or read them somewhere else. With them listed here, hopefully you can be well guided in maneuvering your career and finding your dream job. You do not want to be part of the rather ugly unemployment statistics for too long.

It won’t take too much to start changing your fortune. Small changes, combined with the right mindset and attitude would take you far in your field of desire. And hopefully, while seems to distant to go, we can reach a point where Malaysia unemployment issue would be a thing of the past.

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