What job seekers should know about hiring in 2021

Graduate salaries are expected to be down by 10% across the globe, this year.

By U2B Staff 

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Job seekers around the world can no longer expect recruiting processes to remain the same, as the effects of COVID-19 upended the job market.

With a negative outlook expected to continue well into 2021, the main question on most job seekers’ minds is if they will still be able to secure employment this year, and if so, how?

U2B spoke to Louise Nicol, founder and managing director of Asia Careers Group Sdn Bhd, to learn more about some of the simple job-seeking strategies graduates can use to find employment in 2021.

Asia Careers Group, led by Nicol helps employers recruit graduates with the ideal combination of skills and personal character to make an immediate contribution to business success.


According to Nicol, the most important characteristic required by employers is a good attitude.  

“Employees need skills to do the job but more than anything a ‘can-do attitude’, the ability to show strong initiative, the ability to think creatively, the ability to bring ideas to the table and solve problems are all the skills that are valued by employers,” she adds.

She also said that candidates must be able to demonstrate these skills through the experience they have gained along the way.

This includes packaging their experience in a manner that reflects moments where they went above and beyond at school, university, or in their personal lives, when have they overcome significant challenges.

The ability to innovate is also crucial. Nicol recommends that job seekers should include how they would innovate or introduce improvement plans when speaking to hiring managers.

Jobseekers will need to demonstrate the ways in which they can be an asset to the existing team and organisation to really make an impression – and this will ultimately make them seem more attractive to employers.


Nicol has a word of caution for job seekers who are trying to secure employment during the pandemic.

“Graduate salaries will be down by 10%, across the globe and companies are not to pay a lot for graduates,” she said.

Despite the significant drop, she adds that graduates should refrain from demanding above-average compensation and benefits, especially during the pandemic.

It is important to be realistic with the expected remuneration and while the starting salaries could be low, graduates have historically shown the ability to grow quickly in their careers and in turn command higher salaries.

She suggests that graduates should carry out salary comparisons on platforms that offer job insights such as Glassdoor which provides salary averages based on specific fields so that job seekers are able to ask for salaries that companies are willing to pay.

Louise Nicol is the founder of Asia Careers Group SDN BHD.


Essentially, Nicol adds, “It comes down to this: If you do something you love, you will be willing to start on less money,” and so it is important to determine if you are doing a job that you enjoy.

She also advises job seekers to carry out detailed research on the companies that they plan to apply to as this will help them to understand the business inside out.

This will ultimately allow job seekers to identify tangible ways they can add value to the business.

Jobseekers should also approach their job search proactively. Nicol adds, “Approach the job search in different ways, apply to job adverts, but also go to employers directly after having done your research”.

She adds that jobseekers should draw up a very brief yet compelling case as to why they should hire them, prior to the interview.


Nicol also stressed the importance of building a strong network of school and university contacts.

She adds that graduates should think outside of the box when building their networks.

Citing a company like Shell as an example, Nicol says that graduates should not limit their job search based on a narrow approach. “Shell does not only employ engineers,” she says. “They also hire accountants, marketers and HR professionals.”

Nicol adds that now is a great time for jobseekers from various backgrounds to find employment in the Asian region.

She says, “While the jobs market is tough now, it is likely Asia will bounce back more quickly. However, this heavily depends on government policies that should seek to drive economic growth and not fixate on borders.”

“Employers are having to address issues of diversity in their organisations, so there are more opportunities for those from different backgrounds,” she says.