What to do if you cannot find a job after college

CAREER, Career-Student

While many working people are stuck in unhappy jobs, fresh graduates are having problems getting a job. Even landing in an interview is next to impossible. In that case, what to do while waiting for someone to call for interview after submitting countless application?

Consider jobs that are out of your scope of study

You may have a science degree, but if you are unable to find a job as a molecular biologist, chemist or physicist, have you consider jobs in sectors such as customer service or sales? Many companies are constantly looking for staff due to the high turnover rate.

Please don’t underestimate these sectors. You may begin as a front end sales or service that probably required lower qualification than a diploma or degree. But with your academic qualification, you would be able to move further up the ladder once you have developed sufficient job experience and have favorable performance review. From a front-liner, you can gradually climb the corporate ladder and assume managerial and leadership roles.

Together with many of my former colleagues, we had started off as front-liners. Today, a number of them have moved up to managerial and decision making positions, leading huge teams and drawing huge salaries. If you are ambitious and capable, there is a bright career path awaits you- in industries such as banking, insurance and telecommunications.

If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Sometimes we tend to make assumptions about ourselves, such as ‘I am not good at servicing’, ‘I hate to sell’, even though we have not really tried doing the thing ourselves. Unknowingly, we box and limit ourselves based on our own perception of who we think we are. People who achieve success beyond their wildest dreams are those who are constantly able to challenge their limitations.

In life, we need to tell ourselves that ‘we can!’ and not ‘we can’t’. There’s a lot of things we can do if we set our minds to it and is focused in achieving it.


Years ago, through Buddhist volunteer activities, I got to know a new friend who was just out of the local university. For quite sometime, he had problems finding a job and there was tremendous pressure because he is the eldest child and his family is not really well to-do. He was starting to feel really down. His friend then recommended that he came to help us out.

When I first met him, he was painfully shy and is not a person of many words. Because the whole bunch of us were around the same age and were local graduates, we did have a lot of fun in the process even though we were involved in very mundane work.

We organized a talk from an overseas teacher who was so famous that we have to learn to manage the shoes from people who came to attend the talk. The center, with its usual capacity of just about 100 people would need to accommodate more than double of visitors.

On the second floor of a shoplot, we knew it would be a total disaster if few hundred people were trying to look for their scatterred shoes in the narrow stairway. It was then we devised a simple system where we would wrap the shoes in plastic bags and then give up tags- similar to when you leave your bags at the entrance of a store and given a tag. These shoes would be tagged and arranged neatly in an extremely limited space.

When the visitors wanted to leave, they would pass back the tag to us and we would return the shoes to them. For a few nights, it was tough work for the three of us- including the guy and me. We were constantly outside the hall, sweating buckets and trying to coordinate everything. Yet, he carried out his job earnestly.

Within a week, he got a call for an interview (even though he had not been able to get an interview for quite sometime). And within 2 weeks from that event, he landed on the job. From there, he steadily climbed the corporate ladder and for a few years, he continued to help out.

The same happened to me. After 9 years of working, I took one year off and went travelling. In Thailand, I did a lot of volunteering work- including helping non English speaking kids from rural area learn English.

Most veteran in Malaysia would view this as career suicide- because people tend to think that a person who just quit the job and went travelling could be suffering from some serious mental problems.

And yet, when I interviewed for my current job, my interviewer (now my current boss) asked me what I was doing in Thailand. When I explained to him, instead of thinking something is wrong with me, he was instead impressed. The next day, he called me and offered me the job.

And it turned out, he has been a good boss- because he is the type of person who understands that life’s about living it the way that brings out the best of your abilities and to keep an open mind. The kind of unconventional boss that is suited to my unconventional temperaments.

I am not saying that miracles will happen when you volunteer. But at the very least, when we help others, often the person who benefits the most is us. The act of giving have a very nurturing effect on our hearts. If we are feeling down, we would feel better- and the overall change in our expression and positive energy would have a positive influence in our interviewer.

All the best, and remember, whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to lose your optimism.

Some past articles I have written on this that may help:

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