Talent Thoughts (Part 2)


In the concluding part of our talent Q&A with Chook Yuh Yng is Country Manager, Malaysia for JobStreet.com, she shares that while better command of English, exposure to multiculturalism and stronger mastery of the subject matter are all important aspects considered by employers, they are not enough. Above all, employers look for talent with a positive attitude.

Talent has never been more global than today. Malaysia, unfortunately is a net exporter of top talent. At the same time, while we lose talent to developed nations, we are an attractive destination for talent from emerging countries in the Middle East and Africa and other Asean nations. Do you feel employers just have to go with the flow, accept that they will not be able to attract the cream of Malaysian talent and compensate by attracting the cream of talent from these emerging countries instead?

Realistically it is not easy for employers to hire foreigners in Malaysia. Companies are only allowed to hire foreigners when they can prove that Malaysians aren’t able or willing to do a specific job. Actually we still have a good talent pool with good qualifications and the right culture fit which makes it harder for employers to justify hiring foreigners. Hence, retaining top talent here before they are grabbed and attracting Malaysian top talent back to Malaysia will be the way to get quality employees.

What are the soft skills that are needed most today? Will this change 5 years from now?

Soft skills such as – communications, interpersonal, negotiations, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, team building, influencing skills will continue to be important.

In the future, the following will become more significant:

Social networking or internet etiquette will become more important. We are already seeing Gen Y making some blunders when posting on social networks due to their inexperience. The ability to learn very very fast – the speed of technology and information dissemination is moving at such great speeds every year eg videos via youtube, books via Kindle and rich content via tablets. Keeping up to date will be a valuable skill.

Another aspect will be to adopt a “global worldview” as the world is becoming a smaller place. The ability to work across cultural teams, adapt to different cultural relationships and other such challenges will be imperative.

For those already in the workforce and with 5 to 10 years of experience but not happy where they are, what must they do to make themselves more attractive for employers?

If the question is about job growth and promotion, then firstly the employee must evaluate whether he/she is lacking certain job skills that hinder his/her job growth. To move up the corporate ladder also means that the person must be able to take in more work responsibility and challenges. Do not expect to grow in your career or get promoted if you only perform a similar job role for many years.

Do employers still prefer graduates with an overseas degree? Does this still come with the assumption that the talent has better command of English, is more exposed to multiculturalism and has stronger mastery of the subject matter they studied?

Generally top corporations and multinational companies prefer to hire top graduates from top universities regardless whether it’s a local or oversea degree.

However, our survey last year indicated that the majority of our employers (86%) do not discriminate against graduates from a specific type of university; they do not mind hiring fresh graduates from local public, local private or foreign universities.

Yes, better command of English, exposure to multiculturalism and stronger mastery of the subject matter they studied are all important aspects for consideration. However above all, employers look for talent with a positive attitude.

Another advice that we will always emphasise is the importance of internships which can serve as a differentiator for fresh graduates.

And, finally, what are the top traits graduates should have if they want to succeed in both the workplace and life!

Personally I think honesty and humility are good attributes to have in the workplace and even life. Research done by Baylor University on the traits of honesty-humility also suggest that employees who possess these traits deliver better job performances.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Photo credit: Flickr user Josh Thompson


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