Please, please give me a job, any job!

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

– Martin Luther King, civil rights activist

These days it’s extremely difficult to land a job, especially in the private sector, what with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing companies to downsize their operations, cut down on overheads and lay off workers.

The worst-case scenario is firms – big and small – winding up, leaving thousands of employees without a job, and to an uncertain future.

Many of us would have come across news of some people taking their own lives after losing their jobs and not being able to find employment.

I read a recent report which highlighted a flight captain jumping off a building after he was laid off together with 100 other pilots early this year.

The pressure he faced being jobless probably led to his suicide decision. 

The number of people losing jobs nationwide this year is alarming with some 90,000 job losses reported until October, with an average of nearly 10,000 cases every month. The figure saw an upward trend in May, following the implementation of the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

The Social Security Organisation (Socso) says this represents an increase of 278 percent against the same period last year. The agency predicts the figure to exceed 100,000 by the end of the year. 

Klang Valley recorded the highest number of job loses with 58 percent, followed by Selangor (27,619), Kuala Lumpur (23,882) and Penang (9,489).

I called up the people handling statistics for the Sarawak figures but they have yet to get back to me. Covid-19 has forced them to work at half their usual pace, I think.

Goes to show how efficient these people are!

Anyway, worst-hit is the manufacturing sector with 20,492 job losses, making up 23 percent of cases. This is followed by the accommodation and food and beverage industry with 13,053 cases (15 percent) and the retail industry, 12,450 cases (14 percent).

So much for people losing jobs; let’s now turn our attention to graduates or rather fresh graduates who contribute to the rising joblessness.

Some 75,000 out of 300,000 fresh graduates are expected to be unemployed this year due to the economic downturn. This grim figure was recently revealed by the Ministry of Higher Education.

This figure is based on last year’s unemployment figures among fresh graduates where 41,161 out of 330,557 graduates from last year are still unemployed.

Add 75,000 from this year to 41,161 and the total unemployment figure among the fresh graduates will add up to a whopping 116,161 people.

These unemployed graduates are up against the experienced laid off workers, many of whom are top-notch executives, managers, etc.

If you asked me who between these two groups I would hire, I would opt for the fresh graduates — not because they command a lower salary, but because they are easily trainable and ever willing to learn.

Nevertheless, the drawback is that employers feel there is a graduate skills gap; meaning universities do not provide opportunities for students to develop skills critical for the labour market.

The skills that bosses seek are teamwork, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, adaptability and communication skills. Of the five skills, I would stress communication skills because effective communicators determine the success of a company.

The first thing a job seeker needs to do is to write good cover letters. Believe me, it’s pointless to submit an awesome CV without a convincing cover letter.

But these days, one can hardly see applicants with good writing skills, so much so that the applications are not even fit for the KIV trays.

What has happened to the finesse that should be put into a job application?

Some of the applicants with poor communication skills are local graduates, and there are even those with master’s degrees who are unable to write decent cover letters.

Before I go, I reproduce verbatim a “classic” cover letter from a jobseeker which a friend forwarded to my mail sometime back. 

“Dear Sirs,

I the one you want very much in the peper today. I scan through the newspeper thru-out and sudenly it appears in front of my eyes that your company’s wanted very much a writer like me who not afraid to work hard for long periods and tis no issue for me. Truthfuly sirs, I’ve all it took to give you my very best, and nothing the best.

I’m from … (name of university concealed) and qualified in Bachelor of Arts degrees as you can see thru my certificate. I’m 22 and still single and moving about for work purpose is no problem becos I have my father’s Toyota Corolla which he will let me to ride for work if successful. As for the rest of me, please look deeper in my CV and you will know who the person I’m.

I’m available to you for an interview any time even night time also via my hp no. on my CV.

Yours sincerely,

Miss XYZ (identity concealed)”

I rest my case!