THE JOB market around the world is struggling. Unemployment numbers are way up in developed and developing economies alike. Graduates around the world can bond over the difficulty of finding a job, and employers can bond over the difficulty of hiring graduates.
“It’s the same all over the world,” said David Symansky of Human Resources Inc, an organisation that helps link capable candidates with employers. “Companies want people who can come in and make an impact. They know that graduates fresh out of university will require time and training to get there.”
While it may not be easy to convince a company that you are ready for the job, the opportunities for graduates in the country are on the rise. The number of skilled jobs in Cambodia has been steadily growing over the past decade because of a greater number of companies, many from abroad, who demand highly skilled staff.
Although there are more jobs than ever, there are also far more graduates than before, meaning that, if anything, the competition among graduates is fiercer than ever. The oversupply of graduates is particularly stark in business and management. A number of schools have opened in the last decade catering largely to business-related careers – Cambodia Mekong and Human Resources University, to name two – and the National University of Management (NUM) has grown from around a thousand students in the 1990s to more than 20,000 students today.
According to Vann Sahak, who is a deputy director of NUM, over 80 percent of students find a job soon after graduation, but according to employers and human resource experts, a degree in business guarantees nothing.
“To me, the most important thing is language and your ability to communicate,” said Nestor Apuhin, regional manager for United Labs, a Philippines-based company who hires a wide range of employees. “What matters is how you present yourself in an interview and how well you can think and solve problems.”
Even having a masters in business administration (MBA) does not impress employers by itself. Applicants must have a “diversified skill set” and a “self-start attitude”, according to Symansky. “Having an MBA does not mean you are going to be smarter or more capable,” he explained. “MBAs still need to have skills that set them apart from other applicants.” He added that fluency in English and mastery of computer programs are virtual must-haves for most of the organisations and companies he works with.
“If someone came to me and said they were thinking about getting an MBA, I would say go to two years of language school instead.” LIFT