JEDDAH: AFSHAN AZIZ
Published — Saturday 8 December 2012
Last update 7 December 2012 10:52 pm
Job experience is required in the recruitment system of most companies, but the question among fresh graduates is how they will get experience in the workplace if they need experience to be recruited.
Heba Mohammed, 21, a university graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering spent three months applying in more than 20 companies.
She never got a reply.
“The job market for fresh graduates, particularly engineers, is not great in the Kingdom because engineers are valued mainly by their experience,” she said.
Many youths remain unemployed. Another fresh graduate who holds a degree in engineering, Naima Fatimah said: “There are ample opportunities in various segments of engineering. But I cannot apply for any of them because I don’t have any experience to suit the required position.”
Employers invariably seek to hire experienced professionals, giving them preference over fresh graduates who lack experience. This is often a major requirement for companies at the time of recruitment, says a manager at a major corporate house.
He has no solution to the “unfair discrimination” meted out to fresh graduates aspiring to find jobs. He also has no answer to the question of how a fresher will gain experience if he does not find employment in the first place.
“I graduated from university one year ago and am trying to find my first job,” said medical student Hussein Ali. “I have lots of difficulties getting at least a phone interview. In fact, I have my resume posted on all popular websites but there are no job interview e-mails or phone calls. Every job I am interested in, needs some kind of experience. How am I supposed to start my professional career if no one would take someone without any work experience?”
Applicants readily take up jobs which do not belong to their field.
They feel it gives them something to begin with and this tends to negatively impact their career in the long term.
Humera Rehman, a school teacher at a private school in Jeddah, says it is wrong for anyone to specialize in one field and work in a different one. She added that she always wanted to pursue a career in sales and marketing but since there were no opportunities related to her field in Jeddah, she was forced to take up teaching.
Yet companies find it financially viable, even profitable, to recruit experienced individuals rather than take the risk of recruiting fresh graduates and spend money on their training.
Abdullah Al-Bassam, director of human resources in a small firm, said graduates do not find jobs easily because most companies require experience and professional employees to handle jobs independently as they do not need training, which saves the company time and money.
“Their efficiency is very high right from the beginning,” he added.
Another reason, he says, is “most graduates coming for interviews do not have anything to do with the qualifications mentioned in their CVs. They include qualifications in their CVs just to make themselves marketable.”
Some companies do hire fresh graduates, regardless of their capability.
But they are offered jobs that do not relate directly to their area of study. Sayeed Mohsin, an executive manager who graduated with merit in engineering, said he had many difficulties looking for work.
“The moment I graduated,” Mohsin said, “I applied in some companies but got rejected as I had no experience. I then decided to go for my master’s.
Even after my master's, I failed to find work as an engineer due to no experience. I chose to work at a much junior level and now, after five years of hard work, I am finally promoted to the management level.”
Mohsin suggested that companies should place more emphasis on personal interviews and onsite activities than the resume to identify the quality of candidates.
“A piece of paper, resume, cannot tell them who would do the job best when all the candidates are fresh graduates, meaning their CVs are pretty much going to look the same,” he said.