Nearly half of Singaporean fresh grads take up to 3 months to find their first job – but 30% quit in less than a year

The Straits Times
  • 47% of fresh graduates take one to three months to find their first job after leaving school.
  • 31% quit in less than 12 months, citing professional growth, money and a change in career direction as reasons. 
  • 34% said a lack of mentorship was a key challenge in their first jobs, but 80% of employers felt they provided adequate support to young talent

Singaporeans spend a significant portion of their life studying, and for fresh grads, almost a quarter of their lifespan would have passed by the time they’re ready to seek a full-time career.

That’s a sobering fact, but for millennials today, transitioning from education into work is proving to be a great challenge, especially when reality is mismatched with expectations.

According to online jobs portal, a study commissioned found glaring gaps between what young local talent expect from their first jobs, and what employers are prepared to provide.

The study surveyed over 2,368 respondents in Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines, hoping to bridge the gap between fresh grad job seekers and employers looking to hire and retain young talent.

According to 536 graduates and employers surveyed across Singapore, 30% of fresh grads said they chose to leave their first job after less than a year, citing a lack of professional development (67%) and a desire to earn more money (42%) as the main reasons.

This is despite the fact that it took almost half of them (47%) up to three months to get hired in the first place.

A large majority said that their biggest challenge was a lack of industry knowledge (67%), but a lack of mentorship (34%) also played a big role in their decision to quit. This is despite 80% of employers believing that they provide adequate support to young talent.

A further 27% said they didn’t think they “were fully prepared for work life”, 25% struggled with long work hours and 23% said they lacked sufficient feedback and support from direct managers to succeed.

Commenting on the findings, Sanjay Modi, managing director of (APAC and Middle East) said: “Clearly young talent expect to move quickly in their first jobs – they want promotions and pay rises, and they crave the leadership and support necessary to get there.

“While this could be a call for employers to take note and act quickly to retain young high potential talent, it’s also a wake up call to fresh graduates to give themselves time to fully grow into a role and figure out where their strengths lie.”

Job interview mistakes

One component of the study analysed what employers thought were the biggest mistakes made during job interviews and what they looked out for in a CV.

Across the SEA region, 67% of employers reported spending less than three minutes perusing a CV – 50% spend one to three minutes scanning it while 17% will only take 60 seconds to glance at it.

If you’re wondering what to include in your CV, employers ranked relevant experience first (68%), followed by educational qualifications (58%), and readability third (45%).

Surprisingly, proper spelling and grammar was not a strong influencing factor (11%) as well as links to a portfolio (8%) and volunteer experience (5%).

For job seekers, those surveyed said the hardest part of writing a CV was tailoring it to a specific role (26%). When it came to job interviews, 60% said not asking questions was their biggest regret, followed by not doing enough background research on the company (51%).

Interestingly, only 10% believed focusing too much on salary discussion was a mistake but 53% of employers across the region said bringing up salary during the initial job interview was “unprofessional”.

Instead, they want the focus to be on understanding the role and judging one’s cultural fit to the job and company.

“The majority of employers are in agreement that young local talent have unrealistic expectations when it comes to salaries and pace of growth, but many might be failing to realise just how big a consideration money is,” Mr Modi added in the press release.

“To overcome this, a strong onboarding process is needed to manage expectations, as well as a structure around training, learning and development to ensure young talent feel they are being invested in, and that they are considered an important part of the company’s future,” he added.