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ICYMI: Insights On LIT DISCOvery 2020 Employers Networking Session | Young NTUC X Wantedly

On 10th June, Young NTUC had its second run of LIT DISCOvery Symposium, which is an online symposium aimed to encourage youths to make use of the time they have now to learn new things, and design a career strategy that charts their path towards their targeted job opportunities. Wantedly was proud to be an exclusive partner for LIT Disco 2020.

In the first session moderated by Senior Marketing Lead, Mae of Wantedly, we had Alex Tan from AI Software Develop, Benedict Yan from Trent Global College, and Mohan Behani from e27.

For the second session moderated by Senior Business Development Manager, Alex of Wantedly, we had Wayne Lai from Hook Coffee, Esan Sivalingam from Hoods Inc., and Jerald Chua from Bondlinc.

These companies and speakers are all from diverse industries, but they have one thing in common, they are all hiring!

Besides learning about their company culture and the positions they are hiring for, we also gained an insight into what qualities these industry leaders look for in future hires.

Here are some key takeaways and burning questions answered that were shared during the networking session.

SESSION 1:

How has Covid-19 affected your companies, recruitment, and how have your approach to hiring changed?

Alex acknowledged that this is a tough period for recruitment. The crucial face-to-face meet up with candidates has been shifted to online interviews.

Mohan also agreed that they are quite badly affected as a large percentage of e27’s various community events and initiatives are offline, such as Echelon. However all along they have remote teams in countries such as Malaysia and Philippines where they’ve been practicing remote hiring so online interviews for hiring is a familiar territory for them.

For Benedict with Trent Global College, classes have to be moved online and their team had to quickly arrange for planned lessons to be carried out over video conferencing. While this turnaround has to be done fairly fast, they managed to smooth the processes out. With the constantly changing tech landscape, there has been an increase in demand for individuals wanting to reskill and relearn, therefore they see a rise in courses applications. Which also explains why they are still hiring amid tough times!

Let us in on the company culture, what do you guys do for fun? How do you keep the team spirits up, before Covid-19, and now that everyone is working from home?

Before the Circuit Breaker, Alex and his team hang out at cafes and bars over snacks and drinks as their way to bond. In light of the current situation, their bonding sessions have been shifted to zoom sessions. For the team, it’s also important that they check in ‘emotionally’ with each other weekly during these sessions to ensure that everyone is in good spirits.

At e27, Mohan said that while occasionally they have company gatherings on zoom to catch up, online team bonding happens separately with each department. For example, the tech team enjoys playing Dota on Friday nights, while the marketing team hangs out in a virtual clubhouse on Friday nights.

For Trent Global College, group activities outside of the college plays a huge part in their team building initiatives. Before Covid-19, they had plans to join a dragon boating activity, and that they also enjoy bowling together regularly. Since those plans are now put on hold, they decided that Christmas should come early and have ‘Secret Santa’ deliveries to their team members’ houses such as a surprise bubble tea delivery!

Now we have a deeper look into each of the roles these companies are hiring, and the qualities they’re looking for in each of the positions:

AI Software Develop

  1. Mobile Engineer

Trent Global College

  1. BIM Lecturer
  2. Programme Assistant Manager

e27

  1. Business Development Intern
  2. Operations Intern
  3. Project Manager
  4. Editor
  5. Tech Writers

Aside from the technical skills of course, what qualities are important to you when hiring for these roles?

As AI Software Develop is a startup, the role of the Mobile Engineer is a rather senior one, and this person will form part of their core team. This weighs heavily as this person will also be responsible for setting structures and leading the way to take the company forward as part of the founding team. With a small team, Alex is looking for someone who is adaptable, comfortable with ambiguity and able to wear multiple hats.

At Trent Global College, Benedict informed us that this is the first masters programme for their Building Information Modeling (BIM) course, and therefore they are looking for a subject matter expert who is experienced in the field, with the ability to bring key concepts and present case studies effectively.

With the Programme Assistant Manager role, they will work to create and maintain excellent learning experiences for students and faculty members. One of the key qualities they’re looking for is being innovative! An example given was that previously, this person suggested using board games as one of the ways to learn coding, therefore it is important to be innovative to find new ways to engage students and the faculty.

For Mohan, e27 is all about the tech landscape therefore for all the open roles, passion for tech and the startup ecosystem should be a given! They do not treat interns any differently, and they are very much hands-on with the rest of the team in equal measures. A deep knowledge of the tech ecosystem is important, along with a great attitude to support entrepreneurship, with having a good tech network as a bonus.

What advice do you have for the audience - our youths who are embarking on their first career search or even those who are doing a mid-career switch?

Mohan: Don’t be afraid to try out different stuff, to discover what you're good or bad at, and explore different opportunities.

Alex: To win all battles, you have to understand yourself. What kind of industries you wish to be in, and do a deep study of the industry to give yourself an edge.

Benedict: Definitely always be hungry to learn, and it’s important to be able to adapt to changing situations.

Highlights of Q&A from the audience

What are the Critical Skills needed for these roles?

Benedict: Resourcefulness, be willing to learn things by yourself, willingness to learn

Being such a small team at Trent Global, not everyone is always available to teach you right away. So having independence is prioritised.

Alex: In AISD, communication is key. We are always forced to work together to understand each other and get feedback. We actually communicate more than we code. So if a candidate has strong communication skills and has open communication, we value them very highly.

Does volunteer work count as valuable experience?

Mohan: 100%! You don't necessarily have to be practising your exact skills to be counted as valuable work experience. Volunteering also shows how well you communicate and work with other people so this definitely counts.

SESSION 2:


The companies tell us more about their company culture, and how the process of hiring has changed since Covid-19.

At Hoods Inc., Esan mentioned that they have in place a multi-tier hiring process where they shortlist as many candidates as possible. Things are still carried out the same way but the only difference is that it is now done via Zoom.

Wayne agreed with Esan that the general process hasn’t changed that much. In Hook Coffee’s case, they were no longer able to carry out their unique hiring process of getting the candidates to experience the coffee tasting and culture, before deciding if the role would be the right fit for them.

This is a critical process in their hiring, as Wayne also mentioned that as part of their culture, they would experience coffee together in different cafes. As most of the cafes are closed now, they recently enrolled in a course together to stay tight.

On the other hand, for Jerald at Bondlinc, their culture has always been about hiring through referrals. They are always on a lookout for team players instead of a team member. Jerald emphasizes that thought process, presentability and connections are some of the things they observe during an interview. This has been a challenge as face-to-face interviews are a good channel for them to gauge these characteristics.

In Wantedly’s case, Mae agreed with the challenge of hiring during this period. As Wantedly champions using its platform to encourage company visits in order for potential hires to better understand the company’s culture and people, the current situation has posed a challenge for such visits.

Mae hopes that things would go back to normal soon as part of the “fun” things the Wantedly crew does is that they get to plan a visit to the various WeWork offices weekly, and the team makes their decision centered around which office is surrounded by the best food in the area!

Now we have a deeper look into each of the roles these companies are hiring, and the qualities they’re looking for in each of the positions:

Hoods Inc

  1. Assistant Production Manager
  2. Graphics Designer
  3. Motion Graphics Animator

Hook Coffee

  1. Community Engagement Associate
  2. Business Development Associate

Bondlinc

  1. Fixed Income Data & Research Analyst
  2. Senior Java Developer
  3. AI/ML Data Analyst Intern

Wantedly

  1. Marketing Intern
  2. Client Success Manager

Aside from the technical skills of course, what qualities are important to you when hiring for these roles?

For Esan, what Hoods Inc. looks for is character and creativity. They admit that they’re a ‘bag of mixed nuts’, and rather than change how you are, look to integrate your personality into how you would work together with the team. They believe that training for the role is not a problem, and while it plays a huge part, they also care about an individual’s career progression. Said Esan, “All you need is Perseverance and Attitude. Skills can always be taught”.

Wayne then pointed out that since Hook Coffee is primarily an online e-commerce business, and with the current situation, they are not able to do workshops and open houses. Therefore he is looking to bring in someone young with new, innovative ideas to engage their customers and community online. Other than the ability to fit in, someone who can do things differently and shed light on their ideas is who they’re looking for.

At Bondlinc, Jerald feels that an important quality to have is someone who is proactive rather than reactive to situations. He believes more in skills and character, rather than qualifications. In fact, Jerald has never asked to see a candidate's transcript before. He is more interested to see what valuable skills were obtained outside of school, as this shows that a candidate is investing their time to better themselves.

Jerald also agreed with Esan that they value career progression. Their interns would always be exposed to the different facets of the company. For example, the tech team will also get to experience its business aspects, and skills learnt should always be transferable.

Mae believes that one of the key drivers and quality that she looks out for is how well the candidate is an advocate of the brand. She values candidates that can represent the brand well.

Highlights of Q&A from the audience

What if we lack experience, how do we stand out?

Esan believes that for Hoods Inc., experience is one thing, research is another. A candidate should do a thorough research and know the industry they’re applying for. As for skills, most companies can train the person but what they lack in experience can be made up with the right attitude and willingness to learn.

Mae agreed, saying that Wantedly believes that skills can be taught, but attitude can’t.

Jerald added that for Bondlinc, research about the company’s competition is also a plus point.

Esan agreed with Jerald. He mentioned that Hoods Inc. had a candidate years ago that instead of asking questions about the company, the candidate showed his knowledge about the company’s competition and suggested how Hoods Inc. can do better than their competitor. The candidate definitely impressed him and left a deep impression.

Tips to stand out during an interview

For Mae, she always makes a point to ask a candidate what they like to do during their free time, or what they are passionate about be it music, or sports. She believes that if she has to decide between two candidates of equal experience and qualifications, the person who has an edge is someone who is passionate and shows that he or she is more driven.

Esan agreed and added that he likes people who can form relationships. The interview process is to see whether a candidate can connect with the hiring manager.

Closing

Wantedly would like to thank Young NTUC for inviting us to be part of the LIT DISCOvery 2020 initiative, and for inviting our partners AI Software Develop, Hoods Inc., Trent Global College, Hook Coffee, Bondlinc and e27 for joining the panels.

All available roles can be viewed and applied via their respective company pages on Wantedly.

Resources

Wantedly also have two other resources available for all job seekers to help them during this time.


GET IN TOUCH

Get In Touch is a new platform by Wantedly for job seekers in the tech industry globally. A complementary tool to your Wantedly profile, it allows you to position yourself as immediately available.

You can set up your profile and be discovered by hirers today: https://getintouch.me/

HIRING-FREEZE TRACKER

Wantedly put together a 'LIVE' user-generated list that tracks whether companies in Singapore are hiring, freezing or seeing layoffs. This list is to help support those looking for work during this time, and is updated weekly.

Check it out: https://bit.ly/2XzPHZ0

Trent Global College of Technology & Management's job postings
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