• By Ong Eng Huat •
Most scholarship seekers wish they could unlock the secret formula to winning the hearts and minds of the scholarship providers. You must see beyond choosing the biggest names and adequate funding to see that these would be your potential employers, and working for one is aligned to your personal goals.
What, you wonder, is that unique combination of skills and values that you have to exhibit for them to pull out the scholarship contract for you to read over?
An employer looks for more than just good grades, pleasant personality and leadership in your CCA. If you understand the qualities your potential employers are focusing on, it is going to be easier tackling those difficult interview questions or even chit-chats in cosy lounges as some employers like to do nowadays.
By far, the one skill mentioned most often by employers is the ability to listen, write, and speak effectively. Successful communication is critical in business. Those with strong writing, research and presentation skills are highly desired. One who communicates well is one who can express negative thoughts in a positive way and can receive negative feedback with a positive attitude. Learn to express yourself without infringing on the rights of others.
Knowledge & Intellectual Curiosity
There is no doubt that employers like high grades, but they also want someone who knows a lot more than the school subjects. Being knowledgeable in broad areas is a must, but more often than not, your job requires you to delve into new unknown areas and you are to form pathways quickly. It is important that you show you are aware of current affairs and interested in technological and industry trends and have a deep hunger to learn, grow and willing to experiment in order to learn.
Analytical & Problem-Solving Skills
If the company gives you the scholarship, it wants you to manage, not just to work. The main difference here is the problem-solving ability. It will test your ability to assess a situation, how you seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed. You will have to show you have a talent for identifying, scrutinising, improving, and streamlining complex work processes. Creativity and imagination are always necessary to solve problems.
Employers want people who believe in themselves. People are often more passionate and creative in their work if they are confident. The belief of what one can or cannot achieve often denote the difference between success and failure. The trick to achieve that is to be able to accept yourself when you try and fail, to put yourself out there and not be perfect, and to start a conversation with someone who is not likeable.
This is why the employer looks at your CCA, hoping to find someone who has led others and can motivate, mobilise, and coach staff to meet high performance standards. If you don’t have good credentials in your CCA, you should come prepared to talk about your leadership in other activities – voluntary work, social service, youth group or family life – for instance, how you take care of your siblings or parents.
Employers seek people who get along well with others and promote a spirit of camaraderie among their colleagues. The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day. Some people call it EQ (emotional intelligence) which is the ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them. And the ability to listen.
Employers want go-getters. They want people who don’t wait to be told what to do, but rather people who can see a problem and take the initiative to solve it. Or you may call it passion. It is the enthusiasm and excitement for life. It should come naturally to you. The more passionate you are about yourself, your work, your life, or whatever it is you are doing… the more positive energy you give off.
Employers are looking for adaptable people. They need people who can ‘go with the flow’ and accept changes. The company’s business is likely to change over time and employers like to know that the staff can cope with job changes and remain useful.
A HR officer from Singapore Technologies once told Scholarship Guide, ‘Our business leaders must have the diversity skills that permeate cross-cultural understanding, the perceptive skills of understanding the untold and the unseen, and working and living with ambiquity, and yet knowing what needs to be done and getting it done.’
At the scholarship interview, most applicants talk about their dreams and hopes with the company. But what employers want to know is a frank assessment of your true capabilities – not what you would like to do, or expect to be able to do at some point in the future, or might be able to do with a little training and experience, but what you can actually do right now.
Good employees know what their abilities are and what their goals are. And what are the areas in their lives that need more work. They constantly keep track of their goals and occasionally re-prioritise them.
Almost every job will involve you working in one or more work-groups; hence you must have the ability to work with others in a professional manner while attempting to achieve a common goal. Show that you are a team player who excels at building trusting relationships with customers and colleagues. A good team player displays genuine commitment. Show that you are reliable and can do more than what is being asked.