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Fresh Graduates, Can Or Cannot?


Last two weeks I had stumbled upon this piece of news regarding Malaysian fresh graduates couldn’t get a good job. Read the article HERE. I was not offended by the article or anything like that, but I was slightly disturbed with the comments of the article itself.

You see, I’m a fresh graduate exactly a year ago where I got my first job. Like other freshly graduated friends of mine, we started to discuss among ourselves regarding the expected salary and also asking our seniors regarding that matter and the process of interview. I swear that each of us, the average asking price of our salary is about RM2200.

However, according to most of our interviewer, the price we demand for our first job is a little bit overboard.

Most of the companies are only wiling to fork out RM1800 and there will no increment as well after confirmation. The problem is this. Is the salary that we demand with our educational background to be too overboard? A freshly graduate diploma student can get RM1800 a month 10 years ago and while a freshly graduate student both degree and diploma, can ONLY get RM1800 a month in present times.

Try comparing the standard of living 10 years ago to the present times. I still remember paying RM3.50 for my bowl of noodles and also RM1.20 Iced Coffee. Right now, a bowl of noodle averages RM4.50 a bowl and the cheapest you can get around Petaling Jaya or Kuala Lumpur is RM4.00 a bowl. Not to mention the current price is hiking up and there are so many food around selling RM 6 to RM10 per plate. Try to compare the petrol prices 10 years ago and also the current petrol price.

So is asking a slightly higher salary than 10 years ago to be overboard? There is only a difference of RM400 between RM2200 and RM1800. I knew someone who started out 20 years ago as a freshly graduate student with a degree, and his first salary was RM2000. How about now? What is the value of RM2000 20 years ago and RM2000 in present times?

20 years ago, a person need not to work long to be able to afford a car and house on his own. Probably about 5 years time of working. Right now, you wouldn’t even know if you can afford a house after 10 years of working and we wouldn’t even mention about starting a family. So I ask again, is the salary we demand at RM2200 is considered overboard? Or the majority employers in Malaysia are just plain too cheapskate?

Let’s not talk about salary demand, shall we?

We talk about the skills we acquired from our university days. When we talk about our current education system is a bit too lenient and most of it is outdated, I couldn’t agree more. I too realized this harsh reality as soon as I set foot in working life. I found out the knowledge I had in me is not only outdated, but some of it, are just plain downright useless. However, I believed this is almost the same as any fresh graduates at any given time. Isn’t that so? I do not believe that each and every fresh graduate who had never experienced any working life before would be able to know how a company runs and etc.

It’s true that every bosses worked their ass off from the bottom to where they are now. But compared to the economy and standard of living last time and present, we would not need a economy expert to tell us there’s a huge difference in it. The most ironic thing is right now, most people including bosses complained that the prices of things keep getting up while salary didn’t.

Another thing that amuses me most that despite all the complains about current fresh graduates couldn’t get a job due to poor command in both written and spoken English, there are a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes in them. It’s to the point where primary school level mistakes are being made. Talk about being hypocrites. I never claimed about having perfect English as I only think of my English standard is just pretty average but I never really bad mouthed others regarding their poor command in this language unless that person personally start being a hypocrite.

And last but not least, their perspective of viewing things are quite narrow and some are actually ignorant about the term “entrepreneurship”. It amuses me when someone actually talk all high and mighty about getting a job and maintaining it to refer to entrepreneurship. If you do not truly understand the meaning of their word and too lazy to look up the dictionary, there’s Google to do the magic for you.

So Malaysia’s fresh graduates? Can or cannot? It’s entirely up to you but if there’s no chance given, you will not know for sure. I’m one of the very FEW and RARE fresh graduates who manage to get into a big company that offers me a high paying salary for an entry level employee and at the same time, being taught a great deal by my senior colleagues. I’m not boasting about my current job or company, just merely expressing my gratitude towards my company and my boss. Reading this article made me felt even more blessed to be employed here and I think I’m very lucky as well.

So if you are a fresh graduate, know yourself and the market well. Prepare yourself for the world and your job hunting. Good luck.


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A blogger and designer with a passion to share my views and happenings to the world.


  • kianfai87

    I think every first job interview will face this kind of problem, unless create a fake facts about working half year or 1 year experience lo . . .
    My recent post LFC, Lim Fried Chicken & Nasi Lemak at Restaurant Wong Soon Kee, SS14

  • Nana Eddy

    I absolutely agree with your statements above. I believe, if asked, any degree graduates will expect AT LEAST RM2000 as their first salary. I won’t lie, I do too.

    HOWEVER, the graduates should “ukur baju dibadan sendiri” first. In other words, in order for them to be able to demand a salary of RM2000 and above, they must know what they are capable to do first. If they want to demand a high salary, they must first realize that the company will also demand from them excellency in their work.

    I think this problem arise when there were many graduates who demand high salary but work like s**t. It’s one thing if they have terrible English that primary kids can do better, it’s another when they don’t even make an effort to make sure they do their job correctly. This kind of graduates would infuriate any employers – heck, they infuriate me! Thus, many employers tend to take the safe way and offer less pay- so that their “investment” won’t be wasted.

    I believe, if you are capable, and if you work with the best that you can give each time – even when u r only working part time, or on internship, high salary will come itself (Of course, it does depend a bit on luck and the right connections as well). I haven’t graduated, but already I’ve received a few job offers that offers me pay more than 2k (I worked with them on some projects or part-time). I’m not trying to boast that I’m good or whatever (well, maybe a little bit :p) but, I’m trying to point out, it is not at all impossible. You just have to make sure that the shoe fits 🙂

    • ericleeh

      actually, what i'm trying to imply here initially is I felt that RM2k IS ALREADY LOW compare to to the current economy to 15 or 20 years back. If RM1800 is considered low 20 years back seeing the price of things are very much lower, i bet RM200o worth actually less than what RM1800 worth 20 years ago.

      I do agree that graduates should "ukur baju di badan sendiri" first but problem is how do they measure themselves given no experience in working field? Does that mean no working experience equals to low paying jobs? A sales assistant or promoter in shopping malls too can earn up to over RM200 in certain shops and they don't require any high qualification for the job? So it's all down to the knowledge we possessed. Don't you agree that the most candidate any company would shortlist are those who showcase their excellent results in their academic certs? And the chosen one is the one who beat every other interviewees for the interview session?

      And another thing about investments, the more you invest, the more sincerity you showed, the higher productivity your employee will produce. Since you are still a student, let me ask, if one company offers you RM1800 and another offers you RM2200 and which would you take? It's a no brainer that you will choose a higher pay job right? The salary offered is the sincerity in employing you and if a company pays you low, how motivated can you work? For a fresh graduate who is willing to learn, they wouldn't mind the pay. But honestly, once started working, you will feel and see things differently. It's because the company paid you lowly, they expect you to work more (so called cheap labor la) and also they wouldn't care less if the pay is not up to what you are doing. Why? Because they are being cheapskate in their investment. You cannot expect someone to be happy and motivated for a long time. You pay RM1800 and you expect RM2500 work out of it. Sorry to say, that's the mentality of a lot of bosses right now and I had met one.

      Anyway, I wish you best of luck. Doing this project enables you to demand higher. Please dun just demand RM2k because u r worth more than that.

      • WanDj

        " Since you are still a student, let me ask, if one company offers you RM1800 and another offers you RM2200 and which would you take? It's a no brainer that you will choose a higher pay job right? "

        This is where you are wrong. As a fresh graduate, often, average performer in uni, you should accept the fact that you hold nothing that the company can rely on to secure their investment. If the lower paying company offers a higher job prospect, higher job quality and higher job satisfaction, that should be the no brainer choice. You are being paid anyway for not knowing how to do anything that is significant. But you should use your probation period to prove your worth and then given that the company is sensible, they should and will increase your salary to a more decent standing, suitable with your level of work. Get it? Job quality+experience first and then money. You do well, you will definitely earn well. But earning well doesn't guarantee doing well. Thats the lesson employers learn the hard way. If you dont want to graduate with completely no job experience, then take up multiple internship positions while studying, from first year till final year! Thats what I did. By the time of my graduation with a bachelors degree, I had 13 months of work experience. Needless to say, my salary as well as position fresh out of college is way above average. Stop demanding from employers with nothing to offer but promises. Nobody trusts fresh graduates. They jump around the minute a new offer comes in with even a hundred dollars worth of increase. You have to earn your pay, sacrifice being underpaid the first few months, and perform to your best. If you do that, you won't be complaining as much as you are now.

        • ericleeh

          Firstly, I did not exactly complain as my pay is above average. What I am actually pointing out is the fact that a company is not willing to pay a person accordingly to the living costs and go into full argument that fresh graduates demand high salary today. What they overlook is that when they were fresh graduates, they get a pay of RM1500 a month. But if you compared the living costs of that period to today, RM1500 is like basically having a RM2500 salary in today's living cost. My senior had the pay of RM1500 10 years ago. How much is a bowl of noodles 10 years ago? My fav iced coffee costs me about RM1.20 back then but now, it is mostly RM 1.80. 10 years ago, I walked to the mamak behind my house, having a plate of fried noodles and a cup of hot tea at RM2.50 and RM0.80 respectively. I kid you not as that is the exact price I paid EVERY week. Now, from the same place and same food. I paid RM4 and RM1.50 respectively. That's the reason why I mentioned that why fresh graduates demand higher salary these days.Yes, I understand no one trusts fresh graduates. But if you compared back to the olden days, people actually paid higher. For example, RM1500 is actually a damn high investment on a fresh graduate back in those days. After working, I can only come to a conclusion that not much company actually had the enough resources to employ a fresh graduate. I can understand your point where career advancement come in first place. In fact, I actually consider that first while finding for my first job. And it is lowly paid but I do not mind. But the problem is this. A lot of employers promised advancement in career, they pay you lowly but they expect you to work as though you are earning three times the pay you are getting. I been there and I found my time not worth. I changed company and been working there since, I found that actually my employer IS being unreasonable.Will I get promoted if I stick around? Yes, I would. Would I get a much higher pay like what I deserved outside? No. not every company promises that. I have seen enough people performing extremely well during their probation period but when after probation, the company still do not believe in paying what he or she is worth. My gf is the perfect example for it. She is new to the company AND despite being only in the probation period, she outperformed EVERY senior staffs there till the extend of praises and compliments from colleagues from other department as well as clients. Clients had been wanting her to go their place to work. But she stuck around as the company promises career advancements and stuff like that. Then the main problem is this. The company did not deliver what they promised her before employing her such as increments, bonus etc and the company is bringing in some people who so called have one or two year experience in the same field with much higher pay. But, they underperfomed and my gf had to cover for them. Experience means nothing if a person can't catch the much needed experience that they had been through.After almost a year working there, she decided to leave coz she felt unappreciated. Many of her clients offer her a job with a much higher pay despite being in an unrelated field so u can guess how good an impression she made. But the company still not aware of her worth, offers very little increment, (an extra RM80 in the beginning which is purely insulting where she can get an extra RM1000 elsewhere with the position of assistant manager). Even when she wanted to leave, the company merely tell her that they will increase her pay another RM400. She refuses and just leave for another job (not the RM1000 one). The company labelled her ungrateful and stuff saying she is not worth her demand and so on. A typical worker that freshly come into the working environment.A month after she left, her department in that company is in a mess. A mess so bad, that the very same CFO that refuses to increase her salary, seek her and ask her to return and even promises more than what she initially demanded before she left the company. No, she didn't accept it despite it being higher than her current one. That is exactly why fresh graduates rather go for high paying job most of the time as a lot of them still can't trust their company. Thanks to companies like my gf's previous one.

  • ken

    nicely written.. i do think that some fresh grads these days are not competent with the English language, but they can always opt for a Chinese/Malay-based company.. about skills and knowledge, i think it still need to rely on the real working world as the uni doesn't really teach much about handling work.. so yeah, we can go on and on about the education system.. but at the end of the day, it's entirely up to the individual themselves..

    i'm also glad (really glad) to be in a well-to-do company.. but money is never enough, we gotta keep moving forward.. perform better.. *satisfy* the superiors.. and climb up the career staircase 🙂
    My recent post INTI: Where World Stars Are Born

  • Agnes

    LOL wonderful comics! Hilarious!

    It’s true about what’s going on though.

  • ladyviral

    you never tell him ar… 15year ago he earn 1.5k 15 years ago meehoon goreng 20cents only… ask him to earn 1.5k and go buy meehoon everyday eat see he can survive or not.

    • ericleeh

      wahhh got so cheap 20 sens??? O.O

      BTW, the above situation I illustrated is only the depicting generally what happened..not to refer in any case in specific.. =D

  • Thristhan

    That's a very creative way of explaning the current situation. Nothing is fair bro, the only good solution for us is to setup our own business where we put all the hard work, we learn from it and we make more money than the basic salary (which never seem to increase every year). Whether starting with freelancing and taking it further after that. At least we are satisfied that way.
    My recent post Nong Nooch Tropical Garden Village, Pattaya

  • Devella

    Nice post!!! *thumbs up*

  • kayk3rek

    average studies in degree takes about 4 to five years..with the growth of technology, it is expected that almost 90% of what we have learnt will be outdated..both student and employee need to realize these facts and like it or not, training is a MUST..there are not a single freshie who were skillful enough to be call a professional-level in their fields and they cant called them the worst either..either way fresh graduate just need to learn how to impress employers in what they have..
    My recent post woooot~~~

  • Ella

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  • assignment writing

    you never tell him ar… 15year ago he earn 1.5k 15 years ago meehoon goreng 20cents only… ask him to earn 1.5k and go buy meehoon everyday eat see he can survive or not.

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I'm a digital marketeer, visual story teller and designer who is determined to live my life to the fullest.

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