A Passionate Young Graduate Turned HR Executive Shares her Secrets to Success

As a fresh graduate, stepping into the job market can be overwhelming. The fierce competition and the search for that dream job can feel like an uphill battle.

Meet Cheryl Santhakumari, a dynamic young Malaysian professional who has not only cracked the code but is now thriving as a Human Resource Executive at Linde Malaysia, one of the leading multinational corporations in Greater Kuala Lumpur.
Cheryl's journey from being a fresh graduate with Bachelor of Psychology to becoming an HR executive has been nothing short of inspiring. Her passion for helping others and her unwavering determination have catapulted her to success in the corporate world. She is on a mission to share her hard-earned wisdom and invaluable tips with fellow fresh graduates who are navigating the job market.

Q1: Can you tell us a bit more about your role at Linde Malaysia?

I am part of the Learning and Development (L&D) team. We organise internal training and external training for our employees. Because in any company, an employee wants to have that opportunity to grow - that's why the L&D segment is so important because we give our employees that value. As Linde is the largest industrial gas company in the world, we have arranged a lot of refresher courses. We need to ensure employees are always up to date with the international operating standards and procedures – that is L&D's main function. I make the arrangement and coordinate training for all employees of Linde around Malaysia. I also assist the recruitment, where I mainly arrange interviews, call candidates, and shortlist them. I also conduct some of the interviews myself as well.

Q2: what do you like about working at the company, and your experience working at a leading global multinational? As a young local talent, how do you prepare yourself to fit in the organisational culture at a multinational?

I think, as Malaysians, we are already in a very good position compared to other countries. We have that diversity factor and we have always been able to meet with so many people from so different cultural backgrounds. So, to enter the working landscape, for us, I don't think it's a challenge at all. We can mingle with anyone.
When I joined an upskilling program under the InvestKL Talent Program recently, part of the training was understanding our personality type. It really helped me to see how I can use my personality and fit it into the working world. The training helped me learn and identified my own personality type, As a Human Resource personnel, I have to deal with so many people and handle many cases daily basis, it can get quite overwhelming. So, I realized that after that long day, I must go back and unwind; I need to have some personal time to recharge myself for the next day. So, it really helped me to understand myself better and how to navigate through life.

Another training topic that I also enjoyed was cultural differences. It helped me to prepare myself to work in an environment where people come from different cultural backgrounds, from other countries, and worldwide. Fortunately, we live in Malaysia, a multicultural country and one of the most diverse countries in the world. It helps me prepare the training set expectation for me in a real working environment.

Q4: As someone who has both attended interviews and now interviewing people, what would be your takeaways or advice that you may want to share with fellow job seekers?

Honestly, when the roles are switched, it's amazing. The training that I went through under the InvestKL Talent Program has equipped me for many interviews. When I have interviews coming up, I always look back at my notes and the slides that the trainer shared - I would always use that as a reference point. Now when I became an interviewer, I can already identify people's skills. 

Some of the main takeaways that I remember from the workshop were when you speak, you must speak with honesty. You just need to always keep the point during interview straight to the point, Be concise during interviews, and display optimism and a “can-do” attitude. Do not get too long-winded and rambling When I interview potential candidates, I can now read subtle body language, and easily catch a person being nervous and anxious. I would say that all the things that I learned from the interview workshop somehow helped me understand the interview process.

Q5: What would you suggest for the young graduates who may be looking for tips to make them stand out among all other candidates?

The job market is very competitive, especially for new young graduates. Nowadays, employers are increasingly looking for candidates who have a diverse set of skills and are willing to learn and adapt to new technologies and work environments. By upskilling themselves, new graduates can improve their chances of getting hired and differentiate themselves from other candidates.

Just remember that even though it is challenging, there's always a reward at the end of a challenge, so go for it. Even the opportunity might seem like not promising enough, it’s okay to try it out. Take that chance because you do not want to think of the “what ifs”. Just take that chance and try it out. You have time. If you're young, you have time. If you're old, you still have time. We all live long lives these days, so don’t ever compare your timeline to others. No matter what you're doing, just believe in yourself. You’ll be the centre of your world. Find whatever fits you and go for it.

Q6: Finally, what would be your advice to the young local graduates who are still finding their way to navigate the job market?

First, do not ever lose hope, there are always opportunities out there. We must be open and grab the opportunities. Be motivated and have hope when it may seem impossible to land your dream job because of your lack of experience. You will gain valuable experience with every job, every role you have embarked on. This will in turn equip you with the skills, knowledge, and practical expertise that are necessary for success in your next career. Building a career is a journey on its own. 

A successful career is the result of hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to learn and grow over time. So be optimistic and continue striving.

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