Getting The Job

Book smart vs. street smart: Finding the best job for you

If you are trying to figure out whether book smarts or street smarts will land you a job easier or even score you a higher starting salary, you are probably still living in the past. To be competitive in today’s world, you need to be both ‘book smart’ and ‘street smart’ regardless of the job context or the industry you are in.

The perception of having an academic qualification to land you an interview opportunity still persists, but having the right attitude and adequate experience is actually the key to landing yourself a job. Let’s see how we can improve our chances in nailing a job interview to bring your career to the next level.

First of all, you need to figure out what type of ‘smart’ you are leaning towards. It takes time to develop knowledge from the two pillars and you can always make the effort to fill in the gaps as you move forward.

For instance, if you have been working in the customer service line for a few years and you intend to develop your career towards management positions, you can take up part-time study in the relevant courses such as business and management.

It may come as a surprise that more companies are setting a bachelor degree qualification as one of the basic job requirements today, compared to ten years ago when a diploma was sufficient. This is based on the fact that the number of degree holders in Malaysia is expected to increase to over 200,000 graduates on an annual basis.

However, according to Edu Advisor’s finding in 2016, 1 out of 4 graduates remain unemployed 6 months after graduation, with the majority being degree holders. That means holding a degree today no longer guarantees you a job, hence, it is probably wise to enhance your soft-skills (which are highly desirable) to improve your value in the market. In other words, develop your ‘street smart’ traits.

For starters, we can all work harder on our English proficiency. As harsh as this may sound, many employees including managers today are still not yet fully equipped to handle basic grammar levels and corporate English communication and this hinders your progress at the workplace.

Read English news, watch English series and movies, and speak to those who are proficient in English. These are some of the fastest ways to improve your English proficiency and they are cost-effective solutions than going for an English course at British Council!

Next, you need to be fully aware of the industry you wish to expand your career development so you can equip yourself with the right skillset or adequate academic qualification. For those who are just starting out after graduation, it helps to be humble and willing to take on more responsibilities as this is the time for you to gain experience. How else will you be able to market yourself in the future without experience, right?

Finally, you need to see yourself as a marketable product when it comes to looking for a job. Similar to how a company would market its product, it has to serve a purpose or solve a problem. Ask yourself these questions: Are you solving your future employer’s problem? Do you have the consistency to serve your employer better over time?

By the time you realise you have more than what it takes at what you do, you are on the right track in leveraging for your next job with a better prospect. is dedicated to raising financial literacy and helping Malaysians make wiser financial decisions by letting compare the best personal loans, credit cards and broadband plans in Malaysia.