“9 months of being unemployed, but I did not give up”

“9 months of being unemployed, but I did not give up”

Programme Analyst in a renowned bank

I have been working as a secretary in various industries for over 20 years. Unexpectedly last year, my company faced a downsizing and a restructuring and as a result I lost my job. As I was only in this company for a little more than a year, I did not qualify for its retrenchment benefits, so I knew I had to find a next job fast.

Shortly after losing my job, matters got even more complicated. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and I was distraught. With both my mother and father being in their 70s, they also heavily depended on me, so tying through the next few months were harder than expected, battling emotional and financial burdens.

I desperately scoured through job portals and job sites, hoping to still find jobs that would match my previous salary. Responses from several employment agencies also led me to believe that being a mature worker was an added barrier to my chances of employment. While speaking with them, many would come back to me with a standard “Oh I see, we will get back to you soon” the moment they learnt that I was in my 50s. It seemed to me that many employers were looking for younger people to hire.

My mother urged me to attend a Meet-the-People Session (MPS) in my housing area to bring my case up and seek help, but I was hesitant to do so at first, thinking I didn’t need to go to that level of seeking assistance.

A few more months went by and I still could not find a job with my own efforts – I did not expect that it would take so long and I was getting discouraged. At this point, many things were running through my mind. My life changed in that I had to majorly cut back on meeting with friends outside to spend less, I depended more on my faith and spent more time with my family members.

Finally, for mine and my family’s sake I took my mom’s advice and brought my case up in an MPS session, where they told me that they would refer my case to the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to assist me. This was when things started to turn around.

Adeline Lim, an employability coach within e2i’s Professional Search team, got in contact with me. She quickly pointed out to me what was wrong with my resume and advised me to attend an Executive Workshop at e2i where I learnt how to re-craft my resume to something that employers and recruiters would notice. It had been 20 years since I had last learnt how to write my resume – over the years mine was just topped up every time I left and went to another job so the pages just got longer and longer. The executive workshop really helped and it taught me how to write succinct yet strong resumes, so I crafted a new one for sending out to employers.

Meanwhile Adeline worked patiently with me through this job search process by keeping a lookout for me on any suitable match to potential jobs and employers. At several points, I even updated Adeline that I was okay with getting a lower pay for positions to work as a clerk or receptionist – as having any job was anytime better than being without one.

After nearly 2 months, the process came to a conclusion but the wait for was worth it – Adeline informed me one day that there was a company with a job vacancy that looks suitable for me. It was not for the role of a secretary, but rather for a Programme Analyst at a bank. I questioned if I would be apt enough for a job scope I had never done before but Adeline assured me that I had similar skill sets which this job required, and urged me to try for it and attend the interviews.

After 3 rounds of interviews, the bank offered me the job. Even though I had stated to the employers that I would be okay getting no salary increment for the new job, the company decided to offer me a salary which was 15% higher than my previous salary.

9 months of unemployment was a challenging journey but at the end of it I could truly extend my sincere gratitude to Adeline and e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) for their deep assistance, my family members for their endless support, and to God for providing me with favour and opening these doors for me.

Retrenchment: Steps I took to overcome | https://e2i.com.sg/blog/

(Photo credits: xvire1969)


Story by: R.Lee

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