Tips for Singaporeans: First steps to helping yourself out of unemployment

Tips for Singaporeans: First steps to helping yourself out of unemployment

Being unemployed for a long period of time can be devastating to a person's sense of self-worth and cause unrest to one’s assurance in supporting oneself or loved ones. Thoughts like:

“Am I that bad that nobody wants to employ me?”

“How will I pay for my bills and support my family?”

“Could I have made a wrong decision in my career path?” tend to plague one’s mind. They can even cripple you with fear to refrain from taking actionable steps and helping yourself.

The longer you're out of work, the more anxious, insecure or depressed you will tend to feel. And let’s be real – typical advice like “you have to stay positive” and “don’t lose your confidence” especially coming from those who HAVE a job, start to annoy you more than you actually think it’s helping you.

The most important thing you can do for yourself in the midst of unemployment, is to try your best in focusing on strategies to get out of the cycle. Yes, that is challenging when discouragement sets in, but since a person has the ability to choose what they will fill their thought life with, and you only have two choices when it comes to a life battle: either FIGHT or FLIGHT, at some point we got to make up our mind not to give up if we want something to change.

No matter what the cause of unemployment was – whether it was because of your bad choices or from uncontrollable external factors, do your best to keep solution-focused instead of problem-focused. You are where you are, but every small step in the right direction is the right step to take.

“The key is to ensure that you appear employable” shares Noel Choh, senior employability coach at e2i. “For a start, it is important that those seeking a job have an effective resume and interview competency, relevant skills for the job they are wanting to enter, and to network.” Noel shares more in this employability checklist:

Step 1: Clean Up Your Resume & Interview skills

It’s high time to run a reality-check if a person sends out more than 50 resumes without receiving a single reply of interest from a recruiter for an interview. Their resume could just be too lengthy. Most people, especially those with many years of job experience, tend to struggle with having a resume too long – but being concise is always better than being longwinded, especially since recruiters may run through more than 20 resumes for a single job position every day. Check out this article which can help you, “What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2016”.

A person can manage to clinch a few interview appointments but never making it past those to finally securing a job offer. Could your interview skills be rusty and you aren’t presenting yourself or your skills in the right manner? Do a little bit of homework and search from the plentiful advice available online on what to do at interviews. You can also watch some of our tips on how to prepare for an interview: e2i Interview Tips

There are also free resume and interview workshops you can go for through e2i’s Executive Workshops or Employability Camp.


Step 2: Equip Yourself with Relevant Skills

When applying for any particular job, you are immediately expected to have the skills sufficient to perform most of the tasks of that job – and recruiters will make sure you can prove that in your resume and in your interview. It does not necessarily mean you have to apply for the same kinds of jobs over and over. You could have transferable skills from one job scope to another, so it is more important to read the fine lines of what the tasks are on a job description and assess your abilities accordingly in fulfilling those requirements – and then ensuring you “sell” it well by communicating it clearly in your resume and interview. If you have skill gaps and really want to enter a certain career path, then have you considered utilising your SkillsFuture Credits – given to every Singaporean aged 25 and above?

There are also Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) available which enable Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) including mid-career switchers in Singapore to undergo skills conversion by re-skilling themselves and obtaining the necessary knowledge and competencies to take on new jobs in different industries. So how does it work? These PCPs facilitate job seekers to switch industries through the provision of subsidies for salary support and course fees which is incurred by the employers during the training period. Essentially, these subsidies encourage employers to be more open to hiring mid-career professionals, and recognise them for their existing skills as well as prepare them for new job roles by equipping them with new skills.

The Career Support Programme (CSP), piloted in October 2015 by WDA, further assists mature Singaporean PMEs who may face greater challenges in securing a job, by encouraging employers to tap on the wealth of experience that mature Singaporean PMEs can bring to the workplace. With effect from 1 May 2016, the CSP has even been expanded to help Singaporean PMETs who are made redundant in order to help Singaporeans adapt to changing job demands and improve their skills.


Step 3: Get Out and Network

In our digital and virtual world, we think we do a lot of “networking” – by being on our computers. Worst still, some of us spend so much of our time escaping in a gaming world where virtual reality curbs current reality. Others find reassurance complaining online on how the employment market is so bad, and how we’re not receiving any help to get a job, hoping all the netizens who see your comments agree with you and make you feel better. At the end of the day, unless any of those ‘helpful’ netizens whom you don’t even know personally can offer you forward-moving advice on what to do next, this is also unfortunately another avenue of escapism which does not help your current situation.

For those who do make an effort to network online with potential business contacts, a computer can never replace genuine human interaction. After making meaningful contacts on Facebook or professional networks like LinkedIn, take it a notch further by getting out once or twice a week at least for a face-to-face meeting, lunch or networking event.

The key is not to stay in solitude (and that includes talking to people just from behind the computer). Talk to loved ones or friends if you need a listening ear or help in job searching. Meet with an employability coach and tell them about your situation so that they can assess your gaps and provide helpful avenues for your next steps.

If you’re looking for a job or ways to up-skill yourself, come on down for e2i’s Employability Fair – a series of events spanning 3 weeks of lunch talks, training classes, networking sessions & career fairs. For more information and to register, visit:


Up next: Be encouraged by Meilan’s story, a back-to-work mom who secured a job after many years of being unemployed.

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