The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the labour market in Singapore, though it has shown a more optimistic outlook in the last quarter of 2020.
According to JobStreet’s latest data report, Singapore’s hiring outlook is on the mend with an upward trend in hard-hit industries as companies look to backfill roles.
Overall, there were 36 per cent more jobs posted in Q4 compared to the peak of COVID-19 in Q2 2020.
While the labour market is indeed showing signs of recovery, it is expected to be a slow and uneven process so many Singaporeans are still grappling to find a job.
Getting Back On The Career Track
Vulcan Post spoke to three Singaporeans who have been recently unemployed to find out how they navigated their way back into the working world.
For Carol Phay, she graduated from Nanyang Technological University last year amid the pandemic. Graduating with honours, the 24-year-old had high hopes of landing a “good job” once she completed her studies.
Due to COVID-19 however, she had a tough time securing a job as many companies implemented hiring freezes. Months went by with her idling time away at home and without drawing any income, so she decided to take on traineeships under the SGUnited scheme to earn and learn at the same time.
I received a training allowance of up to S$2,500, which helped tide me over during the difficult economic climate. The traineeship stint also helped me gain valuable insights and experiences, which I believe will give me a competitive edge over other fresh graduate applicants.
– Carol Phay
However, since there is no guarantee that she would be awarded a full-time role by the host company, she figured that she should keep her options open and explore other roles.
While her traineeship was still ongoing, she “intensively” applied for full-time jobs on various job portals such as JobStreet. She had also signed up for job alerts on the platform, so she could conveniently apply for jobs on the go when listings appeared in her email inbox.
After applying for jobs online for a few weeks and going for about six different job interviews — “which can be tiring and time-consuming” — she finally landed a role as a marketing executive at an e-commerce firm.
Meanwhile, Jeraldine Tee, 32, had been working as a graphic designer for four years but decided to quit her job in August last year to be a freelancer.
I was feeling overwhelmed at my previous job and wanted to take on jobs at my own pace. However, the downside is that the gigs don’t come in steadily. I had to hunt for design projects and the commission fees don’t roll in every month like a paycheck.
– Jeraldine Tee
Concerned with the unstable income, she started asking fellow designer friends to recommend her roles, but none of their companies were hiring. She ended up turning to online job search portals like JobStreet to apply for full-time designer positions.
She found a few suitable job listings, but realised that most required specific design skill sets that she did not possess. This is why she decided to upgrade her skills using SkillsFuture credits to increase her chances of employability.
Moreover, since Singapore already has a huge talent pool of creatives, she figured that upskilling can help her stand out from the crowd.
“The government had given all eligible Singaporeans a one-off SkillsFuture top-up of S$500 so it would be a waste to not utilise it,” she quipped.
Her efforts paid off and she has since secured a graphic designer role at another company. Thanks to her newfound certification, she was able to draw a higher salary than her previous job.
For Abdul Rafikh Jaafar, he was in a completely different situation from the other two. He was actually laid off during his company’s retrenchment exercise as part of cost-cutting measures.
“Although I knew that my company was undergoing restructuring, I didn’t expect myself to be retrenched. I was shocked when I heard the news and was very unprepared for the (job) loss.”
“I didn’t know how to break the news to my wife and family. I was the sole breadwinner so I needed the job,” said the 45-year-old ex-customer service manager.
Fortunately, his former company gave him a retrenchment package and having served the company for over 10 years, he received quite a substantial payout. He also tapped on the government’s various initiatives such as the financial support grants.
He did not rest on his laurels and actively looked for jobs. However, he was concerned about his hiring potential, considering his mature age. He felt like younger job seekers threatened his career chances, so that took a hit on his confidence.
My last-drawn pay was quite high, so I was afraid employers wouldn’t want to hire me when they can hire fresh graduates who ask for a lower pay despite having no work experience.
– Abdul Rafikh Jaafar
His concerns soon diminished as he received a helping hand in his career search. Despite not being “tech savvy” enough to apply for jobs online, he was lucky that his former company extended outplacement assistance programmes for affected employees.
He was urged to go for career matching services by Workforce Singapore and has since found employment in another role as a customer relations trainer. Although it didn’t pay as much, he is thankful that his years of working experience are still deemed valuable to employers.
How To Maximise Your Chances Of Scoring A Job
Landing a job is not pure ‘luck’ — you need actual skills and effort to get hired.
For starters, a good resume has the power to open doors. Your resume needs to stand out among other applicants, marketing your strengths and accomplishments to highlight why you are a good fit for the job.
The job interview itself is also important. It’s where the employer can get a sense of your personality and capabilities, as well as assess if you can adequately meet the job’s requirements.
If you want to perfect your resume and interview skills, you should definitely attend JobStreet’s upcoming Virtual Career Fair.
Happening from 1 to 11 March, it is touted to be JobStreet’s first-of-its-kind virtual fair and is aimed at empowering job seekers through career coaching and skills upgrading.
Therefore, if you are looking for a new job or exploring career options, you should definitely seize this opportunity to connect with potential employers.
If you are unfamiliar with virtual career fairs, it allows recruiters and job seekers to meet in a virtual space like chat rooms and teleconferencing. Beyond just reviewing resumes, hiring managers will be able to meet candidates face-to-face (albeit virtually), interview them and make offers right on the spot.
Moreover, the nature of virtual recruiting also allows candidates to seek multiple job openings and interact with a number of employers without the barriers of travel and wait times. The cherry on top is that you can do it all within the comfort of your own home.
JobStreet’s virtual career fair will feature live chats, interviews and meetings with employers. Candidates will get to meet over 40 prospective employers and discover what it takes to thrive in their chosen industries.
There will also be live streaming of webinars that are hosted by industry stakeholders, delving into topics such as ‘Evolving Your Skills for the Future of Work’ and ‘Be Interested & Interesting in Virtual Interviews’.
If you wish to get your career-related questions answered, you can also engage in a live chat with career coaches.
For job-seekers of greater experience levels looking to switch roles, careers, or industries, these virtual career fairs can be a great opportunity to learn more about the skills needed in different roles and highlight one’s skills to the recruiter.
In fact, over S$7 million worth of free certified professional courses will be provided in partnership with FutureLearn so candidates can hone their transferable and emerging skills that will help them thrive in their new careers.
Excited for the job opportunities in store? You can find out more about JobStreet’s virtual career fair here.
This article was written in collaboration with JobStreet.
Featured Image Credit: Saksit Kuson via Alamy Stock Photo
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