I stumbled upon your site when one of my friends posted the URL on Facebook. I don’t know how this occurrence comes into play, whether was it purely coincidental or is it some higher power asking me to share the current problems I am facing.
I graduated from Monash University Australia in July 2010 and managed to land a job as an Advertising & Promotions Officer at a shopping mall in Singapore.
However, this stint only lasted for four and a half months before I was asked to leave due to the fact that they felt I was deemed “unsuitable” for the position. I don’t know how much truth this holds, I will share the general gist of the things but I leave it up to you to decide whether I had been unfairly treated.
Two months into my job, I was called into my boss’s room and told that she would not hesitate to let me go if I continued to “frustrate my other team members”. So here’s the thing, she quoted a few examples; forgetfulness and not being able to understand instructions were among the reasons that were frustrating my team members.
Third month into my job, I had an appraisal and was told that I have failed the work assessment and my probation (initially three months) would be extended for another two months until END of December 2010. I was devastated and it was a deep stab on my ego and self esteem.
So, here are the few adverse work examples she mentioned during the meeting:-
Occasion #1 – I set up a poster site for a tenant of the mall at the wrong place. I went back to my senior to clarify if the location I put the poster at was correct, as I had doubts myself. He told me it was not right, so I went back to shift the poster site to the new and correct location.
Occasion #2 – We were having a fashion show in the mall and at the same time we were also running concurrent events to further promote the mall during the F1 night race in Singapore. One of my assistant managers told me to go to the pantry area (at a hidden stairwell of the mall, out of shopper sight) to inform the caterers that the cocktails, canapés and champagne were ready to be served for the guests of the fashion show.
It so happened that the person who was in charge of the catering was called Zul, and the person who was also doing the concurrent event for the F1 night race was also called Zul! I got a little confused as things were “tense” and considering it was my first time participating in such a big event, I was naturally “kan chiong” (excited). So I asked innocently asked my AM “You mean the guy in-charge of the F1 thing?”. Immediately I was yelled at. I took no offense however as I quickly figured out I was wrong in a split-second or so and admitting that it was my mistake. I was not introduced to the “caterer Zul” however, hence I knew not the existence of this other Zul.
Occasion #3 – One day the background music playing in the shopping mall had some strange sounding lyrics and our GM asked one of us from the A&P to go change the music - the A&P team is in charge of the BGM in the mall too.
Naturally, such a trivial task trickled down to me as I was the lowest ranking executive there. One of my senior execs passed the instruction down to me, and I replied “Oh ok, I will go soon, let me finish this up first”. But for some reason he misheard it as “Oh its ok, its not important” or something like that and he threw up a fuss. But I did make the change of music immediately after I had finished my task.
This “blunder” was also used against me that very day in my boss’s room. I defended myself as I remembered very clearly what I said and what I did. However, it just did not seem to go down nicely with her.
It hurt my self confidence as before that I was very enthusiastic about this job when I first got it. I did not outwardly complained and whined about this job as I did with my previous jobs when I was younger as I felt that this was a second chance at life so I was ready to take on whatever that was thrown at me – no matter how bad things were.
I did my work slowly afterwards and checked through things multiple times for fear of making mistakes. I read and re-read emails for phrasing and grammatical errors and other possible ways of understanding by the recipient party to make sure that things were indeed what were intended and required by my boss.
I harbored a sense of paranoia, always feeling that one of my seniors in the department would come over to me and say “Hey, you screwed this up again!” It was not the best of work environment and I was suffering inside.
There was a point in my employment that this paranoia got on to me, I stayed the latest at work every night for about two weeks just to clear off my work and make sure that they were all done properly without mistakes.
I fell sick, but I did not take any MC as I wanted to prove that I was persistent and would put in extra effort to make things right. All I got from one of my AMs was “I noticed you been staying late… Don’t stay late unless you really have a lot of work to do ok.. It’s not good for health”. I expected no pity from them of course, but at least they would’ve tried to understand the state of mind I was going through at that point in time.
So I trudged along until 1st December, my boss and the HR manager came over to my desk and asked to speak to me. We took up a small 4-man meeting room and my boss told me that she did not want to keep me anymore.
She mentioned that I did not make any improvements and felt that I did not bond well with the team. An example she quoted was that during team meetings, I am very quiet, I just listened and took notes. But I am only 4 months into this job, I have zero prior working experience in a marketing role for a shopping mall so what can I share?
The team has been together for 3 years or more and they work together very smoothly as a whole entity. Of course, during the meetings, I listened attentively and caught the points that they discuss and register them. I just simply had nothing to ask. Is there anything wrong in that?
Of course, when she “flipped through the old accounts” in my mind I just knew that she just wanted to get rid of me. I did not defend myself. I just agreed with what they have to say about my work performance. They told me to hand in my resignation letter and I did. I left 14 days later, as I was on probation period.
As you would have noticed earlier in my story, my probation was extended another two months until end of December 2010, but they decided to let me go, two weeks earlier, just before the pro-rated bonus was being given out to all staff!
I’m not sore that I did not get the pro-rated bonus but it made me wonder if I did such a bad job that I had to be let go so drastically.
So today is 31st January, and I have been actively looking for jobs. I’ve not gotten any reply from the places I applied to yet, but I can’t help wondering if I would ever be confident again in myself anymore.
To me, having a job is not about working to earn money, but it also reflects a purposeful life with a target to achieve.
At times, I cannot help but compare myself with my peers, some of whom are younger than me, and ask myself what have I achieved when they are already assistant managers, managers, business owners and whatever manifestations of career success you can imagine.
Because of this incident, I am currently feeling lost and like a useless person with no goal and purpose in life.
What’s your take on this?
p.s. If you wish to publish this article on your site, please change my name to “AG”.
Thanks for your mail and sorry to hear about your predicament.
Life has its’ ups and downs and often it’s from the downs that we can learn lots of stuff.
When we are in the ups, we will be too comfortable to learn any lesson out of them.
I know it can be tough sailing as you are still young and embarking on your career. It’s a personal setback I guess.
Indeed, most people faced with similar bad experiences will naturally questioned their ability to do a good job later on.
Their self esteem will be hurt and they also wonder if they can perform well in any job later on.
Nevertheless, I felt that the adverse experience was a good base for you to build on as now you know what your strengths and weaknesses are.
For example, employers may say that you are slow but you are detailed , meticulous and even a perfectionist.
I would encourage you to find a job that fits your personality as then you have used your expertise properly.
Do look through some career coaching books that will help you to find out what your core strengths are so that you can find the right career for yourself.
Your previous job is a fast paced one that requires a lot of energy, EQ, leadership and organisational abilitites. They don’t really require someone who is detailed and meticulous.
In most jobs that require team work, soft skills are really important stuff that most of us lack.
If you want to, go register with some soft skills courses like leadership, communication or goal setting so that you can improve on all these areas.
My take on your failed job assignment is that you are working in the wrong job. It is like sending an engineer to do a architect job.
You have suffered a minor setback in life and it will be unfortunate if you let this episode affects you deeply until you doubted your own capabilities.
Use the bad experience to propel you forward. so that you don’t suffer too negatively. Try to channel the negative energy properly by being more determined to succeed in your next job.
Many great people in history has suffered great adversity and they have later achieved much as they all have learned to pick themselves up after each setback.
For example, Nelson Mendela was in prison for thirty over years before he managed to gain freedom and won the first election in S Africa.
Gandhi was killed in his attempt to bring freedom to the Indian continent and later the British were forced to leave the country after that.
Adversities don’t really knocked us down completely if we learned how to pick ourselves up after each fall and try to learn valuable lessons from them. They only knocked us down flat if we don’t want to pick ourselves up.
Frankly, in life there will be many of such dips and if we don’t learn now how to pick ourselves up, after each fall, we will be in for a life time of misery and negativity.
Let me know if you want to meet with our volunteer career coach or counsellor. Do give me a few days to arrange this.
I have also attached my ebook “How to survive unemployment” for your reading pleasure.
I also seek for your permission to post your mail on my blog leaving out your name and vital info to protect your identity.
Always stay positive.