Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Tuesday January 22nd 2019

Should you grab any job that comes along?

Editor’s note: This article first appeared here on 21 Jun 2009. 

Should you grab any job that comes along?

Written By: Gilbert Goh

Should you grab any job that comes your way after being retrenched? Many I know will try to go back to their same profession and some even seek out the same position they last held with similar pay scale without any consideration for other position that they are unfamiliar with. So what should the unemployed do here?

I guess this is a personal issue and also largely depend on how long the person  has being unemployed. Some have a large sum of savings and can hold on for many months whereas others could not even go unemployed for a month. Depending on how desperate you are, you are the best judge of the situation.

Those who held senior position before  seem to take much longer time to find employment.  Senior management staff and chief executive officers tend to find it harder to find their next job especially in a very depressed job market even though their salary request is much reduced. I have seen senior managers earning $5,000 to $6,000 during the 1997 downturn turning to driving taxis to make ends meet. Their sacrifice and humility earn my utmost respect and I salute them! They are role models for the many unemployed people who may still be fussy about their job selection.

Easier To Land Part Time Work

Generally blue collared and clerical staff will find it easier to get employment as firstly such jobs are in demand and secondly their salary request is within market range.  Many   will  be able to find  work   if they are not too choosy. However, this is all so personal and what is gem to one may be trash to another. I have known some members here who are doing telemarketing for $7.00 an hour happily of which some will shy away from due to various reasons best known to the individual.

So should you take up any job that comes along regardless of the salary and job scope just so that you can go back to being employed again and lead a normal life? Our government has asked us to lower our expectation and just work first so that we are out of the misery. There is some truth there as the longer one stays jobless the worse the situation will become unless one has alot of backup funds. Even with an attractive severance pay out, many retrenched executives lost alot of self confidence as they sit at home doing nothing. Their family members also have to cope with daddy suddenly hanging around their neck 24/7.

Yet for others, the retrenchment may come at a wonderful time especially for mothers. A transitioning member gladly took out ten months of severance pay out and spent precious time at home now tending her two young kids.  After knocking off at 9pm daily for the last ten years, she found meaning in her life again with new found freedom at home. Her kids are also happy that mummy is finally at home now waiting for them instead of the maid. She may need to readjust her work philosophy having find so much meaning in life after staying at home for the past few months after being retrenched.

Lifestyle Change

Personally,  I find that we all need to lead a more balanced lifestyle in busy Singapore.  Too many of us have worked too hard in our jobs and this have cause us to lose touch with our family members and even ourselves.  We all need to work less and live simply so that we can find meaning in our existence. Many have told me that they felt  they are merely robots living meaninglessly in our stressful society. I agreed with them.

On another note,  some may want to just take up any jobs for the money. This is a practical society that we live in. Bills need to be paid and the home mortgage has to be paid on time.

Financial advisors have advise us,  as a rule of thumb,  that one should set aside at least six months of living expenditure for emergency use. However, speaking from my experience, a minimum sum of twelve months to eighteen months seem reasonable as one can stay jobless for one to two years against one’s choice. There is no fixed unemployment term unfortunately. Some I know have stay jobless for more than two years. Others longer.

Others may also ask if they can strike out on their own if they have some capital set aside for such a purpose? I say why not? Retrenchment always provide us the opportunity to try something new and we may succeed. The only caution I give is that if the business venture fails (which it may) what is your next option? Many who have dumped all their savings or severance pay into starting a new business venture get themselves burn and end up worse off than before. I would advise one who is keen to start a new business venture after being laid off to also set aside at least twelve months of expenditure sum so that there is something to fall back on in the event that the business really fail. We don’t plan to fail but if we fail to plan for contingency we are in for real trouble. It is good to be kaisu sometimes.

Career Change

What about a total career change? Again why not? I speak from experience again. I was working in the financial sector for around 5-6 years earning around $60,000 a year on average before going away. As I was all along keen in the social service sector, I thought I was ready for a career change. However due to the extremely low salary range I put it off my priority job search list as I realise that I could not maintain my lifestyle with the kind of salary I am getting. For a start, social workers are paid less than $2,000 a month and quotes of $1500 is not uncommon.

Nevertheless, after many months of unemployment and an recurring interest in that sector, I decided to plunge right in starting at $6.50 an hour as a part time worker in a family service center. After several months as a part timer, I was offered full time contract employment with a starting salary of less than $1500. I stayed with the center for less than a year before venturing out to another welfare organization managing to acquire a salary of $2500. Though it was less than half of my previous pay as a financial advisor, I was able to pay my bills and manage a reasonably decent lifestyle. What lessons have I learnt here?

Firstly, I should not have wait so long for the right job and salary to come along. By waiting, I wasted precious time and potential lost of income. The mental stress that I have acquired from the wait far outweighed the real loss in income and status of the new job. If I can do this all over again, I will follow my heart and seek out those jobs belonging to the social service sector. As such jobs do not pay well and many people shun them as dirty jobs, Singaporeans have a lot of choices if they don’t mind the salary range. Many people who are retrenched in the 40s and 50s are all doing well in the social service sector.

Secondly, it gives me a lot of satisfaction knowing that my job creates an impact on someone’s else life. Accountants and lawyers have known to throw away their five figure salary and spend their time in the social service sector. The job satisfaction they get far outweigh the huge loss in income and social status. Many have not regretted the big sacrifice and some even have to downsize their lifestyle in order for them to survive on the meager salary they are getting as social workers.

Commission Paying Jobs

Many people I know went into the commission-based industries such as property, insurance, stockbroking and multi level marketing (MLM). Many have done extremely well and regained back their self esteem. Some are smart enough to even go for taxi licensing first in preparation for any economic layoff – more like a backup plan. To these people, I saluted them as they are more prepared than others who can only watch when it is their turn to get laid off.

I remembered I went into the insurance business in 1994 and was making a reasonably decent living till 1999 before I ventured out for my study abroad. The income I made during those five years was equivalent to my ten years of service with the government as a civil servant. So if you are jobless, commission-based job is worth a try and you never know if you can do it or not without trying first right?

As commission-based jobs do not have a base salary one needs to ready for at least three months of no income as industries such as insurance advisors need to clear a few certification courses before they can start to sell. For property agents, the wait for the first paycheck may be a good half year down the road as clients only pay up when the deal is officially closed. There are also marketing advertisements to pay and other industry-related necessary cost to bear. Those with big backup finances have an obvious advantage here.

So, it is good to try out new opportunites but going in with eyes open is equally important. It will be disastrous to try out for a year without really making any headway in the full-commission  industry and  ending up worse off than before.

Nevertheless, there is no gain without risk here.
It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. Sir Edmund Hilary

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Reader Feedback

9 Responses to “Should you grab any job that comes along?”

  1. admin says:

    Ok thanks. I read that and it was awesome!

  2. jj says:

    I kept seeing management trainees job ads appearing on the newspapers & Internet. So I registered for an interview organised by a govt related job agency with a big IT retailer at Bras Basah. Most of the chosen candidates for the job offer were middle age Singaporeans.

    Some information on the job requirement were not disclose beforehand. The management trainees job was not a easy one. Long working hours, low pay, demanding customers & superiors, high sales & membership target figures to hit, heavy manpower shortage etc. You really have to slog for taking up the job.

    No wonder some youths rejected the job offer. No wonder middle age PMET were offered the jobs.

    The management trainees trick is to tie you down so that you won’t resign even if you have habour the thought of leaving. You can still resign if you are willing to pay them the compensation. But if they terminate your service then you don’t have pay them.

    Beware of those job offers with a bond that requires a compensation, especially the ones with high amount compensation figure. In S’pore, you can be forced for bankruptcy if you owned the other party’s 10k or more. Below that you are safe but they can still get debt collectors to deal with you.

    Management trainees trick is sure a shrewd way to either earn quick profit thru the compensation or minimise manpower shortage problems for these companies.

  3. anon says:

    Re JJ’s comments above:

    Huh?? How come got financial bond just for a salesman job?? It’s not like they will send you for diploma scholarship or send you for certification like MCSE and CCNA and CCNP right?? The job is basically like any salesman job in Courts, Harvey Norman, Challenger etc. The company’s main purpose is for you to hit sales quota and sales targets, that’s all. Same as insurance agent job, except you get a small basic salary. But if cannot hit sales targets over 3-6 months, then company will sack you.

    These type of job very very high turnover because majority of people will not hit sales quota — boss will tekan and tell them to resign rather than get black mark by being fired. Managers and supervisors will use psychological and tekan tactics to make your life miserable if you cannot produce sales figures. E.g. get the rest of the salesmen to make your life difficult etc.

    I’m shocked that a govt-related agency will recommend this type of job with financial penalty.

  4. jj says:

    Well, they will for sure send you for some sort of retail trainings as it is a big retailer in S’pore.

    Here is the link:

    During the job presentation, two sucessful former management trainees now store IC were presented to tell you the good prospects of the job & how they make it.

    The govt-related agency knew this type of job comes with financial penalty.The financial penalty was mentioned during the presentation. But because it is a famous retailer, organising partner is a govt-related agency, anxiety to end jobless plus gd presentation, people will sign the bond not knowing what is going to happen to them.

  5. jj says:

    All of us have left the IT retailer job.

    Don’t sign bond with company; management trainees scheme is just a trick to tie down the workers to help curb manpower shortage.

    E2i, Wda & Caliberlink only care about numbers, they are more interested in how many people got hired & how many people sign up the WSQ courses. They aren’t interested in knowing about the working conditions.

  6. Sal says:

    For survival sake…a job is better than no job. Just do it temporarily and apply the job that you looking for, thats what survival is all about. Employers dont like person who are out of job or doing nothing while unemployed.

    • jj@39 says:

      I don’t quite agree that we should take up any jobs that comes along for survival sake. Are you that in need of a job?

      Just say you are helping out with your family biz while looking for a suitable job.

  7. Reto says:

    Whiners lol

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