Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Tuesday March 5th 2019

Ex-regional sales and marketing manager finding it tough to be re-hired

Dear Gilbert,
I have been following your site for the past 2 months and I must give praise to you for all you’ve done.
I’ve read alot of postings from other fellow Singaporeans who are finding it very difficult to get reasonable employment.
I am in that same predicament now.
I am 39+ years old and has a Diploma in Marketing Management from KAPLAN Singapore (2008). I am married with a 12 year old son. Both my wife and son are SPRs. As my wife does not speak any English, she works part time and earns about $1000 a month.
I have 18 years of working experience, and my last job was a Regional Sales & Marketing Manager for a small local telecommunication firm. Through my previous years of work, I had acquired extensive business experience in the Middle East, Asia and China.
In June last year, the boss decided to cut my salary from $3800 to $3100. It was a big impact on me, but the main reason I left was because  the company was running out of money (The boss was making alot of money losing decisions) and I was under tremendous pressure to make  the company turn around,  which in my professional opinion was futile and to stay on was meaningless.
Since then, I had¬†sent out many job applications. On the average, I would receive¬†one call from the recruitment agent out of 20 applications sent.¬† However, it will always end¬†up with no further updates. Sigh…
I have already ran out of money and  feeling depressed and desperate. 
I am most willing to work and lower my salary expectations to $2500, but most job requirements I see need at least  a degree.  With or without a degree, I tried applying but of course there is always  no reply.
I am also beginning to apply for other job positions that does not need a degree with¬†no relevance to my work experience. I don’t know how¬†this will¬†turn out though.
I am beginning to feel that once you are over 35 years old, no Singapore employer will want to hire you. All they want are cheap and good labour. Pay less for workers but earn more profits for themselves!
Perhaps of my regional exposure to many countries I’ve visited, I have always wanted to teach or do social work to help others who are less fortunate. I feel it is important to help fellow human beings irregardless of their race or colour.
Even for a social worker position, they require a degree! Many times I wonder, why can’t an individual without a degree (but with experience) do the same job?? Isn’t that¬†unfair?¬†
Being bilingual, I have thought about taking a gamble and going to China to teach English, international business and marketing to workers in 2nd tier cities.  Perhaps I could make a career there. Again, I hold back because what will happen to my wife and son here.
I am really at a loss of directions Gilbert. What should I do next? I have to get a job quickly so that I can take care of my family.
I have also attached my resume here for your perusal. Perhaps you could be kind enough to advise me how to make myself more employable?
Look forward to hearing from you and God bless your kindness.
With warm regards,


Editor’s Note: I will be meeting up with James soon for a discussion.

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27 Responses to “Ex-regional sales and marketing manager finding it tough to be re-hired”

  1. oute says:

    First of all, what has his elected MP had to say about this.

  2. Ben says:

    Yes, once you’re above 35 years of age, it starts to get difficult to get a job, especially with no relevent experience. I realized that very early….way back in the early 90s when I was 37 years old.

    It’s virtually impossible during the last few years.

  3. ocean99988 says:

    Hey James,

    Don’t be dispair! Be strong!
    By the way, we are a new start-up.
    We are looking for part-time sales and marketing candidates.
    If you are keen, can send your CV to

  4. SL says:

    I also wonder how is it that the candidate must have a degree for a social worker position. Theories and intellect aside, I thought it’s important that the person engaging in this job should be one who is passionate about helping people, with or without a degree.

    And strange enough that those degree holders who are currently in this field are not well compensated. It is no wonder social workers are always short in demand.

    • Tim says:

      A social worker is a professional. And all professionals need to be adequately trained, usually via a rigorous degree course. Would you want doctors, accountants, engineers, pharmacists without degrees?

      Hence, passion ALONE is not enough to make one a good social worker. Ironically, it is views like yours that are making it hard to pay social workers well i.e. living being with passion = good social worker.

      • SL says:

        Views like mine will not be that powerful to dictate the social workers’ salary scale. I do not deny that social worker is a professional and requires adequate training. Look at nursing, can we say it is not a professional? This industry accepts diploma holders. Can the social worker industry do the same thing and allow diploma holders to be assistants to offload social workers in some aspects of their job?

        • Tim says:

          I said “views like yours”, I didn’t say “your view”, do understand the difference.

          There are opportunities for non-graduates to become social work assistants (

          You and article writer were asking why social workers need a degree.

        • Gilbert Goh says:

          Hi SL,

          I think the reason why the social work sector requires a degree or at least grad diploma in social work is because the clients presented can have critical life-threatening issues and the social worker needs to be properly trained in order for him to better handle the situation.

          Without the required social work degree, staff can start off with as social work assistant and slowly works his way to be a full-fledged social worker after taking the necessary upgrading education.

          Alternatively, the person can also take up a counselling diploma or degree and serve as a counsellor with the many FSCs and VWOs here. The pay range can be from $1500 – $2500 depending on his experience and how generous the organisation wants to be.

          Unfortunately, there is no standard salary range for social workers here but most fresh social work degree graduates start off at around $2300 upwards.

          Frankly speaking, the role of a social worker and counsellor often over laps one another and moreover, if the person wants to work in the social service sector just for the money, he will be greatly disappointed.

          The work load is heavy, job scope immensely stressful and there are a fair amount of politicking from the senior staff.

          Social workers often come in with some lofty ideals and many walked away after a short stint – never wanting to step into the sector again.

          It may be good to ask yourself, before entering the sector, whether you can take the job for the long haul and also it is advisable to volunteer with some organisations for a while before plunging in full time.

          Gilbert Goh

          • SL says:

            Hi Gilbert,
            Thanks for the constructive advice. I fully agree that it is advisable to volunteer with some organisations before plungging in full time. Based on the url as provided by Tim, The starting pay for Social Work Asst is $936-$1418. I can only say that this pay range is unsustainable for any mid career switchers, especially like James’ case who have a family to take care of.

            We now have much social problems arising from casino gambling etc. More issues will hit us with the aging of population and a changing society with the influx of new immigrants. At times I seriously wonder why can’t more resources be dedicated to strongly support the social service sector. Unemployed PMETs who have many years of working experience and who truly have a desire to serve the community, should be allowed to enter the trade at a more sustainable level, say $2000 as a starting pay. The current social workers should also be well compensated and they deserve a better pay scale.

          • Tim says:

            Why is social work poorly paid? One of the reasons is because of common perceptions like SL, James and JJ i.e. any mature person with interest can be a social worker without any training.

            The Singapore Association of Social Workers is trying to change this image problem by having an accreditation system.


  5. Foreign Talent says:

    With more foreign talents coming to Singapore, chances of getting a job is tough.

    Read today Straits Times (23 Feb 2012), 120,000 jobs created and 80,000 jobs went to foreign talents.
    and only 36,000+ jobs went to Singaporeans.

    If you are Singaporean, aged 35 and above, you can kiss your job opportunities goodbye.

  6. jj says:

    I don’t mind doctors, accountants, engineers, pharmacists without degrees as long as they can perform well.

    Those academic stuff you learn in the university can be far apart from practical needs. I suffered some physical injury years ago, things still don’t improve much after visiting couple western & eastern doctors. They all have have sort of degrees intheir own medical fields.

    Most of my injury were cured after visiting a medical related practitioner, as far as i knew he doesn’t have any degree.

    $936-$1418 for diploma holders is really lowwages. That is about the pay of a warehouse assistant & waiter.

    • Tim says:

      So you are saying you don’t mind the hospitals randomly picking 100 people from the streets and hire them as trainee doctors. Those who perform well (lowest malpractice rates) will be promoted to medical officers. Those who didn’t manage to kill anyone will be promoted as trainee surgeons. Trainee surgeons who didn’t manage to kill anyone after 3 years will be confirmed as surgeons.

  7. deadlyVIRUS says:


    More Singaporeans are losing their jobs to foreigners.
    They were NOT be voting for the PAP.

    In the next general election, more votes goes to the opposition parties.

  8. Allan says:

    Dear James,

    I believe you are not alone and not the only RSM with only a Dip Cert and couldn’t find a job. I had already gone through what you are facing now. I was also a RSM before and also holding only a Dip Cert. I had to make a high risk decision to venture abroad to Vietnam, leaving behind my family in Singapore, to seek job employment, in hoping to survive. But bare in mind, even you get a job in overseas, it will not last long, all depends on global economic. When global impact hits MNCs, it will hit us jobless again. But then, I had to sacrifice to be able to built my own business, create my own wealth overseas when given an opportunity to do so for the future of my family without having to worry over hiring and firing employment. I don’t call myself successful as yet, but those who dare to dream and take that risk, will gain eventually. Always have fate in yourself, be strong, be open, nothing is impossible. You will meet opportunities along the way as I have had. Importantly, there will be no turning back. Perhaps with a bit of luck, either you succeed or you’re dome.

    • James says:

      Dear Allan, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I definitely agree with you. Would you mind sharing your experience with me so that I can make a better decision too. How can we get in touch?

  9. Allan says:

    Dear James,

    As you mentioned below:
    I am beginning to feel that once you are over 35 years old, no Singapore employer will want to hire you. All they want are cheap and good labour. Pay less for workers but earn more profits for themselves!

    I already felt this way back in year 2002. Singapore was no longer an employment place for the over 35 years of age, regardless of whether they holds a Deg or a Dip, with or without experience.

    A word for the younger generation before it’s too late and they will end up like ourselves. Start your personal SWOT analysis and start cracking your head for the future. Singapore alone will not get you far and stable. Outsource while you can.

  10. jj says:

    Dear Tim

    Don’t be too extreme.

    “So you are saying you don‚Äôt mind the hospitals randomly picking 100 people from the streets and hire them as trainee doctors. Those who perform well (lowest malpractice rates) will be promoted to medical officers. Those who didn‚Äôt manage to kill anyone will be promoted as trainee surgeons. Trainee surgeons who didn‚Äôt manage to kill anyone after 3 years will be confirmed as surgeons.” – Yes, at certain degree i don’t really mind.

    Who is born to know all? How many SAF medics are trained in medical fields before NS enlistment? In the older days of S’pore & present days Malaysia,Thailand, many traditional physicians & bone-setters do not have dip/degree. But their skills are good. Those sick & injured flocked to them thru words of mouth.

    During the period when i was injured, i visited the SAF MOI & after my ORD i spend most of my salary seeking treatment from Eu Yan Sang, Ma Guang, Zhong Hua tcm, buddhist free clinic, chien chi tow, ayurveda clinic, healthway clinic etc. I think i took two times of x-rays but the MO & doctor said everything is fine but the pain still remained

    Most of my injury were cured after visiting a non-degree medical related practitioner thru friend. He told me he picked up his skills thru some physician, bone-setter & monk. Some of his teachers also don’t have any certs to prove themselves.

    I used to worked as a trainer, i know what is training all about. I have quite some WSQ certs. Of course having some training & an accreditation system could more or less create a better image of a profession but at times it could become a stumbling block.

    Training & education sometimes complicate things.

    • Tim says:

      If you don’t mind my suggested selection of doctors based on your concept, why are you complaining about your doctors not curing your injury? The hospitals had used your concept and those doctors you saw were learning on the job to become full doctors.

      Similarly don’t complain when the pharmacists give you wrong medicine, IRAS compute your tax payable wrongly, your building collapse from erroneous architectural design and construction. These people do not have formal qualifications and are learning on the job.

  11. jj says:

    Dear Tim

    When did i said that “any mature person with interest can be a social worker without any training.”!

  12. jj says:


    Firstly, I don’t remember that i have said ‚Äúany mature person with interest can be a social worker without any training.‚ÄĚ Did you get me mixed up with someone else?

    I also don’t think James & SL have mentioned anything about ‚Äúany mature person with interest can be a social worker without any training.‚ÄĚ too. Who did that?

    How did you know those doctors i saw were learning on the job to become full doctors? They are not new or young or inexperience doctors. They have been doctors for years. I was worried that my injuries couldn’t be cured & was disappointed with their skills after receiving treatment from a non-degree medical related practitioner.

    Do you mean if the pharmacists give you wrong medicine, IRAS compute your tax payable wrongly, your building collapse from erroneous architectural design and construction are all experienced professional & degree holders, then we have a ground to complain?

    These people do have formal qualifications in order to be pharmacists, IRAS & engineers. OJT is another thing. even if you have formal qualifications or training, OJT is still important.

    Neither should we overrated nor underrated these training or qualification.

    • Tim says:

      I think you need to improve on your comprehension skills. It could be the reason you are finding it hard to get a job.

      • a says:

        I doubt if it’s the comprehension or debating prowess or lateral thinking or sublime articulation.

        I bet my last dollar it’s due to age. After 35 you need to have good high-level contacts, or to be able to create your own job or income stream. Otherwise you will be forced to accept unacceptable wages and work conditions.

  13. Fredie says:

    I think it’s got to do with the writer’s previous career being stalled and now he’s finding it difficult to compete because his experience is too junior and his target roles too commoditized.

    The fancy title Regional Sales Manager aside, $3100 pay is basically a junior fresh grad executive role kind of level.

    At the age of 39+, he’s basically trying to compete with all the fresh grads 21-24 yrs old for the same kind of jobs. It will end up bad because all the major employers view him unfavorably:

    1) Public sector – Poor academic qualification from Kaplan, so not much hope there

    2) MNC – Not interested in hiring people who don’t have potential to progress & move up. 39+ years old still stuck at fresh executive level not a good sign

    3) SME – Basically just looking out for cheapest available workers, would prefer some desperate young fresh grad at <2k and slave drive them hard

    • EPHolder says:


      You are certainly right on point 2), at 39 he better have track record established because degree at MNCs matters only for the first job, after that no body gives a sh.t what was your GPA or whether you had upper honors, what matters is what did you do at the previous job and how good were you at doing it.

  14. jj says:

    When one find it hard to get a job or a satisfied job could be due to many various reasons:

    1) You might have enough experience & knowledge but some employers prefer to hire those fresh & cheap, so what can you do?

    2) You might be fresh & cheap but the employers wanted someone with enough experience & knowledge. They don’t want to invest time energy & time to train you.

    3) You might have enough experience & knowledge but you don’t have a degree. Many MNCs & even some SMEs require the applicants to be a degree holder. No degree no talk.

    4) Yes, you have many WSQ cert & you have a degree or maybe even a MBA or PhD but sorry, the employers want someone with enough experience & knowledge.

    5) You have enough experience & knowledge but sorry, the employers feel that your expected salary is too high. They are looking for someone with enough experience & knowledge but much cheaper than you.

    6) Sorry, we prefer to employ someone who is still single & doesn’t have family burden cos we need him to work late & travel oftenly.

    7) The job is more suitable for a female applicant to take up or the other way round. Do you get to see a lot female warehouse manager or male cosmetic salesman?

    8) We prefer to hire someone below 40 yrs old. We want young ones & not you old uncle or old auntie. So what you have dip/deg. So what you have experience & knowledge.

    9) The employer want to hire you & willing to train you & send you for courses but you must sign a bond with them. If you resign then you must pay compensation. Some companies use this tactics to make employees slog, curb high turnover rate & also to earn money.

    10) Some supervisors, senior executives, managers or directors prefer someone who knows bootlicking. Do you know how & can you do it?

    11) Sorry, we want someone who is young & single with degree but has enough experience & knowledge & very cheap. He/she must do things fast, work very hard, don’t mind work late & can travel oftenly. If we need him/her to come back during the weekends & PH, he/she must come come. He/she must also knows bootlicking. Are you the one?

    12) Why don’t I hire that diploma guy instead of that degree guy? I can pay less & his diploma also won’t pose a threat to my position too.

    13) The HR manager, operation manager, accountant or boss don’t like your face. Perhaps they find that you don’t look bright enough for the job or maybe too bright & they afraid you might be hard to control. Who knows you might challenge them & argue with them oneday.

    14) Aiya, S’poreans won’t take up this type of jobs lah. Surely resign after one or two days. Lets hire a foreigner. It’s cheap & good.

    15) Others………..too many various reasons, cannot say finish lah.

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