Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday January 15th 2018

Mid 30s Diploma Holder Jobless for Ten Years – Why?


Hi Gilbert,

I found your website recently. and I think it is informative. I have some doubts,  if possible please give me some advice.

It is a bit long winded though, and I probably have asked others the same questions before, but just hearing  from another person’s opinion is reassuring for me.

I’m in my mid 30s and   out of job since 2000 – about 10 years probably.

I’ve worked for 1 year 6 months as a technician for medical equipment supplier before, and  1 year 6 months in a logistic company.

 In between the 10 years, I have taken 2 odd jobs of about 3 months each…

I’ve a Dip in electronics and computer engineering. I’m not sure what to tell you if you ask me why I’m out of job for this long. 

Many  people have asked me the same question – especially from the employers. I can’t get past interviews because I stammer too much here and it is difficult to justify the long absence from work.

Health wise, the doctor said I may have bouts of anxiety disorder. I’ve never told my interviewers I’ve such  mental problems, but I guess some are sharp enough to see through the symptoms. The problems existed since my youth.

In the army ICT, there was a commander who likes to make fun of me, that I’m out of job for so many years..

I dreaded going back for ICT, it becomes a phobia and I’m angry and worried months before and after ICT –  that I simply didn’t try to do anything in between.

As they say, this is all procrastination that  it is wrong I’m blaming others for my own failings.

It was only in 2005 that  I started to go to the doctors.

The drugs worked in a minor way by curbing an addiction, but I feared the side effects and it is not really effective – just minimally.

I’m out of the ICT cycle now, and I’ve stopped going to the doctors.

The ICT episode is a very disappointing experience nonetheless, makes me wonder  if I should go elsewhere, like Sarawak or Sabah for long term stay.

If I don’t have attachments here in Singapore, I’ll definitely go elsewhere.

It is very disappointing as PRs and foreign workers seem to have advantages over us when it comes to employability.

Some also do not need to take care of their families, while I’ve to tend to my mum who had a minor stroke in 2003.

We are a small family, if not for assistance rendered by the extended families and friends, it would have being worst.

Currently, I’d like to work in a nursery, that is a plant nursery.

It is a joke when I tell my doctor my plans. She thought it is children nursery, and I am some kind of a crazy man.

However, I don’t fancy my prospect of being hired here. I would like to start a small business.

Unfortunately, this nursey trade is almost non-practical. Land price is just too high for the plan to take off.

If I go to our neighbouring countries, I fear other considerations.

For example, there are stories of muggings in Malaysia. and my mum and dad may need me to be around.

My immediate question is what is the prospect for someone who is out of job for too long to be rehired?

Please tell it as it is, so that I can save my effort applying at NParks for that ranger job, which I’ve done for 6 times or more. For government jobs, do I still stand a chance  or virtually none ?

The application is by online application, and when it comes to references, I do not have any professional referees, usually I try to put my friends’ name, which is not that easy actually because I have alienated some.

 If I leave it blank, the application probably didn’t do through.  

Do you think one should follow his dream  or just do what ever job  is available ?

It is also about job picky-ness.

I think I’m being picky, but I’ve weakness in communication skills, and probably character flaws, some jobs are really out of my natural ability like telephone operator jobs.

If I have a driver’s job, I’m quite worried of driving into the drain.

I’ve turn down many jobs, even my sister-in-law tried to get me to do some odd job, I don’t feel like doing. I go through the online jobsites, recently most are for high level jobs.

Many a times, I browsed and found nothing suitable. When I thought I found something, I just didn’t apply.  

I think I’ll stop here.  

Thanks for the help. I truly appreciate  this website to help fellow jobless Singaporeans.

Yours sincerely,



Hi Samuel,

Thanks for your mail.
I know that it is not easy to look for a job especially when you have some medical problem.
However, more than 10% of the population suffers from some form of mental illness and with proper medical care, most could function and work without much hiccups.
I would urge you to continue with your medication  so that you can live a life as normal as possible.
I always like to follow after my dream  and  I have taken that step by taking a huge pay cut to do social work seven years ago
There are huge sacrifices to make  of course and I also have to pay alot for my counselling certification.
It may be good also to chart out what you want to do for yourself. Set realistic small goals first so that when you meet them you will feel more conifdent about yourself.
Write out a list of things that you have accomplished so far – and stick them on the fridge or study room so that its visible for you to see them regularly.
This way, hopefully, you will feel proud of yourself.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses but many Asians tend to downplay their strengths but manify their weaknesses to their own detriment. Why not be fair to yourself?
As for your plant nursery dream, why not check out what certification you need so that you can go after your dream?
I know that the horticulture industry here  is always in need of workers.
I wonder if you are comfortable with going through some WDA upgrading courses?
You only need to pay 10% of the total course fee. There are over one hundred courses to choose from. I am unsure if they have any plant nursery courses available there.
With regard to your ICT, I am sure that thousands of Singaporeans all hate to go back to their army camp and go through our ICT.
Its good also to speak with your commander privately and ask him to stop taunting you regarding your prolonged unemployment.
Moreover, its not respectful of an officer to do that.
During my ICT days, I enjoyed the company of army friends there and the ICT wasn’t that bad as we sometimes we went out after the training for dinner and drinks.
I missed those times as I have finished my 13-year ICT cycle almost a decade ago.
I hope this will help you and please stay in touch with me whenever possible.
I have also attached the ebook “How to survive unemployment” for your reading pleasure.
Tough times don’t last but tough people do…
We are here for you.
Gilbert Goh
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Reader Feedback

8 Responses to “Mid 30s Diploma Holder Jobless for Ten Years – Why?”

  1. happy butter bear says:

    Understand that Samuel has anxiety issue. Please see the doc and take medication. I have a cousin, a grad who used to work at a government job before his paranoia took hold of him, and he has been out of a job for 10 over years.
    His resistance to see doctors, and to find a job and to hold on to it, even to a part time one (he stays for a few days then gives up, saying people talk behind his back) has led to resentment from his siblings, who end up supporting both him and the parents. It is not his fault that he is paranoid, but refusing to see the doctor to help himself is. His siblings think of him as parasites.It is not a good way to live. Help yourself. And think positively. Hope your circumstances improve.

  2. Dennis says:

    Quote: “I’ve turn down many jobs, even my sister-in-law tried to get me to do some odd job, I don’t feel like doing. I go through the online jobsites, recently most are for high level jobs.”

    So you have no experience, only a diploma, some mental problem; and you only want “high level jobs”. Hmmm, sorry, like you, I’m wondering why you’re jobless too.

    Why don’t you do like Gilbert Goh here? He has hardly any experience too since he’s been unemployed for decades, only a diploma too but will only want to work in high level jobs that pay much? Just go around asking for donations like him and keep travelling to Australia back and from! :)

  3. Roaring Lion says:

    Hi Samuel,

    What is your ICT commander? Let everyone knows this bastard behavior is not be tolerated!

  4. Roaring Lion says:

    Hi Samuel,

    What is your ICT commander’s name? Let everyone knows this bastard behavior is not be tolerated!

  5. Be postive says:

    Dear sammuel, i understand your feeling on finding work and going back to ict, i hate going back to ict too. I cant click with my team mates and sometime i get look down by them. As they each have car and have a great paying job. Sometime i wish there is no rt and ict. I am ok with ns but rt and ict i think is a burden on us.But that is another story for another day.

    If i am desperate for money or sick of earning so little, i may consider working as a dish washer for 3k but i dont want to let my family and relatives look down on me. Even if i earn a lot, i will feel useless. If i am 50 year olds, i will take it without a doubt.I cant work as a delivery driver too, i dont want to disappoint my family. I study so hard to get a diploma, i should have a office jobs or maybe admin work.

    Why dont you try a job that do not require experience and have training provided. I saw a ad on the newpaper recently looking for baker traineer at breadtop. It pay is from 1500-2200 i think.

    Like you i am weak in communicating with people but i want to prove myself and train myself by apply for those customer care jobs like starhub. But a pity lot of peoples apply for it and i cant even get a interview as my resume is bad.

    I just want to let you know that you are not alone and be postive.i am sure that you can get a job soon or later. I saw a job ad related to technician(smrt) and pc repair at simlim(pay is $1800). You can try that if you want. I wish to work as pc repair man but i do not have the skill. Be postive! as least you need not have to come back for ict. I still have 6 years! and 6years of rt!

  6. David says:

    I am a NSman (Ex-NSF)who is holding a commander appointment & I think your commander should not do that.

    I agree with Gilbert to speak with your commander privately and ask him to stop taunting you regarding your prolonged unemployment.

    If he do not do that, then talk to Member of Parliament to speed up the process in your unit.

    1) If your commander is a NSman, request for post out of Company and/or unit.

    2) If your commander is a Regular, apart from request for post out of Company and/or unit, you want an answer from SAF & how SAF is going to punish him. This is because under SAF Core Values ‘Care for Soldiers’ and one of the commander’s duty is to motivate his men under his charge which he fail to do that and affecting your performance & safety in ICT.

  7. jj@39 says:

    There are many big mouth & chatterbox type of people around us.

    One of my former NSF friend was living in the same district. He was working as a private tutor & his family was running some small F&B biz. On the whole, he was quite well. He is those big mouth type of person. He is a chatterbox. We were also in the same reservist unit. So this guy also like to go around telling others the jobs that i did, my unemployment status & my futher edu problems etc.

    I asked him to stop telling others about my problems & since then i decided to keep a distance away from him & not letting him knows too much about my matters.

  8. jj@39 says:

    Missed out & correction -

    On the whole, he was doing quite well. He doesn’t experience any prolong unemployment, workplace conflicts & stress when one was working for others or exploitation issues etc.

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