We are currently trying to feature highly-educated unemployed PMETs in this interview series and ask our employers to contact us if they find the person featured suitable for any vacancies open in their companies.
Today, we featured Nasir, a young Malay engineering graduate with a master’s degree who has being looking for work for the past 2 years.
Transitioning (T): Thanks Nazir for agreeing to answer our online interview questionaire regarding your employability, can you tells us abit about your age, marital status and gender?
Nazir (N): 29, single, Singaporean Malay male.
T: Can you tell us more about your educational qualifications and work experience?
N: A Master’s and a Bachelor’s in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from a local university. Has a year’s experience in project management from 2008 to 2009.
T: Can you tell us more about your previous job title and work nature?
N: Project Engineer in the civil service. Work hours and pay are unsurprisingly good, but little in the way of job satisfaction. Resigned to pursue a more technical career as I needed to focus more on hard skills (such as programming, electrical circuit design, FMEA, software skills etc) rather than man-management skills. Otherwise I would have little relevance in the industry, even in my own previous job. I had planned to return once I had accumulated enough experience since I am able to contribute more effectively, though this is nothing more than a pipe dream today.
T: Previous pay structure and retrenchment benefits?
N: Can I politely decline to reveal my pay? Anyway you can do a quick estimate from the ministries’ websites – everything is transparent. As for the second part of the question, the civil service hardly ever retrench its employees. At most, a pay-cut. When the economy recovers, the uniformed services will have their pay reinstated first followed by the civilian executives.
T: How long is your unemployment duration?
N: Have been unemployed for more than 2 years. Extremely vexed and depressed; the number of interviews I have been to can be counted with my fingers. Some of the interview sessions were downright demoralising (one asked an illegal question), while two were quite positive but did not materialise in a concrete offer. One of latter two even readvertised the same job. Previously, it was opened to fresh graduates and those with little experience. After three rounds of interviews (including a written exam to test background knowledge), this MNC reposted the same position for more experienced and industrially certified applicants. Neither the company nor the job agent who handled this bothered to inform me.
T: How do you cope with your prolonged unemployment situation?
N: Still sending out wave after wave of resumes and cover letters, although no longer on a daily basis as these 2 years have all but sapped my enthusiasm and energy. It has definitely robbed me of a social life as I’ve spent this period in loneliness. Apart from greatly reducing my salary expectation, have done everything recommended by HR practitioners – correcting mistakes on my resume, major facelift (redid my resume almost 30 times), tips on writing a solid cover letter. I tapped my friends and family for professional contacts, broadcasted my resume to various industries and submitted my profile to linkedin.com, online job-boards and job agents. Personally I embarked on a fitness regime since early 2011 to lose weight so that employers would not have a chance to reject me based on my physical appearance/health concerns. Finally, to enhance the value of my resume (if even a little), I am actively volunteering at a Meet the People Session. The results have been nothing short of disappointing.
To all readers, I ever sent a letter to the Prime Minister himself for help. In the end, I was simply referred to the MOM, WDA, CDCs and E2I. Some help I got…
T: Are you happy with the current situation?
N: As a full time job seeker, no.
T: Are you currently going for any upgrading courses?
If specific short courses enhance my future prospects or help me in my new job greatly, certainly I would jump at the opportunity. I like to learn new things, though I rather do it at my own pace.
I definitely would not pursue another academic certificate i.e. graduate school in applied finance or business management as today’s employment climate has transformed beyond acceptable reason. Through feedback from commentators on your site as well as personal experience, I’ve learnt that employers in Singapore discriminate against;
- Highly educated job applicants. We risk being labelled “overqualified”. Convenient excuse.
- More mature jobseekers, which doesn’t make sense as mature job seekers have more sizeable networks and professional exposure to handle any position within their field of expertise. A Master’s or PhD further undermines their employment prospects if they get retrenched.
- Singaporeans. Sure the government may have implemented tighter restrictions on FT employment passes, but that is just a minor cosmetic countermeasure. There are plenty of ways (illegal or not) MNCs can get around this.
- Malays. Jobs that have a high internal security requirement are out of reach to us.
The dearth of legislation that protects workers from exploitative employers, the invasive presence of foreign “talents” who enter with zero experience and dubious/largely inferior qualifications and keep us PMEs out of jobs in the higher value chain and multiple financial commitments are among the reasons I think fuel our PMEs’ hesitance/reluctance to pursue further studies
End of interview and thank you!
Editor’s Note: Nasir has recently found a job but the pay and work scope are well below his expectation. PMETs who are jobless and want to be featured, please email me at email@example.com. A few of our unemployed PMETs have found jobs when employers emailed us after they have spotted articles of similar nature.