We continued our online interview series for those who are jobless. Today, we featured Daniel, a 41-year-old married PMET with a MBA. He has 18 years of work experience but couldn’t find a job after searching for the past three months. He is also the sole breadwinner in his family.
Transitioning (T): First of all, thanks Daniel for allowing us to interview you online and can you provide us with some background information on yourself?
Daniel (D): I’m 41 years old with a family of wife and one child, father-in-law staying under the same roof. I also have a MBA.
T: What was your last occupation and you have told me that you were unemployed for about three months, can you tell us more about this and also your job search experience?
D: I have worked for around 18 years in the container shipping industry, moving through the hierarchy from a junior executive to manager. I had been retrenched twice: once due to closure of regional function and the more recent one due to conflict of interest with the boss (family business).
Actually, I have been out of the labour market for three months and it’s taking a toll as I’m the sole breadwinner. During these three months, I have attempted almost all sources for recruitment: friends, online job website, newspapers, etc., and even willing to take on a junior role.
T: You have told me that you are currently jobless for more than three months, what did you do in order to survive? Did you also approach the CDC for assistance?
D: Please refer to point 2. about the jobless duration. Generally, we have been living on savings and credit over the last three months. As mentioned, all sources have been explored: went to CDC, e2i, Caliberlink and there’s no feedback from them as of to-date. There was a bad experience with e2i where the consultant shot a question “What do you want?” … if I am able to settle the issue, would I need to be here? They should send their staff for those courses conducted in their premises …
T: Did you attend any interviews during the past 12 months and why do you think you are unsuccessful so far?
D: Attended several interviews (maybe around 5) and the factors that deter the success of securing the job may be as follow:
• fear of short-term commitment for junior positions being seek
• paper qualifications (despite the generic skills)
• unable to accept change in industry (employers tend to look for those in the same industry)
T: Tell us abit more about what you have learnt from your jobless experience and how it has impacted your family.
D: Nothing is certain in life and one has to get prepared for everything. The drastic change in lifestyle overnight is not easy to accept but one certainly has to move on, hence the support from one another is very important.
I’m feeling better now after a hard cry last night … I’m just utterly disappointed and frustrated with myself that I got my family into this mess but I know someone out there is having a worse situation than mine and yet they can still survive out of it. Now, I need to evaluate what do I actually want to do with my life; it’s hard in today’s context when the economy looks bleak and the working society being not kind to people who shares similar background as I am.
T: What do you think you could have done to shorten the unemployment period?
D: Everything has been done … ultimately it takes two hands to clap. One may be willingly but the other may not be receptive. Before the retrenchment took place, I sensed something is not right and started looking for alternatives.
T: Do you think that Singapore is now a more difficult place to make a living?
D: Affirmative. Just look at the current situation: every job needs training, from cleaner, security guards, housekeeping, etc., what happens to the good old days of on-the-job training? The most absurd thing is the loss of human touch of face-to-face interview process where your initial screening is through submission of resume online. Imagine having to submit resume for data-entry, packers, cooks, etc.
T: What do you think the government can do to alleviate the current employment situation?
D: There is very little the government can do as they should not interfere too much in the affairs of private corporations in the first place. To alleviate the situation, they will create more jobs in their Public Service Organisations. But they will not be able to resolve the issue for those who are in the 40s (and above) since it is a practice most organizations will move out their middle-aged executives and fill these mid-management positions with younger staff.
T: Many people have blame foreigners for competing jobs with us, what is your view on this?
D: We need to analyse the situation more objectively: at times, the job does not appeal to the local people, hence there is a need to get foreigners to fill the gap. At other instances, the organization may want to get quick results and the best way is to invest in foreigners (not always successful though …). At the end of the day, I believe it boils down to the kind of lifestyle or living standards that we want – do we want to take it slow and easy or push ourselves to become a developed country?
T: Lastly, whats your advice for those who are still jobless and feeling down?
D: Always believe tomorrow will be a better day, never give up – the moment one gets despair, he tends to give up everything. Get someone to share the burdens, reevaluate all alternatives and make a change. There is always someone out there who is having a worst situation than us, we should count our blessings and move forward.
End of interview and thank you.
Editor’s Note: We have provided Daniel with a counsellor to support him emotionally. He experienced bouts of depression at times.