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

35-year-old ex-SAF regular finding it tough to adjust after seven years in the force and feeling like a minority

Hi Gilbert,

I would like to thank you for your help, especially on your ebook.

I’m not sure whether I need coaching. I just want a more realistic picture on the job employment market in Singapore.

The figures given by the media and surveys are simply not reliable; they only show the rosy picture.

This is a brief history of my work experience.

I am a former SAF regular. It’s been a long seven years.

I have technical experience working on aircraft. After I left the SAF, I began working as a property agent as a favour to my friend.

Apart from the SAF, I know nothing about the outside world.

Like many former regulars, I was out of touch with the society.

So I spent 4 years to study full time at SIM. I enrolled in a banking and finance programme. I also worked part time during my course of study.

I have sales and customers service experience as I’ve worked in a retail company for three years.

After graduation, there was a downturn in the finance industry. So I went to work as an account assistant — switching from temporary to full-time.

Overall I have about one and a half year of accounting experience.

I also have seven years of technical experience, three years of customer service and sales and one and a half year of accounting experience.

I’m able to find a job as an account assistant as it is readily available and not too difficult to find.

But after having my fair share of discrimination from foreigners and the low pay in the industry, I find that it’s not sustainable for the next three years.

Given my age, it’s not enough to meet my future commitments. I am now 35.

The starting pay for a newbie account assistant can be around $1800 to $2300.

Given that this industry is full of PRCs and Malaysian Chinese undercutting with lower pay, I foresee that things will not change much — unless the loose labour law is changed first.

Given my personality and the scale of foreigners working in the account industry, where Malaysian Chinese and PRCs will bring their home culture to the workplace, I am constantly on my toes as I do not want to be sabotaged by them.

I am a minority in our own workplace – what an irony!

Anyone who have been through that phase knows that we Singaporeans have different values and upbringing as compared to them.

I have to constantly watch my back. Most of the time, we have to ‘tune into their frequency’ in order to mingle with them.

Based on my personality and commitment, I am now looking for a commission based job.

I have tried applying for jobs in the banking industry. However, it is nearly impossible since there is a massive influx of foreigners.

And for Singaporeans, I think most of the time, they are only interested in recruiting women with good looks.

I just need to know, what types of jobs can I apply based on my experience and skills?

Typically, I would like a sales job. I am really not particular with the industry type. As far as I know, selling skills are universal.

Thanks for your help and advice.



Editor’s note: We have assigned the writer a career coach to guide him along.

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Reader Feedback

10 Responses to “35-year-old ex-SAF regular finding it tough to adjust after seven years in the force and feeling like a minority”

  1. sal says:

    Why don’t you go back to aircraft maintenance, you’ve got 7 years with RSAF experiences? You should join SIA and upgrade your qualification in Aeronautical Engg. Its a waste of 7 years skills, but if you want to switch career…maybe you should join the real estate industry. Good luck.

  2. quekguo says:

    Try applying for a job with the govt. They love installing ex-army personnel in the various ministries.

  3. Hi Kenny, do you think you’re keen to explore sales role or technical role?

    Fundamentally, we’re a tech startup that is engaged by vendors (those 2 letters, 3 letters big names) and resellers for technical work.

    Our hiring policy is simple: resume is optional. Requires only 3 things:
    1. Attitude: willingness to learn, ask, try
    2. Character: self explainary
    3. Citizenship: Singaporean

    if you’re keen, do drop me an email at

  4. xyz says:

    You’re “out of touch with the society” and yet you thought studying at SIM is the solution?!?! You wasted 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars.

    $2K accounts assistant job is the norm for such degrees. You expect a $3.6K starting pay job?? You better have AT LEAST 2nd upper honours degree from NUS, NTU, SMU or Ivy League or Oxbridge universities.

    And BTW, financial salesman jobs don’t need finance or business degrees. What is required is to have O-levels, look good, below 30 yrs old and ability to talk until black becomes white and able to con & psycho people to buy things. These are the minimum basic criteria.

    Bigger banks and finance/investment companies will then use things like 2nd upper degrees from higher-end unis and aptitude tests and scenario-based tests to narrow down the number of entry candidates.

    For non-entry positions, banks will want to see your track records, peer recommendations, your customer base, and insider networking.

    Being above 30 and no history of bank selling, it’s very hard for you to break into this industry. The main viable way is to rise up in insurance sales –> attain general manager level in insurance company, and then move into banks (bancassurance divisions). But then most people who achieve GM level & above in insurance companies will rather shake legs & sit on their asses & collect money in the insurance companies.

    If your selling ability is good like what you claim, there is no shortage of salesman jobs you can try — insurance, property, 2nd hand cars. These companies are not so particular about your looks or age. You can even moonlight in 2 or 3 of these jobs at the same time. Just don’t be big mouth and don’t tell your colleagues about it.

    Perhaps focus on insurance & 2nd hand cars. Property heyday is over — prices & sales are consolidating and will come down over the next 3 years. You should have gone into property instead of wasting 4 years in SIM. That’s when property was cheonging.

  5. Mike says:

    My advice. try to migrate. too difficult to compete with foreigners in sg. God bless

  6. australia mate says:

    Thats the issue with signing on. The Singapore Govt should form a proper job bank to facilitate Singaporeans who come back from abroad or finish a career in the Govt Sector/ Armed forces to integrate back to society by providing proper job matching services. Another reminder for those who want to sign on, to sign on for life and to constantly upgrade your certs yearly.

  7. Sian says:

    I’ve been reading so many similar cases on this site. I’m currently unemployed and feeling hopeless and no direction. Is there any way I can meet up with some kind of support group, where we are all over 40′s and jobless? I have been hesitating to go to the hospital for depression treatment. My doctor wrote a referral letter, but I don’t know if seeing a psychiatrist will solve my problems. Should I go to NUH (nearer my house) or go to Institute of Mental Health? Should I fight depression on my own, in order to save money? How do you guys deal with this?

    • J Y says:

      No point wasting money to make the doctors richer. Just go to the public libraries to borrow motivational books to read in your free time. Most books will usually focus on the same theme like being positive, don’t give up, be self-reliant etc.

      One story stayed in my mind still today. A man with one arm was begging on the street for a living. One day, he knocked on the door of a house. The owner of the house asked him to help her carry some bricks from the front of her house to the back. She would pay him $20 after the job was done.

      Though he was slower in doing the job with one hand, she paid him as promised. The next day, the man went to her house again and she asked him to carry those bricks from the back of her house to the front. She also paid him $20 after his job was done.

      Soon, he found a job and was grateful to the lady for making him realise that he still could use one hand to work.

  8. Name says:

    I am also an ex-regular working in the Bank.

    My advice is looking for job in the bank that nobody wanted. From there you gain experience and request internal Transfer or Jump from Bank to bank.
    Example Customer service job at bank Call centre.

  9. James Lee says:

    Hi Kenny

    We may have the job that’s just right for you.

    Scope: Sales in Financial Accounting Software
    Pay : Basic over $2K + Commissions + Allowances.

    If you keen, drop me an email at and I’d refer you to the HR people.


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