Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Sunday January 14th 2018

29-year-old SMU accountancy student jobless for 2 years and feeling hopeless

Dear Gilbert,

I am a graduate of SMU, and have trouble finding a job for 2 years.

I am wondering if there are any opportunities here because I have been looking on craigslist, indeed, jobsdb, regionUP, all for jobs but I suspect most of them are fake or just recruiters trying to collect resumes for the companies which are not even hiring.

I have a Bachelor’s in Accountancy and Finance from SMU.

At 29 years of age, I don’t see much opportunities in the PMET sector especially for males.

I don’t know why. But I think employers generally prefer females in the accountancy sector because they will not shout out as loud as males, and are generally perceived as more meticulous than men.

I am deeply worried that my 2 years of unemployment gap will affect my future career (if it even exists now).

Right now, I am feeling that local government do not support unemployed workers, and just cover it up with the news saying that unemployment is low. Truth is many people are underemployed.

I tried approaching friends and family, but none of them have opportunities for me. Instead they keep telling me supposedly helpful advice like “have you tried this… or that” etc.

Almost implying that it’s my fault that I did not hang on to my previous job.

Also, I don’t have much faith in the governmental national job bank. Seems to be touch and go in this pro-business government.

Globally, I do sense restructuring trend affecting many young people like me, especially in Spain, Greece and other cities. In some cities like NY or London, people at my age are being paid peanuts or working for free as interns, just to get a foot into the door of corporations.

In fact, one may argue that Singapore has real jobs but only as casino croupiers and waiters.

That is not a career many want, yet they do it just to get by. This is highly unhealthy for the economy to keep ‘pushing down’ the burden to the young. Singaporeans are smart and good, why should they be ‘cheap’ and devalued by our own government?

If businesses are so powerful already, why is the government not empowering the people to balance this?

Why is the employment market ‘rosy’ in Singapore when there are so many people complaining on your website?

I feel the government has failed us all. Especially my generation who graduated in the post-recession.


Editor’s note:  This article is retrieved from a comment posted here.

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12 Responses to “29-year-old SMU accountancy student jobless for 2 years and feeling hopeless”

  1. Xavier says:

    They also prefer female accountants so that they can “piap-piap” if they are attractive.
    There is a reason why many places with financial scandals, have many pretty women.
    It seems pretty women and crime, very often come together.

  2. J Y says:

    I think experience matters more than gender. They prefer people whom they don’t have to train from the beginning. It is thus also very hard for females who are inexperienced in this field.

  3. sal says:

    You must keep your option open whether to work overseas where your skills are in need.

  4. Thistoo Shallpass says:

    Dear Ivan,

    It is true that many jobs are disappearing. Some are no longer necessary – you may not remember but there used to be lift operators. Some are replaced by robots and some are being outsourced to countries with cheaper labour cost. Large companies used to hire many bookkeepers/accountants, now they no longer need so many because of information technology.

    Things are changing and at a faster and faster pace. You have at least 30 more years of working life ahead of you. To survive and strive you need not just basic skills but also the ability to think, to create, to empathize, to communicate, and to collaborate. A degree – especially one from a highly rated university like SMU – is supposed to be a sign that you have acquired such abilities. But you seem to have failed to pick them up while you were at SMU.

    Allow me to give you a few examples from your post. You said ‘I tried approaching friends and family, but none of them have opportunities for me. Instead they keep telling me supposedly helpful advice “have you tried this… or that” etc. Almost implying that it’s my fault that I did not hang on to my previous job.’ Do you really think that your friends and family should be walking around with job offers in their back pockets just in case they run into you? Instead of blaming them, you ought to be thankful that they care enough to offer you advice. Have you asked yourself whether it was your fault that you did not hang on to your previous job?

    You wrote “In fact, one may argue that Singapore has real jobs but only as casino croupiers and waiters.” As a graduate, you should have the critical thinking skill to know when a statement is spurious. Evan in Macau, where gambling dominates the economy, only around 20% of the workforce work for the gaming industry – and that include accountants. Making such claims only weaken your argument.

    In fact, it is hard to understand what your argument really is. What exactly do you expect the government to do? You do not seem to be claiming that the FTs are taking the jobs. You only said that employers prefer female accountants. Do you think that the government should step in and stop women from becoming accountants? Are you asking for the government to be more socialist in its policy?

    If you want a career as a PMET, you need those abilities that I mentioned above. Maybe you can spend some time honing those abilities while you are looking for your next job.

    Good luck in your job search.

  5. Loong says:

    Dear Ivan

    Consider how low you are willing to accept ; I am also from SMU accountancy like you, pioneer batch graduated 2004, to this day i have never earned more than 3.5K ; my classmates are earning lots more but i am almost never unemployed – join a public accounting firm , if not the big 4 , then the smaller ones, i moved progressively into smaller firms after PWC as a first job

  6. Don says:

    Dear Ivan, you might try exploring the IT sector, especially in the realm of ERP as either a sales account manager or in the technology side as a Pre Sales Consultant if you have interest in IT.

    I recently joined this sector myself after over 15 years in the cyber security arena and is quite amazed at the extreme lack of consultants, dont worry, I am not referring to Oracle SAP or Microsoft Dynamics.
    There are a lot of other vendors like NetSuite and open source version like Odoo.

    Do take a look, you will find that many of their partners are aggressively looking for people with accounting and finance background to join them.

    Ping me if you have an interest and i can link you.


  7. Kick says:

    Should I be in your position, I will focus in the health sector. Accountancy is dead. Evidence is falling/stagnant income. Too many cheap labour from overseas to replace you. I would study radiography from our local polytechnics. Obtain a job as a radiographer, then make the transition to Sonography with poly courses along with adequate work exp. Apply to Australia and get registered as a Sonographer along with a PR and be paid at least AUS85k – 100k a year which makes out about AUD 6.2k a mth after tax with no worries about cost for health as hospitals and GPs are free. Cost of living with lodging (a room) total max AUD 2k for a good lifestyle. then save save and invest. Come back to Singapore 10 years later with a strong AUD exchange rate, rich and you still will get a SGD 3.5k to 4.5k Sonographer position a month here in Singapore. Nursing could be a choice. Poorly paid here in Singapore, highly paid overseas. But it is known, nursing work sux. Nursing route is easiest to achieve as the demand is very high. 2 year accelerated with allowance from local poly assuming u can gain entry. Then obtain 3 years exp due to bonded. Get PR in Aus very easily, starting pay after tax is about AUD4.5k, max is AUD 6.2k a year as nurse with at least 7 yrs exp with lots of options for overtime where it is paid x2 !!!…save and invest wisely. You can then get married, purchase 4rm hdb flat at 400k paid in full, the rest split between franked high dividend Aus shares to take advantage of 0-18.2k tax free threshold, and Singapore REIT/dividend shares. Retire young but frugal. No worries of health cost as it is covered by either Australia or medishield life.

  8. Mad says:

    Dear Ivan, given your degree and skillset, I recommend you to enter the audit industry. Audit firms are always hiring and is just that you need to take the hardship to survive.

    It is a also a very common preception that ladies are deem to be more meticulous than guys. Unless you have experience, it might be challenging to get a job as ladies are prefer in this profession.

    Given your circumstances, you can consider joining a small or mid tier audit firm to accumulate valuable working experience. Please note that for some mid tier firm, it comes with a 2 year bond.

  9. JY TAN says:

    can you email me your resume to Our organization may have an opening for you

  10. Jiekai Koh says:

    Ivan, drop me an email with your CV at

  11. Joe says:

    I can’t be the only person wondering whose money he has been spending the last two years. Parent’s retirement fund? Girlfriend’s saving? This needs a follow-up

  12. Yeeloong Ong says:

    Hi Ivan

    I am your senior from the pioneer accounting batch of 2001 and graduating pioneer batch of 2004 (yes I left in 3 years) . I have been with accounting firms from Big to small , LLP to SME , for 12 years and my advice for you is to still focus on accounting firms big and small . Accountancy is statutorily required so even shell companies need to file accounts to ACRA , even one page entries saying they didn’t do anything worth mentioning. and just paying filing fees. Pick up the relevant certification in your specific field if you have not, CPA if you are an auditor , ATP if you are doing tax ; if you have no specific fields in your CV then you need to choose one . I did book keeping work even for a while as long as its related to my main line of work in corporation taxation. And for goodness sake don’t ask for a Big Four firm salary – I am still maintaining my employability by keeping my asking amount low and not expect to be paid like a manager at PWC like my peers would be

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