Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Friday July 5th 2019

Local PMET with MBA unemployed for 3 years and looking at overseas opportunities

Hi Gilbert

I am a born bred Singaporean. I am pretty well educated armed with a MBA from a top 5 business school.

I have been unsuccessfully looking for a job for three years.

I was able to attend numerous interviews because of my academic qualifications and 15 years of work experience. But was just unable to secure a decent offer.

I have offers but for roles that require only 1-3 years experience and pays $3k per month.

I know I have been discriminated against because of my nationality. Most are subtle but some are more obvious.

I am extremely embarrassed that despite my qualifications and experience, I need to approach the MOM and WDA for assistance. But it had been six months and they had been unable to help.

I am looking for jobs overseas, mostly in developed countries like UK, US and Australia. But it had been tough because of work permit issues.

Employers also question my commitment to stay long term in the overseas country.

What are possible next steps I can take now?

Thank you

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Reader Feedback

16 Responses to “Local PMET with MBA unemployed for 3 years and looking at overseas opportunities”

  1. Ppatriot says:

    Heh… Work permit issues looking for work in other countries for Singaporeans. But in Singapore we are handing out work permits like they are going out of style…

  2. Peter Tan says:

    I think you are just not realistic. If you are not happy getting 3k with this kind of profile, I don’t think you are getting anywhere.

  3. Thistoo Shallpass says:

    Dear Apple, I have a few suggestions for you:

    1. Use what you learned about marketing in your MBA class to sell yourself. How you described yourself in the letter does not really inspire confidence. What is a “top 5 business school”? Is it top 5 in the world, like Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, etc? Is it top 5 in Singapore (there are only three real business schools in Singapore)? Or is it top 5 in North Korea? You said you have 15 years working experience. How deep and broad is that experience? Maybe you don’t want to say what industry you have been working in, but you can at least say whether the 15 years were spent in one industry or several? Have you been working in one particular function or do you have experience in different parts of a business? Have you been a people manager or have you been individual contributor? Were the 15 years after you receive your MBA or did you get your MBA recently?

    2. If your MBA was earned more than 10 years ago and you have relevant experience to back you up, stop putting too much emphasis on it. After a while, academic credentials are insignificant compared to actual work experience.

    3. Stop thinking you are a victim of discrimination. If you go into an interview thinking that the interviewers are biased against your nationality, you will find signs and symptoms that they are biased – even when they are not.

    4. Pick your battle. If you have gone to a credible MBA program, you would have learned some basic interview skills: pick the companies that you want to interview, research the companies, articulate what you can do for the companies, etc. Don’t just apply for any job out there. If you apply for a job that requires only 1-3 years’ experience, why should you feel depressed when they offer you such a job with a commiserate pay?

    5. Use your Network. Many MBAs say that the most important thing they got out of the program is not what they learned in class but the friends they have made. You should ask those contacts to help you land interviews and offers.

    Do you find it ironic that on the one hand you are complaining about foreigners taking jobs that could be yours while at the same time talking about going to U.S., U.K., etc to take jobs from the local people there?

    Good luck.

  4. ah tan says:

    either you to go oversea or stay. you have to think carefully about it. going there is another issues and but that doesnt mean your job is stable. Singapore also the same LL

  5. Peter says:

    Top 5 Business School? Tap on your network, some of your friends from back then should be CEOs of FTSE250 or NASDAQ… call them up..
    Visa is no issue for EU and UK if you have a qualification and earn a little more than the average income, London is full with Singaporeans.

  6. Apple Jia says:

    Thanks all for the reply.

    Peter Tan – 3k is way more than 50% pay cut… online postings may be anonymous but maybe you can be a little more kind in your comments.

    Thistoo Shallpass – thanks for your kind and action-oriented comments. I never thought this will happen to me in Singapore but it did. I am working on some of your comments and keeping my chin up meanwhile.

    Peter – hopefully visa in EU and UK is indeed not an issue. hopefully more people can stand out to comment on this and I will commit more resources to apply for roles there…

  7. Apple Jooze says:

    I am looking for a job overseas preferably in developed markets like UK, NY and Sydney. It provides a safer work environment than, for example, Indonesia. If anyone is able to assist, please drop a message. Thanks v much.

  8. Apple Jooze says:

    Hi Gilbert

    Thanks for posting – I did not expect you to do so. Since I am looking for help, I should provide more information.

    I was in the finance industry. I have 15 years of investment experience in the Asia markets. Happy to move to another country to start afresh – can be in investment or related industries. I reckon finding a role in a similar industry should be easier than finding a role in a totally different industry.

    Thanks v much.

  9. Apple Jooze says:

    Do I have the permission to use this as an unofficial blog to blog my job search process given my lack of IT savviness?

    Just had a coffee chat with the CEO of an asset management firm. He arrived from US about 2 years ago. He told me I do not have the experience to do the role of an investment analyst. Point blank. Despite me doing it for the past 15 years. I hate to think that this is how Singaporeans (or maybe it is just me) are being discriminated against. The hiring manager’s one sentence and one word has effectively wiped off my 15 years of hard work.

    Fight on.

  10. southern says:

    Apple, continue to be resilient. Some people are just so full of themselves that they think they can determine your worth with one sentence. A good person will never say something like that to put down another person. If your experience wouldn’t help him with his business needs, he just needs to move on until he finds a suitable person, he really didn’t need to do that. You should also let it be water rolling off your back.

    Do some reflections and know your worth so well that you’re able to market it. For all you know, now’s the best time to focus on your own investment portfolios even if you start small.

    As for looking for jobs in overseas, focusing on established markets may be good but it also means you have a lot of strong competition. Indo Jakarta is not that bad actually. I have a few friends who relocated there and are doing very well.

    As for us, we’ve left. We had the same problems as you did. Highly qualified professionals with years of experience unable to get perm jobs in an established economy. Unbelievable but sadly true.

    I wish you all the best. Have a notebook to write down your thoughts, plot your reflections, draw diagrams, plan your strategies. And read global stories of how other people have made it out of the hole. Cheers.

  11. Han says:

    Hi Apple,

    I don’t know how you managed to survive through 3 years of unemployment.

    But given that long you were unemployed, you need to accept the reality of the situation and lower your expectations.

    3K may be half of your last drawn salary, but it is still better than nothing. You have to bite the bullet and accept the fact that it is highly unlikely you will get a job, if any, that pays anything close to your last paycheck.

    Not working at all, having such a huge gap of unemployment makes it even harder for you to get rehired.

    Unemployment is high overseas, so don’t keep your hopes up.

  12. Apple Jooze says:

    I am sharing these not to gain brownie points but simply doing my national duty of creating a truly more inclusive Singapore and hopefully some personal help for myself.

    I personally know a handful who are in the same situation as me now. We are facing huge difficulties finding reasonable employment. I also know a handful who were in the same situation but had worked their way back into employment. Extremely tough but do-able. But this happened to them in 2009 when competition is much less stiff.

    How I survived these 3 years? Courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of faith.

  13. Anon says:

    I read your post and have to agree with your predicament. I too have an MBA with some 15 years post MBA experience. It’s unbelievable how some of the employers look down at me when I attend interviews. The ones in APAC like you highlighted put you down in one word / sentence. But I’ve had positive reviews from the ones in Europe and US. No doubt competition is stiff there but be persistent like I am. BTW , am not local but I have to say that Singapore is a volatile job market. I have to admit there are a big number of sub-cons and caucasians for jobs which can be done by the locals but it’s amazing how these folks end up getting these jobs. And they are not cheap, contrary to what have been speculated about them. I would like to think that it is more of a case of ‘birds of a feather flock together’. Good luck with your search and be persistent!

  14. Anon says:

    I am in the senior executive recruitment sector and I can definitely vouched that it is true that locals are being outright discriminated in the foreign firms. Anecdotal observation tells me that Singaporeans are now the minority in the management layer. Very young foreign executives are also being parachuted in Singapore for jobs that PMETS or Singaporean graduates can easily take up. Yes these expats are not cheap especially if they are westerners (Indian senior executives will typically get on par salary with the locals). Many of the experienced Singaporean managers I knew have been pushed out (jobless), move to other sector or lucky enough to join in Stat Boards or GLCs (IDA has created many senior consulting roles for these people).

    While many of you will ask why SG govt does not stop this practice. Well it is because SG’s economy has been designed to be two tracked (government, mulitnationals) so that there will never be the case of a power tycoon (for example Lee Kah Shing or Taksin types) who can threaten the power structure under PAP. In fact it is all over the news that LHL is pushing very hard for passing of TPP, which guarantee these international conglomerate by-passing the sovereignty of national governments in the interest of “free-trade” and people-movement. There is no way to change course from the economy designed in the past 20 years (off-shore tax haven and acting as hot money conduit) as the country became over-priced (too many rent seekers from the establishment) and zero local high value expertise being developed. What is worse is the local government control media try to camouflage with hog-wash (hub-this hub-that), lacking real in-depth questioning of the status quo which is leading the country to ruins.

    Why so many western expats are eager to work here (and their companies parachuting them here)? It is because the situation over there are in dire straits. Stop believing the mainstream US media which tells you how good the employment rate is (numbers drastically manipulated to hire the truth). In fact the PMETS in US and UK are also facing challenges of having their job off-shored or being replaced by Indians (for eg H1B VISA). That is the main reason behind the huge support for seemingly “crazy” Donald Trump who claims to be an anti-globalist.

    My final hope is you should keep your heart open, go with the flow. The situation in the coming months or years are not getting better as we are at the start of the next (worse) financial crisis and impeding global war/conflict. Not trying to be a pessimists, but the situation seems to be spinning out of everyone’s control at the moment.

  15. Sunny Tan says:

    I was employed by MSD or Military Security Department of SAF and when I hit 50 years old, she retired me but I could continue with my translation work, albeit at half my old salary. I
    accepted as I had no choice. I have a young family

  16. Sunny Tan says:

    I was employed by MSD or Military Security Department of SAF and when I hit 50 years old, she retired me but I could continue with my translation work, albeit at half my old salary. I
    accepted as I had no choice. I have a young family,I know I am too old for the job market and I am too qualified.I have a doctorate. Since that day I did not secure another job. I just live. I did all kinds of jobs. You name it and I have done it. Market survey interviewer. security guard, landscape labourer etc. At last I found my niche. I played the stock market. I lost money. Then I only invested in blue chips and only get dividends and I almost live on it. I also rent out my rooms so that my total income get me to live at a modest level. During this life I learnt one thing. If you apply for a job the recruiter treats you like a BEGGAR. I decided not to beg.

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