Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday August 19th 2019

Jobless divorced PMET with masters degree: “I need help, I do feel suicidal at times…”

Hi Gilbert,

I truly need help I am feeling suicidal at times.

My life has been a challenge since the day I was born.

I try to get pass through by trying to compare myself to the less fortunate.

I do not know how much longer I can hold on. I hope we can meet up and talk?

I also hope you can publish the following at your site.

Hopefully, there will be some kind hearted readers who can provide some suggestions on how I can improve my situation.

If you can, please edit it for me.

I am a true blue Singaporean with roots as deep as three  generations and  aged  38.

While studying in Secondary school, I started my working life  sweeping the streets, literally.

My single mom couldn’t afford to send me to a computer school after secondary school which was my interest.

Thus, I have to work on school nights and weekends as a hotel cleaner from 11pm to 7am but that took a toll on my health and my education.

Not to mention I have family issues.

Unable to handle the  stress  at a young age, I dropped out of school and literally worked my way up.

I started my career in a multi-national company with rapid rise to management level.

However, armed with only a O level cert, I could not get above $4.5k salary even though the role I am performing usually fetched  more, alot more.

When I tried to get a new job, I couldn’t as I was not “educated” enough.

I even remember when I went for an interview with a local hiring agency, the director of the company asked me why am I getting paid $4.5k with only a O level certificate?

Everyone wants to negotiate down my salary based on  on my previously earned salary.

This would not happen in any other first world nation as they would not only look at your education but also your ability and the  role they are  offering you.

To our local  HR Folks : Does it really matter  what I drew in my previous role?

Would you pay me a road sweepers salary if I did 6 months of sweeping the roads as I cannot get employed?

Staff remuneration should be based on  what you can offer to the company and a competitive remuneration  to ensure retention.

I stopped work so I can go after a Masters degree  as a matured candidate.

I have passed my Masters without even taking a degree course.

For those who are wondering, how can I do it?

I am not ashamed to say I am pretty smart (Singapore Mensa tested at 142 IQ) and anyone I know would easily tell you I have pretty high E.Q. as well.

However, eight  months have almost passed since the completion of my Masters and I am still jobless.

I was even willing to take up non-IT role as Condo Manager for $3k.

Though I was able to impress in the interview, I was not offered a role.

Only to find out later, that  they were  willing to offer $2.8k for the position – which is the same they wouold pay for  an inexperienced staff with diploma.

I can’t get government jobs or government related jobs which are advertised everyday  simply because I do not fit the profiled definition of a normal candidate.

I also have about $100k in the CPF unusable.

I cant afford a HDB, as I need to be employed and I cannot apply for BTOs.

Furthermore, as  I have just gone through a divorce, I cannot get a HDB BTO home without waiting for 3 years after my divorce.

I would be 39 by then and by the time I get a home, I would be 45.

I felt that in my life cycle now there are too many roadblocks engulfing me making me feel suffocated and hopeless.

I now sit in J.B. (Malaysia) still applying for jobs in Singapore while trying to figure out if I can start something  out on my own.

Even trying to be an entrepreneur in Singapore is difficult as  I cannot afford an office location.

I cannot apply for grants for entrepreneurship as I have a  previous company when I started on my IT business.

All those people who support the current political administration, please tell me what is wrong with me?

Am I not hardworking? Have I dependent on the government to spoon feed me? Am I too demanding?

I am stressed to the extreme  though I dont show it to other people.

I still put up a fighting front as no one likes a person who complaints too much.

But it is getting to me, I needed an outlet.

Please help…I do feel suicidal at times…the uncertaintty is just too overwhelming for me.


Is it all worth it?


Editor’s Note: We have seen the writer and will assist  him as much as we can during this tough transitional period

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Reader Feedback

49 Responses to “Jobless divorced PMET with masters degree: “I need help, I do feel suicidal at times…””

  1. Ace says:


    I suggest that you do not put your Masters Degree on your C.V. That way, it will be much easier for you to get a job.

    You will be hitting 40 soon and in your situation where getting a roof over your head is the key consideration, you should just get any available job to show that you are earning an income. If your income is low enough to qualify for a 2 room flat, I believe there are many available in the “Sale of Balance flats” scheme and so you should be able to get it quite quickly.

    After that, you can then start to look for a better paying job.

    Hope you will feel better once you get a job and a roof over your head.

  2. charmer says:

    I realise you are staying in JB to contain your living expenses. I hope you will consider attending free networking events organised by industry associations that you may be targetting a career in. It’s important you stay connected with the community and it may open new doors to you.

    I make a point to attend exhibitions as a trade visitor and SBF events to network with businessmen and officials. They give me a lot of tips and I am also looking for a full time job at the age of 50. Meanwhile I have been shortlisted for a customer service and fast food job in Jan 2013.

    The key word is DO NOT GIVE UP ! There is always something waiting for you in the corner of the long and difficult journey.

  3. Mac says:

    Be realistic on your salary. Fresh dip grads get 2.8k? Nice try.

  4. J Y says:

    I was just wondering how he can enrol in a master degree course when he got only ‘O’ levels. Does it mean that the course is not well-recognised in Singapore?

    Also, since he has a high IQ, why didn’t he apply for bursary or scholarship as a student, instead of working and atudying at the same time?

    So, it is a fact that education or even IQ don’t help in securing a job. Fate or luck plays a part too. We live in an ever-changing world where everything is so volatile nowadays.

    • jj@39 says:

      U need a graduate diploma or bachelor to get into master degree course.

      But i think u can obtain a master or phd degree by attaining some online courses.

      Some just buy the degree cert online.

  5. David says:

    From an Interviewer point of view, you have a S$4.5K management job but you quit to study a full time Master degree just to get a payout of S$1.7 job is questionable.

    Eg: Are you fire from your S$4.5K job?

    How can a GCE O enter to a Master Degree course without a Diploma unless online mode of study?

    When you are unemployed for too long or/and accept a lower salary job, your value drop to command for higher then S$4.5K.

  6. Robert says:

    Four reasons why you faced difficulties in getting jobs

    1) Age Discrimination: It is difficult for an above 35 years old jobless PMET to get a proper job with good salary regardless of his qualifications. I read from forum a few years back that a 36 years old mechanical engineering graduate from NTU work as a mechanic in a garage for a salary of $1.2K per month after he was retrenched from his previous job.

    2)Salary Expectations: Most employers are reluctant to pay an above 35 years old unemployed PMET a salary greater than $3K when they have plenty of younger FTs with masters degree who are willing to work for $2.5K

    3)Long period of Unemployment: You are unemployed for 1 year and 8 mths (1 year for studying masters and another 8 mths of unemployment after masters degree). Most recruitment agencies/employers are reluctant to shortlist applicants above 35 years old with long periods of unemployment for interviews.

    4)Studied the wrong course for your masters degree: I would guess that your master degree is in Computing/Information Technology(a technical degree) as you mentioned that you don’t mind taking a non-IT role as a Condo manager. Info-comm is a dead end career. Many IT professionals find that their employability starts to decline at age 35. Employers dismiss them as either lacking in up-to-date technical skills — such as the latest programming-language fad — or ‘not suitable for entry level.’ In other words, either underqualified or overqualified. Craig Barrett, a former chief executive officer of Intel Corp., famously remarked that ‘the half-life of an engineer, software or hardware, is only a few years,’ while Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has blurted out that young programmers are superior.”

  7. Steve says:

    Thank you for the suggestions.

    For those who doubt the authencity of my Masters Programme. It is quite sad to think that only a degree can get you a masters. For the sake of clarification on the process. I have to take a 2 stage Post graduate programme which allowed me to apply to a UK university Master’s programme as a Mature Candidate. In this application you have to state why you qualify as a mature candidate. You need 2 referrals from your current and previous employers.

    I also needed a referral from my Post Graduate Programme’s Advisor/Lecturer, who would gauge from your preformace in your post graduate paper.

    As for the master’s dissertation, I had to write 15,000 words on a oringinal topic related to IT. During this period, you have to attend online sessions with your peers and lecturers. Usually these sessions are during UK hours.

    The university I attended may not be the top 10 but it is a recognised University in the UK and world wide and not a paper mill.

    I was not let go from the 4.5K job, and that was some time back. The company was acquired. What I wrote is a synopsis and not my day by day activity.

  8. Steve says:

    Just to add on, only candidates who are Managers or held Senior positions are given an opportunity to apply as a mature candidate. Furthermore, they would evaluate if you would be able to complete the course.

    • David says:

      I know some of the application requirement for Master Degree programme such as Master of Business Administration (MBA), the University will accept Mature candidates at 25 years of age with minimum 3 years work experience, holding an executive or managerial position without a Bachelor Degree.

      It can be easily achieve for a lot of people to be mature candidates at 25 years of age with 3 years of working experience holding a title position of executive and above.

      This can be a reason why employers or/and other readers is not impressive of your ‘opportunity to apply as a mature candidate’.

  9. Steve says:

    @Robert : I couldn’t agree more on your evaluation of the situation.

  10. Steve says:

    @Robert : I did a Strategic Business in IT. It is primarily a business oriented post graduate degree for management staff in IT. It includes courses which co-relate with Project Management, Strategic Business Analysis, IT Business Analysis and of course Computer and Networks technical module. It was the only course I can apply for as a mature candidate in IT and business, without being too technical.

    • David says:

      You may have a Master Degree but does your job position require you to have a Master Degree?

      If no and your job only require you to have a Diploma, the most you will be pay at Diploma salary because your job do not require one to have a Master Degree.

  11. sal says:

    master is a specialise qualification, some bosses prefer candidate who have a degree n a master. If Spore doesn’t want your specialist skills, you may consider working overseas…either 3rd world countries or migrate to 1st world countries.

  12. chillax says:

    I am sorry steve, but i guess most unemployed are having much too high expectations on the timeframe in regaining employment. msot expect a job in 3 months. Overseas,even during normal economic conditions. graduates in normal university use up to 2 years to get their ideal job related to their course of study. In the meantime, they do casual jobs.

    you must understand we are in a different economic climate today. As for government jobs, forget about it. They are all about fitting the Standard. Branded Pri-Sec-JC-Uni . They reward you for going through the system they design.

  13. Ali Baba says:

    Hi Steve,

    14 is one of my favourite number, since I am the 14th comment.
    “I am not ashamed to say I am pretty smart (Singapore Mensa tested at 142 IQ) and anyone I know would easily tell you I have pretty high E.Q. as well.”
    There is no need to explained how you got your Masters, most importantly you “achieved” it.
    I felt that you are not one that will gave up easily to pursue greatness for yourself but the creation by the system and imbedded “structure of environment and climate” of employment in Singapore has drained you to one of desperation that you do feel suicidal and the uncertainty is just too overwhelming. Why should this be so?
    Firstly, you’re smart to sit in Johor for a time being like I do, so as not to allow the uncertainty of the future in the land that you and I claimed to be our birth right to work and live kill us.
    Some have commented above that time have changed. Yes, I’d considered that a long time ago. One can be a piece of “soft drink can” at the age of 40 and if you’re 50 and above, a piece of “scrapped metal.” of little value, awaiting to be “deposed of.”
    Coming back to you that you are stressed to the extreme, may I know with what, money? face? relationship? family? Whatever it may be, you go and face off with the issue.
    There is nothing for you to put up a fighting front if only you can see that what is happening to you is real! So you are not complaining.
    “I needed an outlet.” To me, you have all the papers and knowledge on IT while seeking employment, the only issue here is the salary and no job, period! Either you accept what come along for you even with the salary cut; for the time being and at the same time look for better posting. If you want to catch up with me in person here in JB, I will be pleased to meet up with you. Gilbert, I gave you my permission to let Steve have my email address, thanks.
    Before I conclude, let me quote to you that, “Every compelling action is driven by…self-interest, money, passion and greed.” if you have all the traits, forget all about your suicidal tendencies, you have much more to live life for.

  14. Anon says:

    1. Steve, if you got no dependents I will strongly suggest you go to UK, Canada or Australia and start afresh. Most likely you will have to take on menial jobs like cleaner, restaurant helper, kitchen staff, landscaping gardener, delivery drivers, delivery man, etc etc.

    2. Don’t look down on these low-level jobs. With minimum wages thru their labour laws and thru society norms, you can have a good lifestyle working just 8-hrs a day, 5-day week. Many of the blue-collar workers in those developed countries can live a normal middle-class lifestyle. In fact many blue-collar professions are protected against import of cheap labour e.g. factory workers, town council cleaners, technicians, bus drivers, nursing aides in hospitals, etc. Very unlike SG.

    3. Australia and US will be harder to get into as they have tighten up very much on immigration, unless you are ang moh holding highly paid profession.

    4. But even with menial blue collar jobs in these countries, you will still have better quality of life than in S’pore — you can rent a modest house or city apartment, buy a cheap car, enjoy minimum wages, enjoy the scenary & wide outdoors, enjoy work-life balance (40-hr work week is already considered a lot), groceries can be quite cheap at budget supermarkets too.

    5. And after you become naturalised citizen, you also get to enjoy all the welfare benefits such as free or truly subsidised healthcare, unemployment insurance, housing benefits, disability insurance, old age/retirement benefits, etc. Even as PR, you may get some limited welfare benefits. Even if western govts are forced to cut back on these welfare, you will definitely get more welfare help compared to S’pore.

    6. Why are you even so concern about buying an overpriced HDB pigeon-hole that does not even belong to you, and paying your whole life to SG govt?? At this point in your life, you can forget about making it in S’pore as employee or retiring in comfort, unless you strike $10 million Toto.

    7. You have to be realistic but yet not give up or get bogged down in despair. But instead recognise opportunities around the world. Not having dependents make it much much easier to just start a new life in another land. If you’re simply struggling in SG with no help and no friends or lousy friends, might as well you struggle initially for a couple of years in other better countries.

  15. mnw0610 says:

    I do not know how much you have to hold on, but despite it being tough, hang on.

    Don’t be depressed when others think poorly of you at job interviews. I have also been to interviews where they humiliated me for no reason, but that only made me more determined that the interviewer and company sucks. So it is no loss not to work for them.

    Don’t isolate yourself, keep in touch with your family even though they may think it a disgrace for you to be without job.

    3 generations here in Malaya, your ancestors here survived the WWII so what is it that you will not be able to survive?

  16. Robert says:

    You can consider the option below if you really cannot find suitable jobs in Singapore:

    Give up your Singapore Citizenship and apply to be a Malaysian Citizen (Cost of living in Malaysia is much cheaper compared to Singapore).

    As you are ineligible to purchase a house(BTO flat) in Singapore due to your unemployed status, you can considering withdrawing all your CPF money( $100K in CPF is approx 250K Malaysian Ringgit which is quite alot of money) and try to get a house in Malaysia (preferably near Singapore, eg Johor). Use the money that you have withdrawn from your CPF sparingly and cautiously.

    After you have acquired the Malaysian Citizenship(eg assuming you stay in Johor), continue to look for jobs in Malaysia and also apply for suitable jobs in Singapore as a “Foreign Talent”.

    • David says:

      It is not easy to become a Malaysia Citizen because of my skin color and/or current asset($) is not enough to be consider even for Malaysia PR.

      I have consider to become Malaysia Citizen or PR since the high rising cost in Singapore is getting hard to survive and our Government is not doing anything or/and enough to be consider helping us to cope with this problems such as unemployment, unfair prolong education system & etc.

      Let face it. Even my foreign current & ex-colleagues who are holding blue collar, white collar & managerial positions complain about this too especially when they become a Singapore PR because of pay cut for CPF & they are consider the option to go back to their home country or other countries to work but with lower living cost.

  17. sal says:

    If you want to work in Spore, its wise to have 2 type of resumes ….1 for junior position n 1 for senior position. Its good if you can get any level of IT job in Spore and move on from there.

  18. Ricky1122 says:

    Hi Steve,

    Technical skills are important in IT line, you may want to consider taking up professional certificates like mcse or ccna or become a programmer. Another option is to give up IT and go into teaching or something else. Do some thing like a part time job to generate some small income first.

    I know of a few friends who gave up IT and join MBS as groupiers/dealers.

    b rdgs

  19. [...] PMET life ish jin sad. Master degree oso cannot find jog. Jobless divorced PMET with masters degree: “I need help, I do feel suicidal at times…&#8… __________________ Neber trust Sinkies…coz they r chiur closest enemy. Sinkies pawned [...]

  20. Han says:

    @Anon & Robert

    Sorry but I cant help but think that your suggestions for Steve to seek overseas work isnt really practical.

    The reason why many of us are still stuck here is because finding overseas work is very tough.

    Other countries do not import foreigners as rampantly as Spore does. They only offer work visas to what they consider as skilled labor (professions which their country lack in).

    What makes Anon think that a company in another country would want to sponsor a work visa for a foreigner to work there as a cleaner is beyond me. Why would they go through the hassles and costs for that when they can simply hire their own people for it?

    Not to mention more criteria other countries have, such as a points system. Even the most qualified professionals in Singapore take a couple of years at least to be able to gain residency in these countries !!

    Both of you make it sound so easy like 1-2-3.

    If that were the case, I guess many Sporeans would have moved out of Singapore long ago and sought a better life elsewhere. Who wants to stay and be regarded as 2nd class citizens, forever be bullied and oppressed by the Spore govt?

    • Been There, Done That says:

      I think maybe you’re thinking about Aust or US. These 2 countries are tough to get long-term visas. Aust has also clamped down on the “student loophole”, which is to sign up for some cheapo course on things like hair-dressing or simple cooking etc, and when you get your ass over there, immediately start getting part-time work etc.

      This was what I did 10 yrs back, but in the UK. Signed up for some simple bakery / cooking course. 20% of my waking hours were actually spent in the school attending kitchen classes. 80% was spent earning good GBP doing simple things like waiter at cafes, shop assistants, data entry clerks, etc.

      The most basic minimum pay back then was about GBP6 an hour. Usually I can get GBP8-10 an hour. At that time exchange rate was GBP1 = SGD2.6, so it was quite shiok. The school (it was ITE-style) had cheap hostels, and I mostly ate free from cafes or restaurants where I worked, so I could cut cost quite a bit.

      Furthermore, I was in a small city far away from London, so the cost of living was quite low. In fact many things in the supermarkets were cheaper than NTUC. I even bought myself a rundown car for GBP200 — it worked fine as I mostly travelled around town and maybe a bit into the countryside. If in London, the minimum pay will be much higher. But the cost of living is a killer.

  21. sal says:

    Sporeans mentality…more and higher paper qualifications you have, the better chances you get a job. But some bosses think you are over qualified, its good to follow what the job requirement are and not to overqualified yourself.

  22. Steve says:

    I met up with someone that Gilbert recommended for career advice. He was forth coming with information and advice, he shared some valuable advice.

    But the time, I spent with gilbert prior to that made me realise that, one should be happy with what they have and do. I have decided to go ahead with a full heart into doing my own business. It is not in the field of I.T. but rather something new in the market. It requires me to be a bit bold in taking risks. It is not going to be something easy. I have to overcome obstacles. Take the beating, hopefully it will all work out. I know life isn’t easy or a walk in the park. I may not be mentally sound as far as life goes or feel trapped at the moment, though I hope the new year would bring about a new life.

  23. Foxtrot says:

    >>All those people who support the current political administration, please tell me what is wrong with me?<<
    Well since the writer posed this question, I will try to be as objective as possible and cut all that useless crap about being positive, you can do it, PAP sux etc.
    To start off, the writer shared quite a fair bit of details on his tough childhood and troubled family, sounds pretty bad but since all this stuff is in the past and are largely personal emotional baggage that has nothing to do with his employment, I will not comment.
    On to things that actually matter and I can make some observations as an independent third party:

    Rise to management level – Let’s get real here, a 4.5k salary in a proper MNC is a Senior Executive or Associate at best, do not confuse your name card title with your actual ranking in the company. This by itself is a harmless piece of misconception, but usually it is a sign that your overall self-assessment of your job worth and experience is exaggerated.

    Low pay due to “O” level although by right job should be paid much more – I suggest you do some independent verification on your own. Write down honestly all your previous job activities, print it out, and approach a recruitment agency and ask them how much they think someone will be willing to pay for this job based on their experience. You will need to try a few times before finding someone with time to entertain you, but with so many agents desperate for business and candidate profiles, you will find someone willing to answer sooner or later.

    Take that salary that was quoted and knock off 20% because agents have vested interest to inflate and that should take you quite close to the fair market value of your job. You need an independent third party to verify that your job is really worth much more than 4.5k. Everyone thinks he is underpaid, but I suspect for your case it could be the other way round, i.e. you are overpaid because you kind of coasted along with the MNC and enjoyed annual increments over a long period which has resulted in you being priced out of the market. The only way to be sure is to follow my advice and get 3rd party verification, don’t just declare you are underpaid due to your educational qualification based on gut feeling or hearsay or ad-hoc comparison with colleagues.

    “To our local HR Folks : Does it really matter what I drew in my previous role?” – Of course it does, it provides a barometer on your market value. They can’t just take your word at how good you are, what strategic stuff you say you do and a business title that is mostly fake/exaggerated nowadays. There has to be something more solid to anchor whatever story you sell to the interviewer and last drawn pay happens to be the most easily verifiable. It is not the only factor deciding pay, but one of the key pieces of their assessment of your worth.

    Getting Masters with only GCE O Level – First off, from which university is your Masters from? I can think of no reputable or even decent university local or overseas that allows students to straight away take Masters without even a diploma. When questioned further by readers above, you appeared evasive and did not answer directly except that it was through some mature program for senior managers and although the university not reputable, you insist it is not degree mill. Quoting some IQ test as proof that you are smart and therefore can jump from O level to Masters is just juvenile, and to compound matters, this coming from a 38 year old is quite disturbing.

    No jobs since Masters – Not surprising as I doubt any employer will take a Masters that can be taken by an O level holder seriously. This might also be a sign that your previous stalling at the 4.5k salary mark has more to do form you being overpaid then because of your O level qualifications.

    Not trying to be disparaging here, but pointing out to you that your entire outlook to your career and the approach you are taking now is premised on your untested and rather dubious assumption that your previous job experience is very valuable and managerial in nature and now you are even better as a result of your “Masters”.

    Based on the limited disclosures you made here, I suspect that is not the case. If it does indeed turn out that my alternative scenario is correct, you will need to thoroughly adjust your job seeking attitude, accept the fact, restart from scratch and rethink on how you want to rebuild and upgrade your professional portfolio and skill inventory.

    • David says:

      Let be fair for him.

      I used to be HR practitioner & I can share with you that a US MNC is paying a Manager (HOD) position with the salary of $4K+ with men reporting under him.

      So I buy his story on 4.5k salary for a Manager position.

    • David says:

      Let be fair for him.

      I used to be HR practitioner & I can share with you that a US MNC is paying a Manager (HOD) position with the salary of $4K+ with men reporting under him.

      So I buy his story on $4.5k salary for a Manager position.

  24. Foxtrot says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your comments. Your reply is exactly the thing I was asking the writer to look out for, do not judge your market worth by business title.

    Manager is a very generic term that can apply for anything under the sun. I have seen people with manager title pay range from 2k – 25k monthly, that by itself means nothing. Having a bunch of people under you does not mean you are at managerial rank, otherwise certain labor intensive industries like hospitality, manufacturing and construction would have been flooded with managers.

    Since you are a HR practiconer, you should be well aware that it is the job levels that count, not titles. I am not HR, but have worked with some seasoned HR people and they tell me that most MNCs actually have a matrix that converts the job level to a score that you can determine the pay. A fake manager title will score much lower than a real manager job.

    Of course that’s besides the point as the writer cannot know what is his job level or the score unless HR tells him, but my point still stands that he should independently verify his market worth and not just rely on a business title or some gut feeling before forming the conclusion that he is underpaid because of qualifications.

    In my company (a mid size MNC), the real manager rank pay actually starts at around 9.5k IIRC. My title is “Senior Manager”, but job level and pay wise is not considered managerial rank.

  25. Middleclass says:

    Hi Steve,
    I am just going to concentrate on the advice based on my experience as a HOD in a large MNC.
    You write very well here and seems to have no problems with communication and expressing yourself.
    Not to disparage you but in my years of interviewing people I have usually run into candidates who have solid qualifications and resumes but are terrible in face to face conversation.
    Again I’m just letting you know that this could be a factor for not securing a position and not pointing it at you.
    Your Master Degree is impressive in the curriculum you listed.
    However you might want to consider what type of positions you are looking for so that you can concentrate on the type of qualifications you should be getting.
    For example if you are looking for a management role with the MD then you might want to know that usually most companies would promote from within.
    If I have to hire a manager then it would have to come from another MNC with good track records.
    $4.5k is really too low for a manager or even supervisor.
    My operational staff earns around that type of pay.
    Therefore my advice would be for you to concentrate instead on technical roles instead.
    Barrier to entry is usually much lower.
    If you have professional certifications in Cisco, Siebel, PMP, Oracle etc you would not have a problem getting a job.
    In fact with some experience down the road you will find that $4.5k is really not that difficult to achieve.
    Lastly, 38 years old is really not that old.
    Please keep positive and I hope something comes up soon.
    Don’t give up.

  26. Steve says:

    @ Foxtrot

    If I wanted someone to sit down at the comfort of their home to condem my life, I would have been better off feeling depressed on my own. Nevertheless, I do not want my life to be discredited by someone who does not know me, or better still hides behind a screen to declare someone else is not good enough. Seen many of these people.

    I am not avoid the topic of my education, The Masters is from University of Hertfordshire, the masters programme is called Strategic Business in Information Technology. It was rated higher then University of Portsmouth. I enquired about the university from respectable people in the IT industry in the UK before I enlisted in the programme.

    As for my career, I have managed IT managers in the Region which includes Japan, Singapore, Australia in my roles. I have worked at CIO -2 level as for my score.
    That means CIO, my manager (this could be Global directors, regional CIOs or global HOD) , me and then my regional staffs. My role title includes but not limited to Systems Manager (APAC), IT Services Manager (APAC), I have managed and delivered many regional level projects, including but not limited to acquistion projects, technical projects, business iniatives. For your information, the pay scale is not just by role, it is also through limitation by education and certifications . I know cause I have been a hiring manager.

    As for the current HR practioners method of validating proposed candidate’s remmuneration through their previous pay, is the current practise, that doesn’t mean it is the right practise. From your statement, I safely can assume that you are beliver of current practises, let’s agree to disagree on this point as I have had discussions with many other country’s managers and found this is not the case in those country. Furthermore, thinking that one’s experience can only be quantified by remunneration is illogical. The remuneration merely states that was what the previous employer was willing pay for one’s services. This method is a “short” approach for HR managers who want to get a better bargain for the company not a validation method. I believe that proper reference checks can be easily established with extra effort by HR folks. By the way, when you sit in management, you always know what is the budget and what is the company willing to pay for a candidate services, thus I know.

    Just to shed some light, I have been rejected by a famous MNC for a Product Manager role, though I know I passed business and my direct manager’s interview both had total confidence on my ability on performing my role but failed final HR interview which was the last interview( Yes, I am keeping the company name confidential intentionally). From my understanding, the reason was over qualified for the role. I had tried a referral through a friend to get into local company as system administrator (just incase you dont know what this role does, the role just looks after the servers and office computers), and my friend told me that one look the hiring manager said over qualified. This is in no way to substantiate what I do or how much I am worth, but it is a mere reference. By the way, these job referals were about 4 years ago.

    Of course, I didn’t start with all these experiences, I grew and groomed myself with alot of self learning and OJT, which meant hours of reading after work. I didn’t believe that education in a confined environment is the only way to learn, and I still dont believe in it. For people who do believe that you have to attend school to learn something, then you would be outdated even before you begin especially in the IT world. Nevertheless, the education of Masters was to show to the world or my interviewers that I am able to perform educationally as well.

    By the way, what do you think a degree is for? To me it is to show your future employers that you went through the system, and able to write well with representation of your logic and reasoning. I can do that even without going to a tertiary school :) . Some may argue that it is to give you experience to understand a variety of topics in your future career propects. I need not any of this as I already had passed these stages. I perform all those roles a degree holder does in my profession. Thus, I had no intention to achieve a re-affimation from a degree. I believed a Masters is what I could learn more from and I did.

    As for the IQ part, it does seem childish in hind sight, but when I was writing that I was filled with anger and depression, usually in that state of mind no one thinks coherently. Nevertheless, it is not wrong to state that highly intelligent person can jump to Masters from “O” levels. It is no different from the US education systems where a person jumps grades when they are intelligent. Regardless, I suggest you read up on Mature candidates University Programmes or Open University Programmes in other countries. By the way, just to relate to you and put it in pespective this SELECTIVE process is not unheard of, I was chosen to attend Gunnery Asst course with a “O” levels while in my National Service, this vocation was only made available to A levels and Poly students and I was the only one with Os in there.

    Anyway I went for the Mensa exam, has I found that many people are failing to see what I find easily logical and I needed to talk to people who are able to see eye to eye and share their knowledge with me. I wanted to join mensa hopefully to be able to talk to people who might understand what I am thinking, but missed the mark by 5 points.

    I suggest in the future, before you discredit someone, know the person. If you feel that you some what superior in anyway, that shows alot of a person’s character.

    I turned to this site for emotional reasons, I do not a need a “talented” character to tell me my life is a discredit. It does not help in anyway.

  27. Steve says:

    @MiddleClass, Thank you for your views, it is helpful.

  28. Steve says:

    For reference, this is the 2 stage programme, as mentioned earlier.

    I had to take this course from NCC first :

    The Msc. was completed with a dissertation by attending the following course from University of Hertfordshire.

  29. Foxtrot says:

    Hi Steve

    Thank you for your lengthy reply. I can sense a lot of emotional defensiveness and unwillingness to consider alternatives that are not aligned with your world view.

    I am not spending time typing out long paragraphs just to spout useless feel good nonsense like asking you to migrate, scold employer, scold PAP or shout slogans on you to be more positive. These are just online platitudes that are not worth the bandwidth they are delivered on. Sure I can go along and agree with you all that drivel about how cool you are and how unjustified those “mean” employers are, what will this do for you? Make you feel good for maybe 10 minutes? After that what? You are still the one who’s stuck without a job and no money to put food on the table right?

    Masters – I see that you have now disclosed your university. I am not an expert on masters programs for IT, so I won’t get into debate over how good your university is. But I do want to make an observation – your program “Strategic Business in IT” sounds like it emphasizes on corporate strategies and less on technical expertise, target market for such courses are usually senior executives at the range of >25k salary. It might also explain why employers here have reservations as they might have concluded your masters is irrelevant for an IT position at your level. I went through your university’s website for more info and could find no references to your curriculum, so I am relying on the program name you gave me and assuming the course content is the same as other universities with similar programs.

    Your last job – You are largely valuing your job based on the relative titles of your manager and those of your subordinates. I totally don’t buy your logic at all. Even if your company limits remuneration based on certification, there is no way any MNC will sandwich a 4.5k guy between a Global IT Director / APAC CIO (usually paid >25k) as his boss and Regional IT Managers (usually paid 10-15k) as his subordinates. The whole thing sounds so bizarre that I can only conclude 2 possibilities:

    1. Your organization’s business titles are all messed up and highly exaggerated, i.e. the “Global Directors” and “Regional Managers” are super inflated and are probably only paid at the level of junior managers and associates respectively. That’s how a 4.5k guy like you can sit in between them. Common problem in a lot of US firms; or

    2. You are one hell of a strange guy who somehow LLST and keep quiet and stayed in the company despite your direct boss making 6x your pay while your subordinates are paid 3x your pay.

    As for projects you have directed, I will reserve comments as generally there is no way to judge them unless we have a detailed discussion on the nature, complexity and the level of your involvement.

    How to determine remuneration – This long discourse by you on what should be the “right” way to determine remuneration is irrelevant to the matter at hand and best left to academics. You face only 1 world and 1 job market, that is the existing one, of which is not going to change because you disagree with it. Lamenting about it won’t do any good and postulating over what should be the correct way to set pay is unproductive.

    Rejected for Product Manager role because over-qualified – I suggest you not read too much into this “overqualified” justification. If you read around the stories in, that is about the most common excuse any company gives to reject candidates. It’s just SOP rejection routine that I wouldn’t take it too literally.

    Rejected for Administrator role in SME because over-qualified – Not sure what’s the point of raising this. Of course you are overqualified as a system administrator, ain’t no SME company gonna pay 4.5k for an administrator. The market rate’s probably 2.2-3.5k depending on experience.

    Views on learning – I appreciate your sharing on views of different routes to learning and agree with most of them, but again I’m not sure how this is relevant to your predicament at hand. I must reinforce a comment made by a reader earlier which might have explained your course choice decision and contributed to your current unemployability.

    When making a professional educational decision, you should have approached an investment eye, i.e. which course gives me the best monetary returns vis-a-vis its cost? At your level, you should have gone for more specific and technical education instead of a general distance learning high level strategy masters which confers no direct professional skills. By your own admission, you just wanted to “show the world” you can study also – this is an appropriate mindset of a retiree or financially independent guy who wants to take up something he likes as self-actualization but a wrong one for someone who is thinking of moving up professionally along the career ladder.

    Alternative university routes – I concede that perhaps I was not acquainted with such alternative routes to university and am open to stand corrected.

    Claims of many people not as knowledgeable and not able to see eye to eye with you due to your high IQ – That does strongly suggest you have some serious EQ and presentation issues as noted by a reader above. Perhaps you should look at your own disposition before accusing me of trying to act superior? Man does not live by IQ tests alone.

    Accusations of attempts to discredit you or act superior – All I did was state a couple of factual observations and recommended you to seek a third party independent verification of your job worth, I vigorously deny this charge and challenge you to quote the exact sentence to justify your allegation. Otherwise this is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to label any critical comments as one coming out of nefarious motives.

  30. ss48 says:


    You mean well and there are some good points made, but you can be more understanding and pity Steve. It’s not easy for someone at his age to end up getting unemployed and going for so many interviews no result. Some of your comments are too direct and can be rude especially he is very emotional now due to bad luck.

    I think the point about the wrong masters is valid as I take a look at the program link and it seems to be a very generic and strategic level IT course that is not suitable for his level.


    Some of your comment sound quite yaya papaya and give the impression you think very high of yourself. Need to be careful during interview as you are now at the weak side and need a job.

    It is best not to piss of your boss or interviewer as the corporate world is more about office politic and nothing to do with iq. Making yourself sound too good will just scare your future colleague and not get the job in the end.

  31. David says:


    I only buy his story on his organization’s business titles even if they are all messed up because I have seen a people manager holding the title of ‘Director’ (With Manager & Engineers reporting to him) & his boss title is a ‘Manager’.

    @Steve: Your Region experiences allow you to have a very open mindset. However we are in Singapore seeking employment.

    1) Employer’s mindset are currently only ready to accept proper education system (GCE O > Dip > Bach Degree > Master Degree).

    2) I do not know how respectable the course is for IT industry in the UK however University of Hertfordshire does not seem to be well known in Singapore for IT industry.

    3) You must understand that we have a huge pool of experiences job candidates who are Singaporeans, PRs & Foreigners to competitive for one opening position in today economic uncertainty period.

    Now it is us who needs the job more then the organization want us to fill up the opening position and they always have the option to chose other job candidate for the job.

    The longer we are unemployed, the less value we have for salary bargaining power.

    If we are so valuable, we will be employed with higher salary by now instead of current status of unemployment looking for a job in that organization.

  32. Foxtrot says:

    Hi David

    Thanks for the comments. I think the crux of the issue for Steve here is not about titles or whether his boss is called RCIO or Global Director or Manager.

    My observation on the big picture while reading Steve’s original letter and his subsequent correspondence is that it is very apparent he thinks very highly of himself and his job with all that talk about his strategic projects, high Mensa IQ, APAC exposure and how he supposedly reports to a Global Director/ RCIO in a MNC and leads a team of Regional Managers as his subordinates. Yet we also know that he is drawing only 4.5k and complains that he cannot get more pay because of certification.

    If I am an interviewer and someone tries to sell himself as some right hand man of a RCIO in a MNC managing some mega projects across Asia Pacific with a team of regional managers as direct reports and probably even more associates and analyst as indirect, I expect a 25k monthly pay, not 4.5k. What then as an interviewer am I supposed to conclude?

    A) This guy is one hell of a guy that is like 80% underpaid and somehow the whole world does not appreciate his greatness
    B) He thinks too highly of himself and is trying to sell me some cow manure

    That is why I have been repeating and I will repeat once again – If Steve wants to move on and is serious in finding out the root cause of his unemployment, he needs to summon the guts to follow through and seek independent advice and valuation of his job. This will settle once and for all the issue of whether he is severely underpaid while doing a high level role and getting curtailed because of his lack of certs.

    Going off tangent on his own and ramming a flood of reasons why he thinks he should be paid highly and lamenting about perceived injustice and inadequacies of the job market and HR will just prolong his unemployment and offer no solutions.

  33. Middlesclass says:

    This is a support site.
    I thought I should bring this up given the tone that this is heading.

    @Steve :
    I can understand your situation because your profile is quite close to one of my region manager.
    I can tell you that he worked his way up and proved himself to me before I put him there.
    I can also agree with you that if you were to apply for his position your resume will not make it past my HR department.
    Your last drawn salary would not even qualify for the role.
    That is unfortunately the way that HR and recruiters work but you should already know that before as a hiring manager.
    They usually do not understand the roles and can only go with certain filters and prerequisites.
    My advice is still the same after reading your experience.
    You have a very impressive resume but unless you have connections you will find it hard to explain away the $4.5k for a region manager position.
    As I said before, at 38 you are still very young.
    I would encourage you to focus on a technical field that you want and get your foot in the door first.
    Your $4.5k would be just in the right range for a senior technical role in most MNCs.
    I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and seems even more resumes so I know what I’m talking about.
    With your experience I would not see why you cannot rise up the ranks again.
    Just to share with you the types I’ve hired last year – CCNP/CCIE, PMP, Cisco network and telephony, Oracle.
    Good luck.

  34. sal says:

    With the current situations…a lot of cases is base on ” Who you know rather than what you know”.. the real world out there.

  35. CK says:

    HI Steve,

    If Gilbert is alright, you can contact me.
    I can relate to your situation and would like to work with you.

    Yours truly,

  36. vicky says:

    The story is BS. I don’t believe it all. Probably, it’s just a story made up to make more people dislike FT or company hiring FT.

    reality is that people with masters should get those high-quality job. If he is looking for admin, then something wrong with him.

    Online certification is another bullshit people subscribe to. Just wasting money.

  37. Andrew says:

    Hi Steve,
    think many have offered their point of views and also advices thus I won’t go into that. If it’s alright with you, you can either contact me directly at or get in touch with Gilbert to get my contact number. I have a vendor which I’m working with that is looking for a IT professional. BTW I don’t have details of teh JD but the least you could do is to have a chat with them to explore the possibilities right? Take care and hope to hear from you.

  38. Kelvin says:

    I once read that having a high IQ is like driving a powerful sports car, it can get you from point A to point B fast, however if you have not learnt how to control the car properly it will get you nowhere.

    You have to learn how to harness your potential. Instead of trying to get back into corporate life and settle for mediocrity (even if you get high sounding title you are not in control of your fate in the company, unless you own the company), why not venture out into business?
    Email me at zest2zeal@gmail for a chat.

  39. Sian says:

    So have he found a job by now?

  40. Victor says:

    Starting a business is not for everyone. In Steve case
    consider lowering your expectation and take up part time
    work while you look for better opportunities.
    Think positive always and dont give up.

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