Problem looking for a job? Maybe the problem lies with you…

There’s this blog post that is floating around written by a young lady that talks about the five obstacles she faced in her job search as a fresh graduate (I don’t like the post, so shall not dignify it by linking to it here). What the post was really about was a rant five things that made her job hunting process painful. These included employers asking for the following:

  • Her O- and A-level results, and having her fill in her results and her personal information in long forms with many pages
  • Interviewers who asked her questions about things that she has already written about in her resume (e.g. her internships)
  • Interviewers who appear boastful, some showing off who else applied for the role she applied for and others proclaiming to be experts in their fields

She also complained that there isn’t enough entry level PMET jobs and there is glut of graduates, blaming the competition from foreign talent as a contributing factor.

It’s not frightening that this young lady feels this way. What is frightening is that what she writes is fairly popular amongst a certain age group, implying that what she writes resonate with the ethos of that age group.

And that is worrying.

If someone finds it too much of a hassle to fill in all the forms, then maybe that person doesn’t want that job badly enough. If telling people about your O- and A-level grades is beneath you, then perhaps you don’t really want that job anyway. If you don’t see interviewers asking you about things in your resume as an excellent opportunity to explain and elaborate more about why you are a good fit for the job, then perhaps you don’t really want that job badly enough. If  you don’t see boastful interviewers as an opportunity for you to show off yourself too, then perhaps you truly aren’t good enough for the job.

And if anyone in Singapore blames foreign talent about the lack of job opportunities, then perhaps he ought to go and meet some of these foreign talents. Better yet, see how they work here and in their home countries. I have worked with a number of foreigners, both in Singapore and in other countries. They are HUNGRY! They work so much harder than many Singaporeans and are willing to be paid a lot less. If we stop them from coming to work here in Singapore, then, in this very open and porous world, companies would simply leave.

So rather than complain about these foreign talents, wouldn’t it be much better to think about how we can be better than them and present potential employers with a much better value proposition such that we are much more attractive hires than the foreign talent? Or is that too difficult for the young jobseeker to do?

Then, if indeed there is a shortage of entry level PMET jobs compared to the glut of graduates, then the question is… who asked you to be a graduate in the first place? Why should anyone guarantee that being a graduate would make you have a good paying PMET job? No one owes you a living.

And finally, if there isn’t a job that you like, then… instead of complaining about it, why don’t you go and create that job instead? Why not start something that creates that perfect job for yourself and also creates jobs for other people?

“Oh… because it is so difficult in Singapore. The environment is not conducive for people to take risks. I don’t have enough resources. Blah blah blah…” they would say. Excuses brought on by a lack of passion.

“Oh but we are passionate! There are so many things we love to do!” Bullshit. Passion is not about what you want to achieve. It is what you are willing to sacrifice and suffer for. The word “passion” has its roots in the Greek verb πασχω meaning to suffer. It is an compelling enthusiasm and desire for something. So compelling that would drive the person to be willing to suffer and sacrifice anything for it.  Are our youths willing to suffer for that which they claim to be passionate about? If they are, they wouldn’t be complaining.

I agree, having something that you are passionate about is something terrifying. I know. I am suffering now. And we are worried if the time is right to act on our passion. My answer is – start now. The going may be tough. But the victory will be all the sweeter because of it.

So. If you are a jobseeker (young or otherwise) and finding it tough to find a job, don’t complain. If having a job is really so important for you, find a way. If there is something you are truly passionate about, go suffer for it. Don’t wait. Do it. Now.

[Featured Image: ST file photo]


12 thoughts on “Problem looking for a job? Maybe the problem lies with you…

  1. I don’t understand you and, frankly, I think this post is deluded.

    You can see the world’s economy slowing down. You can tell we’re on the brink of a recession. You know that jobs are going to be harder to come by and over the next 2-3 years, jobseekers are going to get squeezed in a way that hasn’t happened since 2008.

    If our young people are complaining (no matter for what reason) and they are unhappy with the job market, maybe you should realise it could be some sort of signaling function. After all, fresh grads and under 30s are at the most attractive stage of their careers – they have energy and don’t command a high pay. If they have trouble finding jobs, it’s like the canary in the coal mine. It’s not going to stop with them. The problem is going to affect the rest of us too.

    I see you like foreign workers. In fact, I guess you’re one of three things; 1) an employer who rubs his hands with glee when wages fall and Singaporeans get squeezed harder and harder, 2) someone in the civil service who has no care about the job market cause your rice bowl is iron, or 3) too rich to care. For the rest of us, we care about our youth. We want them to do well in stable, fulfilling jobs. We want them to be the best they can be.

    Finally, you think no one owes them a living. In some sense you’re right. They don’t get welfare spending like the USA. They can’t claim for a minimum wage. And that’s okay.

    However, I’d like to remind you that the Singaporean core value is not ‘no one owes you a living’. It’s ‘no one owes Singapore a living’. Remember we’re a community. We’re supposed to look out for each other. Help each other. Work with each other and make Singapore as successful a place as possible, no matter young or old, rich or poor. And here you are, arguing that Singaporean jobs should be filled by foreign workers earning half our pay, refusing to understand that in studying for a degree all they want is a better life for themselves, having the audacity to say that ‘passion’ is sacrifice and then turning to say that you should shut up don’t complain and keep working when they talk about bigger dreams like PMET.

    Mover over. Your time is past.


    • I’ve not said anywhere that the jobs should be filled by foreigners. I am saying that unless our youths Buck up, job opportunities WILL leave Singapore.

      I agree that we ought to help each other. But ask yourself whether that is what the youths believe, or whether more of them have a selfish sense of self-entitlement? I’m not saying all are, but many are like that. And that attitude is part of the problem.

      Indeed you are right. When youths find it difficult to get jobs, that is like the canaries in a mine dying. But you are wrong in your assessment. The problem is multifaceted – from global slowdown, changes in the economies around us, and the attitudes of youths themselves.

      Getting a degree is no guarantee for a good job. No laws of nature guarantee that. If our youths think that way (and many do), then that is part of the problem.

      I’m not sure what your background is. Have you worked with Singaporean youths before? Have you worked with youths from other countries before? Are you a business owner? If you are an employer and you see someone who is willing to do more and do better for less compared to someone who does the bare minimum, whines and complains and still dares to ask for higher pay, who would you hire?

      If our youths want to ensure that they have a good future, they ought to wake up to the reality that they are competing with the rest of the world. They aren’t just competing with foreign talent who come to Singapore. They are working with youths in other countries too. And to ensure their future, to fulfil their dreams, Singapore youths need to have a can-do spirit, stop complaining and whining so much, want something, just fight their asses off and do whatever it takes to get it. Otherwise, their dreams will remain just that. Dreams. Never realised. Dreaming but just complaining and not willing to put their noses to the grindstone will not get them their dreams.

      That is the what the world is. Anyone who thinks otherwise, is completely and utterly deluded.


    • I’m afraid that if you retain this mindset, it will be you whose time is over. Singapore’s advantage has been widely discussed; stable and business friendly environment, a well educated and productive workforce, good infrastructure. What else? Singapore doesn’t have any natural resources to build an industry on nor a domestic market large enough to attract large foreign companies. Most of the MNCs in Singapore set up shop not just to do business in Singapore but rather as a base of operations for doing business in SEA. Take away our openness, stability and competitiveness, would there be a compelling reason to stay when cost of doing business is much lower elsewhere. Do you think our friendly neighbors will ask them to stay away? Do you think MSC, Iskander is to help Singapore grow?

      As for taking half the salary, do you honestly think foreign PMETs are living it up here? They have to pay for rental, they pay more tax as they don’t get subsidies and no goodies from the government even. Add the levies in place, the cost of the foreign PMET is almost equal. At the higher end, they might have skills or experiences attractive to employers. Why then do companies employ them at the lower end of the market? Because they are hungry. Hungry and hardworking. The only way to compete is to be as good or better than them.

      Singapore has benefited greatly from globalization, FDI helped spurred our economy from the 70s, foreign aid has helped our development and not to mention our ports which exists because of global trade. As a result, we have to compete with the world because you can’t just take the good and try to shut out the bad.

      Your categorization of people in simple stereotypes is small-mined and narrow. I like foreigners but I do not fall into any of those categories, if not for them, the companies I work for would not set up shop in Singapore, I would not have been able to get a position in a global firm. I would not have had the opportunities to travel the world and see for myself how big the world is and I would never have the appreciation of how good we have it in Singapore.

      We are fortunate enough to be born in an environment where all of us are given equal opportunities to succeed. Whether you do it or not, is up to yourself

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ok I think I’ll make 3 points and 2 further points in postscript.

        1) Firstly, I agree with you that entitlement in itself is wrong. At the nub entitlement happens when expectation far exceed reality.

        2) Secondly, I disagree that entitlement is a real problem. I say this for two reasons. Firstly, truly entitled people self-select themselves out of the market. If they don’t want the job they’ll just sit on their hands and whinge. No reason to care about them. However, on this definition, we can’t say that people who merely complain, but get the job done are entitled. The true test of entitlement is not whining. It’s whether they do the work.

        3) Thirdly i think the biggest problem with the article is that you think people should stop chasing PMET jobs, and that those who do are entitled. You want them to settle for ‘less’ and stop complaining that they can’t get these jobs. But, see, chasing good jobs shows that our youth are trying to improve themselves. Who cares if they’re complaining? People need to let off steam sometimes. In fact, I think these people who are searching for good jobs are the ones who we should support and help. The real competition is not at the level of cafe waiters/store managers. That’s just the service industry. The real competition is in sectors like finance, biotechnology, high end manufacturing, legal, medicine – all the degrees that people are chasing. While having great service staff is nice, we need the best fund managers to compete internationally and helm the local arms of MNCs (something that has not happened for many industries).

        Calling them entitled and asking them to change jobs because there’s a shortage of PMET jobs and ‘we don’t owe them a living’ stops them from finding these careers that Singapore needs to grow. We need a new generation of productive, highly skilled PMETs that are internationally recognised, and we should help them get there. Don’t just call them entitled when they chase good jobs and mock them, saying that foreigners are going to take all their jobs for less. Our youth need the training to be the best they can be for Singapore’s future.

        Postscript 1) A strong labor force (read: youths with good jobs) boosts future consumption as wages increase, and is one of the drivers for our economy. While, admittedly, local consumption isn’t particularly high compared to export driven profit, it provides a nice cushion in the event of a recession.

        Postscript 2) If you trace government/social education over the past decade, you’ll realise that the attractiveness of these PMET jobs have been drummed into our collective consciousness. How many times have you heard primary school teachers telling your children that if you don’t study you’ll end up as a road sweeper/work in Macdonalds/go to ITE? Small wonder our youth want to work as PMET.


      • Hmm, how is the Singaporean market “competitive”? Actually, if u look at the MNCs here, they aren’t really the ones known for innovation. And to push singapore into the next dimension, Singaporeans must demonstrate that they are willing to take risks in the name of innovation. Sadly, i don’t see this happening.


      • Not seeing something doesn’t mean it’s not true. Singapore’s economic clout is very disproportionately large for our population and size, our GDP is among the highest in the world, we have been ranked either 1st or 2nd in competitiveness. Competitiveness is not just about technology.

        I’ll concede you that in terms of innovation, we are not on the forefront but I think it’s due to critical mass, we don’t have a market big enough to launch big, radical ideas in. Most major internet innovations were launched in big markets which allowed them to reach critical mass fast to capture the global market.


    • Honestly speaking, many wants from these young adults (20s) are delusional:
      1. A job with attractive package and compensation
      2. A job that allows them to knock off on time
      3. A job that allows them to climb the corporate ladder

      Of course all these are legit criterias and if you have worked in HR dept or the job agencies, you would have heard of how some of these ‘promising young adults’ fled the companies within a few months or some even within the day itself. It is no wonder some companies wanted ppl who have a reasonably long experience for entry positions.

      There are some really good employees among the young adults and fresh graduates, that i am sure. There are some loopholes in our economy where we can plug. What i believe is that young adults should plunge and create what they dream of instead of yakking about the horrors and be a keyboard warrior. If we can channel these energies to good use, we’ll have a better country and tomorrow.


  2. As a HR Practitioner, I’ve come across many young interns and seasoned professionals in my course of work. I would say nowadays for those who were born in the 90s have a greater capacity for multi-tasking and are very tech savvy as compared to their predecessors (myself included).

    They benefit from the new curriculum that is being taught in schools which gives them exposure to programs like Microsoft Office way back in Secondary schools, PCs and notebooks are now widespread on school campuses due to e-learning. This is vastly different back in my days for someone from the 80s.

    For those who are born in the 60s or 70s it is a steep learning curve as they lack the competitive edge which was given to the younger generation in the form of school curriculum and also with the rise of social networking sites such as FB, Twitter, WhatsApp and Twitter etc.

    I’ve personally witnessed how a university intern bested my tenured compensation & benefits colleague on a Excel spreadsheet using macros and H indexing and completing a piece of work that will normally take at least 2 hours to complete in just 45 minutes.

    Nowadays its not uncommon to see toddlers playing games on Ipads and tablets thus the next generation of kids will be even more au fait with new and upcoming technology which is a plus point for them with the advent of many enterprise resource planning programs which many MNCs are adopting and changing at a rapid rate.

    The only drawback these group of aspiring young people may face is their short attention span, idealistic ideas on “work life balance” and being fixated on landing a “high paying”job from the start?

    As for the FTs, I’ve met my fair share of NATO (No Action Talk Only) subjects who were very good at articulating and conceptualising ideas but unable to implementing most if not all of their work goals and some on the opposite end of the spectrum, who walk the talk and deliver the goods on time.

    So on the part of FTs can be summed up in one sentence, “Good & Fast, Won’t Be Cheap. Cheap & Good, Won’t Be Fast. Fast & Cheap, Won’t Be Good.” At the end of the day it all depends on what the prospective employer is looking for?

    I am quite sure if you can prove your worth on the job market in the particular industry that you’re in, eventually you will be able to command a premium over your peers should you establish yourself as a reliable employee who stays ahead of the game in line with the rapidly changing business climate.


    • Erm, 80s kid here. I was taught how to use computers in secondary school and by the time it was to undertake tertiary education, it was all about the computers. Sure, they were a lot more bulky, but we had MP3 players. In fact, 80s kids were at the forefront of the WWW. Think napster, IRC, Netscape(!!!!). We had to learn how to navigate the WWW ourselves. Being self taught is better than being spoon fed.

      Actually, i would argue that the 90s kids are too reliant on IT. Ask them to conduct research and they won’t know how to navigate through a library, to thumb through books. REAL BOOKS. They expect fast results, with the click of a mouse. Ok wadeva.


  3. @Robert you missed my point entirely, I’m not asking young people not to find jobs as PMETs, I’m just saying that they need to be better and more competitive. To your points;

    1. The definition of entitlement is “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”
    2. By expecting high salaries, good benefits and easy jobs just because you are Singaporean and have a degree is a sense of entitlement in itself. If you are a boss, would you promote the hardworking responsible and enthusiastic employee or a person who complains about low pay unwilling to take up extra work and knocks off on the dot?
    3. PMET jobs are not in short supply, I get emails and calls from headhunters weekly. It is people at junior levels who are unwilling to take on so-called lower positions. I started out my career 13 yrs ago as an NOC/Helpdesk operator; someone who sits at a desk and take calls from angry people with a paltry salary of $1400/mth. My salary for the 1st 5 years was less than $2500. However, the experience and reputation I established, plus upgrading myself with a part-time degree led to an offer from a former manager with a 100% increment and a regional role. My salary has more than doubled since.

    To your postscripts;

    Without an open market, or foreign investments to drive out economy, there wouldn’t be a strong labour force as there wouldn’t be enough jobs for everyone. Singapore has a native population of ~3million and has to import almost everything for domestic consumption. If you want an example of how thin that “cushion” is, take a look at Greece.

    Of course we want youths to be PMETs, good jobs, earn more money but realistically, we need to look at ability and aptitude. If you work hard, get good grades and get a good degree, it’ll probably be easier to get a starting job as a PMET. If you don’t, then take the other route like i did, rise from below. The only thing holding a person back is his ability and drive


  4. @Robert Thia

    I think you have misunderstood what I was trying to say. And I think I know what caused that misunderstanding. It was the line “who asked you to be a graduate in the first place?”

    I never meant that our youths should lower their sights. In fact, the thrust of my article is the opposite. Our youths OUGHT to aim high. REALLY high. And match the lofty goal with a whole lot of hard and smart work.

    I was expressing hope that our youths, rather than complain about the lack of PMET jobs, would actively do things to bring the jobs here (by somehow showing the whole world that they would make fantastic hires and would add immense unbeatable value to the companies) or better yet create the jobs (by being entrepreneurs or technopreneurs). Both of these would require our youths to be willing to work really hard and smart. Both of these would require our youths to have grit, tenacity, ingenuity, initiative. Both of these would require youths to complain and whine less. And only when our youths do all these will there be good paying, meaningful and fulfilling jobs (PMET or otherwise) for them.

    I agree that not all our youths are complainers and whiners. I know many youths who are smart and hard workers. I know some who have busted their asses to set up some quite successful businesses. They didn’t wait for things to happen. They made things happen. No task is too big or too small for them to do so long as doing that task advances them towards their goal. So. Yes. We need more of our youths to be like that. I believe that with the business climate here in Singapore, if more of our youths are like those that I just mentioned, then the PMET jobs will come back.

    Liked by 1 person

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