[guestpost]This is a guest post by Daniel Tay. He is the co-founder & managing director of With Content, a content marketing agency helping tech companies create credible, authoritative content on topics that matter to potential customers.[/guestpost]
Unemployment in Singapore is higher than ever.
The most recent Ministry of Manpower (MOM) report released on June 15th shows that the unemployment rate among Singaporeans rose from 3.3 to 3.5%—the highest it has been in a decade. No wonder fresh graduates are feeling worried about their future.
In response to these trying times, the government has partnered with thousands of Singaporean businesses to boost hiring, provide support, and create new opportunities for people. The SGUnited Traineeships program is one example (more on that later).
Another is the Young NTUC LIT XChange, which aims to provide a safe platform for youths who are looking to take on traineeship programmes to network, share their experiences, and get resources and useful content to help them in their traineeship journey.
This dire situation for fresh graduates has many turning to other options to stay afloat and advance their career. There are plenty of other avenues for you to explore if you find yourself in a dire situation, such as internships, traineeships, gap years, online classes and courses, and more.
If you still wish to continue your search
If you have the support system and savings to continue your job search, there are a number of immediate steps you can take.
Take another look at your resume
Your resume is your very first impression—even before you walk in the door or pop into a Zoom call for an interview. If you’ve sent many job applications but no one has bitten yet, it might be time to review this important document.
A resume is an advertisement for yourself—you want to convince companies that, if they give you a chance, you’ll make meaningful contributions to their business.
A good resume is straightforward, easy-to-read, and persuasive. Use a standard font, font size, and font colour, too. Though a well-designed resume (like those created on Canva) can look stylish, the design shouldn’t get in the way of the information an employer needs to make their decision.
Keep the information on your resume helpful and straightforward. Include relevant details that can help your employer learn about you as an individual and a candidate.
Rather than only listing your education history, for example, list some of your activities and highlights during your university career. Were you a leader in a co-curricular activity? Have you proven yourself to be capable in certain classes or positions? Talk about your experiences and your unique strengths to differentiate yourself from the rest.
Before you restart your job search, ask people you trust—like a teacher, family member, or a good friend who has successfully gained employment—to look over your new-and-improved resume.
Build your network
Lots of people loathe networking for how schmoozy it seems—like you’re kissing butts and being fake-nice just to get ahead. But what if you changed your perspective?
Think of it this way: by building your network, you won’t just be gaining information or getting help from other people. Networking is also a chance to share your own experiences and provide support to others.
Here’s a tip: when you meet new people, whether online or offline, show genuine interest in what they’re doing. Rather than focusing on yourself and how they can help you, be authentic and engaged in their recent achievements. Congratulate them on LinkedIn or Facebook—wherever you’re connected—and build friendly relationships over time.
This will pay off in the future when you’re in need of help. By being there for others, you’re making connections that one day will be there for you.
Do some volunteer work
Sometimes the job search just proves to be totally impossible in the short-term.
Volunteering can be a great way to keep yourself busy, gain some experience, and prove to future employers that you were productive during the pandemic.
A study by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteering boosts an unemployed person’s probability of getting hired by 27%.
While doing community service, you’ll meet a lot of people and hear many humbling stories, and you’ll also develop soft skills that can benefit you later on in the professional workforce.
In some cases, you may even find that you enjoy volunteering so much that you want to start a social good startup or pursue a career in an NGO.
Develop new skills with online classes
Sometimes we need to pad our portfolio in order to get more serious attention from employers. And sometimes, we need to gain new skills to prove that we have what it takes.
Demand is high for tech and digital knowledge and expertise—think AI, digital marketing, UI/UX design, and app development.
There are many free online classes for these in-demand skills on sites like Udemy and edX. There are also full-fledged courses designed to help you launch into a completely new career upon completion—Udacity’s online Nanodegrees offer certifications in fields like data science, AI, and cloud computing.
Locally, the NTUC Learning Hub provides online courses, and members can take advantage of the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) to defray costs. You may even be able to earn as you train with a program like the SkillsFuture Work-Study Post-Diploma, where Polytechnics fresh graduates can learn as they grow.
If you are seeking employment ASAP
Explore other areas or industries
Sometimes, we enter an industry or pursue a degree that we think we’ll like, even though we don’t have much practical experience in the field. Then, part of the way through our degree, we realise we don’t enjoy it as much as we thought we would.
Or maybe you’ve tried a few internships in your original industry, only to realise that it isn’t what you want. This isn’t a failure—it’s bringing you one step closer to where you’re meant to be.
Take an internship
An internship is a three- to six-month period of employment where you try out several different entry-level positions or responsibilities at a company. Internships tend to offer a small stipend—sometimes just a few hundred dollars per month if anything—but they are a great way to gain experience.
One of the benefits of internships is that you can get a taste of what a specific industry is like. Because their durations are shorter than traineeships, you can explore many different industries and companies to discover what’s right for you.
And if you land an internship at an enjoyable company and do your best, you may be lucky enough to be offered a full-time position.
Or try a traineeship
Traineeships have been around for a while, but the SGUnited Traineeship program is a new government-sponsored initiative from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) to help job seekers. These traineeships are based in technical industries and offer you a chance to learn while doing.
Traineeships must be paid, but the pandemic has made it tough for many companies to pay employees. In this program, the Singaporean government funds 80% of the required training allowance, while the host organisation funds the remaining 20%. If you do get a traineeship, you’ll be compensated at least $1500 per month.
There are over 11,000 traineeships on Singapore’s official online job portal—www.mycareersfuture.sg—and there are plenty of virtual career fairs, too.
You have to be eligible for certain criteria to apply for an SGUnited traineeship:
- Be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident; and
- Have graduated or are graduating in the calendar year 2019 or 2020 from ITEs, polytechnics, universities, or other educational institutions (e.g. private universities and overseas institutions); or
- Graduated earlier from above institutions and completed National Service in 2019 or 2020.
This means that those not fitting these requirements will have to turn to other alternatives for now.
Take any job that becomes available
Not everyone has the luxury to wait for a job that’s worth their talents.
Many of us have family members to support and bills to pay, and sometimes, we must be realistic and take the jobs that are available—even if they pay less than we’d hoped for.
You can still consider pursuing online classes or added certifications during your off-hours or talk to your employer to see if there are any extended learning opportunities available for you.
The key is to stay productive
Regardless of what you choose to do during this time, it’s essential to stay productive.
So much of your decision depends on your socioeconomic circumstances, so don’t feel guilty for doing what’s right for you and your family.
As long as you do your best to grow your skills and talents during these months, the right future employer will respect your hustle and commitment.