Today I have completed a hundred days in the state of unemployment. It can be safely termed as ‘the strangest century’ I have ever scored. Raising my bat, I thank my friends and well-wishers who have been part of this run – working tirelessly to get me a job, emailing out my CV, calling up their influential contacts, sending me job opportunity advertisements and assuring me time to time, that it’s just a matter of time.
Aside from the unique circumstances, it has been a strange phase in my life considering I never ever needed to search for a job before August 2018. My first two jobs came when I still in my Engineering & MBA college campuses, respectively. The only other job change I went through was courtesy the best boss I ever worked with – An Australian by the name of David. It also meant the Goliath in me never ever needed to make any serious structured curriculum vitae (CV) or register on job sites till date. In fact the only reason I maintained my LinkedIn profile was just to keep in touch with people who are not on other social media platforms and of course, for a rainy day.
That rainy day never arrived; but a tsunami, cyclone and incessant thunder and lightening arrived; a hundred days ago. Depending on which side of the fence people are sitting, everyone has a unique view of this continued state of unemployment.
There are many rationale reasons to this.
- The job market is a difficult one and will continue to decrease in its scope as the world moves more and more towards automation. That said, the self-employed market (start-ups, freelancing, contract based, online methods) and the passive earning options are increasing at a rate faster than the rate of decrease of traditional jobs. But then, how many expats, sole earners in their family, in the line of fire, after hundred days without unemployment, with kids responsibilities, with a finger on the panic button to return to homeland, with a constant calculation on how much money can be saved and taken back and coming from a family where ‘job’ is considered the ultimate ‘karma’, dare to alter their routes at such a juncture.
- The next harsh reality is that senior or mid-senior level jobs seldom come via the normal job search process – ie send your CV, await a call, go through various rounds of interviews etc. Most jobs at that level are finalized either over a round of golf, tennis, table of alcoholic drinks, cups of coffee or worse – the incoming candidate is pre-decided even before the job advertisement is sent out as part of the formal process. So that reduces the odds a lot; and you are really dependant on your contacts to get you hooked somewhere. On the funny side, I don’t drink alcohol or coffee and neither play tennis or golf!
- The last reason is the last quarter (of the year) – the toughest timeline for job seekers. Typically all (small and) big companies freeze their annual budgets by the month of September and only re-start regular hiring from (the following) February onwards. This is also because employee attrition is always low towards the end of the year and increases after the annual bonuses are doled out in the early months of the following year. It is logical that employees stay around during the low activity holiday season (Nov-Dec), collect their bonuses and increment letters in February and move onto the next organization with better bank balance and bargaining powers.
Does loyalty mean much?
I personally have not made any such opportunistic move in my entire career. The only job change I underwent was in the month of August. An 18 years long work experience was only with three different corporate – as loyal in this modern age as one can get. But does loyalty pay? Do people stand by you in your most crucial time for the hours and nights you have given to them? Do they remember how much your work has benefitted their organizations or departments? 18 years of work experience anyways gets reduced to a one-pager CV. If you calculate by working hours, that’s roughly 50,000 hours of your life or about 50% of your life (not counting for sleeping hours) given to the corporate …all reduced to one piece of paper.
The same people for whom you slogged late nights, weekends; picked their phones or answered emails, amidst your sleep, or in between a vacation; would no longer be actively remembering you, calling you or bothering to give you another opportunity. Unfortunately, that’s the accepted norm these days. You work on a project for two years, work closely and dine together with a set of colleagues for two years. The day you are moved to another project, you start forgetting the names of the ones you worked with before. Loyalty doesn’t mean much.
The efforts put so far
The people unaware of the ‘rationale realities’ (mentioned above) can be forgiven for thinking that maybe I am not making enough efforts. Maybe I am just a tad too happy with the separation from my previous employer and hoping for a job to walk in. That’s not true. In the last hundred days, at an average of applying ten jobs per day, I would have easily applied for 1000+ jobs till today. I have applied to jobs across Asia (minus India), jobs which pay much lesser than my last pay and jobs that may just help me sustain. And yet the situation refuses to change. Add to that a conservative number of 100-150 friends who would have spoken and sent my CV to influential people. Assuming another conservative number of each friend sending my CV atleast to five desks (and God bless my friends for doing the same and standing by me), that makes another 500-750 places my CV would have been thrust in. If 100 days, 1000+ applications and 750+ referrals can’t change my state, what are the chances that the next hundred days with similar efforts would make any material difference?
Apart from the law of probability, of course. That may be the only positive thing I can hold onto for now – while racing against time for the tide to turn. Or racking my head on the trade-off question – How long should I continue the job search in an expensive land or should I save money and return to my homeland? It’s true with every rejection, the probability of getting a job is increasing. Hence my best bet remains that I need to keep the fight on… at the least to tell my kids, well wishers and friends that I fought till I could fight. That I left no stone unturned, approached the government authorities, sought every tool the system has made to re-instate the unemployed and knocked every possible door of hope.
Singapore Job search sites
For the benefit of my readers who may seek jobs at Singapore, these are the leading websites and my rating of their effectiveness.
- LinkedIn – The Facebook of jobs but when was the last time Facebook ever solved a problem. I want to meet someone who got a senior position job via LinkedIn. The software has the best marketing skills and it did help in many unknown people look for me and contact me. But in terms of real job interviews, it scored a zero for me.
- JobsTech.co – This is an aggregator site, the Skyscanner of jobs. It’s a must use site although the features are not as friendly compared to its rivals. It is effective.
- Monster.com.sg – Easy to use, effective, huge database of jobs and recommended.
- efinancialcareers.sg – Easy to use, effective, decent database or only financial jobs and recommended for people seeking jobs in financial world.
- Michael Page – Easy to use but has very limited jobs and for me, I didn’t get ay interview via this site so wont recommend.
- Glassdoor – Not the easiest to navigate but has large database of jobs, particularly at junior levels.
Is society losing rationale?
The last set of people sitting on the fence are effectively… the majority. Who will dismiss any argument under the carpet –
“Oh yes. Getting a job will be impossible after this”
“Oh yes, he shouldn’t have done this”
…well don’t we all know? Or don’t I know it by now?
The question here is ‘How long should society be punishing someone for an error of this nature’? Unfortunately, we are in the 2010s when amidst an avalanche of Whatsapp messages, people are too occupied to brainstorm on a topic in-depth. Every topic gets dismissed or diluted within three minutes. You meet someone and try to explain your pain and the likelihood is that the supposed listener has started talking well before you have finished. And, either the topic got diluted, within three minutes, with the listener rattling on about a personal experience (of a vastly lesser magnitude) or closing the topic with some random advices.
I want to ask them – so what should be the extent one pays for an unintended, random forward post, already in circulation, post an apology and after being cleared by authorities? Should every trolled person be left jobless lifelong? One could be trolled for going through a divorce, wearing a short dress, involved in a neighbourhood argument or even passing a comment in jest? Should the punishment for a social media post be same as siphoning off funds, molesting a lady, beating a neighbour or conspiring against a colleague at work? Why should corporate punish a person after the state has closed the matter? Does corporate stop hiring someone who has got warned for breaking a traffic signal? Is corporate bigger than the law of the land? Is society removing the size of the mistake concept? Are trollers the new lawmakers? Should any trolled kid, be left with no school willing to take him/her lifelong? Why do corporate, institutions or branded schools chicken out so fast despite all the power of money, slew of lawyers, influencers and robust brand on their side? Why can’t they go the mile for the sake of people or for society? Why is it when I tell my situation upfront, with utter honesty and transparency, does a massive organization freeze?
How long do I wait for a corporate to turn warm, gather guts and stand up?