One year, 50 applications before he gets first job

One year, 50 applications before he gets first job
Mr Sin Xin Yi says it is more difficult for arts and social sciences graduates like himself to land a job upon graduation. Photo: Jason Quah
Published: 4:00 AM, February 23, 2017
Updated: 10:56 AM, February 23, 2017

SINGAPORE — When it came to job hunting, Mr Sin Xin Yi believed he had it down pat — a stellar co-curricular record, good grades, strong social skills, and a positive work attitude.

Alas, it took the 26-year-old almost one year and nearly 50 applications before he landed his first and current job — a project management executive at a research organisation.

“I felt demoralised, especially when people around me started landing jobs,” said Mr Sin, who graduated with a second class upper honours in psychology from the National University of Singapore.

“Personally, I thought I was a strong candidate for the job because I really prepared a lot for each interview and the process was pretty positive,” he told TODAY.

But then rejection letters came his direction, sometimes after the first interview; occasionally at the follow-up interviews with senior management, and it would be back to the drawing board.

Mr Sin said he had started the job-hunting process early, in February last year, even before graduation.

His reason: It is more difficult for arts and social sciences graduates like himself to land a job upon graduation.

Mr Sin said he had wanted to work in the research field, and had applied for research jobs in the civil service, as well as in sectors such as the social services and oil and gas industries.

He added that his peers from the university who had found jobs early on tended to land jobs not related to their disciplines. Those in a similar predicament as Mr Sin were graduates who had wanted a more specific field of work, such as research.

During the period when he was getting a lot of rejection letters, Mr Sin said he found solace in knowing that “good things need to go, for better things to come”, and so he pressed on. At that point, he was willing to switch industries just to get a job.

Then one day, Lady Luck came knocking, with an employment letter in hand. Mr Sin got his current job early this year, after applying for it on a job search website.

Looking back on the experience, he said: “I think it made me more appreciative of my current job. I am thankful that I had to go through all this, because I like where I am now.”

Mr Sin said he was “not surprised” by the news that fewer graduates secured permanent employment, given the tougher and more competitive job market.

He has this advice for this year’s graduating batch of students who might have concerns about a weak job market. “Work on how you present yourself, make yourself relevant to the job, and capitalise on your internship or work experiences.”