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Jobseekers’ Diaries: After a year of job searching and the darkest period of my life, I feel more hopeful now

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, former marketing and communications manager Richard Khoo, 39, describes how 2020 was the darkest period of his life after he lost his father and then got retrenched. The sole breadwinner turned to delivering food to support his family and is still looking for a job a year on.

Jobseekers’ Diaries: After a year of job searching and the darkest period of my life, I feel more hopeful now

Former marketing and communications manager Richard Khoo, 39, describes how 2020 was the darkest period of his life after he lost his father and then got retrenched.

As jobs are a top concern for Singaporeans in the Covid-19 crisis, TODAY’s Voices section is publishing first-hand accounts from jobseekers in which they reflect on their experiences and what keeps them going.

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, former marketing and communications manager Richard Khoo, 39, describes how 2020 was the darkest period of his life after he lost his father and then got retrenched. The sole breadwinner turned to delivering food to support his family and is still looking for a job a year on.  

 

I had a good start to 2020. I welcomed my second child and the automobile company that I was working for got listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 dampened everything. The company was not allowed to fully operate during the circuit breaker, and we suffered pay cuts. 

Some of my colleagues were also asked to leave, which left me in a precarious position, and I worried about my future in this company daily.

I reached rock bottom when my father passed away in July 2020, and two months later, I got retrenched. That was the darkest period of my life. My days were filled with frustrations. I struggled to move on.

However, as the sole breadwinner of my family of four, I had to pick myself up. 

I could not afford to be jobless. I tried everything  possible, from turning to online job portals and recruitment agencies to reaching out to personal contacts.

Over the next six months, I applied for close to 500 jobs related to marketing, business development and product management. 

In all, I was invited for only three job interviews, but nothing materialised. I questioned my self-worth and wondered why I was the unlucky one to have been struck with multiple negative events in a short span of time.

To support my family’s expenses, I turned to doing food delivery in November 2020. I started off by riding a bicycle, but it was physically tough. 

I then switched to an e-bike (power-assisted bicycle) which allowed me to complete more deliveries.

During this time, I continued to search for a full-time job. I would use my break time to search for jobs online and that led me to chance upon a Facebook advertisement about WSG Careers Connect, which was how I got to know my career coach Joey.

For a while, I was more focused on increasing my earnings as a delivery rider. I upgraded to a motorcycle and saw my earnings increase. I failed to see how Joey could help me, but she kept in touch with me even though I wasn’t forthcoming.

Two months on, touched by her efforts to help me, I became more receptive to her.  

Joey advised me to update my resume and signed me up for workshops to improve my job search techniques as well as to expand my network.

Leveraging LinkedIn and past connections, I started receiving more relevant job opportunities from old contacts, recruiters and referrals as well. Meeting fellow jobseekers at a WSG workshop has also made me feel that I am not alone in this journey.

Though my job search is still not over, the past few months have given my confidence a great boost.

While I am still doing my food deliveries, I am hopeful of finding a full-time job soon.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mr Richard Khoo, 39, has been working as a food deliveryman after he was retrenched from his marketing and communications role at an automobile company in 2020. With working experience with a giant IT firm and the support of his career coach from WSG Careers Connect, he has found a few leads in the IT sector and hopes to end his search for a full-time job soon.

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Jobseekers' Diaries career work food delivery

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