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Jobseekers’ Diaries: I was retrenched but going back to school in my 50s helped me get a new job

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, Mr Jonathan Wan, 53, recounts being laid off from his job overseeing operations at an events company in October 2020 and sending in some 80 job applications over the next nine months. Even though nothing panned out, he kept his chin up and signed up for two six-month courses in HR which eventually helped him to find a job in a new industry. 

Jobseekers’ Diaries: I was retrenched but going back to school in my 50s helped me get a new job
The writer was let go in October 2020 and found a job only in August 2021.
Jonathan Wan

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, Mr Jonathan Wan, 53, recounts being laid off from his job overseeing operations at an events company in October 2020 and sending in some 80 job applications over the next nine months. Even though nothing panned out, he kept his chin up and signed up for two six-month courses in HR which eventually helped him to find a job in a new industry. 

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was working as head of operational support services for an events company. This involved arriving in a foreign country where we held exhibitions to set up operations before the main team arrived.

But as Covid-19 caused global air travel to ground to a halt, my employer decided to cut jobs and I was made redundant in October 2020.

Dusting off my curriculum vitae (CV) from cold storage was initially exciting as I had not seen it for some time but updating it was tedious as you now had to customise each one for a specific role.

Not one to bow down to challenges, I researched and read up on current trends in CV presentation and writing.

Over the next nine months, I sent my CV to nearly 80 firms, mostly customised to the specific role I was applying for.

Only a handful of these firms responded and interviews were scarce.

I guessed it could have been my age, at over 50, and the size of my last drawn salary which threw them off, even though many have advocated competency over age and salary.

I kept a positive outlook and considered several government schemes to study a new domain with the hope of finding a new job. 

Information technology and digital media were the craze. But a friend highlighted a human resource-related programme for mid-career people such as me.

I had a look and decided that HR covers many different areas and being keen in training and coaching, I embarked on the six-month SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme by SkillsFuture Singapore in February 2021.

In the same month, I also made use of the SkillsFuture credits to take up the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications Advanced Certificate in Learning and Performance (ACLP) conducted by the Institute of Adult Learning.

It was literally back to school twice over for me, day classes on HR, and evening and weekend classes for the seven-month long ACLP.

I concurrently cast my net wide to look at HR as well as learning and development job opportunities. I worked on my LinkedIn profile and posted more online.

I also reached out to my course facilitators for career guidance and advice as well as to friends.

To my blessing, a National Service pal offered me a temporary role in talent acquisition for a couple of months last year.

Towards the end of both my programmes, I saw a job opening in the learning and development field that a close friend’s contact had posted on LinkedIn.

I managed to secure the job after a couple of interviews and started my role as a training project manager for training firm Cegos APAC in August 2021 doing what I love.

Looking back, my job search has turned out well. But only those who have been through it will know what the anxiety can be like.

Having a growth mindset helps and hopefully things will only get better for jobseekers amid a more positive global economic outlook.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Jonathan Wan, 53, had an exciting career in the hospitality and travel industry, with stints working in hotels, clubs, food and beverage outlets and events management. Despite being retrenched in October 2020, he adopted a growth mindset and retrained to become a learning and development specialist in August last year.

If you are a jobseeker with an experience to share or know someone who wishes to contribute to this series, write to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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Jobseekers' Diaries career retrenchment

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