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Jobseekers’ Diaries: Landing a job at 57 despite my ailment is proof one’s never too old for a fresh start

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, former prisons officer Palanisamy Asogan recounts his nine-month search for work in the Covid-19 pandemic, which was made harder by his kidney condition. To him, rejoining the workforce at age 57 is proof that he can still contribute to society regardless of his age.

Jobseekers’ Diaries: Landing a job at 57 despite my ailment is proof one’s never too old for a fresh start

Palanisamy Asogan, who was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2018, lost more and more of his confidence with each rejection he got. But he pressed on and found work after a nine-month search.

Palanisamy Asogan

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 prisons officer Palanisamy Asogan recounts his nine-month search for work in the Covid-19 pandemic, which was made harder by his kidney condition. To him, rejoining the workforce at age 57 is proof that he can still contribute to society regardless of his age.

For as long as I could remember, my father stressed the importance of being loyal and committed to one’s work.

I carried this advice with me throughout my career, from when I first worked as a customs officer in 1984 to my time at the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) as a prisons officer in 1991.

Over the next 28 years at SPS, my motivation was to make a difference in the lives of people.

But, in 2018, I was diagnosed with kidney failure and retired the following year.

I spent precious time with my family that I never had before and took this period to practise self-care.

Innately, however, I felt that something was missing.

Ten months into my retirement, I missed the interactions I had at the workplace. I wanted to continue working and I was determined not to let my medical condition get in the way of that.

In November 2019, I secured a nine-month contract as a community supervision assistant executive.

Unfortunately, the contract was not renewed owing to my medical condition. 

A resilient person, I picked myself up and applied for more than 20 positions, some in the security, food-and-beverage and education sectors, but to no avail.

Companies were unwilling to hire me after hearing about my chronic illnesses. I lost more and more of my confidence with each rejection.

As a last resort, I approached government agency Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect centre in December last year for help.

I met career coach Hing Nan and told him about my concerns and frustrations about not being able to secure a job on account of my medical condition. His advice to me was to obtain a doctor’s memo certifying that I was physically fit to work, which I did.

I was also encouraged to obtain a security officer’s licence that will put me in a better position to land a relevant job in the industry. 

In May, after a nine-month search, I secured a contract job as a safety and security manager at security firm Royal Security Management Services. 

Though going for dialysis treatment while actively seeking work was no easy feat, I was able to overcome such tough times with the support of my family, especially my daughter who helped me apply for jobs online.

Landing a job at age 57 with my medical circumstances has made me aware of my capabilities and is proof that I can still give back to society regardless of my age.

To anyone out there who is hesitant about returning to the workforce, you are never too old for a new career.         

                                                                                                    

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mr Palanisamy Asogan, 57, is a retired prisons officer. Ten months into retirement, he felt that he had more to offer and yearned to return to the workforce. He is now employed as a safety and security manager at Royal Security Management Services, a security firm, on a contractual basis.

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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