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Jobseekers’ Diaries: My year-long job hunt has been tiring, but I’ve upgraded myself and am confident I’ll succeed

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, Mr Charles Chong, 42, a veteran of the marine industry, describes his year-long job search after he lost his job due to downsizing by his employer.

Jobseekers’ Diaries: My year-long job hunt has been tiring, but I’ve upgraded myself and am confident I’ll succeed

The writer, a veteran of the marine industry, lost his job due to downsizing by his employer.

Charles Chong

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 Charles Chong, 42, a veteran of the marine industry, describes his year-long job search after he lost his job due to downsizing by his employer. Although he has yet to secure an ongoing position, he has used the time to hone his resume-writing, interview and job hunting skills and has signed up for courses to upgrade himself. He believes his prospects are strong and is motivated by the wish to improve the lives of his wife, who works, and nine-year-old son.

 

For more than 16 years, I have worked in the marine industry. I have sailed as a ship captain and also served in shore-based managerial and operations roles with several shipping companies.

I enjoyed the work because it’s ever-changing and there is never a dull day. From liaising with a wide network of contacts to dealing with unexpected cargo issues or handling emergencies out at sea, the experience I gained was worthwhile even though it was a very steep learning curve to learn the tricks of the trade. 

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. In February 2021, I left the company due to downsizing. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I had to move on for the sake of my wife and son.

Since then, I have sent out more than 100 job applications, mainly in the marine-logistics sector through various job portals including MyCareersFuture and JobStreet.

In all, I have attended 12 job interviews and nothing materialised. During that time, I took on a swabbing operation contract role to earn some money to supplement my wife’s income.

Job hunting can be tiring. It wears down your motivation and causes lethargy when it drags on.

Waiting for a response from a prospective employer could sometimes take up to two to three months, and the uncertainty can cause a lot of anxiety.

Regardless of the storm that I’m going through, I maintain an attitude of gratitude to the people who have stood by me.

One of them is senior career coach Alfee from Workforce Singapore (WSG) whom I met through the Careers Connect On-The-Go deployment at Tampines Round Market.

He gave me the confidence to explore new career opportunities, identified some transferrable skillsets, customised my resume specific to the job description and brushed up my interview skills.

My family has also been a key source of motivation. My wife has been encouraging me to keep on trying even if the role and industry is unfamiliar to me. The smiles I receive from my nine-year-old son whenever we go for family outings keeps me going too.

I understand that one should not stay stagnant in a position and should always upgrade oneself with new skillsets to stay relevant and competitive. I believe that it is never too late to acquire new knowledge which could also improve our ability to handle new challenges in life.

To make myself more attractive to employers, I have been attending various virtual seminars from WSG, e2i and LinkedIn, and also signed up for some SkillsFuture courses in project management and e-commerce.

I have also been more targeted with my job searches, and customised my resume for each application according to their job descriptions.

I’m seeing better results as I have been shortlisted for a second-round interview in end-February, and have two more interviews lined up.

To be able to support my family and give them stability and comfort in life is my priority, and that motivates me to keep on trying.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mr Charles Chong, 42, is currently unemployed. He is considering suitable opportunities in other sectors such as logistics and healthcare where he can use his transferable skills such as operations and stakeholder management, and his people management skills to consider job roles such as business development. He is going for several interviews in the interim and hopes that his long-drawn job search will come to an end soon.

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 employment resume

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