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On the Talent Hunt: Career trials and remote work have been a lifeline for a small marketing agency like ours

The start of our journey as a sales and marketing agency in 2020 was rough, particularly during the pandemic, as we tried to build up our team and client base. We relied on cold-calling and networking to do this.

Mr Bryan Ng, 31, is chief executive officer at Emptyspace. He started the company in July 2020.

Mr Bryan Ng, 31, is chief executive officer at Emptyspace. He started the company in July 2020.

As companies across a wide range of sectors in Singapore are grappling with a manpower crunch in a tight labour market, TODAY’s Voices section is publishing first-hand accounts from business owners.

In this instalment, Mr Bryan Ng, 31, who runs a small sales and marketing agency, describes the challenges he faced in attracting young workers, who tend to prefer joining larger companies. A career trial programme and flexible work arrangements have helped alleviate the issue, but he still has several vacancies to fill.

The start of our journey as a sales and marketing agency in 2020 was rough, particularly during the pandemic, as we tried to build up our team and client base. We relied on cold-calling and networking to do this.

We help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore with their marketing efforts. Today, we have a team of 15, including 14 locals and one permanent resident. Identifying them took us around six to eight months, and multiple rounds of interviews.

As an SME ourselves, recruiting young talents has not been easy. Potential hires eye big brands that they can flaunt in their resumes, and convincing them to join us is no easy task.

The lack of international brands among our clientele has also been a push factor for candidates, who may not be comfortable with facing rejection as they are required to pitch our services to SMEs.

On top of staffing, finding new clients is another priority for us, but we constantly have to balance our capability with revenue needs. There were times when we missed new business opportunities as the team was occupied with existing clients, causing us to lose a few leads.

On a positive note, we’re thankful for government support, and a changing business environment where companies can function remotely.

Since December 2021, under the Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Career Trial programme, we have had 10 candidates without any experience in our field join us for short stints of up to three months.

They were able to try out different roles in areas such as digital marketing and business consulting to assess their job fit before considering formal employment. We had candidates who despite having zero knowledge in this industry, performed well with training, and we are exploring how we can fit them into our expansion plans. To date, four candidates who completed the trial are working full-time with us. 

As new business opportunities can be cultivated remotely, we also hire those who are looking for remote or hybrid work arrangements to save on office space rental.

As part of our expansion efforts, we have 15 vacancies in business consulting, digital marketing, and events management. We are open to all candidates, including back-to-work women or those with families who might prefer flexible work arrangements. We have also been participating in WSG’s career events and have shortlisted several candidates for interviews.

As an SME, our employees wear different hats and can acquire a greater variety of experiences than at most larger companies. They have a degree of autonomy in co-guiding company strategies and can develop deeper skill sets that pay dividends down the line.

We also see more young people interested in work that gives them meaning and purpose. We hope that this can reduce some hiring stigma faced by our industry, where candidates traditionally aim to join large companies which promise higher salaries and better career progression.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mr Bryan Ng, 31, is chief executive officer at Emptyspace. He started the company in July 2020. It provides services such as website design and development, social media advertising and video production, among others, and targets SMEs that need help with their marketing and outreach efforts.

If you are a business owner 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.

Related topics

On the Talent Hunt sales marketing SME

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