TL;DR – The happy ending to Larry’s story isn’t an exception. It can be the norm.
Imagine turning 50 within a few years’ time. You have a good job. You and your family are happy because you can meet the needs and wants of your family.
But for a while now, you have this nagging feeling at work that something isn’t quite right. You get the feeling that your job is starting to require you to have more technical skills than what you already have. And the feeling gets stronger day by day.
The super-busy periods at work are happening more and more often and management keeps asking people with the technical skills to stay back and chip in to help. But no one asks you. Because they know you have no technical skills and cannot contribute.
Then, one day, your worst fears come true. Your company tells you they don’t need you anymore. You are now jobless.
That’s what happened to Larry.
Larry had been working as a manager in the Singapore office of global cyber-security company and he was managing a team of network engineers. He was drawing a fairly high monthly salary. However, in March 2017, at the age of 47, his company terminated his service, citing that he lacked the required technical skills for the job. From the company’s point of view, he wasn’t able to support even his own team during busy periods.
Understandably, Larry was upset when he lost his job. He was stressed. He has a family who depends on him.
Reaching out for help
In those situations, it is easy to fall into despair.
Fortunately, Larry was able to pull himself together. Even more fortunately, Larry is a union member.
He lost his job in March 2017, and in early May, he made an e-appointment with NTUC’s UPME Centre, stating that he was looking for new opportunities. After spending time to assess Larry’s situation, UPME Centre sent him for e2i’s Executive Workshop in the same month.
Through the 2-day workshop, Larry improved his ability to handle interviews, and he was also assigned an e2i Employability Coach.
Working hard and adapting
Having come from the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, Larry was initially only on the lookout for non-technical jobs in the ICT sector. This really limited his opportunities.
He was also not confident to try anything even if a little more technical or was not looking at any job beyond ICT sector.
His session with the Employability Coach helped a great deal. He came to realize how useful and important it would be for him to pick up the technical skills in demand as it would open up more doors for him in terms of job opportunities. So Larry enrolled himself in Network Security courses from the Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Institute of Systems Science of NUS.
Having an Employability Coach also helped Larry understand his own strengths and weaknesses better. As he opened up, Larry also became more receptive to taking up jobs that required different skillsets from those of his previous job. He was even open to job openings in adjacent industries.
The coach was also able to share with Larry the range of salaries of the different jobs; so he was realistic about his expectations and was prepared to take a up a job that paid less than what he used to be paid.
Meanwhile, the people at e2i were convinced that Larry was ready and would work hard to stay in a new job. So they started looking out for jobs that would suit Larry.
They found a FinTech company that had a job opening that looked suitable for Larry.
The company was initially hesitant about e2i’s referral of this mature profile. They were very concerned about a potential misfit as the existing team was much younger. They were even reluctant to share more details of the job requirements, and said that they were already very close to selecting the final candidate for the job.
And it all paid off
But the e2i Employability Coach pressed on with Larry’s positive points. The coach emphasized on how the attitude of the candidate to learn and re-build his career was far more important than his age.
The coach also highlighted to the FinTech company that those given a chance would always be more appreciative and also sold them on the merits of diversity in a team.
The company eventually relented and decided to interview Larry.
Having gone through the workshop and being prepped ahead, Larry managed to impress enough during his interview for the company to make an offer.
The Employability Coach also reminded the employer that they could apply for salary support under the Career Support Programme (CSP) offered by WSG and NTUC’s e2i.
Larry joined the Fintech company in September 2017.
A year on, Larry has since passed his probation period and his employer has given feedback to e2i that Larry is performing and fitting in well.
Larry’s experience tells us that it’s possible for a middle-aged PMET to switch into a role that requires a completely different set of skills. Companies should not be closed to the idea of considering mature candidates. And middle-aged PMETs who lose their jobs shouldn’t give up hope.
Reach out for help, work hard, adapt.
The happy ending to Larry’s story isn’t an exception. It can be the norm.
Alternatively, you can check out the resources on Workforce Singapore (WSG).
*We thank e2i for helping to surface this profile, and also Larry for sharing his personal story to encourage others in similar situation not to lose heart and to seek help. Larry’s real name has been changed to respect his privacy.
(Featured image via NTUC)