TL; DR – Little did he know the problem was with his resume.
Let’s say you get fired, or laid off, or you quit your job.
For the next three months, you try your hardest to find a job and you’re starting to feel frustrated.
You’re still young, full of passion and drive, and you even have years of working experience, but why is it just so difficult to find a job? You wonder.
That was exactly what was running through William’s mind after his 1-year contract came to an end and was forced to leave his job against his will. He was notified six months in advance of the company’s intention not to renew the contract by his recruitment agency, and the reason cited was because there were “some disagreements”.
William has been in the Human Resources industry for seven years. He shared with us that a year ago, he felt like he needed a change of environment and hence, he left his old job and took up the contract position. “It was a wrong move,” he said.
For months, William was jobless after his last day in the contract role – until he decided to take a leap of faith, let go of his skepticism and turned to NTUC’s U PME Centre for help.
At last, after months of coaching & mock interviews at the U PME Centre, William landed a job with a multinational corporation (MNC) that offers him a higher starting salary.
Did your family know about what you were going through? Were your family members impacted?
Me, being the empathetic human being that I am, I felt compelled to ask this question after gathering that William who is in this late 30s, is the sole breadwinner to his retired parents.
“Yes, my parents knew about it. Since I was out of job for about two to three months, my day-to-day routine became affected and I had to make some adjustment to my lifestyle. Every day became stressful for me. I was worried about my parents as to who would take care of them, & who would provide for their needs. I started having “white hair” at this juncture.”
Did you try looking for a job yourself?
I mean, a HR professional with a degree and some seven years of working experience, surely he could have landed a job somewhere, somehow, right?
“I tried, but I had no luck”, said William.
At which point did you decide to get career guidance from NTUC’s U PME Centre?
“A few weeks after my contract officially ended, I was trying to search for jobs on my own.
I’ve heard about NTUC’s U PME Centre through my friends, but I just didn’t want to try it because I thought I could find a job by myself through online jobs portal like JobStreet and also through recruitment agencies.”
Eventually, after many failed attempts, William succumbed and broke down his own resistance and went online to find out more about U PME Centre.
“From the website, I learnt that it’s a centre that provides PMEs with workplace, career and professional development advisory services.”
What was your experience like when you first visited the U PME Centre? What types of help or career guidance did you receive from U PME Centre?
“After I made an e-appointment through the U PME Centre website, Herjeet, who was my assigned U PME Centre Consultant, contacted me. He asked me a number of questions and also went through my resume with me and we did a mock interview as well.
Unfortunately, the feedback I received from Herjeet was that everything was just very bad! Like the contents on my resume, so on and so forth. So, with the help and guidance from Herjeet, we went through quite a few rounds of reviews for my resume, as well as the way I should approach interviews.
It was not an easy process… (laughs).”
According to Herjeet, the consultation also included helping William learn how to match his resume to job description. This was necessary because a lot of companies out there use an applicant tracking system where they can match the resumes to the job description – that’s how the system can rank, pick up and shortlist the resumes.
“The whole process took a few months. We had to customize my resume and tailor it for that specific job titles and descriptions, practice how I approach interviews and how I present myself during interviews”. It was really not easy, William stressed.
How did you feel when you were asked to make all those changes?
“I didn’t know that I’d made SO MANY mistakes!
And these are mistakes and areas that I could have rectified and made things better. I didn’t know about these things until I met Herjeet who guided me and corrected them for me. If it wasn’t for Herjeet, I would not have known my mistakes.
It then dawned upon me that it could be all these mistakes I made that might have cost me some of the job opportunities that I’ve lost.”
How about now? Did you feel any difference between using the resume that you’ve prepped yourself and the resume that Herjeet from U PME Centre helped you with?
“In the past, I used to just mass-send my resume to as many companies as I can – basically I had the “one resume fits all” concept.
But during my meeting with Herjeet, he was like, “No, it doesn’t work like that!”. It was then when I learned that for every resume I send out, I have to customize it according to the description of the position that I am applying for. That really makes the difference and optimise my chances of scoring interviews.
The call-ups I get from companies to go for interviews became significantly higher, because I don’t just mass-send my resume. I’ve learned that I have to find something that I really like, where I think I can contribute, then customize my resume.
With the strategy that Herjeet had taught and instilled in me, although it will take more effort just for one job application, I think it is worth it. It’s easier to hit jackpot this way, rather than using the mass-send method.”
Do you think Herjeet helped you during that period? How often did Herjeet check in on you and your job-hunting progress?
“Herjeet has helped me A LOT A LOT! (Laughs)
On-and-off, through WhatsApp, I’ll update him on my status and the interviews that I went. I’ll also get feedback from him, and he will also advise me on what are the things that I have to look out for in my next interview.
Even up till today, I still keep in touch with Herjeet. He has been giving me a lot of advice since I started work. My relationship with Herjeet now has evolved from career coach/client relationship to friends.”
Were you recommended to go for any courses? If yes, could you share a little bit more about what those courses are like?
“Herjeet recommended me to go for the certified HR course, which I am still thinking! Because right now, my company is sending me to the courses provided by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).
But I am seriously considering about going for it because it is for my career progression – not just for now, but also for the next 5 to 10 years down the road in the HR industry, since HR is the industry that I want to develop my career in.
I am also actively looking out for courses to take that can help me upskill so that I can progress further in my career.”
Now that you’ve found a job with the help of U PME Centre, was the company able to match your previous salary?
“Yes! Not only that I was offered a permanent position, the benefits and the pay package was even better.”
Could you leave us with some words of advice that you have for people who are going through the unemployment period right now?
“You really have to be relaxed and not be too stressed about it. You have to keep yourself occupied, find other things to do and ways to upgrade yourself when you are unemployed.”
As cliché as it sounds, U PME Centre’s Consultant Herjeet’s advise to all job seekers out there is also to Stay positive, don’t burn bridges!
Having crossed path with many job seekers, Herjeet understands that losing a job can make a person down and withdrawn. But he highlights that an important step in getting a job is to network with as many people (your former customers, suppliers, ex-colleagues, or even ex-bosses!) as possible to access a larger number of job opportunities.
Have a plan, and work towards the goal. Upskill yourself, get that certification if necessary and make yourself more employable – even if you already have years of relevant experience under your belt.
Sometimes all you need is a big leap of faith.
And in William’s case, perhaps this is what we call a win-win situation – landing in a full-time, permanent job and gaining a wonderful friend.
If you’d like to meet a U PME Centre Consultant like Herjeet or find out more about how U PME Centre can help PMEs, click here. The service is complimentary for all NTUC Union Members.
Remember this: If you never try, you’ll never know.