Transitioning: First of all, thanks for allowing us to interview you online and can you provide us with some background information about yourself?
Johnson: I graduated from University of London with a Bachelor of Science in Banking and Finance 3rd Class Honors through SIM 3 years part-time night external degree programme in June 2001.
I joined as a technician with a Outsourced property management/managing agent company in Facility Management field at Hewlett Packard Depot Road after being unemployed for 16 months after graduation.
I left as a Project Technical Specialist to join another Outsourced property management/managing agent company in Facility Management as a Mechanical & Electrical Supervisor 24/7 standby for 6 months in charge of 5 other exchanges n 2 unmanned microwave stations on 2 islands and 5 onsite technicians but due to Client did not renew the contract with company, I lost the job.
A lot of site staff including myself were terminated with one month’s salary compensation during the last few days before contract end as there is not enough vacancies in other project sites to accommodate us all.
I later set up and run my own business but due to adverse business environment and a cashflow crisis caused by bad debts (unpaid claims to works done) due to voluntary winding up by a major client thus ending my business venture.
Transitioning: What was your last occupation and you have told me that you were unemployed for a few months?
Johnson: Yes since January 2014.
Last occupation is a temporary stuff with xxx ($13/hour) purely with no other entitlements/benefits/incentives.
Transitioning: Can you tell us more about your job search experience during this period?
Johnson: Received a lot of calls to be a financial advisor/wealth management consultant from certain insurance companies from the resume posted on jobs database websites.
Transitioning: You have told me that you are currently jobless for more than six months, what did you do in order to survive? Did you also approach the CDC for assistance?
Johnson: Cut down all spending to bare minimum, do some temp jobs rely on my savings to tide through.
Approach SW CDC in Feb 2014 for medical assistance for my wheelchair-bound aunt and received 3 months interim financial assistance of $400 each from Feb to Apr 2014 by the MSF social service there.
6 months of short term medical assistance at Bukit Batok Polyclinic for my aunt and me from March 2014 to September 2014 subject to reassessment of criteria upon expiry.
Transitioning: Did you attend any interviews during the past few months and why do you think you are unsuccessful so far?
Johnson: Out of the hundreds of job applications submitted at various job websites, so far only 2 interviews – one at St John HQ from Jobstreet as a property executive on 7th May 2014 but received unsuccessful notification email on 23 May 2014 after two weeks of waiting and my $4000 (negotiable) expected salary maybe exceeding their budget.
The other one from recently launched jobsbank at Shatec as facility executive on 21 July 2014 but till now no news (not shortlisted) and my downsized $3000 (negotiable) expected salary may be exceeding their budget as well.
Transitioning: Tell us abit more about what you have learnt from your jobless experience and how it has impacted your family.
Johnson: As long as don’t give up, stay positive, believe in yourself and always hope for the best and prepare for the worst as it’s their loss for missing out what you can contribute.
As this is not my first time unemployed for a period of more than 6 months so become hardened like yourself due to being jobless after graduated with my part time degree in June 2001 to October 2002 before I took on a diploma level pay job as a technician to start anew again and worked for 4 years.
So far my family and a couple of friends are quite supportive as they are helping me reaching out to their contacts too.
Transitioning: What do you think you could have done to shorten the unemployment period?
Johnson: Well I think your networking session more informative as compared to my two short visits to see the SW CDC job consultant (in February for 1 hour) (comment that out of touch) or Careerlink @Eunos (in April for 30 mins) job consultant who referred me back to the initial SW CDC job consultant to continue to follow up but till today no one call or follow up at all. (who concentrate on resume format, should not be more than 2 pages types and attend their workshops and prospective employer networking sessions)
Transitioning: Do you think that Singapore is now a more difficult place to make a living?
Johnson: Yes, every business/company is keeping costs down to within/below budgeted annual forecast OPEX limits for the fiscal year.
Transtioning: What do you think the government can do to alleviate the current employment situation?
With reference made to the MOM/WDA ‘s Jobsbank.gov.sg to enforce Hire Singaporeans First policy –
a) MOM/WDA to contact those applicants the hiring company listed status as shortlisted or processed whether have they been given a chance to go to an interview instead of just updating the status of application from NEW to Processed/not Shortlisted/Shortlisted but in fact the applicant are left out in the cold when these employers submitted employment passes etc to hire foreigners after two weeks waiting period condition lapsed since they declared they couldn’t get a suitable Singaporean to fill that position.
b) MOM/WDA make it mandatory for all hiring employers to list down the actual salary range instead of just omitting the details till interview then try to negotiate down as it will prepare the applicants mentally for the expected salary respective to the hiring employers willing to pay for the job listed when they are applying.
Transitioning: Many people have blame foreigners for competing jobs with us, what is your view on this?
Johnson: There are low paying risky/hardship jobs such as construction workers which hired foreigners as Singaporeans won’t do but for other types of jobs, true-blue Singaporeans should be hired first with the realistic compensation to help them and their families meet the current living standard.
Transitioning: Lastly whats your advice for those who are still jobless and feeling down?
Johnson: Brisk-walking works for me and also talk to your family and the few close friends who have encouraged you during these lonely difficult times.