Tan Kin Lian’s career advice for young Singaporeans

I used to enjoy reading Tan Kin Lian’s blog because it contains a lot of useful tips on life insurance and personal finance practices. In fact, he inspired me to set up this blog to share my thoughts on career and wealth building journey.

Somehow, after his failed presidential election in 2011 (he garnered the lowest vote of  4.9%), he became more vocal against the Singapore government. Out of ten articles, five of his articles would criticize government policies. Tan’s style of writing has also become more cynical and self-righteous. His articles have become such a huge turn-off to me that I did not follow any more since 2011.

However, in one of his rare articles on career advice, “How to build a long-lasting career“, I think there are some good take away which I would like to share with my readers.

Tan Kin Lian wrote that to be successful in your career, you need to choose a job that fits your skill set. Whilst I agree to this statement, this context may not be applicable to fresh graduates who lack working experience and relevant skills to prospective employers.


In order to embark on a long-term career, you must first work in a specific industry. Your first job will provide you a good feel on whether you will stay in that particular industry. If you don’t have that vibe, trust your instinct and don’t waste your time in that job. There are certainly “dead-end” jobs in the market that don’t offer any opportunities for employees to pick up skills or provide any form job progression. Don’t ever fall into such a trap.

Tan advised young Singaporeans not to be impatient when learning the rope. I fully agreed this point on picking up new skills that will last you for a long-term. When we develop our niche competency, there are no short-cuts. You learn through mistakes and hone your experience through learning. Singaporeans need to be cognizant that on-the-job training cannot be learned through the books. Normally it takes 8 to 10 years to build up skill sets to be considered a professional in your industry.

Tan also encouraged young Singaporeans to opt for a path less traveled and choose a job that few people wants. I support his view that smaller companies or those with a more challenging working conditions might be less popular with Singaporeans. But all the more, Singaporeans should go for such jobs because there would be fewer competitors and more opportunities for employees to take on more roles. In any case, your employer will need you more than you need the job, so potential for pay raises and job security may be there.

Lastly, Tan advocated young Singaporeans to stay in the same industry and not hop to different sectors. If applied correctly, the former allows one to have good salaries and career progression while the latter could affect your skill development and profiling.

Nonetheless, Singaporeans should not “overstay” in their company. If there are better opportunities that offer better salaries and new skills to be learned, we should seize the chance to make more money and build our wealth!


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Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

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