Retrenchment support from WSG Singapore

Nobody is ever prepared for retrenchment. And when retrenchment strikes, it certainly feels like the end of the world. This is especially so if you are a middle-aged white-collar PMET. With the job market saturated with young graduates and foreign talents, finding a position that matches your last drawn salary could be a challenge. Without retrenchment support, things can spiral out of control.

With the unfolding trade war between US and China, Singapore’s economic growth is expected to slow to 0 to 1% this year. Against this backdrop, the job market in Singapore currently looks hazy. According to Ministry of Manpower, the number of retrenchments in the first half of this year stood at about 5,500, slightly more than the 5,300 recorded in the same period last year.

retrenchment support

Whilst it is not possible to change the macro-economic conditions, Singaporeans can certainly take steps to safeguard themselves against the spectre of retrenchments. The worst thing in life is to be complacent and assume that your job will always be there. Such assumption may not be valid anymore given the structural changes in industries and the constant technological disruptions.

Our ability to earn income is key to building wealth. Therefore, it is important to ensure our skillsets remain relevant and that we have transferable skills that can be tapped on for future job opportunities. To make yourself more “employable”, you may consider reading up on the available retrenchment support programmes and industry insights in this Workforce Singapore portal.

Career Coach at WSG

The perennial complaint by those who suffered from retrenchments is the perceived lack of retrenchment support from the government. I used to think so too until the folks at Workforce Singapore reached out to me recently and shared with me their “Adapt and Grow” initiative. Most importantly, they shared …

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But my boss told me I am safe from retrenchment!!

In Singapore’s context, there are only three category of jobs that are immune from retrenchments. Successful entrepreneurs, civil servants and full-time homemakers do not have to fear the dreaded retrenchment. If you have chosen to climb the corporate ladder, this is the golden rule you must always remember. The second rule is never to forget the first rule.

With disruptions brought forth by technologies and the emergence of new business models, it is definitely not “business as usual” for many companies. Changes in the industry will only gather pace and this means that businesses would have to evolve as well. In most circumstances, companies often choose the easy way out by laying off staff whose skills and competencies are considered obsolete. Through retrenchment, substantial costs can be saved and management is therefore able to provide answers to shareholders.

According to data released by Ministry of Manpower, the total number of retrenchments reached a peak of 19,170 in 2016 and subsequently tapered down to 14,720 in 2017. The job market is expected to improve significantly in 2018 as Singapore economy had shown signs of growing since the second half of 2017. Nonetheless, employees should remain vigilant of the headwinds in the market.


Retrenchment is here to stay

For sure, losing your job is not the end of the world but [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

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How to Explain an Employment Gap on Your Resume

Applying to jobs after a period of unemployment can be intimidating. The application pool is already so competitive across the board, you’re worried this might be a red flag for potential employers. You can let out a sigh of relief because a gap in employment doesn’t have to be catastrophic to your application.

Taking time off from one time to another is normal. Maybe you were caring for a child or relative or you went back to school. Maybe you simply decided to travel and see the world or focus on a side project. No matter why you left the traditional world of employment, you don’t have to write off your hiring chances. Keep reading for a guide to explaining an employment gap on your resume!


Image via Unsplash

First, decide if you need to mention the gap on your resume.

Depending on the gap in employment, you might not need to mention it on your resume at all. If the gap in your employment was in the past and you’ve been employed since it doesn’t need to be on your resume. Remember, you don’t have to include your entire professional history on your resume. It’s commonplace to include only the most recent and relevant information. While you shouldn’t lie on your resume, you shouldn’t feel pressured to put your entire life history either. If your gap in employment was recent, you probably do need to provide some sort of explanation on your resume. Let’s talk about how to do that without burning any bridges!

Hide small gaps by listing years instead of months.

If you only took a small gap in employment, you might be able to get away with just listing the years on your resume. There are no hard and fast rules for displaying employment dates

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Losing your job due to retrenchment

Losing your job due to company down-sizing can be both dramatizing and depressing. Indeed, with the rise of machine-learning and artificial intelligence, thousands of jobs are being made redundant on a daily basis. What this means is that many skills are becoming obsolete. However, the topic of retrenchment is seldom discussed in Singapore because of the social stigma. Recently, when I touched on the SPH retrenchment exercise, a reader questioned my agenda and even condemned me for being anti-government. I wish to use this article to set the record straight.

Building this blog from zero had been both challenging and at the same time, rewarding on a personal level. I have gained useful knowledge that readers have shared in this blog. Over the years, I have received numerous compliments from readers through emails and Facebook messages. Yet at the same time, this blog had also attracted a fair share of criticisms from detractors and critics questioning my agenda and intentions for sharing my articles.

Perhaps, critics who denounced my blog may not have spent time reading the articles that I have shared freely over the years. If they did, it would be clear to them that this blog is about promoting financial literacy and helping others to make better decisions. This blog is not about fear-mongering nor attacking government policies. Instead, SG Wealth Builder is all about empowering fellow Singaporeans to make sound financial strategies and choices.

I don’t claim to be any sort of guru because I am also a fellow wealth builder struggling to achieve financial freedom. But if given a choice, would you prefer to walk this journey alone or together with people of like-mind? Sometimes, building wealth can be a lonely journey. Sometimes, it can be scary too.

Through raising awareness of the rules and regulations …

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Current Estimated Potential (CEP) in Singapore Civil Service

In respond to public perception that the civil service placed too much emphasis on paper qualifications, the Public Service Division (PSD) announced that the civil service has stopped grouping its officers according to their education levels since 1st January 2017. This is a good move because it means that our civil servants will be judged based on their work performance rather than their academic results. This article will discuss the Current Estimated Potential (CEP) in Singapore Civil Service.

According to preliminary data from Ministry of Manpower (MOM), 16,600 workers were retrenched in Singapore in 2016. This is a record high since 2009, the peak of the Great Financial Crisis. With retrenchment so prevalent nowadays, job security is certainly at the top of many Singapore employees’ mind. Long considered an iron rice bowl, a job in the civil service is highly sought after because of the perceived high pay and work-life balance.


Nonetheless, you must have the right mentality in order to join the civil service. Money is important but if that is your primary motivation, then this may not be the best place for you. After all, the civil service is non-profit driven organization and career progression hinged largely on several key factors – readiness to take on more responsibilities, vacancies, performance and CEP.

CEP is devised by Shell to assess their employees’ leadership potential. This appraisal system has since been adopted by our civil service to groom leaders. Essentially, this system determines the highest job responsibility level an officer is capable of handling in the future.


Thus, when an officer [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

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Surbana terminated 50 staff

Temasek Holding’s Surbana Jurong terminated about 50 staff who were deemed as “poor performers”. The layoffs occurred a couple of weeks ago, just before the Chinese New Year.

Surbana has stressed that the terminations were not retrenchment exercise. The staff were let go simply because of their poor performances.

It is indeed a sad day for Singapore. Some people may argue that many of the affected staff are foreigners and hence there is no need to feel sorry for them. But the issue is not whether local Singaporeans or foreign talents are being laid off. The issue is whether Singapore employers are beginning to lose their moral compass.

Make no mistake, bottom-line is of course important for every enterprise. Obviously companies are entitled to sack staff who cannot perform. But surely there should be ample time or few month’s grace period for the affected staff to improve? And surely there should be more sensible or even humane time to fire them? Would it even hurt their financial positions to postpone the firing after the Chinese New Year period?

sg wealth builder

Losing your job is a very terrible feeling. It not only hurts your ego but also damages your wealth. To lose a job right before the festive season is even worse.

Furthermore, by announcing to the whole world that these ex-staff performed badly, Surbana inadvertently deterred potential employers from hiring them. After all, which company would want to take in people who cannot perform?

Some readers may even call for the authorities to intervene but the matter of fact is that the government is also powerless. Surbana has not violated any labor laws in this case because they have cited a legitimate reason for terminating the staff. Legally, they are not wrong but morally, in my point of view, they have crossed …

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Singapore rejected calls for unemployment insurance

During this year’s May Day rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon rejected growing calls for unemployment insurance. Instead, he reiterated that the government of Singapore has something even better for Singaporeans – schemes to enable Singapore workers to find jobs. Amid the massive number of retrenchments announced by foreign banks and oil and gas companies, such a move is inexplicable to me.

Firstly, I must clarify that I do not disagree with the government’s push for SkillsFuture. In promoting lifelong learning among workers, the movement enables Singaporeans to develop skill competencies relevant to succeed in the new economy. However, by telling Singaporeans that unemployment insurance is not needed is akin to a doctor advising his patient not to buy medical insurance and to stay healthy through regular exercises. Is this strategy even feasible in today’s challenging context?

financial destiny

We all know that life is fragile and can be unpredictable. Very often, even if you maintain a healthy lifestyle, it does not guarantee you against critical or even terminal illnesses like cancers. And what about unforeseen circumstances like workplace incidents or road accidents? There are simply too many circumstances that are beyond our control and it is naive not to insure our wealth.

Similarly, due to economy restructuring, companies may be forced to lay off workers deemed to be redundant. Even if you are a highly competent or qualified employee, you may not be spared from being retrenched. There are many factors that employers take into consideration and your salary might be one of them. In most cases, you are at the mercy of your boss.

No, I am not suggesting that unemployment insurance should substitute skill upgrade schemes. That will be an irresponsible suggestion as it could lead to a reliant mentality among Singaporeans. We don’t want to create a safety …

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Unable to find jobs in Singapore

With big companies like SPH, Keppel Corp and various investment banks announcing retrenchments, this is definitely a dreadful period of time to look for jobs in Singapore. In today’s context, experience and qualifications can only get you so far. So why is it that many Singaporeans are unable to find jobs in Singapore?

Is it a case of skills mismatch in today’s new age economy? Are Singaporeans too complacent and choosy? Is it down to the lack of selling skill during job interviews? Or have we priced ourselves out of this competitive market? Too many foreign talents fighting for positions that Singaporeans can perform?

I would say none of the above is exactly true. Most Singaporeans are unable to secure a job is because many downplayed or ignored the power of networking. In fact, networking is not only a powerful skill for securing a dream job, it is an important skill that entrepreneurs must possess in order to build their businesses. When you have a quality network, jobs will come to you, and not the opposite.


Contrary to what most people thought, networking isn’t about promoting yourself or cold calling your business contacts when you are being retrenched or fired from your job. Networking is about building long-term relationships and helping others in your workplace or even neighborhood. The process is a two-way street that involves giving and taking. Far too many people like to take but forget to give. When you do that, you risk damaging the relationship.

Indeed, it is important to master a niche skill in life and this is what Singapore government is currently promoting – SkillsFuture. But technology is always evolving and what you learn today will likely be obsoleted in the near future. So start to develop soft skills like customer service. …

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Future-proof your career against retrenchments

For the 1st quarter of 2016, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed a record number of retrenchments since 2009. A total 4090 workers were retrenched as Singapore economy slows down and undergo major restructuring. Is your company downsizing and are you on the retrenchment hit list? If not, have you started to future-proof your career?

For many years, Singapore refused to develop policies to ensure safety nets for the unemployed. The fear is that in creating such a social safety net, there will be moral hazards as those who lose their jobs may not be motivated to re-enter the labour market again. This is happening in today’s Europe whereby the unemployment benefits are so generous that the workers would rather remain unemployed in order to enjoy the benefits.

However, the labour landscape in Singapore has changed drastically over the last few years. There are acute shortage of talents in certain job segments like cyber security and digital marketing. While on the other hand, white-collar professionals working in sectors like banking and finance are unable to find work for months and years after being let go by their employers. This phenomenon is known as structural unemployment.


The rising costs of doing business have also put off many companies. Sun-set industries like the electronics and shipping have already seen many companies shifting bases to other countries with lower costs. While the government may be trying their best to mitigate the situation, one should evaluate whether his skill-sets and knowledge are still relevant in this new economy.

If you are not careful, structural unemployment can happen to you. Most people only start to upskill themselves after losing their jobs. Most common reasons are the lack of time due to work and family commitments. Indeed, climbing up the corporate ladder and putting food on …

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Record retrenchments in Singapore

On 13 June 2016, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced a surge in the number of workers being made redundant. Overall, 4,710 workers were retrenched by their companies, representing a record level of retrenchments in Singapore for first quarter layoffs since 2009.

The MOM data is not surprising as it tallies with the ground situation for the employment landscape. In fact, there are many recent articles of Singaporeans struggling to find work after being given the retrenchment notices by their employers. Many of them are actually qualified professionals with many years of relevant working experiences in their industries. Hence, it is understandable that they feel bitter and resentful.

Being fired or retrenched from the workplace can be the worst thing that can happen to an employee, possibly even worse than been passed by for promotion. This is because losing your job is more than just losing your income, it can be extremely damaging to your self-worth and ego. Understandably, you may feel emotional and victimized. The “why me?” will definitely pop up in your head and you start to demonize your ex-bosses or colleagues. But as a wealth builder, you must pick yourself up quickly and move on from the self-pity stage. After all, you still have bills to pay and you simply cannot afford to waste time nursing bruised ego.


For those who got retrenched, the biggest challenge is moderating their expectations. Many Singaporean job seekers expect to find similar job titles and salaries in their job hunt but they failed to realize that they don’t have the bargaining chips. They need to wise up and understand that without a job, it is difficult to negotiate with prospective employers because they have the upper hand and so it will be a “take it or leave it” approach.

The …

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A better tomorrow for Singapore engineers

After a trip to California’s Silicon Valley, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for better recognition and prospects for Singapore engineers. It was as if the government has just awoke from a deep sleep and suddenly found that local born and bred engineers have been given the raw deal all this while. With a magic wand, PM Lee magically revitalized the outlook for engineers and give this profession a steroid injection, in terms of salaries and career progression.

To be honest, I have been an engineer for 11 years and my starting pay was $2,600. It took me 5 years of working experiences to crawl to the $4,000 level. Now, fresh graduate with no working experience can command $4,000 level. Effectively, given the new salaries regime, fresh graduates have 5 years of head-start than me. The quantum increase is quite a huge jump and I wonder whether SMEs can afford to pay such premium for fresh engineering graduates.

SG Wealth Builder

It may be the case that the government is struggling to find local computer engineers with cyber security skills. Or maybe there is a dearth of software engineers to support the growth of local fintech industry. Whatever the real reason it may be, the sudden government’s push to groom local engineers is long overdue.

For many years, Singapore companies prefer to employ cheaper foreign talents with engineering skills. But then again, many of these so-called foreign talents graduated from foreign universities of lower standard than our local universities. Furthermore, there have been reported cases of foreigners who obtained jobs with fake degrees. How can Singaporeans remain cool and be not angry?

Look, I am not implying that local engineering graduates are more competent due to our education system but there must be a level playing field. How do you feel when …

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Retrenchments in Singapore

According to the latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s data on the employment landscape in Singapore, more workers were retrenched in 2015. A total number of 13,440 workers were laid off, the highest since 2008-09, which of course was the Great Financial Crisis period. The spike in retrenchments in Singapore reflected the gloomy economic outlook and challenging times ahead.

As a wealth builder, my mantra is to work hard for money and also ensure that my money works hard for me. Being gainfully employed and having a good income is important in order for me to lay down a strong financial foundation for the family. Henceforth, the data on retrenchment is useful because they provide useful information on the impact of economic downturn and allow Singaporeans to identify which industry sectors are ailing.

SG Wealth Builder

The latest data from MOM is indeed worrying and I am thankful that I have a job. Sometimes, in the midst of our busy schedules, we tend to take things for granted and expect every day is Sunday in office. What we don’t realize that Singapore is rapidly losing its competitive edge because of high business costs. Many MNCs realize that the so-called talents in Singapore are not so highly skilled or possess niche knowledge that cannot be found in cheaper locations.

As a result, many companies in certain industries are starting to shift their operations to overseas countries like Thailand, China and India where talents are abundant and staff costs much lower. This means that Singapore PMETs are facing structural risk in their job prospects if they don’t start to up-skill their competencies.

If you are mid-level professional, it is important to learn how to progress in your career because if you don’t, nobody will do it for you. Pick up skills that will aid you in …

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Online Hiring in Banking and Finance Sector Remains Slow in South East Asia

Below is data released by Monster Employment Index, which provide insights on the job market for banking and finance. At the moment, the market doesn’t look good for job-seekers wishing to enter the financial sector, especially in global wealth hub like Singapore. 

Launched in May 2015, with data collected since January 2011, the Monster Employment Index is a broad and comprehensive monthly analysis of online job posting activity conducted by Monster India. Based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities culled from a large, representative selection of online career outlets, including, the Monster Employment Index presents a snapshot of employer online recruitment activity nationwide. 

Southeast Asia, October 5, 2015 – As economic conditions continue to falter, online recruitment activities across Southeast Asia’s Banking and Finance sectors are registering weak growths.

This is according to the latest Monster Employment Index (MEI), a monthly gauge of online job hiring activity by, which records the industries and occupations that show the highest and lowest growth in recruitment activity in Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.

Among the three markets surveyed, Singapore exhibited the weakest year-over-year growth in the BFSI sector, at -13% between August 2014 and August 2015. This is a further dip from July’s -9%.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines witnessed positive year-over-year growth in the BFSI sector at 10% and 2% respectively, where the sector emerged as the top growth industry in Malaysia. Between July and August 2015, the Philippines registered the most notable growth in the SEA region, as annual growth improved from -8% to 2%.


BFSI Industry:

MonthMarket20142015% Growth Y-o-Y
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Money no enough for digital marketing talents

Agencies and organisations in Singapore are not fulfilling the needs of marketing, digital and creative talent in terms of remuneration and professional development, a new study by specialist recruiter font talent has found.

font’s Market Pulse 2014/15, which surveyed 500 respondents across Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore, found numerous disconnects between what employers claim to be providing for employees, and what talent are actually receiving.

Money is the number one consideration for marketing talent in Singapore looking for new roles (81%), yet just 54% of professionals feel they have been fairly remunerated in the past year. Worryingly, just 35% of employers said they offer competitive base salaries above the market average, and only half offer incentives and bonus programmes. However, bonuses appear to be paid adequately, with 22% of talent receiving a bonus between both $3,000-$4,999 and $5,000-$6,999.

In Singapore, the top median annual salaries were found in Digital, Design and Production roles, followed by Creative and Creative Services, while the lowest was in Media (Media Planning, Digital Ad Sales, etc.)

When comparing in-house and agency wages, agencies came out on top with a median annual salary of $58,800, compared with $43,200 in-house. From a benefits perspective, in-house respondents reported more healthcare, company paid training and car park allowances, while agencies offered more flexible working hours, travel allowances, and phone allowances.

A large disconnect was also reported with flexible working hours. While 65% of employers surveyed said they offer flexible working hours as part of their overall benefits package, just 33% of candidates said they received them.

Similarly, just 34% of talent said their company had crafted a career development plan for them, despite 70% saying this is the second-most important factor they consider when looking for a new role.

“While cash is still a main motivator for …

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My Career Low

This year marks the 10th year anniversary of my working life. It seems not so long ago that I stepped out of the university, fresh and ready to take on the world. I was driven, curious and hungry for success back then. Yet now, I feel like a spent force, jaded and weary of my journey. So many things have happened to me for the past 10 years, both good and bad, and they have inevitably shaped my character and thoughts.

I like my current job because of the opportunity to make significant impact in the industry I am working in. Yet, I came to realize that there is another side of the job equation that cannot be decoupled, and that is human relationships. Having the soft skills to deal with day-to-day issues are important in career success and unfortunately, this is not taught in school. Through the years, I came to realize that successful people are those with strong Emotional Quotient (EQ) and they tend to get ahead than those who are smarter or technically stronger. And this is the area which I fare the worst – the ability to manage my emotions.


For the past few years, I have lost my temper in office on a number of occasions and my bosses had noticed my outbursts. On hindsight, I should have kept my cool and swallow my pride. But in moments of madness, I let my emotions got the better of me, much to my regrets later.  Perhaps its due to the work stresses. Perhaps its due to the pressing project deadlines. But no matter what, I recognize that this is a worrisome problem that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, it can cost my career.

One of the things that annoys me the most is when unhelpful co-workers

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When Should You Resign?

Last year, during my reservist in-camp training, I had a chat with one of my platoon mates on when is the right time to resign from a job. He was much older than me and was in his early forties. So obviously, given his wealth of experience, I thought what he said would probably be true.

In our conversation, he shared with me that when your boss starts to load you with many assignments or meaningless tasks, its a sure sign that he is trying to force you out of the company. Clearly, my friend wasn’t happy with his job but I didn’t urge him to be positive because at that point of time, I couldn’t really fathom what he was driving at.

Fast forward to a year later, his point really hit me. On thinking back, I am able to empathize him now as I am now going through the same situation as him then. For the past 6 months, I was loaded with many key projects with pressing deadlines, and also many small trivial tasks that don’t add value to the organization or myself.

On a daily basis, I was chased by colleagues from other divisions for trivial issues that could really be solved if they had bothered to put in some efforts. My boss, seemingly unaware of all these, continued to load me with more work even after I sounded out to him that I am maxed out already. His reply to me was that he was grooming me to take on more responsibilities and position me for promotion.


However, recent developments in my organization validated my thinking that I would not be promoted, at least not for the next 3 to 4 years. I felt somehow frustrated, cheated and angry with my boss for “dangling carrots” …

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How to be successful in your career

Throughout my career, I have always heard people claiming that they should have certain level of salaries or pay increments to justify the cost of living in Singapore. My stance is that to we should first and foremost prove our values or worth to the organization in order to make that sort of demand to your employers. Simply telling your bosses that the inflation rate is much higher than your pay increment is not a valid reason for a higher pay check. Today, during lunchtime, my boss shared with me his insights on how to achieve career success.

Why do some people succeed in life?

Have you ever wondered why do some people able to achieve career success despite them having mediocre academic qualifications? Apparently, there are unique traits that make them stand out from the rest of the crowd and that is the ability to see challenges differently. Successful  people would strive to prove their merits to  their bosses before demanding his desired pay package. Most importantly, they view challenges as opportunities, rather than obstacles. This trait spurs them to achieve goals and drive them to career success. When faced with challenges or setbacks, instead of whining, they remain resilient and bounce back from failures.


Winners Vs Whiners

Successful people are considered “winners” in every organization because they are viewed as problem solvers, rainmakers or go-to guys. They make things happen and embrace failures as an inevitable process to improve themselves.

Conversely, mediocre workers whine and complain whole day about their bosses and feel victimized over work issues. They also feel underpaid all the time and would only perform tasks which they feel they are employed to do.

If you assigned tasks beyond their so-called designated work-scope, they would reject them or show zero commitments to accomplish them. Instead …

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Unemployment and entrepreneurship in Singapore

Hi Gerald, Can you comment on the following: 1) How do people in their 40s find jobs in this day and age? (This being 2014) 2) How do you start a business venture with zero or very little (say about a SGD$1500) capital? 

Thank you. 

I received the above queries from one of my readers and it coincides with an article I read in Yahoo Singapore recently about underemployment rate of local graduates.  To me, this is a timely topic for me to dwell on because in a few more years, I will hit the forties bracket. Sooner or later, I may face the predicament or prospect of being retrenched from my job, so I think it is worthwhile to reflect and examine this issue now before it really impact me big time later on in my life.

To put things into perspective, the Singapore employment landscape has changed over the years. In the 80s and 90s, if you had tertiary qualifications, you would unlikely be fearful of the word “downsize” in your company because back then, there were not so many graduates with 10 – 15 years of working experiences in the job market. But times had changed. Nowadays, the market is glutted with graduates from local and overseas, private and public universities. To make matter worse, foreigners are competing with local Singaporeans for white collar jobs as well. So given the stiff competition, it is not surprising that people in their 40s encounter difficulty in re-employment.

It is stupid to advise those who are retrenched from their jobs to chin up and remain optimistic. Obviously you would feel a little bit of depress initially and start to doubt your capabilities when you are laid off, especially during the mid-career stage. But it is important to remind yourself to

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Tactical Job Hunting

In today’s context, maintaining a job portal presence is important for job seekers. This is especially so in Singapore, where competition in the employment landscape is very high due to the influx of foreign talents. If you are actively looking for greener pasture, make sure you have a clear strategy in mind. Below is a sharing by Randy Lim, a recruitment consultant at GSI Executive Search. Randy can be contacted at or randy.lim@gsiconsultants.comJob hunting can be a chore, and it can be quite a tedious process as well, and you’ll be surprised how much time and energy taken up to find a decent job. Here are some practical action that can be taken to better manage the whole process and experience.

Have a dedicated email account for the job hunt, this way you can channel all your information, interview details, contacts, job portal alerts here.

On a more psychological sense, it can help to channel your energy and motivation the moment you open this email account, tell yourself to focus on the job search, not distracted by emails from Facebook, Twitter and other social media alerts.
Of course, please have a professional email address, enough said.

Excel spreadsheet
Open an Excel Spreadsheet.The point is database management. Create a couple of grids on the vertical axis with a couple of suggestions: ‘Date’: ‘Company’: ‘Job title’: ‘Contact Person’: ‘Email’: ‘Contact Number’: ‘Remarks’

Well, this is to help you collect your efforts in an expeditious manner and track your job search progress. So when you get a job alert from your email, say from XWY company for a Technical Specialist, you can drop these details in and also include the source and URL if you want to.

Then input into the remarks part your actions e.g. ’email sent’ or ‘

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Career breaks

This is simply a flawed analysis and a one-size-fits-all kind of advice. Many successful corporate leaders and entrepreneurs have taken career breaks and became even more successful after those breaks.

I have a junior associate who quit last year to tour around the world (using her savings not parents money in case you are wondering) and now ready to return to work. 3-4 firms are competing for her. Some MNCs like people who are well exposed.

Also, getting out without a job and getting in again, it’s all about how one articulates his/her decision to quit. Another perspective is what the person has done during the out-of-job period. Be it charity, helping out family, traveling, or learning a new skills. If there’s something that helped build the person’s strengths, it will only make him/her even more attractive in searching for a new job – Anonymous Reader

The above comment was made by one of my readers in response to my previous article “Why You Should Not Quit Without a Job In Singapore”. His perspective was that taking a career break is good because it helps one to recharge and make a better comeback in their job journey.


While I don’t dispute that taking career breaks are good for us, but I think what he didn’t realize is that most Singaporeans quit without a job because of “escapism mentality” and not because they wanted to pursue other interests or higher priorities in life.

They either hated their jobs or could not handle the stresses at their work places, so they quit without a job. The reality is that most of them did not make any grand plans to do volunteering work or learn a new skill. An example would be one of the local finance bloggers, who proclaimed that he

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Singaporeans need reality check before asking for $6,000 salary

According to a recent survey conducted by, it was revealed that 83% of Singaporeans were not happy with their income. The report also stated that Singaporean workers felt that their pay should be increased by 10 – 20 percent and that their ideal monthly salary should be at least $6,000 in order to sustain the current cost of living in Singapore.
No, I am not crazy but which company on earth would give you this kind of salary increment just because of rising inflation? Singaporeans seriously need to have their head checked and get a reality check.

Most Singaporeans do not understand the principle of ‘perception’ at work. In our workplaces, we tend to have an inflated ego of our own abilities and do not realize that how we perceive ourselves is different from what others perceive of us. We tend to overestimate our intelligence and manifest our contributions to the organization. These are general human fallacies, but I noticed that Singaporeans are never satisfied with their income, no matter how good it is. We always want higher pay as if it is our automatic rights, without linking the increment to performance. Come on, inflation is not a valid reason for pay hike. Only good performance and increased contribution to the company can warrant a pay rise that meets your expectation.

Most of us label ourselves as “kiasu” but in my opinion, I tend to think that we have an individualistic culture. This trait lead us to have strong tendency to rate our abilities and talents too highly. In my career, I have come across Singaporean ex-colleagues who left the company after being over-looked for promotions. Some of them felt that they have become key players in the organization and started to display the classic “indispensable employee

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Important skill

In my previous posting, I highlighted that the most important skill that every employee must acquire is the ability to sell. You can be a sales manager, engineer or accountant in your organization but no matter what your job scope is, it is important to know how to profile yourself and be seen as able to sell your ideas effectively to your colleagues.
But then again, to be successful in our careers, what other skill-sets are needed? Recently, BBC wrote to me and asked me to write an article on what is considered to be the most important skill. I thought hard about it and decided to blog down some of my thoughts with regard to the skill indispensable for people just entering into the workforce.
Singapore economy
Many people claim that they understand the importance of prioritizing their work but not many know how to practice it effectively. For fresh graduates just entering the workforce, mastering the art of work prioritization is of utmost importance. This is especially so in Singapore context, where employees are expected to multi-task and take on additional assignments not related to their core duties. Those with positive mindset may treat such challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
But then again, even the most energetic and positive employees will grow weary and fatigue if they are continuously expected to take on time-consuming tasks or projects. So to be efficient, there is a need to focus on the task priority and accomplish them in the order of importance.
Mediocre workers would often complain shortage of time to complete their tasks but actually, it is a matter of sorting out work priorities. Many of us don’t have discipline when it comes to managing time effectively at work. We often overlook the fact that the ability to manage time
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The New Retirementality you ever wondered how to build your wealth effectively in Singapore? One of the latest additions to my blogroll was “Growing your tree of prosperity”. The author of that blog, Christopher Ng had apparently made enough money to quit from his engineering job and retired at the young age of 39. However, money is only one side of the equation. He is currently busy studying for a law degree to prepare himself for a second career in life. His story inspired me and resonate the teachings in Mitch Anthony’s The New Retirementality (ISBN: 978-1-118-70512-4)Originally written to get the attention of baby boomers, who were approaching 55, author Mitch Anthony started a revolution by showing people why they need to have a new attitude about retirement – a “new retirementality”. More than a decade later, many people are facing a very different retirement reality than previous generations – failing pensions, an endangered social security system, and inadequate savings. They have been forced to face the reality of a retirement that may never happen, or one that will take place much later in life than ever expected.

While most books focus on a “number”, this reliable resource shows readers that attitude is also an essential part of the equation. Including new research and studies on the latest retirement realities, The New Retirementality discusses what it means to retire on purpose; the expanding role of work in retirement; and how one can orchestrate their own future by recognizing their benefit needs. Mitch introduces readers with his latest concept, investing toward a greater Return on Life, to help people rethink the meaning of retirement and put them in a better position to enjoy the new “retirementality” they deserve.

Even though the book is written in the context of western countries with

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More PMETs retrenched in Singapore

Recently, I saw an article in The Straits Times which reported the increasing trend of local PMETs being laid off in Singapore. It brought home the hard reality that professionals and skilled workers are no longer safe from being made redundant in their jobs. From the perspective of a wealth builder, it also reinforced the belief that in order to sustain in this dynamic economy, it is very important to build a solid personal finance foundation and master niche skill sets.

I always encourage young people who just entered the workforce to build up their own emergency funds as soon as possible. Life is always unpredictable. You never know when you will lose your job or encounter personal crisis. Having an emergency fund can help to provide short term security against market uncertainties. It allows you and your family to carry on life as per normal whilst you embark on the recovery journey. Without this sum of money as interim support, you have no choice but to borrow from friends and relatives. Personally, I don’t like to, and have yet, to borrow from my friends and relatives.

Of course, having this emergency fund is only one of the key elements of the personal finance framework. It would not help to enhance your wealth nor elevate you to another wealth level. Put it this way, it is just another money “shield” or protection. To build wealth and be rich and successful in life, you must develop niche skill sets. To know what are your niche skills, what you need to do is think about what you can deliver on your own. For example, developing a high traffic blog on your own without taking the help of others is definitely a type of niche skill. If you keep honing your skills, over

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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

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You Are Not Making Enough Money

The following article is from Guest Blogger, Mike AdamsSales Performance Consultant, Corporate Fixer & Coach in Singapore. In one of my previous articles, I wrote on the importance of learning the art of selling in order to become a successful entrepreneur. This article resonates my thoughts that to be rich and successful in life, you must learn the rope of selling.I don’t know how much money you make but I am telling you, its not enough. You might make $100k a year or a $100k a month – it doesn’t matter, you and I need to make more.

If you are in sales and therefore have the ability and vehicle to write your own pay cheque, your duty is to go out and expand your income. Why? While it looks like the world economy is rebounding post 2009 it is in no way, shape or form back to boom times. Governments are struggling to find their feet and control debt and the government is not going to repair the world economy – business will! And it’s the sales people in businesses that can make this happen.

There is plenty of money in the markets; we just have to get it moving. We have to get it circulating and we, as sales professionals, can play our part. Sales professionals have the opportunity to make more money. Most other jobs are limited in their capacity to “create” more income through their direct actions. In sales you may not know how much income you are going to make month by month. For some that’s scary. Yet for others, knowing how much income they are going to make each month is scary! (knowing that it’s fixed/limited).

Economies need producers and consumers. People and businesses can do both – produce and consume. Don’t

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$3000 income is the new benchmark in Singapore?

Recently, both my wife and myself visited the new Bedok Mall developed by CapitaMalls Asia. We were quite impressed because it is the first full-fledged shopping mall in Bedok. The mall houses over 200 shops across three floors and net lettable area of 220,000 square feet, offering everyday essentials, lifestyle and fashion. The only major disappointment is the lack of cinema.

Anyway, back to the topic on income. We walked past EC House Express Cut and saw the job advertisement for a hairdresser. The advertisement stated the salary of $3000. It was not stated that the position required experienced applicants nor did it state for the preference of Singaporeans or foreign applicants. But I was quite surprised that a hairdresser in Singapore can command such high salary nowadays. After all, when I graduated in 2005, my starting salary was only $2600. So it seems to me that the salary gap between a skilled labor and white collar graduate is closing up rapidly in Singapore. The question now is: are Singapore workforce overpaid or is it a case of high inflation? In today’s context, can a degree really provide good income or open the door to opportunities?

I recall not too long ago, Sakae Sushi offered $3000 for a dishwasher. I am not too sure whether this offer is still open but it caused a lot of debate back then. On one end, the boss lamented the difficulty in filling that position because of the manual work and long hours. On the other end, many people questioned the wisdom of paying so much for an unskilled position. Both camp of debaters have their merits but I just wonder what is the salary baseline for Singapore employees nowadays. A check with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on median gross median income revealed

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Optimizing energy levels

Whether you are a full-time investor, entrepreneur or employee, there are bound to be times when you suffer from some off-days which inevitably affects your productivity. This is perfectly normal as we are human beings and not robots that are built with high level of performance reliability. However, successful people tend to have a knack of optimizing their energy levels for better performance.

In today’s context, being hardworking is not enough to be considered a high performer in the workplace. You need to work smart and not just work hard. To be successful, it is important to harness your energy levels, which can vary across different age groups, environments and personalities. In my opinion, it is possible to manage and optimize our energy levels to bring out the best for work performance. To achieve this, one needs to adopt good habits and internalize them into daily life routine.

Energy levels

For example a professional top currency trader based in Singapore would devise a strategy of monitoring closely the international currency movements he is vested in. To do so, he would have to be disciplined in his daily activities because he couldn’t afford to let slip any unexpected major market fluctuations which may destroy his wealth. He would have to be focused and manage his energy levels well in order to make money from currency trading.

Physical energy level

If you always suffer from Monday blues or encounter problems waking up on time for work on a daily basis, you may struggle to maintain an acceptable physical energy level during office hours. Hence, you need to practice good sleeping habit and make it a point to avoid late night activities. This may sound relatively straightforward but you may be surprised many people don’t seem to get it, especially for those who just join

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The most important skill you must possess

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the importance of sales and emphasized the need to master the art of selling. Most of us would dismiss that the ability to sell is only for salesmen and marketing executives. But I beg to differ and I think that there is no difference between working for money or making money.
In order to excel in your trade, you must be able to sell your ideas and thoughts. If you cannot articulate well and make your colleagues buy-in your thoughts and proposals, it is difficult to progress in your career, no matter how technically competent you are. This is because if you do not know how to sell yourself, your colleagues will have no idea how good you are and very likely, you will be passed by for promotions.
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Sales is King
Last week, my wife and myself went to buy groceries at Sheng Siong hypermart and saw a big crowd outside the store. We went forward and saw a man demonstrating the usefulness of a micro-fiber cloth. It was actually a simple cloth used to wipe table and kitchen top. But he managed to illustrate how stain-free it can be from dark substances like soy sauce and even showed that it can also be used to wipe mirror and sofa seats.

It was a very hot morning but he managed to grab the attention of many people and convinced many people to buy from him. My wife, who is usually not an impulsive spender, bought two packets from him. I thought that within an hour, he managed to make more than a few hundreds of profits! Several lessons can be learned from this episode:
1) To sell effectively, your product must meet a need. The micro-fiber cloth is a simple product,
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Losing your job in Singapore

Recently, Lucasfilm announced that it is laying off games staff in Singapore. As business cycles become shorter and shorter, retrenchments is becoming more frequent in Singapore nowadays. Of course you can also be fired by your boss due to poor performances or for other personal reasons. Whatever the reasons, losing your job can be a traumatic experience, especially in Singapore where your social status is often linked to your job.

SG Wealth Builder has always encouraged readers to build up 3-6 months of income as emergency fund. This will help to cushion the impact of the sudden loss of job. Besides this fund, below are several ideas that may help:

1) Cut down all unncessary spending by deciding what are the “needs” and “wants”. Be prepared to adjust your lifestyle and reduce the frequent fine dinings.

2)  If you anticipated that it could be a long time before you can secure a new job, do consider making more drastic changes, such as selling your car.  However, if the proceeds from selling your car are likely to be insufficient to cover your car loan, check with the bank what are the available options.

3) Re-prioritise your financial goals. If you are the sole breadwinner and is saving up for your children educaton or building up your retirement nest, you may want to consider applying student loans for your kids and putting your monthly savings plan on hold.

4) Consider to liquidate your investments, especially those which can be easily liquidated without incurring penalty costs or capital losses. It is always good to have money in your pocket during rainy days rather than lose them all during market downturn.

5) Curb the use of credit facilities which incur high interest charges. If you have difficult keeping up with debt repayments, you may

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