We live in tumultuous times; lockdowns both abroad and at home has meant that the loss of jobs has been accelerated. That said, at the same time, new opportunities are also emerging.

What we’re seeing is the early stages of classic ‘creative destruction‘ – long-standing arrangements and practices will be destroyed to make way for new ones.  This is nothing new, btw, new tech replacing old tech has happened for centuries; it’s just that this time (and the next times), the process is happening faster.

What this means for the average salaryman is this: there will be winners and losers from this pandemic. Some will lose their jobs forever, others will find themselves with opportunities that were until recently, unimaginable.

Our preference? To be on the winning team. I’m sure many readers of this blog feel the same way.

To help ya’ll along we’ve penned down our thoughts into this article on how various person at different life stages can approach the current economic climate.

You are in school or doing your National Service (typically 18-23)

Main goals:

  • Avoid unnecessary debt
  • Accumulate work experience
  • Get in the right mindset

Compared to the rest of us, you’re relatively shielded from the economic impact of COVID-19. Still, the stakes are still high for you; we often praise the  ‘old dog, new tricks’ narrative, but often forget there are plenty of people in a ‘new dog, old tricks’ mindset.

As a Gen Zer, if you approach life the same way your parents did, then you’re in for a rude shock when you eventually join the workforce.

These are two of the best things you can do at your age:

Recognise that higher qualifications doesn’t always mean higher pay

Don’t get us wrong; we are not against paper qualifications, but it’s important for you to realise two things:

  • the longer you spend studying, the less time you take to earn money.
  • more paper qualifications can be expensive
  • The ROI of a Masters

The last thing you want to do? Spend thousands of dollars on a qualification that puts you in debt and doesn’t result in higher pay. It’s true that higher education CAN help you get a higher salary, but it varies from industry to industry. The best thing you can do is to consult people who are already in the industry to suss out the answers.

Talk to lecturers, or even go on Reddit and HWZ forums to find out ground sentiment and real life experience from people. (You can DM us and we’ll try to put you in contact with someone too).

Start getting work experience (or consider a  traineeship)

The sooner you understand how to earn money, the better. Many people spend their 20s fumbling around as clueless adults. By working when you’re in school, you can include the fumbling years as part of your educational experience.

Here’s an exhaustive list of what you stand to gain when you start work early.

  1. Let employers know you know your way around the workplace + work in a team
  2. If you earn enough $$$, you can afford to get the financial independence needed to make decisions your parents might not agree with
  3. Build up a network of contacts which can help in your job search down the line
  4. See what skills the industry needs instead of solely relying on what your lecturers/profs teach you
  5. Get to build up an emergency fund early, and start investing sooner
  6. Realise that your degree is not everything (I know it sounds quite duh, but you’d be surprised at the people who think otherwise)

Tips and resources
The best things you can do for yourself in NS
Gen Y speaks: By age 22, I had tried over 50 part time jobs
The true cost of an MBA

You are a fresh grad (typically 22-25)

Main goals:

  • Be more than your degree; do not be defined by it
  • Don’t be demoralised if you don’t get what you want immediately
  • Fight the urge to think you know everything
  • Prevention: Prep financially to avoid future crisis

Graduating during a year like this one is ALWAYS tough. ALWAYS – just ask your seniors who graduated in 2008/2009. The good news is that if you get through Singapore’s worst crisis since independence, you get to tell your parents that you’ve eaten more salt than them (jk, please don’t).

Here are some things you can consider.

Are you a super high performer, average or someone who’s a work in progress?

MNCs generally take the cream of the crop of the people fresh out of school, so if your grades are not great at the moment, I advise you not to compete with your more academically inclined counterparts.

Why? Because when all you have is a paper qualification, you’re going to be judged by it. Unless you’ve got a stunning portfolio piece or personal branding.  Everybody wants that job at Google or P&G, amirite? But there are only so many positions available .

Which means you most probably have to take up a role at a SME, or a startup: 

We know it’s not as glamorous, but don’t write yourself off yet. You deserve better than that. Many people think SMEs are a dumping ground, but fact is, with the right play, it’s possible for someone to thrive there as well. Think about it this way – it’s often better to be a big fish in a small pond, than a small fish in a big pond

Joining a good SME could mean that your..

  • Contributions are more visible
  • Have less competition when it comes to learning and progression opportunities
  • Resume could look better than someone who joined an MNC who’s stuck in a very specialised role

Of course, some companies – large or small – are just plain toxic. Avoid those like the plague.

Tips and resources:

What I wish I knew what I was a fresh grad 
Deadly wage slave mindsets and how to overcome them
An open letter to all millennials
How to manage convos about salary
Supply and demand and how it affects salary 
Help you company apply for a $10,000 grant 

You lost your job and looking for a new one: (30 onwards)

Main goals:

  • Add to your existing skills with tech literacy to stay relevant
  • If that is not possible, consider a career switch

If you lost your job this year due to retrenchment, don’t feel too beat up about it. The economy is in shambles, and lots of companies are shuttering. It’s not a big deal. Trust us.

What you should work on, is getting back up on your feet. Some industries have been hit harder than others – events, travel, etc – so it’s unlikely you’ll find job opportunities there.

It’s true that passion is important and the ideal job is one that fulfils your Ikigai, but we can’t always choose, especially in times like these where money is tight.

Supply and demand currently indicates these industries (info-comm, tech, healthcare financial services etc), are hiring, so that’d be the first place we look.

Places to search for jobs

It’s often faster to approach hiring managers directly, and just submit your resume. But, failing that, here are some places you can look for jobs on:

Tips and advice: 

Careers Connect’s one-on-one career coaching
SG United and Skills Centres  (somewhere near you)
How to navigate retrenchment 
Job Search Strategies

You are thinking of becoming self-employed/ start your own business 

We’re just going to be direct.

Self employment is not for everyone. It requires tremendous discipline, determination and resilience. In many cases, there will also be considerable startup cost, and you won’t have any CPF contributions. If you’re choosing this route without a clear business plan, we recommend you strongly reconsider.

Outside of a business, here are two common options for self-employment. We list some key considerations here:

  • Private Hire Driver 

    • Not futureproof
    • Low barrier of entry means you’d have lots of younger competition in the future
    • No progression
    • No sick pay, insurance, benefits
    • Read this article 
  • Insurance/Property agent

    • Massive competition (lots of attention given to agents earning big bucks; in reality, only the top few % earn that money)
    • Possible expensive marketing costs (my girlfriend is a real estate agent, she spends about $1,000 a month)
    • No sick pay, insurance, benefits

You are thinking of a career switch:

Making a career switch is a damn serious move, NGL.  You should consider it carefully, and only do it if you are mentally and financially prepared for it. Why?

A career switch usually means you’re going to a new field, which means:

  • You might suffer a loss of income
  • You might be working in company that is unable to pay as well (which is why you got the role in the first place, the most high paying roles already went to that people who are established within that field)
  • It is unlikely you will receive a pay raise

If your industry is going through a damn rough time (events, aviation) or is in the process of decline (newspapers, print, etc) – then a career switch might not be a luxury, and instead the only way forward.


SG United Mid Careers Pathway Programme.

This is a govt led programme for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. You get training allowance of $1,400 – $3,000 (allowance, not salary) for company attachments up to nine months while being placed in a new industry. If you ask us, this isn’t too shabby – usually people have to go without income to change careers.

Professional Conversion Programme

This is a programme catered to Professionals, Manager, Engineers and Technicians by Workforce Singapore (WSG). You can undergo skills conversion and move into new occupations or sectors that have better prospects and opportunities for progression. There’s about 100 PCPs across 30 sectors to support PMETs in career conversion.  No allowance given, you get salary instead.

TESA Mid-Career Advance

This is for Singapore Citizens aged 40 and above to be reskilled or upskilled while holding a tech-related job. Get training for in-demand tech roles in areas such as data analytics, software engineering.

How to determine if a job is suitable for you
RIASEC Test (aka the MBTI of career tests)

Tips and advice

How a Journalist turned Data Analyst
Considerations before you switch jobs in your 30s
Why your job might be less secure than you think; change happens slowly, then all at once

You are thinking of learning a skill:

It is true that at the moment, the tech industry is booming, but that is not necessarily the place you should go. Neither should you immediately assume you need to learn how to code. 

You see, every industry will be impacted by tech in some way; so it’s possible that you stay within YOUR industry, and learn the tech skills relevant to that specific industry, aka Tech Literacy. See what software the new kids are using, spot scan JDs to see which areas you lack.

Don’t forget soft skills!

Repetitive calculations can be done by machines. So is the gathering of data. Your task might seem complex today, but don’t forget that AI is growing at a rapid pace.

To be as future-proof as possible do the things that machines can’t do. Analysing the data and drawing conclusions; persuading a client to purchase something, entertaining people by creating relatable jokes.

Which soft skills to learn:

  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Leadership and Management skills
  • Teamwork and interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability
  • Technology literacy

Good luck, all the best. 

None of this content or our optimism should take away from the hardship many are experiencing right now.

We are also not underplaying how hard it might be to learn new skills or the entering a new field, especially for those who have multiple financial commitments.

As with all self-improvement content; all of our suggestions are easier said than done.

But if I may quote a good friend of mine:

Giving ideas is easy, executing is hard.
Taking on new projects is easy, completing them is hard.
Giving promises is easy, keeping them is hard.
Publishing books is easy, selling them is hard.
Reading is easy, applying the knowledge is hard.
Teaching is easy, influencing the audience is hard.
Starting a business is easy, growing it is hard.
Investing is easy, staying invested is hard.
Getting into a relationship is easy, staying together is hard.
Doing things yourself is easy, doing things together is hard.
Following others is easy, leading is hard.
Thinking the world is wrong is easy, correcting your thinking is hard.

We tend to do the easy things but give up when it gets hard.

Success means getting past the hard parts.


Stay Woke, Salaryman.
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