At the age of 57, Osman Bin Aspari still had a desire to pursue his passions. After 31 years of working nearly a 24/7 schedule managing staff and coordinating rehabilitation programmes for prison inmates, he felt he was ready for a change and looked ahead for new opportunities.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” he recalls. “I wanted to see how else I could apply my talents.”
However, in today’s hyper-competitive job market, it’s not just about having ambition and talent. Potential employees like Osman are expected to sell how their skills from previous roles, can be applied to a constantly advancing workspace.
But even this is not a guarantee, as younger applicants too are finding it difficult to secure interviews.
At first, Osman had some initial success, he landed a volunteering job providing care for at-risk youth, but quickly realised that it wasn’t what he wanted. He resumed his search anew, this time shifting the focus from what he wanted, to what he could offer.
Patience is needed, as the search can take time
For Osman, it took almost nine months after leaving the prison service to find the right role.
“Initially, I was very frustrated and depressed when I did not get any response from my job application, and not even a single interview invitation,” he shared.
“But I kept telling myself not to give up, and there are always opportunities out there!”
Knowing what you can contribute
Understanding your strengths and how they align with your goals is a key step. “Operations and managing people are my forte and I realised that many teaching institutions were looking for this skillset, so naturally that’s where I applied to,” says Osman.
But the narrower the scope, the tighter the competition. Even though he had now set his sights on opportunities where he thought his skills would be valued, he found more rejection than ever, stating: “It seemed that every time I applied I always got responses telling me that I wasn’t successful.”
He also struggled to measure how much or how little he should disclose on his CV. And when he got the rare chance to interview, he says: “Interviews were also tough. I also found it difficult to answer some questions that I thought were intimidating.”
With more questions than answers, Osman was at a loss, he believed he had all the right skills and was looking in all the right areas, so what else did he need to get his foot through the door?
Lacking any good solutions and after hearing how WSG’s career services helped one of his daughter’s friends find a job, Osman decided to contact them himself.
Your skills are unique
Soon, he was assigned a career coach from WSG’s Career Matching Provider, Ingeus, to guide him and quickly noticed the trajectory of his job search changing course.
As he started the process, Osman’s career coach assessed him and helped create a personalised plan to outline his goals and how he could achieve them. This 1st step of a scorecard system gave him new insights into his unique capabilities and how he could leverage them to improve the chances of being an ideal candidate.
First, his career coach helped point out that his main asset is a unique management style developed through 31 years of working in the rehabilitation industry. This was a critical communication skill that relied not only on giving orders to a single group, but facilitating demands and balancing expectations of all at different levels within the organisation.
“I realised that my strength was communication, not only with upper and middle management but with vendors and the inmates themselves. I had to constantly adapt the way I talked with each group to get things done,” says Osman.
This advice allowed him to understand that it wasn’t enough to just list generic skill sets, it was presenting them at an angle that made those skillsets an irreplaceable addition to the job he was applying for. With this knowledge in mind, he could now highlight this to potential employers through his CV and interviews.
“It’s now a skill I apply to everything I do,” he says.
Put forth your best self
Osman and his career coach then targeted the two other areas he found that he needed the most help in:
- Building an impressive CV
- Improving the way he performed during interviews.
Osman was also impressed with the hands-on approach his career coach had, working closely together with him and keeping him informed of potential opportunities along the process.
Starting with his CV, his career coach recommended specific CV building workshops in the WSG Career Matching Services catalogue. These seminars helped him highlight additional experiences and skills he possessed to help improve his attractiveness as an applicant.
Additionally, he also learned a number of techniques that improved his chances of callback interviews, saying, “My coach not only helped me to fine-tune my CV but also with other soft skills like showing continued interest by sending follow-up emails to prospective employers.”
These tips were important in furthering his chances by giving employers a better picture of Mr Osman’s drive and enthusiasm.
Next, Osman and his coach worked on his interviewing techniques, which he felt had been a significant hurdle. “At my age, I tend to get very anxious during the interview process,” he says.
“And sometimes I felt that my answers backfired and diminished my chances.”
With the help of his coach, his approach to interviews shifted significantly.
By addressing and changing ineffective engagement habits, clarifying his points, learning how to answer tough questions and asking intelligent ones, he was able to gain confidence and the advantage during interviews.
Getting the job isn’t the end of the journey
Today, Osman is happily employed as the Operations Manager at a junior college. He still speaks to his Ingeus career coach about additional programmes that could help support him in his current position.
Upon reflection, he revealed: “Frankly, the journey was tough at times, and I would get upset when some employers didn’t even reply to my applications.
“And during interviews, they kept telling me I didn’t have the right skills they wanted. But my family were really supportive and encouraging, helping me vet my resume and looking for job openings as well.
“They kept reminding me not to give up hope, and were the ones who suggested that I get a career coach to help with my job search!
Through the many setbacks of job seeking with limited prospects, Osman credits his career coach as a partner that has helped guide, empower and develop him to be the perfect fit for his role today.
“My career coach was really my biggest hope, as she taught me many skills,” he concluded.
Did you know?
A profile with an updated work experience on MyCareersFuture is 75% more likely to be noticed by employers. This is because the MyCareersFuture jobs portal allows employers to view candidates’ work experience conveniently, without even having to download individual resumes. This helps them to identify potential talents quickly.
So, if you’re looking to stand out and get noticed by more employers on MyCareersFuture, don’t forget to update your work experience on your profile!
Stay on top of your job search in just 3 steps:
- Log in to MyCareersFuture with your Singpass
- Click on your name at the top right corner, then on ‘profile’ and scroll down to ‘work experience’
- Fill up the relevant fields and add your latest work experiences. Remember to set your profile to ‘open to opportunities’.