Meet Raphael See. Yes, that’s the friendly-looking guy posing awkwardly at his workstation.
In all honesty, he’s not actually that comfortable being in front of a camera, as his role as a career coach at Maximus is more about toiling in the background to help local jobseekers of all ages and career backgrounds find jobs they need and want.
We wouldn’t say it’s a thankless task, of course, but it certainly has its challenges, as we found out whilst interviewing Raphael to learn more about how he aids local jobseekers. Some background – he is a team leader for Maximus, a career matching provider under Workforce Singapore (WSG).
What’s the difference in Singapore’s job market for generalists and specialised job seekers?
While much has been made about “The Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffle” and how locally-based companies have been hiring in increasing numbers lately, Raphael shared with Workipedia by MyCareersFuture: “In fact, the past few years have been an employer’s market, where they’ve shown a preference for ‘plug and play’ candidates with linear and structured career growth.
“For example, accountants who rise through their career ranks with degrees in the field, and holding quality accreditations such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).”
While previously employers may have been more open to hiring jobseekers with a 70% fit, Raphael revealed that they are now expecting a 90% fit for certain positions.
As such, he believes that for certain generalist jobseekers, an effective strategy would be for them to look beyond more specialist roles and look at those with no ready pool of homogenous candidates to hire from.
As success stories go, he cited a jobseeker he aided recently – Janice – who ultimately landed a role at NUS as a fundraising manager.
“In her case, there are a limited number of fundraising managers in Singapore specialised in institutional fundraising.
“However, we helped illustrate her relevance to the position by drawing on her transferrable skillsets in business development, event management, marketing, and customer service, as well as her background working at institutes of higher learning (IHL).”
Meet Janice, a jobseeker who needed help
We learnt more about Janice’s story in a previous issue of TRUE NORTH, WSG’s quarterly e-newsletter that aims to help local jobseekers navigate career complexities and find roles that match their beliefs, values and principles.
In 2020, having taken four years off to guide her son during his O-levels and help her daughter adjust to Primary 1, Janice was all set to return to the workforce. She was previously working as a program manager at an institute of higher learning (IHL) but decided to take a career break to care for her children.
However, when Covid-19 hit, an attractive job offer she had secured ended up being rescinded, and she suddenly joined the ranks of the unemployed in a stagnant job market, with employers wary to hire at the start of the pandemic.
After several months of unsuccessful job-hunting, Janice reached out to WSG for help and was assigned to MAXIMUS, one of four Career Centres under its Career Matching Services.
This was where she met Raphael, who became her personal career consultant, to provide guidance and direction, especially since Janice had been absent from the job market for so many years!
Raphael shared her challenges:
- Firstly, Janice did not plan out her job goals and was unsure of the latest hiring trends.
- Secondly, her resume was overly broad and failed to give a concise snapshot of her knowledge, experience, and skillset to potential employers. In addition, her resume gave a detailed account of what she had done, not what she could do if given an opportunity.
- Thirdly, her interest in taking on new challenges and wearing multiple hats had unfortunately left Janice with a big problem.
She had held appointments ranging across Business Development, Project Management, Relationship and Event Management, but each were only for short periods of time! This gave her resume breadth but robbed it of depth.
As such, Raphael realized that Janice had a distinct disadvantage and was often overlooked vis-à-vis other candidates with a more focused body of work!
When your career coach gets to work, to get you work
As with all effective action plans, the first thing Raphael and Janice did was to have frank discussions to define her job-search goals.
On one hand, they had to meet her needs, while remaining attainable and realistic. The reality during that time, revealed Raphael, was that there was “a tumble in the number of jobs that forced employers to reconsider their priorities” due to the ongoing pandemic.
Next, Raphael coached Janice on the latest hiring trends.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Zoom interviews and SG United Skills Programmes were her new buzzwords.
To give her resume a makeover, Janice took part in a bite-sized MAXIMUS workshop where an in-house trainer, Azizah Ishak, taught participants how to craft a more compelling narrative to convince employers and ATS alike of what they can offer.
Thankfully for Janice, it only took two weeks of intensive effort before a possible role came up.
NUS, which partners with MAXIMUS for their employment needs, was looking for a fundraising manager.
Initially, given her lack of experience in that specialised field, Janice was sceptical if she was suitable for the role. However, Raphael explained how her diverse skillset was actually a strength, not a weakness for the role.
In reality, NUS was looking for someone with a keen eye for recognising opportunities, organizational skills in managing budgets and schedules, and abilities to build strong partnerships and experience in organizing large-scale events.
The result of Janice’s story: Raphael guided her through the whole interview process, and he was always around to provide words of encouragement and targeted advice.
Thankfully, after three interviews, a written assessment and three months, Janice had secured the job. So, if you’re a jobseeker who’s finding your job search tough, chin up! Perhaps all you need is a friendly career coach too.