Flexibility will impress future employers, Gan tells youth who raise discrimination concerns
Monday • April 20, 2009
By Esther Ng
Any job should do? Gosh, that's such shockingly bad advice. It could only have come from a politician with a vested interest in being able to report lower unemployment figures.
AS A fresh graduate, do I really have to accept a blue-collar job?
This plaintive question — sent via SMS by a participant in the audience, who worried that it would affect one’s shot at a PMET job after the economy recovers — drew some laughter as it was read aloud.
But Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong was in earnest as he advised this participant, and the other 80 or so youthful participants at the dialogue session with Young NTUC, to be flexible when job-hunting in a downturn. He urged them to “take up any job that is available”, as there would always be “opportunities to upgrade later on”.
Say an employer asks why you’ve not been working for the past one year — do you answer that there were “no jobs available”?
“Employers will not believe because there are always jobs available,” said Mr Gan. “Employers will think ... if in a crisis situation you’re willing to sit at home and do nothing, it means that you’re not flexible.”
The government may like to treat you as a digit, but you don't have to treat yourself like that. Please give your own future a little more tender loving care.
While times are bad in general, they are not equally bad for everyone. If you are really having serious financial difficulties, then Gan could be right. You might have to grab whatever job you can find (for example, I hear that MacDonalds still needs waiters). However, if you aren't that desperate, then do consider proceeding less hastily.
Fresh graduates may not realise it yet, but an impressive c.v, (and that means one which has been carefully built over the years) is one of the most important assets you can ever have for your career. And among other things, an impressive c.v. should reflect a clear sense of direction and purpose, with a consistent positive theme running through it.
For example, an impressive c.v. should show how the candidate had carefully chosen each role, had gained good experience in it, and had then used this experience to progress to his next, higher value-added role. The c.v. should show how the candidate consistently secured jobs with the most reputable companies in each field. The job history should demonstrate that the candidate really has the kind of skills, strengths and interests that he claims to have.
In contrast, a poor, "patchwork" c.v. would show a candidate moving from job to job, without any obvious strategy or plan. After all, he's there just for the sake of having a job, not because he's genuinely interested in it. And his jobs don't build on each other in a helpful way. One year he's a MacDonalds waiter; next year he's a primary school relief teacher; after that he joins the SAF; two years later, he's selling insurance.
Gan calls this "flexibility". But sorry, such a c.v. is not impressive to me at all. It is merely what happens when you take the"any job should do" attitude to your own career.
Now, if you're not that desperate for money, I suggest you consider being more patient with your job search. While you're still searching, use your personal time constructively. Read and self-learn; or take short career-related courses like these or those (whatever's relevant for you).
And take some time to chill out and relax too. Tough times won't last forever. After all, as the ever-astute Buddha had pointed out - nothing is permanent.