I was chatting with an old friend. She's a headhunter specialising in lawyers. 10 years ago, which was probably around the time I first got to know her, her work was mostly about recruiting Singaporean lawyers for local law firms and corporations.
That work has changed with the times. Like many other things in Singapore, her work has become much more globalised. Yes, she continues to be based in Singapore. Yes, most of her clients are still banks, companies and firms located in Singapore. But her candidates have changed.
The Singaporean lawyers are still around, of course. But as a proportion of her candidate pool, they have dwindled. As a headhunter, she is now also placing lawyers from Australia, the UK and India. In fact, she spoke about having to fly to India, to directly interview and recruit fresh law graduates from a top Indian university.
She made one interesting observation. She says that Singaporeans consistently lose out to the Australians, the Brits and the Indians in one important respect. Singaporeans are not as articulate. They don't speak so well. They are more reserved.
So at job interviews, Singaporeans consistently appear to be less capable than they really are. Consequently, the Aussies, the Brits and the Indians often get the job instead. ("In particular, the Indian lawyers," my friend remarked, "are excellent talkers").
My headhunter friend is a little saddened by this. She knows that many of these Singaporean candidates are at least as capable and competent as the foreigners. It's just that culturally, the typical Singaporean candidate does not feel comfortable aggressively tooting his own horn and singing his own praises at a job interview. This misplaced Asian sense of modesty/humility ends up killing his own chances.
Sad to say, you can extrapolate this into a wider context, and see quite clearly how Singaporeans have screwed themselves. The consistent failure of Singaporeans to speak up boldly for themselves has led to adverse consequences, politically, socially and economically.
I have more to say, but I gotta run. Talk more later, in the comment section.