A 48 yr man and jobless for 5 yrs, asks Gilbert Goh for advice. "Five years of unemployment is a seriously long time. How do you survive then?... Remember that there is always light at the end of the long dark tunnel."

48 years old, jobless for 5 yrs and badly burnt out in stock market and totally depressed

Question from a Singaporean to Mr Gilbert Goh:

Any advice for a 48 yr man, jobless for 5 yrs and badly burnt out in stock market and totally depressed.


Mr Goh’s reply:

I empathise with your situation. Five years of unemployment is a seriously long time. How do you survive then?

I have met some people of similar situation when I worked with the CDCs. They are termed “long termed unemployed” (LTU) and proved to be very challenging to work with.

I have attached an article here when we started a support group for this group of LTU. Please take a look at the article as it is very motivational (attachment).

Few things that you have to think about now:

1. What do you want in your life right now? I presume that you have some skills and work experience before. Write down your skills and talents on a piece of paper. Frame them up on the wall or put it in your wallet. This is to remind you that you are still useful and valuable despite all the setbacks that you have encountered. Go to this website which is a marvellous site for job seekers www.jobhuntersbible.com. It has many invaluable tips on job hunting.

2. Job search. I presume that you are looking for a job albeit fruitlessly. Sometimes when one is jobless for too long it is very difficult to take the step back to employment again. There is the certain inertia in us to carry on what we have being doing all along (staying jobless) even though that can be miserable and frustrating. The confidence and self esteem have taken a hard battering, so to crawl back to working again can be tough. But never stop trying searching or else the situation will get harder. Try to plan a timetable for the whole day so that you know what you will be doing next. For example, you can plan an hour a day for job search through the newspapers’ advertisements and internet job sites, among others. The rest of the day is left for reading, exercising, networking, volunteering, etc.

3. Try to narrow down a certain job market that you are looking at. For example, if you are keen on being a cab driver, go all out to get the licensing to be one. If you prefer to work in the public sector, go all out to search for work along that sector. If we do not narrow down our choices, we may end up with nothing in the end. So take the time to plan and write down one or two specific sectors of interests before you embark on a solid job search. Have a certain target mapped out; example, email ten prospective employers a day or try to have three interviews a week, etc. Some of my jobs in the past are all cold calling kind; that is, I emailed them after I found them out from their websites. I managed to land two jobs in the past using this method. Try it as it cut down a lot of competition compared to when you applied from newspaper or the employment agencies.

4. Are you open to part time (PT) work? There are various readily available PT positions in the market. I used to teach English to students from China when they were here and the pay is not bad – between $30-50 an hour. One can get around $2500 a month if he teaches at least 3-4 hours a day. You can go to the google or yahoo search engines and search for all the private schools we have here. You would be surprised that there are about a hundred such private schools offering English courses to foreign students. You don’t need a degree to teach so the entry criterion is relatively simple. Let me know if you need some help here.

5. Keep the chin up. This is important as when we are jobless we are often depressed and feel helpless. Do the few things that I have advocated in my article – exercising, reading, counselling, etc so that you won’t feel so discouraged. I used to hang out positive messages on the wall or fridge, “Tough times never outlast tough people”, “There is always a rainbow behind every storm” to psyche myself up.

6. If you are open to counselling, there are several family service centres that offer almost free face-to-face counselling. Let me know if you need some introduction here. I can forward you some centres for appointment. You can also try Care Corner Counselling or their other centres spread around the island. Bear in mind that you have to go to the nearest one; that is, if you stay in Ang Mo Kio you have to go to the Ang Mo Kio centre due to the geographical constraint here. For financial assistance, you can go to the nearest Community Development Centre (CDC) provided you meet their criterion but no harm trying. You can also go to CDAC (Chinese Development Assistance Council) at Paya Lebar where there is financial aid and job matching facilities. They are located off the Lion City hotel building and I think it is easier to apply there than CDC. I know as I have worked in both these two organisations before.

Do continue to email me if you need further assistance. Remember that there is always light at the end of the long dark tunnel. Never cease looking around for work as once we stop that will be very difficult.