Unemployed or Retrenched? Here’s Some Help on Managing Finances & Restarting Your Career

WSG - Unemployed or Retrenched? Here’s Some Help on Managing Finances & Restarting Your Career

MoneySmart editorial guidelinesRecently, I just got news from an ex-colleague that half of her department was retrenched due to Covid-19’s impact on the business… herself included.

In other news, a few people close to me have been unable to find a job as companies have slowed hiring… so they’ve begun either brushing up their skills through online courses, taking up part-time jobs doing food delivery, working as Covid-19 swabbers under the SGUnited Jobs Initiative or taking up an SGUnited Traineeship.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, the annual average unemployment rate ranged from 1.9% to 2.3% from 2010 to 2019. The annual figures aren’t yet released for 2020, but as of now the seasonally adjusted rate for Q1 is 2.4% and the preliminary number for Q2 is 2.9% — both figures higher than the annual average of past years’.

Although it’s worrying when news outlets report that Singapore’s jobless rate is the highest in more than a decade with retrenchments doubled, one silver lining is that Singapore’s economy could see a strong recovery next year.

Our gross domestic product (GDP) may have shrunk 6% this year, but the Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office predicts that our GDP will expand by 7% in 2021. It’s certainly something to look forward to but the uplift will not be instant.

Meanwhile, for those of us who are unemployed or retrenched, there’s still help and support available to us for managing finances and restarting our career. Here are some useful tips and avenues to turn to:


Tips to manage your finances

When you’re out of a job or still trying to snag one, it’s indeed stressful as no income is coming in but all your regular financial commitments such as your mortgage, other loan repayments, study fees for your children, household expenses, utility bills and more still keep coming.

Here are some quick tips to manage your finances:

1. Track all of your expenses on an app or excel sheet
Being cognizant of where your money is going would better help us keep to a budget. A few dollars here and a few dollars there could balloon into hundreds of dollars at the end of the month.

2. Identify the essential expenses
A simple analysis could have you identify essential expenses. Try to get rid of the rest until you are in a better financial situation.

For example, essential expenses include rent or home loan payments, other monthly repayments such as car loans, student loans, conservancy fees. Don’t forget to pay your utility bills, insurance premiums… and yes, money spent on groceries and transport are important too.

3. Prioritise your payments
If skipping on a payment would incur a penalty or late fee, it’s better to prioritise that payment so you won’t end up paying more. Also, the quicker you pay off your loan, the lower the interest fees you’ll incur.

4. Look for additional sources of income
In addition to turning to part-time work or jobs such as food delivery, you can also look into government assistance and support for those impacted by Covid-19 such as the Covid-19 Support Grant, The Courage Fund and the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme. More information on the various government support schemes and grants can be found on the Singapore Budget 2020 website.

5. Try not to touch your emergency/retirement savings
The general 50/20/30 rule is to spend 50% of your income on necessities, spend 20% on desires and save the remaining 30%. However, in this trying Covid-19 time, many of us are worrying about putting food on the table. Dipping into our savings might be inevitable, but we should try our best not to touch our emergency stash and what we’ve been setting aside for the future.


Ways to restart your career

Whether you’ve been laid off or are still feeling the sting of rejection letters (or silence, which could be worse) from employers, there are still ways to get your career going.

Workforce Singapore (WSG) has a couple of helpful initiatives and programmes, and its experienced career coaches are ever-ready to extend a hand to those in need. Here are some ways WSG can support your job search:

1. Take part in career related activities
Through the MyCareersFuture portal, find jobs in Singapore that match your skills. Get insight into what jobs are popular and which are in demand. You can also sign up for job preparation workshops, walk-in interviews and other career events organised by WSG for Singaporeans.

2. Stay motivated
Unsure how to go about kickstarting your job search? WSG has put together a curated set of self-help toolkit, workshops and career coaching services, specially to help retrenched individuals emerge from the situation stronger. Complete this form for someone from WSG send you a virtual package with helpful resources and assist in making a career coaching appointment.

3. Use career-matching services
WSG also provides career-matching services, which increases your chances of landing a suitable job. Through WSG’s Career Coaching services, talk to an expert to identify your strengths and weaknesses. They can also suggest suitable career options and give you pointed advice on how to dazzle your future employer or stand out from the crowd by honing the right skills.

4. Amp up your CV
If you haven’t updated your resume in ages, WSG has some useful templates to get you started. You can also peruse the various resources on its MyCareersFuture.sg Careers Toolkit site such as this article on the do’s and don’ts of resume writing.

5. Upskill and reskill
If you want to upgrade your skills, take this downtime as an opportunity to do so. Under the SGUnited Skills Programme (in collaboration with SkillsFuture), find out what programmes are available and what training grants you could be eligible for. If you’re considering a career switch, you can also look to WSG’s Professional Conversion Programmes or opportunities for mid-career individuals to gain experience with host employers through the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways.

6. Access the Employment Support Guide on the LifeSG app
The LifeSG app (previously known as the Moments of Life app) recently released employment support guides for job seekers in June 2020. This app, under Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, gives citizens convenient digital access to more than 40 services from various government agencies. In particular, individuals can refer to the employment support guides in the app to help them make better informed career decisions.


How these tips and initiatives come together to help an individual

There are so many pieces of the puzzle, but how do they all fit together? Let’s look at a quick scenario:

Who: Mr Tan, 42, recently retrenched, married with 2 kids in primary school
Last drawn salary: $3,500/monthMr Tan knows that the job market is slow right now due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. He also has 2 kiddos that depend on him. His wife isn’t drawing a high salary either. Instead of lamenting the loss of the job that he’s been in for close to a decade, he decides to move on and take immediate action to restart his career.

Mr Tan’s immediate steps: 

  • He applies for the Covid-19 Support Grant to receive a monthly cash grant of up to $800 for 3 months to tide him through as he searches for a new job
  • He already keeps track of his budget via a mobile app, and goes into his history to analyse what expenses he can cut (maybe those weekly golf games?)
  • He also signs up for work on a food delivery platform (he has a bicycle that he can use to get around his estate)
  • To boost his employability, he also signs up to access WSG’s Career Restarter kit, and downloads the LifeSG app
  • He also bookmarks the MyCareersFuture Careers Toolkit site to go through the content during his spare time, as well as virtual career fair websites

Mr Tan’s plan:

  • He regularly checks in to MyCareersFuture and the Virtual Career Fair page to identify and apply to suitable job roles
  • He registers for WSG’s Career Coaching services through the Career Restarter kit as he’ll get the help of a professional career coach to identify his strengths and weaknesses, figure out possible career routes he can take up, and help him amp up his CV
  • He applies to the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme as mid-career individuals like himself who take on attachments under this programme can receive a monthly training allowance of up to $3,000 per month

Be like Mr Tan. Don’t wait to restart your career. Register for an appointment with a WSG career coach now. This service is complimentary for Singaporeans and PRs.

Act now, no FOMO later.



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