Edmund Tang, a Senior Industry Development Manager at A*STAR’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), encourages other PMETs who are switching careers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by recounting his own journey.
Edmund Tang, 49, was a Deputy General Manager at an automotive company for 20 years. In April 2020, he left his job due to a lack of passion in his newly assigned role. His plans to return to urban mobility, his expertise, fell apart when the COVID-19 pandemic forced such businesses to scale down.
“I was in a dilemma as to what to do next because what I was strong in was no longer in demand in the industry. I was kind of lost,” said Edmund.
The hiring slowdown during the Circuit Breaker slashed the number of job opportunities available. According to the recent Labour Report, the re-entry rate among retrenched Singaporeans in 2020 was even lower than the 2009 Global Financial Crisis. Despite persisting with his job search, Edmund came to no avail with no companies responding to his applications.
Thankfully, Edmund’s family strongly supported his decision to resign from his previous job. They spurred him on to get a job that he was passionate about, even if it took a while to find. Edmund’s wife sustained their family of four as main breadwinner during his job search.
Seeking Professional Help in His Job Search
After Circuit Breaker, Edmund decided to engage WSG’s and e2i’s career services, which have been heavily publicised on digital media. In June 2020, Edmund connected with a WSG career coach. He was guided through the current employment environment, his career goals, and areas for him to improve in. Edmund was surprised by how the employment landscape has changed since his last interview two decades ago, from industry to hiring trends.
“I learnt that many companies are now using artificial intelligence (AI) to vet resumes. Your resume must meet the keyword criteria for you to be considered for an interview,” Edmund shared.
Photo Credit: A*STAR
In July 2020, Edmund also discovered that e2i provided career counselling and employability workshops. He attended e2i’s Win the Job! series of workshops online, which covered “the whole package”, from finding to securing a job. The three-part series taught him how to analyse job descriptions, how to structure and write his resume to meet the hiring criteria, how interviews are being conducted nowadays, and what hirers look out for in a candidate.
Edmund continued to look for jobs on his own while he met his career coach and attended the e2i workshops. He would amend his resume each time with new tips learnt from the resume writing classes. Edmund’s career coach advised him to expand his career options, given the sluggish state of some sectors during the pandemic. Instead of applying solely to the automotive industry, Edmund’s coach advised him to look into business development opportunities in different sectors.
In total, Edmund sent out 50 applications, of which three returned with interview offers. All his interviews were conducted remotely via video conferencing platforms.
Edmund persevered and took the difficult situation in his stride, with the support of his family, career coach, trainers, and peers of similar situations from the e2i workshops.
Breaking Into The Manufacturing Industry at A*STAR
Edmund’s tenacity eventually landed him an opportunity at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), a unit of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). In September 2020, Edmund attended the e2i Trade and Connectivity Fair to attend an interview he had secured. At the event, he had the opportunity to speak to Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was visiting the event, about his situation. An e2i representative attending the fair had overheard their conversation, and approached Edmund for his resume right after.
On 1 February 2021, Edmund began his new role as Senior Industry Development Manager at ARTC. Edmund’s experience from the automotive industry will help him in his role. Edmund’s reporting officer is in the process of enrolling him for certain courses to grow in this role.
Edmund is grateful to WSG and e2i for guiding him in his employment and employability journey. He encourages other PMETs to stay resilient during this difficult time. Especially for PMETs, landing a job takes active humility, learning, seeking, and problem solving.
He leaves PMETs with 4 key takeaways from his experience:
1. Upsell your soft skills if you lack experience in the field.
PMETs should not let their age keep them from dreaming big and venturing beyond their sector. Edmund learnt from the employability workshops that there is value in highlighting your soft skills too.
“The hard skills may not be there, so it’s more about how to present your soft skills, such as how you understand business acumen,” said Edmund.
2. Seize every opportunity to network.
Job opportunities are limited to job portals or career fairs. During the employability workshops, Edmund met other jobseekers who later became friends. They supported one another in their job search, keeping the group informed via a group chat if anyone caught wind of suitable job openings.
Edmund’s career coach and e2i trainer would also link up with him regularly to check his progress, and sent suitable job opportunities to him.
“It is important for us to recognise the strength of networking. Going down to career fairs to network with employers could be when opportunities arise,” said Edmund.
Photo Credit: A*STAR
3. Open yourself to opportunities outside of your comfort zone.
Moving into a new sector will never be a completely fresh start. There will be chances to use your existing skills, just in a new way.
By being open to expand, not replace, his skillsets, Edmund landed his new job at ARTC, which leverages on his experience in the automotive industry. While not as familiar with manufacturing, Edmund is eager to learn more and eventually turn it into an edge in his career.
4. Making a good first impression matters.
Even if you are familiar with video meetings, video interviews require a greater effort and attention to detail. The e2i workshops taught Edmund how to take note of environment lighting, maintain eye contact, address certain questions, and what to wear to make a better first impression.
Edmund said: “e2i gave us good pointers on how to be confident and project our skillsets through the camera, which was quite a challenge.”