'I had to tell myself to never give up'

For a year, Mr R. Sun was repeatedly turned down by bosses who felt he might be overqualified or out of touch with the local market, but he never gave up. He caught up with old friends and made an effort to broaden his social circle - and one of thes
For a year, Mr R. Sun was repeatedly turned down by bosses who felt he might be overqualified or out of touch with the local market, but he never gave up. He caught up with old friends and made an effort to broaden his social circle - and one of these contacts pointed him to his current job.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

It took almost a year, 100 job applications and 12kg in weight loss before Mr R. Sun landed a job as a manager with a local engineering firm.

The 47-year-old previously held senior management roles at multinational corporations in China, earning at least $10,000 a month and overseeing projects to move entire factory operations from one country to another.

But returning here after eight years abroad, he found his years of experience snubbed by companies.

"If you apply for middle management positions, they question whether you will stay on and whether you're overqualified," he said.They also feared he might have lost touch with the local market. "I had to tell myself to never give up," he said.

He reconnected with old friends and widened his social network. The father of two even took up a running regime, which helped him lose 12kg in six months.

"I tell people you have to look positive and be full of energy," he said.

"If interviewers look at you and you look sloppy, they wonder if you are a sluggish worker."

In the end, it was through a contact that he found his current job.

He earns half of what he used to and, although his wife is working, they are using their savings to cover some of the children's expenses.

Still, the positivity that he values at work also helps him cope.

"We can manage. If I've got a job, at least the drain on my savings is less," he said, adding that he hopes to progress in his present job.

"When I joined the company, I saw potential and a good road map. I think I can grow together with it."

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline ''I had to tell myself to never give up''. Print Edition | Subscribe