Covid-19 heroes: Recruiter helps job-seekers get one foot in the door

Recruiter Ryshire Wu launched a pro bono project to help job-seekers review their resumes and prepare for interviews in a tough job market.
Recruiter Ryshire Wu launched a pro bono project to help job-seekers review their resumes and prepare for interviews in a tough job market.PHOTO: RYSHIRE WU

Ms Ryshire Wu, 25, had big dreams in the Big Apple.

At the end of last year, she left her job as a recruiter and relocated to New York City to be with her boyfriend, an undergraduate at Columbia University.

She found a job in recruitment and was looking forward to a new chapter abroad.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic swept through the city, forcing Ms Wu to return to Singapore in March - a month before she was due to start her job.

With work on hold indefinitely and no sign of the pandemic abating, she began applying "frantically" for positions back home, but received scores of rejections.

As companies tightened their belts, she saw her friends get laid off as well as fresh graduates and mid-career workers struggle to find work.

She decided to help others in the same position. During the circuit breaker period, she launched a pro bono project to help job-seekers review their resumes and prepare for interviews, in a bid to better their chances in an increasingly competitive job market.

Data from the Ministry of Manpower showed that unemployment and retrenchments surged between April and June, as the pandemic took its toll on the labour market. More jobs are expected to be lost in the coming months as measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme taper off.

"I wanted to use my expertise to help in a meaningful way. There were waves of people delivering food to the needy, but not as many people were talking about helping with jobs," says Ms Wu.

Since she advertised the free service on Instagram and LinkedIn at the end of April, she has had about 160 people approach her for help.

About 70 per cent were fresh graduates or people with just a year or two of work experience. Others were in their 40s and 50s, including her relatives and friends' parents.


She gave them feedback on how to polish their resumes and offered tips on how best to present themselves during Zoom interviews.

Her advice to job-seekers? Keep resume designs simple and language concise and effective.

One common mistake, Ms Wu notes, is some people tend to use colourful templates for resumes, which may be distracting.

When it comes to describing past positions, she recommends presenting oneself as an "achiever rather than a doer". For instance, instead of saying you "negotiated contracts", say you "slashed costs by 20 per cent by negotiating prices and fees", she says.

"Ultimately, you want to portray to future employers that you understand how you can make a difference."

After applying for more than 50 jobs, Ms Wu landed a position at a recruitment firm and started work last month.


  • This is the fourth of a five-part series in collaboration with DBS to showcase people in Singapore who have come together to uplift the community in these trying times. Read more at

Of late, her pro bono project is slowing down as she has received fewer messages from job-seekers in the past month as more of them have found jobs. But she remains committed to helping them in their journey and encouraging them to press on.

"I want to help people feel positive about their job search because many of them are jaded by reports about the economy contracting and unemployment at an all-time high.

"But you don't have to stop networking, opening doors for yourself and creating new opportunities."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 16, 2020, with the headline 'Recruiter helps job-seekers get one foot in the door'. Subscribe