Workers at the crossroads of their careers are bound to face some fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Aware of these challenges faced by jobseekers, Workforce Singapore (WSG) introduced its volunteer Career Advisors initiative last year, tapping into the expertise of industry veterans to provide peer support and career guidance.
Mr Chok Yean Hung is one such industry captain. The 57-year-old wears many hats: He spent over 30 years in the semiconductor industry, was an engineer who travelled around the world for work, and later became an entrepreneur who grew a number of companies before retiring last year.
With his wealth of experience, Mr Chok now endeavours to help jobseekers navigate their career journeys by understanding their personalities and aspirations, and recommending them the right support based on their needs.
"Through this volunteer Career Advisors initiative, I hope to be able to help shine a torch into the semiconductor and electronics industry, and attract more fellow workers to join its growth in Singapore," he says.
Currently in sectors such as accountancy, electronics, healthcare, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and retail, WSG's volunteer Career Advisors initiative provides opportunities for jobseekers to develop greater understanding of their industry of interest, thereby helping them make informed career decisions with greater confidence.
Here are more ways in which volunteer Career Advisors can assist you in furthering your career goals.
Getting first-hand information on what's happening in the industry
Say, you want to improve your career prospects by switching to another sector, but are at a loss as to where to start or don't have the relevant background. If you are facing this conundrum, you can approach a volunteer Career Advisor for help - drawing from their experiences in the respective sectors, they can provide industry-specific advice and insights to guide advisees in their job search process.
Mr Chok adds: "For advisees interested in the electronics and semiconductor industry, for example, I would share the various sub-sectors and types of opportunities that can fit their aspirations. I would also share, through my past experiences, what it takes to successfully pursue a career within these opportunities."
Jobseekers can consult volunteer Career Advisors to gain a better understanding of an industry in order to be better prepared as they embark on their career journeys, armed with the additional support and guidance.
"You can even consider consulting different volunteer Career Advisors from various industries for deeper insight into the sectors that could potentially be a good fit for you," says Mr Chok.
Staying ahead of the competition with the right upskilling initiatives
Being experts in their field, volunteer Career Advisors are well placed to identify and address possible skill gaps required to switch to and advance in specific sectors. While the approach of individual advisors may vary, all volunteer Career Advisors believe in connecting with their advisees on a peer-to-peer level.
Says Mr Chok: "Prior to offering guidance to advisees, it is key to know their aspirations and areas of competency. Only then can appropriate guidance be given, be it the type of complementary skill sets needed or WSG's various programmes to enhance an individual's market value so they can progress in their careers."
After gaining an understanding of his advisees' career aspirations, backgrounds and transferable skills, Mr Chok then supports them by addressing career gaps and recommending relevant initiatives and programmes that can help them upskill and plug these gaps. He has also counselled individuals on how they can successfully nail a job interview by articulating the unique value they can bring to the hiring company.
Mr Chok shares an example of an advisee who had lost his confidence after facing many rejections from interviewers: "He had been let go from his job in the electronics industry, but was keen to remain in the sector. The advisee went for many interviews, yet was not successful in securing a position despite studying the companies before every interview. So he thinks the reason lies in him not having sufficient knowledge of the companies' solutions or products."
After listening to him recount his experiences, Mr Chok felt that the advisee needed to articulate the value he could bring to the company, instead of trying to impress the interviewer with his knowledge of the business.
He explains: "No interviewer would expect a candidate to be well-versed with its solutions or products. So, to help him move forward, I advised him to focus on highlighting his key competencies and transferable skills before his next interview. A month later, the advisee managed to successfully land a job."
Finding support in your career and broadening your network
The volunteer Career Advisors initiative offers a flexible way for you to broaden your support network and potentially gain an industry mentor. Advisees can choose the duration and number of sessions according to their needs.
For Mr Chok, connecting with his advisees goes beyond a simple Zoom chat. To him, forging a personal connection is important because it allows advisees to develop trust in him, which will help them feel more at ease when discussing their personal challenges and aspirations.
"I prefer meeting face-to-face at a convenient location, as an in-person conversation makes it easier to connect. I'd try to build rapport by asking advisees about their current situation, where they want to go and what they want to do. It is important to help them distinguish the differences between career aspiration or desperation, as the anxiety caused by the latter may cause them to settle for an unsuitable career," he says.
Mr Chok's commitment to his advisees stems from his own experiences. He credits his peers, supervisors, customers and friends as mentors who have shared their learnings and helped him to excel at different stages of his career.
"There were times when [my mentors] had pointed out areas that have blind-sided me - the key was really to be willing to listen and learn from them as they shared their experiences with me. This is how we can challenge ourselves to do better and grow in our careers," he says.
Take the next step in advancing your career - connect with one of WSG's volunteer Career Advisors today.