In March, following a three-month job search and nearly 100 applications, Mr Sukaimi Sukri was getting increasingly worried about his chances of finding employment.
There had been a few promising leads and many phone interviews. He was waiting to hear back from companies after the Chinese New Year period ended.
But then, Covid-19 broke out in Singapore and job vacancies started disappearing. Rejections were rife as companies reconsidered their hiring plans.
"I felt a bit helpless and disappointed because nothing was working, even though I was trying different portals," Mr Sukaimi, 41, told The Straits Times last week.
Movement restrictions to curb the spread of the virus made the search even more challenging, he said.
"Before Covid-19, you'd always go out and start networking, but now you cannot. And interviews over Zoom are different from meetings in person."
A divorced father of two, Mr Sukaimi was anxious to return to the workforce after taking a year-long career break to recharge. He had been working in media and information technology roles before that, most recently as a freelancer.
So he approached Workforce Singapore's Careers Connect for help. A career coach gave him advice and encouragement and signed him up for a course on professional branding the following week.
After pressing on with his job search, Mr Sukaimi finally landed a job at a multinational media company in late March.
Having seen "how bad things can get" following the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, when he had to close down his business and could not find a job for nearly a year, he took up the offer even though it meant a pay cut of more than 20 per cent compared with his last full-time job.
He said he is grateful to have a job in this climate. He has already started working from home while waiting for his posting to Vietnam, where he will manage marketing technology projects.
"Some of my friends are starting to get retrenched, so I've been trying to spread positivity and tell them 'don't give up'," he said.