22 Jul Taking a Risk To Impress

When I met Jeff for the first time, never would I have expected him to become one of my greatest success story for employability training.

I have been conducting employability workshops for more than ten years. Many PMEs come for a quick refresher regarding Job Search, Resume & Cover Letter Writing. By observing their behaviours, I can usually intuitively tell who were unemployed longer.

That’s why Jeff stood out in the crowd.

Jeff walked into my workshop looking like an executive who had come to attend an international conference at Marina Bay Sands. He was in his early fifties. But with his neat dressing, pleasant smile and earnest attitude, he could easily pass off as being in his early forties. It was almost impossible to tell that he had just been retrenched unexpectedly from his company of 10 years.

The first thing that came logically to Jeff was to send job applications in the IT industry. Despite sending 40 resumes in a week to different job openings, he did not receive a single reply.

“How long have you been doing this?” I was curious.

“Six months. 10 resumes. Everyday.” He managed a smile.

I was fascinated by his stoicism. There is something about people born in the sixties. They have the tenacity to plough through regardless the odds. Six months is enough. I was quietly determined to change his course.

After my workshop ended, Jeff and I found ourselves a private corner. He produced a copy of his resume. As I had expected, Jeff was sending the same resume to every job application across all industries. It was too general and spoke nothing of his vibrant personality.

We got down to work immediately. He showed me a copy of a job description for an IT manager in a recruitment company. My eyes immediately lit up as I could see the compatibility of Jeff’s skills and personality to the job. We started to decrypt the job description in the ad right away.


After some perusal of the ad, I decided to probe Jeff, “What kind of candidate do you think they are looking for?”

“I know!” Jeff suddenly grasp my hand excitedly. “They might be expecting the IT guy to reach out to the Gen Y! Gen Y are more likely to access recruitment agencies through online platforms!”

His enthusiasm was contagious. In the next hour, I was engrossed in guiding him to accentuate his strengths corresponding to the outcome the ad aimed to achieve. The hirer would have to pick up that quality in a second.

For Jeff, it was an eye-opener to be able to see his resume from an employer’s perspective. Though it was an exhaustive effort putting it together, with a much clearer direction provided to him, Jeff managed to send his resume out that very evening.

That day, Jeff left my workshop a more hopeful man. And I returned home greatly satisfied with the collaborative exchange, I was wondering if I would ever hear from him again. I have trained over 20,000 participants in various workshops, only a handful stayed in contact.

Imagine my surprise when Jeff called me the very next day. He sounded much happier than I had ever remembered him sounding. The recruitment agency had gotten back to him and the CEO wanted to meet him after seeing his resume. I suggested that he prepare an idea map to present to the CEO. Perhaps he could outline his strategies to reach out to the market of Gen Y.

Jeff impressed the CEO during the interview and eventually got the job offer.

A twist of an event sometimes brings new insights to old routines.

Daring to take this plunge to try something new this time paid off greatly for Jeff.

Most job finders tend to fall into a slump, where they end up like Jeff: bulk, mass sending stock resumes to every job opening, and getting dejected when they do not get called for an interview. I feel that what they need most is that fresh insight to revamp their entire approach to job seeking. By pushing Jeff out of his comfort zone, he has risen up to the challenge and successfully conquered it.

Injecting a refreshing outlook into this seemingly tedious task of job seeking undoubtedly will be the highlight of my career.



Adrian Ang

Adrian is the CEO and co-founder of Centre for Career Excellence. After 10 years of training over 50,000 career seekers in employability programs, Adrian champions coaching with learning within a community for career growth and excellence. He enjoys exploring multiple ideas and possibilties that can integrate into programs to produce tangible outcomes.

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