Retail is definitely one of the most affected sectors by this COVID-19 pandemic. My company has then been forced to cut our salary packages, and let go many of the employees especially foreigners. Most of my friends have gone to their home countries since their contracts and permits were not renewed.
I was lucky to have my permit renewed before things got critical, but as circuit breaker ends and foot traffic in shopping malls is rising back, we begin to face a problem: lack of manpower. With most foreign colleagues leaving and my company now only hires local Singaporeans or PRs (permanent residents), our workload just gets more and more overwhelming day after day.
For instance, my team used to have two or three persons a day, now down to only one person. What used to be done by a team of two or three persons must now be handled by just one person. Manpower is critically down, but our workload does not change.. Why? We let go of our existing foreign workers, our existing locals see better opportunities and leave, we are not hiring foreigners anymore, and locals are hard to hire as retail is known to be tough. Ever since a new worker showed up in the morning and just left during lunch break?
Workload is getting crazier everyday, and I don’t see in near future our salary will be back to pre-COVID, so I decided to start job hunting from September 2020.
And the job hunting went fruitless for three months…
During that two years working in retail fast fashion, I saved up enough money and completed a private diploma programme in finance and banking, with the aim to venture into this sector after graduation. Unfortunately, My education level still does not meet the minimum requirements set by MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) to enter any financial services, not to mention that due to COVID, the Singapore government has been actively rolling out job schemes to prioritise and protect the locals.
With only working experience as a retail assistant here in Singapore, again my job options are very limited. The first barrier would be most companies are now only hiring local Singaporeans and PRs (permanent residents). Throughout that three months of job hunting and sending countless applications, I only received and went for one interview, but shortly after it just went newsless.
I was about to give up, until I met a recruitment agent…
After sending him my resume, he said to me frankly that with my working experience, there really were not many opportunities he could find for me.
“What else do you do?” he asked out of random, and that led us to converse about what I did outside of my job: my side hustles of dropshipping, growing my Instagram page to 2 thousand plus followers organically and running this blog.
“Well, why don’t you try and put these works and experiences in your resume as well?”
I was reluctant at first, but then why can I actually lose? Why not give it a try? And so I edited my resume, and wrote about my side hustles and this page on the cover letter and posted them on Indeed.
The effect is rather immediate! I received more calls for interview than I did for the past 3 months in the first week. Below is what I wrote down on my cover letter applying for ecommerce companies.
Greetings, despite my formal job and education may not involve any ecommerce, in my spare time outside of my work, I have set up and been selling sport clothing since 2018 on multiple platforms across Malaysia and Singapore, namely Carousell, Shopee and Instagram. This side hustle has taught me content creation, social media marketing, copywriting, and closing sales over just phone calls and text messages, all while running my online stores as a one-man show. I believe my skillset can provide value to the company if I am given an opportunity to venture into the ecommerce industry.
Eventually, this move landed me a job!
My experience of selling on Shopee and Carousell, and running Instagram pages have led me to self-teach myself some skills, such as content creating, social media marketing, webstore management, etc. And this set of skills matches a company who is expanding their ecommerce store and they are willing and able to issue me a Work Permit!
And so here I am, finally left that retail industry, no more long hours, no more random shifts! Not much change to my income level, but I definitely get a better work-life balance working a fixed 9-5 office hours. Of course, this is still not my ultimate goal, but I feel better than where I used to be.
Would you try side hustle this 2021?
If you have followed me for quite sometimes, you will know that I always encourage people to take up a side hustle. Doing side hustles bring not only monetary benefits, we will also pick up a skill or two along the way. Also, doing side hustle is one of the best way to get to the other side of consumer mindset in the business world!
We would never know if our skills and knowledge outside our formal job or education can be valued by another employer in the marketplace, especially in today’s world where everything is on constant changes. Or we could even start up a business from our side hustle.
One of the best side hustlers I have met is Aisha Preece, I would call her the Queen of Side Hustles. She used to be trapped in a corporate job which was totally against her wanderlust, so she decided to find ways to make money remotely and now she succeeded! And good news, she is actively sharing and teaching people how to do it, check out her blog here.
Therefore, whether it is just a hobby, or freelance, or side gig, we should collect and build a portfolio of our works, so that when we meet a prospective employers, we will have a good collection of work samples to show.
Even if it is a hobby that probably cannot be monetized yet, if you are certain that is where your heart belongs, never give up your passion! Look at gaming just a few years back, it was a just a total waste of money and look at it right now! People are earning money from being a pro gamer, teaching other people play games, live streaming or even just commenting on the games!
Remember, luck is what happens when preparation meet opportunity. When the opportunity arises, be prepared to take the shot!