S'porean SME employer describes interviewing 7 job applicants 'not hungry for jobs', sparks debate

Is it all about managing expectations about job expectations this Covid-19 crisis?

Zhangxin Zheng | August 30, 2020, 05:39 PM

One Singaporean employer, Delane Lim, took to Facebook on Aug. 29 to highlight seven interviewees he rejected recently.

The reason? They had too many demands as potential hires.

Lim's post then received mixed reactions but it was widely shared.

Within a day, the post had been shared more than 6,000 times on Facebook.

A critique on current employees' mentality

Lim's sharing was meant to critique what he saw as a segment of the work force still not desperate enough to hanker down and do what it takes this Covid-19 pandemic.

He repeatedly brought up the conditions the candidates had made during their interviews, which made him feel that they did not want the job badly enough.

Some of the conditions include avoiding working on weekends, provision of transport allowances as the person lives too far from the workplace, negotiating salary, and having more annual leave days.

In asking for these additional terms during Covid-19 crisis, he finds these candidates are "not willing to suffer".

Such negotiations makes it difficult for companies to hire locals, Lim wrote.

Here's his post in full:

Nothing against young generation

Speaking to Mothership, the 35-year-old executive director for a few small-medium enterprises (SMEs) said that the seven interviewees are among 18 that he had met recently.

These select seven were the ones that took him by surprise, and clarified that his post was not a generalisation of all young people in Singapore.

Lim also shared about two candidates whom he has hired, including a 40-year-old and a 31-year-old.

Hired two people

Lim said the 31-year-old lives in the east but has no qualms about travelling to the far north to work because of financial needs.

He also said the 40-year-old had been searching for a job for more than a year after working overseas.

This candidate did a PhD and produced good quality work.

For that, Lim said he is appreciative that the candidate is willing to work in his SME.

He also mentioned a relatively young 22-year-old employee in his company who he finds to be more "hungry" than the seven interviewees he wrote about.

Lim elaborated that he also asked questions, such as what does one do during their free time, which helps him assess the candidate's attitude better.

Lim said: "I have nothing against the younger workforce. Because part of our work is in youth development."

Mixed reactions

Lim's post sparked a heated discussion over the difference in expectations between employers and employees.

Among those who agreed with Lim, some described these interviewees as "entitled" and said that they had the same encounters.

Others echoed that the older interviewees and foreigners do not negotiate as much as the younger Singaporeans.

On the other hand, those who disagreed with Lim said that it is reasonable for interviewees to raise these questions about salary, number of workdays, as well as job benefits.

This shows that the interviewees are genuinely considering the job, taking into consideration their other commitments.

Some also highlighted that the post might not have provided sufficient context to support the claims that the seven interviewees are "not willing to suffer" or are "not humble".

Other SME employers grateful for post

When asked about the reactions he received online after his post went viral, Lim said that there are some SMEs employers who contacted him and thanked him for speaking up.

However, he also received hate messages and some even managed to find out his residential address.

While Lim does not feel affected by the negative comments, he expressed concerns about having his residential address published online.

Managing expectations

While some have criticised Lim for being "pro-foreigner" and that SMEs are not paying enough to hire qualified Singaporean employees but trying to squeeze as much value as they can from those they hire, Lim said that he is actually trying to maintain a "local core" in his SMEs.

However, the fact that many local candidates have a higher set of expectations than foreigners might make it difficult for companies to hire locals exclusively as much as they want to.

Lim gave another example of how one of the interviewees he met brought a cup of Starbucks coffee to the interview, which got him thinking if the potential hire was really in need of a job, he told Mothership.

"Their response shows what lifestyle they are living in... which can be scary. Because if the economy is bad and if they are losing their job or jobless, they should be more prudent in the way they spend their money," he said.

Adding on to that, with the government tightening the regulation for work passes, some SMEs might be "forced to think of their own options", Lim said.

This means moving operations offshore to reduce overheads, where there are no levy or extra expenses, and lower pay according to the country's market rate.

That said, Lim does recognise that both employers and employees in Singapore will have to adjust their expectations in the process of hiring.

Despite the mixed reactions, Lim's post has attracted over 100 job applications.

"All parties will need to manage expectations... including us," Lim said.

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