Published on 28 Oct 2021

Let’s Level the Playing Field

To address inequality in the recruitment landscape, four students with passion in human resource consulting put their hearts and heads together to help jobseekers find their way.

During a summer attachment at Nanyang Business School (NBS), part of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), 2nd year student Lim Kai Ning had the opportunity to work in the recruitment industry. It opened her eyes to the systemic inequalities and biases in the job market.

“I saw many jobseekers struggling to gain better career opportunities, and some spending their entire lives ‘stuck’ in a single industry or career trajectory with stagnant income,” she recalled. “Many did not know how to ‘brand’ themselves, showcase their value, while others seemed lost ‒ unsure of what they wanted in their careers,” added Kai Ning, who graduated in 2018 with a Double Degree in Accounting and Business specialising in Human Resource Consulting. Kai Ning is now an Assistant HR Business Partner at Unilever.

Kai Ning wanted to help jobseekers access career resources and gain practical career skills that would improve their prospects. “We started CareerSocius so that no one feels alone in their career journey. ‘Socius’ is Latin for buddy or friend, symbolising our aim to always be a friend to our clients,” she explained.

CareerSocius founders, Lim Kai Ning (left) and Bertrand Wong (right), receiving the Colab4Good grant from Nanyang Technological University in 2017.

What is CareerSocius?

CareerSocius is a social enterprise comprising a strong community of working professionals in a variety of industries and roles that aims to help job seekers score their dream roles. CareerSocius helps to build and enhance personal branding that enable job seekers to clinch dream jobs and better navigate career journeys through one-to-one consulting services, workshops, and digital courses. They provide workshops and digital courses to various organisations and institutions, including NTU and NUS.

Social impact is at the heart of CareerSocius. Realising that at-risk youth are a segment that still lacks access to career services, the team regularly conducts pro-bono workshops for organisations such as People’s Association (PA), Ministry of Social & Family Development, Mendaki, Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), and Young Women Leadership Connection.

At the same time, our community of working professionals extends community outreach to individual job seekers, helping them on a one-to-one basis. Realising that at-risk youths were a target market segment that no one was reaching out to where employment was concerned, CareerSocius also set out to engage them.

Self-discovery and Presentation Workshops

To be effective, workshops happen over three steps. “The first step encourages our clients to understand themselves and explore a career that suits them best, followed by a career preparation service to coach them on how to write a resume and cover letter, create a LinkedIn profile, and train for interview skills. Finally, we touch on career development to help them assess how they can excel in their jobs, build effective networks, and maintain a professional image,” explained Kai Ning.

One value-add that CareerSocius provides is up-to-date job market intel. “Many at-risk youths are encouraged to take on jobs that suit their current level of education and skills. “By helping them understand themselves better and highlighting the possible careers that are in store for them, we help them set higher goals,” she added.

CareerSocius founders, Boon Yu Pei (second from left), Lim Kai Ning, Bertrand Wong and Goh Duo Geng (right) holding a resume and interview workshop segment in conjunction with Toa Payoh East-Novena Edusave Merit Bursary Awards Presentation in 2017.

Where Everyone Is Welcome

As an enterprise, CareerSocius offers various branding packages depending on the requirements of the client. Each package includes a personal consultation, where a consultant chats with the client to understand his/her career aspirations and to clarify past experiences and achievements.

As a social enterprise, it provides a financial assistance scheme for clients who need them. “We are accessible to everyone and will be glad to waive or reduce our prices. Through this model, we hope to leave no one behind,” said Kai Ning.

A Meeting of Minds

The co-founders met at NBS, and their friendship soon became the bedrock of the initiative, and the NBS spirit of giving back strengthened their commitment.

NTU provided initial capital into CareerSocius through the Collab4Good Fund. “We pitched CareerSocius as a social business and received $10,000 as initial start-up capital. We recruited our first initial pool of over 20 working professionals, all peers from NBS and NTU,” recalled Goh Duo Geng, who graduated in 2018 with a Double Degree in Accounting and Business specialising in Banking and Finance, and is now Chief of Staff at Glints, a series C HR and Ed-Tech start-up.

“We started in 2017 on Carousell, providing resume-writing services, slowly gaining traction as more clients began engaging us for affordable quality resume-writing services,” explained Boon Yu Pei. One of their friends later roped them in to conduct a career workshop as part of his constituency’s annual Edusave awards ceremony.

“That was our first CareerSocius workshop for 100 youths in a community centre, paving the way forward” she added. Yupei graduated in 2018 with a Double Degree in Accounting and Business specialising in Human Resource Consulting and is now a Finance Manager at OCBC Bank.

Today, CareerSocius is 17-member strong and has served some 5,000 clients and beneficiaries. “For our consumer-facing business, we’ve had extremely satisfied clients who secured their dream jobs. We’ve also helped some through their salary negotiation process with positive outcomes,” said Duo Geng. The enterprise-facing business aspect has seen partnerships with universities to deliver workshops and e-lectures to help place students at top companies, including consulting firms, banks, technology companies, as well as in public service.

Juggling Priorities

“Back then we were in our final year with just a handful of modules to clear and fewer co-curricular activities to juggle,” recalled Bertrand, who graduated in 2018 with a Double Degree in Accounting and Business specialising in Human Resource Consulting. Bertrand is now a Reward Business Partner at Schneider Electric across East Asia and Japan.

Now that all of them are holding full-time jobs, managing CareerSocius at the same time is more challenging even as they set aside time after work and pack weekends to the brim. “Being a part of CareerSocius has improved my time management skills as I juggle between work, CareerSocius-related tasks, exercise, and me-time. It might mean giving up that additional episode on Netflix or missing an hour of sleep, but that just makes my priorities clearer and the day a lot more fulfilling,” said Yu Pei.

Looking Ahead

“We are looking at more creative ways to ramp up our social impact efforts and to strengthen our collaborations with our current partners and beneficiary organisations,” said Bertrand. “Bringing our services to the youths by collaborating with secondary schools, junior colleges, and polytechnics are definitely on the cards too,” he added. 

CareerSocius founders, Boon Yu Pei (left), Lim Kai Ning, Lim Zheng Peng and Bertrand Wong (right), at the Wake Up Your Idea Festival in 2018.