In 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, 114 million worldwide people lost their jobs, according to the World Economic Forum. The International Labour Organization estimates that the number of working hours lost that year alone was equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs and US$3.7 trillion in income.
Singapore, whose labour force is its only resource, was hit particularly hard. By the third financial quarter of 2021, the number of people employed in Singapore had fallen by 196,400, according to HRMAsia.
During that critical time, it was essential that Singapore’s government cushion the loss of livelihoods by ensuring that jobseekers and employers were optimally matched.
Enter the MyCareersFuture job-matching portal, an initiative by state agency Workforce Singapore. Around 300,000 individuals and 51,000 employers used the portal for job searches and hiring last year, an almost threefold increase from 2018, the year it was launched.
Rathakrishnan Govind, Chief Executive Officer of the London School of Business and Finance, says the pandemic put a dent in his organisation’s hiring operations in Singapore.
“As part of its ongoing expansion, [the London School of Business and Finance] in Singapore continues to look for talents keen to be part of the team that provides a good student learning atmosphere to nurture our future talents. However, we continue to face challenges with our hiring needs, as we were unable to organise outreach events over the last two years to expand our reach to prospective candidates,” he says.
When it comes to selecting job-matching portals Govind says two criteria are critical. The first is an easy, seamless process when uploading job listings, and the second is that there are tools available for candidate screening and processing.
The MyCareersFuture team engages with users regularly to co-create features and ensure that the portal’s enhancements meet users’ needs. “User centricity is central to our user experience design mantra,” says Lynn Ng, Group Director of the Careers Connect Group at Workforce Singapore.
The portal development team has used an iterative machine learning model to power the job search engine, job recommender and talent suggestion feature.
“This means that our jobseekers are recommended the most relevant jobs based on their skills, past applications and past searches,” Ng says. “Simultaneously, employers can reach out and invite suitable talents … to apply to their jobs through our suggested talents feature.”
The model is being continuously refined as users interact with the site. “Through user engagements, we have also introduced a personalised dashboard for jobseekers [based on] one’s skillsets, recent searches and jobs that others with similar profiles had applied to,” she says.
Govind says two features particularly useful to his team are the “talent search” and “suggested talents” functions. Additionally, having a direct hiring portal cuts out any need for third-party employment firms.
“Being able to see jobseekers’ active status is another useful element, as it allows us to know which candidates are currently in the job search phase,” he says.
Reducing mismatches, helping career pivots
As a result of the pandemic, in particular, employers are not only redesigning jobs, but also widening their searches for candidates. “We look beyond a candidate’s employment history and review individual skillsets that are of value and relevance to us,” Govind says.
MyCareersFuture’s skills-to-jobs matching technology aims to minimise missed job matches by recommending people for jobs that match the skills they have tagged in addition to the job titles they have indicated a preference for. For instance, if someone searches for a job using the keywords “communications manager” and inserts their current skills, they may also be recommended jobs relating to marketing or journalism.
“[With the portal], we were able to connect with candidates who did not apply for a position for us, thereby increasing our reach to more prospective candidates in the process,” Govind says.
The London School of Business and Finance has hired 10 employees in the past three months, half of them through MyCareersFuture. It made its quickest hire in two weeks and its longest didn’t take more than a month.
Rebranded last year as Workipedia by MyCareersFuture, the portal has seen close to 3 million visitors since January, 42 per cent of whom were returning visitors. The site boasts multi-format content ranging from articles to videos and quizzes to cater to the diverse needs of jobseekers and employers.
“Workforce Singapore will continue to improve on the portal to maintain its user-centricity and usefulness to employers and jobseekers,” Ng says.