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5 jobs in Malaysia that could keep your rice bowl safe during uncertain times

Before we begin, a poll!

When it comes to choosing a job, other than salaries and location of the job, you may consider one that can survive trying times such as a recession and virus outbreak. This is because a virus outbreak (like the one we’re facing right now) or a recession (like the one that happened in 1998) will impact most businesses, especially those that are not under essential services.

Some businesses from as small as your Mak Cik Kiah’s goreng pisang stall, to as huge as retail shops in shopping malls, can no longer operate. And when this happens, Mak Cik Kiah may go out of business while employees at those retail stores may lose their jobs because companies want to cut back on their operating costs.

And this can result in many people getting pay cuts or losing their jobs. Back in 1998 during the Asian Financial Crisis, 84,000 Malaysians lost their jobs. We’re also not trying to scare you, but there are talks of how some 800 million jobs may be replaced by robots by 2030, or when the country enters Industrial Revolution 4.0… whichever comes first. 

Imagine having to compete with a robot to even be a housewife! Gif from Blu-ray Forum

So how would you know what kinda jobs are able to survive times of uncertainty? Well, a quick search led us to SO. MANY. ANSWERS. We already know some of the most common ones include those in fields like healthcare, education, logistics and transportation, among others… but here are a few more which you may not have realised could also tahan turbulent times:


1. IT professionals and technicians

When we talk about the IT peeps, you may think of them as…

…generally the people who help you solve all your computer problems. Ori image from

But IT people don’t necessarily fix computers. In fact, they also develop and maintain sites, systems, and a whole buncha apps (like Lazada, TikTok, Zoom… all those you’ve been using this MCO). We’re also talking about software engineers, cybersecurity experts, and programmers. 

Thanks to the advancement of technology, almost everything we do nowadays – from socialising to shopping and even working – involves the use of technology. In fact, the industry doesn’t only revolve around online platforms, but they also merge with other important industries such as engineering (like 3D printing), accounting, finance and even arts.

Having said that, this may be why Malaysia has seen a high demand for IT graduates in the workforce. 

Despite that, a study by an NGO called stated that jobs in this industry may not exactly be turbulence-proof, but rather, turbulence-resistant. What this means is that the number of job openings for this industry may be high but you may have to upgrade your skills every now and then to remain relevant in this industry especially during trying times.

In addition, you may not have to worry about having your job in this industry being replaced by robots in the future. According to The Jakarta Post, the most obvious way to prevent a robot from taking your job is by becoming a creator, innovator and inventor of the technology itself. Or, at least, become a part of the industry itself la.


2. Online game developers, game streamers and esport athletes

Just recently, the Youth and Sports Ministry collaborated with eSports Malaysia to organise the [email protected] Two games that are reportedly involved include PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang

Img from Kelab Rakan Muda Terengganu Facebook

But wait, why would the govt be so invested in making this challenge anyway? Well, let’s just say when the MCO was implemented, many took the opportunity to turn their gaming hobbies as a source of entertainment or into a career by becoming esport athletes

And this is pretty true considering how the gaming industry boomed after most countries went into MCO or lockdown. It all started when two Spanish footballers, who were supposed to play in a La Liga match, took it online and played on FIFA 20, where a stadium-sized virtual audience watched online.

So when you have this kind of demand, of course you would need to be able to cater to them. And, in this billion ringgit industry (RM2.7 billion to be exact), Jeremy Ooi, a game developer at Kaigan Games, told us that game developer jobs (people who have to code, animate, and design the games) are not really affected as long as they have a good Internet connection.

“If it’s a digital product, it should be fine. Some companies however might partner with other vendors or servicing a client. Those project-dependent jobs are at the mercy of their clients.” – Jeremy to us.

Speaking of clients, since live sport events (like the Tokyo Olympics 2020) have been postponed, organisers generate revenue through advertising by streaming virtual sports. This is why guys like this Malaysian dude called Janda Hunter, may have chosen to be a game streamer.

Azrul Anwar a.k.a Janda Hunter a.k.a J Hunter. Click image to read more about him.

And just like technical professionals, analysts believe that jobs in the gaming industry are also not exactly turbulence-proof but rather turbulence-resistant.


3. Insurance underwriters and agents

In the previous financial crises, Time magazine reported that jobs related to finance are the most recession-proof. And this includes those who work as insurance underwriters and agents. We managed to get in touch with AIA three life planners (their version of agents, we’ll explain why they’re called that in a bit) who told us that insurance jobs are standing pretty strong despite what’s currently happening in the country.

Before joining the industry, Vincent Chan looked into the insurance business model to see if it could survive a financial crisis.

“I came from a business background, and I understand how bad a financial crisis can be. Looking into [the] insurance business model, I believe in choosing a strong company to start with, which is AIA.” – Vincent to CILISOS.

In fact, uncertain times would also mean that the general public would be looking for ways to protect themselves. This is where those working under insurance come in. Aaron Loo, who has been a life planner for three years, told us that this has caused the role of insurance agents to become super duper important.

L-R: Vincent and Aaron. Images courtesy from Vincent and Aaron

In fact, when times are bad, some of their clients might also be facing financial difficulties. This is when an insurance agent can come in to help their clients review their policies, and make necessary adjustments to accommodate their financial situations.

At the end of the day, a responsible insurance agent (emphasis: responsible) isn’t one who only sells, sells, sells. It’s one who helps you plan your life and helps takes care of you when the going gets tough.

Speaking of which, another agent named Sara Amina Amin told us that she had always heard how seniors life planners survived trying times. But she only get to experience this first hand when she first joined the industry two years ago.

This is Sara. Image from Sara

“They (senior agents) made me realise that the insurance industry is one strong industry that could withstand any economic or political hurls that come forward. Now that I’m in this industry going through it first hand, I can truly share that all I heard all these while is true.” – Sara.

Well, if you’re still skeptical and worried about joining the industry (maybe you’re scared of getting pay cuts or worse, not making any money at all!), then Vincent suggests that AIA Elite Academy is a fantastic starting point. This is because AIA financially compensates you for the first 18 months of your career with its structured allowance, while you build your own network of customers, but of course you would need to put some effort to qualify for it la. So if you’re used to getting a monthly salary but wanna try going into this industry, you have one less thing to worry about cos AIA is paying you to… LEARN! (really wan!)

In fact, you may not need to worry about job security because, according to Aaron, the industry is always looking to hire people.

“We (AIA) also actively do recruitment for talents to join our business and team. In trying times like this, there are many people struggling with their current jobs. Some are out of jobs. And as an industry and an agency force, we provide solutions to those who are seeking for job opportunities.” – Aaron.

He also added that being an agent is really helpful especially in trying times because agents are taught to be prepared for uncertain times by taking care of their health. This way, AIA has created a more revolutionary of approach on selling insurance – it’s no longer just about selling and selling but protecting people’s wellbeing, which is also why their agents are called life planners.

And you may not even worry about getting replaced by robots because, according to Vincent, customers would prefer humans to assist them throughout the process over a robot.


4. Content creators, entertainers, and even… social media influencers!?

Ok ok, we heard you. Many entertainers have said that they find it hard to get jobs on ordinary days, so when a country hits a recession or virus outbreak, of course they would be even more affected. But hear us out. 

In trying times like these, people are reportedly doing two things for entertainment: playing video games (which we’ve covered earlier) and watching TVJust like our Prime Minister said…

Image from Harap Memes Facebook

And this may be true as a new study by the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA) showed that there has been a massive increase in the traffic of video streaming platforms. But other than TV shows, people are also scrolling on their phones, oftentimes watching online content. No wonder why influencers and content creators are said to be strong enough to survive tough times!

We got in touch with Yuhwen Foong from local influencer marketing agency, SushiVid, who told us that at this point, not only are influencers creating more content… they’re actually getting MORE jobs too.

In trying times, many companies would want to reduce as much spending as possible, BUT they still gotta market their stuff la. And one way to advertise and ensure it reaches a specific audience is by doing so with content creators and influencers. So… if you wanna support us and our content, send an email to [email protected] *cough* #shamelessplug *cough*

Nowadays, audiences are intelligent enough to choose content creators who don’t only make catchy YouTube and TikTok videos, but also those who can create more authentic content. Yuhwen told us that this is actually true.

“It’s more about authenticity than [having a] niche audience. People believe in influencers because they are like your girl-next-door, or your sisters’ best recommendations, not just an advertisement. It’s all about building trust with your followers.” – Yuhwen to CILISOS.


5. Law enforcement officers

Another job listed under essential services is in law enforcement, like the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM). You may think that people tend to commit more crime in tough times like the recession or virus outbreak.

However, a study done during the Great Recession in the US stated that less people tend to commit crimes during hard times as a lot of people would prefer to stay at home and would less likely go out to work or have dinner. In fact, we’re currently seeing a decrease in the rate of crime in Malaysia by 70% despite what’s currently happening in our country.

So, what’s the need for law enforcement officers in times like this tho? Basically, they’re hired to ensure there is no spike in the crime rate in a country and to ensure the safety of local businesses and residents.

And once you start working in this industry, chances are you’ll get to keep your job for a very long time. That’s because, according to finance writer, G Brian Davis, regardless of the sociological impact of recessions, law enforcement officers don’t lose their jobs.

And, no, we won’t be seeing Robocop anytime soon either because, according to Ian Pearson, a fellow at the World Academy for Arts and Science, a person’s judgment will always be a necessary skill in the police force. In fact, that skill cannot be replaced by robots or A.I.

“Most of us don’t want Robocop.” – Ian to Business Insider.

Imagine seeing this instead of the usual abang polis at roadblocks. Gif from Giphy

Despite our super long lists of jobs that can tahan turbulence…


There is NO job that can 100% tahan turbulent times, but…

Img from The Rakyat Post

If you were to take a closer look at these jobs, you may notice a similarity in most of them: how essential they are to the society and economy during tough times. Other characteristics, according to financial professional coach, Nataniel Autenrieth, are the urgency of the industry itself to the society and specialised skills and training that is needed for the job.

Okla, let’s be real. There is no job out there that is exactly 100% turbulence proof. #ihatecilisos Although these jobs can tahan turbulence, you may also wanna do your part to ensure that you can keep the jobs in tough times like this by learning necessary skills that is needed and relevant for your industry.

And before we leave, here are some tips on how to recession-proof your career, according to Forbes:

  • Equip yourself with necessary skills that are valuable to your industry
  • Build mental fitness for when you face trying times
  • Grow financial fitness (by having a side gig)
  • Leverage the power of networks
  • Invest in yourself

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