Too pokai to interview for a new job? This Malaysian initiative can help.

Anyone who’s ever been jobless can tell you that it’s no picnic, even before the hiring freezes and retrenchments that came with the pandemic. Finding a job that you’re qualified for is hard enough, and once you finally manage to get an interview, a slew of new dilemmas await.

Do I have proper clothes for the interview? Can I afford a haircut before the interview? If it’s a remote interview, do I have a proper webcam or a functioning microphone? If I don’t have a car, how do I get to the interview place? And if I have kids, who will watch over them while I’m being interviewed?

Considering whether you should drop RM200 on a suit jacket for a one time interview be like…

All these may seem like minor issues that can be solved with a little bit of money, but if you’re broke – which is bound to happen if you need that job in the first place – it could mean passing up the opportunity, or having a less-than-ideal interview. What to do then?! Well…


You can try applying for a grant with One Step Closer

No, not “one step closer to the edge and I’m about to break“, but more like One Step Closer to getting a job. In case you haven’t heard of them before, One Step Closer is an initiative started by two MalaysiansSharifah Hani Yasmin and Lysha Teh – in response to the recent Bendera Putih campaign.

Together, they started One Step Closer with the aim of helping out and empowering people who urgently need a job, and one of the ways they’re doing that is by offering something called a Work Transition Grant. Basically, if you need financial help in getting a new job, you can apply for this grant by filling up this Google Docs form (BM version here) and submitting it. As for what kind of financial help qualify for the grant, they include, but are not limited to:

  • interview-related costs like clothing, scanning/printing documents, transport to the interview venue, etc
  • new-job related costs, like petrol money for the first week, hardware (like microphone or webcam) if you need to work remotely, etc
  • travel or rent subsidies if you have to relocate for your new job
  • childcare/elderly care during the interview or the first week of your new job
  • and many more! (but must be related to work transition lah)
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Then wait for the application to be processed. If successful, you’ll be expected to provide some documents as proof, like the interview e-mail, letter asking you to relocate, receipts… it depends on your circumstance. The limit for the grant is up to RM100 per person, and it’s on a claim basis – you pay first and claim later – although we’ve been told that these conditions are open for discussion, depending on your case.

You can find the full guidelines through this link, and here’s the link for the application form again in case you missed it.

As of the time of writing, the application is open from 1 to 14 September, although that may be extended later. You can follow their social media pages – Facebook/Twitter/Instagram – to stay updated. But even if you don’t need the grant, they’re still worth following if you’re a jobseeker, as…


They also do free CV reviews… and more!

Lysha Teh giving a CV review. Img courtesy of One Step Closer.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the grant is just one of their initiatives. One Step Closer actually started out by giving out free CV reviews to potential jobseekers, with the help of HR professionals and employment experts. As of the time of writing though, they’re taking a break from that, but if you’re interested to get your CV improved sometime in the future, you can fill out the form at this link to be notified as soon as they’re starting again.

Other than that, they’re also doing various other things to empower Malaysian jobseekers, like online workshops, putting up resource websites, and a virtual toolkit to guide students and graduates on how to get employed, planned to be released soon. There’s also a Facebook group where you can advertise yourself and look out for potential job vacancy posts by employers.

All of these initiatives are free of charge, so if you’re on the lookout for a job, it’s definitely worth checking them out. You might not instantly get a job by doing so (we hope you do though), but you’ll surely be one step closer.


Here are the links we mentioned earlier, so you don’t have to scroll up again:

Good luck!

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