Curbing unemployment through employability initiative

By Dania Aziz

Inspired by the #benderaputih movement, One Step Closer was established to assist and empower retrenched professionals and unemployed graduates.

Without doubt, the great COVID-19 lockdown has changed lives in many different ways. Unfortunately, a majority part of our community has been hit hardest financially and being stable financially is key to survive a global pandemic. To assist people who are in dire need of aid, Malaysians established the #kitajagakita movement and the Bendera Putih campaign, urging people who want assistance to put a white flag in front of their homes.

After seeing photos of white flags posted on Malaysian job seekers' LinkedIn profile highlighting their desperation for a job, Sharifah Yasmin Hani, a youth mentor, decided to take action. She realised she could help these job seekers and decided to start One Step Closer.

On the other hand, Lysha Teh, an experienced HR professional, observed an increase in queries from acquaintances seeking assistance in finding employment. Despite the constant lockdowns, she wanted to play her part, and the stars aligned when she saw Sharifah's appeal for assistance.

Alongside Awatif Ghapar, another founding member, and the network of HR experts they recruited, every single volunteer of One Step Closer has been putting their effort into helping within their ability and entirely pro bono from its creation.

#onestepcloser to employment

The core of this initiative is to assist urgent job searchers in improving their resumes in order to get them through the first stage of the job application process hence all of the services provided are free. “Aside from resume review, One Step Closer works closely with partner organisations to assist job seekers through employability workshops and toolkits,” states Lysha Teh.

Since the beginning of this initiative, they have been astounded by the outpouring of goodwill from fellow Malaysians. They have amassed a significant following in less than three months, which they believe supports the urgent need of those who have been impacted by the pandemic.

Besides being featured on local news sites such as World of Buzz, Cilisos and Malay Mail, Malaysian influencers such as Daphne Iking and Asma Nasa have also helped spread the words on this initiative. They have a few more events planned in the coming months, owing to the great reaction from Malaysians who benefit from their programmes, keeping them occupied and inspired!

“Since our inception in July 2021, we have been connecting with our target groups through our CV reviews, employability workshops, and the launch of our Work Transition grant to help job seekers overcome hurdles to employment by giving micro-grants and other employability initiatives,” mentions Awatif Ghapar. All 100 spots they opened up within the first few days of the CV review were taken up within a few days, which caught them off guard. Through this free service, they have done numerous CV rounds and impacted 300 CV holders.

Each job seeker is paired with an experienced mentor (CV reviewers) who takes great delight in providing helpful comments. Some mentors will go above and beyond to assist with other elements of employability, such as job interview tips and linking the job seekers to potential employers.

“We are proud to share that we have on-boarded over 40 mentors from various backgrounds and industries, and impacted 300 job seekers from all across Malaysia in the past two short months,” elaborates Sharifah Hani Yasmin. After their CVs were reviewed by One Step Closer, a number of job searchers were able to get interviews and employment. Meanwhile, the grant’s inaugural edition seeks to level the playing field for 50 Malaysian job applicants by paying their job-search expenditures.

Opportunity for all

One Step Closer was founded to assist unemployed youth, retrenched professionals, and women seeking reemployment. They would like to continue to help and affect these disadvantaged groups, in collaboration with other organisations with similar aims, so that they have a greater chance of finding work.

“All are welcomed to join and support One Step Closer through their own capacities,” says Sharifah Hani Yasmin. Their CV Review Service, in which mentors are matched with a number of job seekers to assist enhance their employability profile, welcomes HR professionals to donate their time and skills. They also invite partnerships and financing from organisations, businesses, and government entities to promote One Step Closer projects.

Besides that, they also provide apprenticeship roles for students looking to give back. Members of the public are encouraged to share their postings on social media and spread the news about their projects so that they can reach and benefit a larger audience.

Malaysia's unemployment rate is one of the highest it has ever been, at 4.8%, equating to nearly 768,000 jobless people. By the end of the year, they aim to impact 1,000 Malaysian job seekers. “We are very much focused on being a non-profit currently as our main goal is to help individuals be one step closer to employment,” Sharifah Hani Yasmin mentions.

Through collaborations with the corporate and governmental sectors, they expect to better match talent supply with demand once their capabilities are strengthened and they reach a larger size. Longer term, they intend to maintain their social purpose while establishing One Step Closer as a social company to secure the long-term viability of their activities.

In the following months, they will be holding employability seminars and other initiatives, so keep an eye on their social media for updates. Stay connected with One Step Closer through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

And if you’re interested to have your CV reviewed, register through the CV Review Registration of Interest form at

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