Getting retrenched is a fairly common occurrence in Singapore. Off the top of my head I can name numerous friends and acquaintances of all ages who’ve been retrenched. And it can take a long time (perhaps forever) to find another job if you’re an experienced hire and are looking for a position that can match your previous salary, as many retrenched middle-aged PMETs are finding out the hard way.
Whatever you do, do not spend all your newfound free time catching up on the latest Korean dramas or honing your DOTA skills. In between job hunting and getting in touch with recruiters, don’t forget to do the following—they just might be useful to you when you resume your career.
Network like your life depends on it
When you’re jobless, you need other people more than ever, so don’t make the mistake of holing yourself up in your bedroom out of shame, your only companions your anime figurine collection. Now, more than ever, you need to go out and socialise. Meet former colleagues, make new connections and catch up with old friends.
And don’t be too proud to mention you’re in need of a job. If you’re really serious about networking your way to a job, you can often find one faster than going through the normal channels of applying online.
Exercise every day
Lifting a finger to do anything other than wallow in self pity might sound too arduous when you’re jobless and can’t afford to drink with your friends at expensive bars anymore. But it’s a good idea to make use of your copious amounts of free time to get some exercise.
Being in crappy physical condition zaps you of your energy and means you’re not at your best—and you’ll need to be at your best and most resourceful if you’re going to dig yourself out of this hole and get back on the career ladder.
You’ll also start feeling better after a week or two of regular exercise, and believe me, feeling better is sometimes 70% of the equation—good things don’t happen to lethargic grouches.
Upgrade your skills
If you were too tired after work every day to upgrade your skills or attend work-related courses, now’s your chance. You might even be able to make use of this period of joblessness to broaden your skillset to the point where you’re eligible for jobs you previously couldn’t qualify for.
You’ve got your SkillsFuture credit from this year onwards, so if you’re broke you can get by without having to fork out a cent.
If your previous job was in a sunset industry, it’s probably a good idea to acquire some new skills so you can make a lateral jump to another industry.
Remember to put whatever courses you’ve taken on your resume if they’re relevant to the job you’re looking for. Even online courses on Udemy or Coursera are fair game.
Sharpen your tech skills
If you’re an older worker, you’re in danger of taking a much longer time to find a new job than the young punks out there, and you might never ever find a job that can replace your previous salary.
If your lack of tech skills has held you back in previous jobs (I’ve worked at places where people in senior management had no idea how to format Word documents), now’s the time to get up to speed.
There are zillions of tutorials that will teach you to use Microsoft Office applications like Word and Excel, and you can use your SkillsFuture credit to take courses that will get you up to speed on any software that’s commonly used in your industry.
For instance, tech skills like HTML, CSS and Photoshop are useful for employees in marketing and can be picked up online
Improve your proficiency in languages you use at work
While Singaporeans like to boast about being bilingual, the truth is that few people here have equal facility in two languages, and many aren’t even proficient in any language! Take this break from the workforce to brush up on your language skills.
If you work in the legal industry but have a shaky grasp of the English language, those imperfectly crafted emails could be costing you job opportunities—I know people who were rejected for their poor writing skills.
If you frequently interact with Chinese aunties in your line of work but still struggle to form a sentence without stuttering, brush up on your skills using a combination of self-study using National Library books, and watching Taiwanese drama serials. If nothing else, your newfound skills will enable you to order food at hawker centres in style.
What else can retrenched people do while looking for a job? Tell us in the comments!