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It’s difficult to feel optimistic about the job market now, especially when my close friends are facing pay cuts, told to take no-pay leave for an extended period of time, unable to find a job, or fearing that their employer might decide to close for good.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), there were about 3,000 retrenchments in the first quarter of 2020, up from the previous quarter (4Q 2019).
We also saw the height of community Covid-19 infections in April and the implementation of a “circuit breaker” from 7 April to 1 June…but thank goodness for the supportive government Budget measures!)
We recently polled our MoneySmart readers and these are the main concerns they face:
- 20.2% had fears around job security
- 15.5% worried if their emergency funds were sufficient
- 15.2% were concerned about income fluctuations due to salary cuts
Others lost sleep over meeting mortgage payments, supporting their ageing parents, financial market volatility and if they could save for retirement.
We speak to Mr Asher Liew, a seasoned career coach of 8 years, who shares some insights and advice for jobseekers. He is also a Certified Career Practitioner with Workforce Singapore, and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.
Building confidence in an unsettling climate
Losing a job can come as a shock and your self-esteem may take a hit. You will also start to worry about your finances and will need to make adjustments to your spending. Some may feel alone and struggle to look for their next job.
If you find yourself at a crossroads and stuck in your job search, you can talk to a professional career coach from Workforce Singapore or e2i.
Q: How would you encourage those who feel discouraged whether it’s because they have recently lost their jobs, are worried that they may lose their job, or are unable to find a new job despite their aggressive job search?
Mr Liew says: “It’s natural to feel discouraged when you have lost your job or are unable to find a suitable job during this challenging time. However, the key thing is not to lose hope, and recognise that Covid-19 is but a passing phase.
“You can adopt the Growth Mindset to gear yourself towards more positive thinking. Tell yourself ‘Challenges are there to help me to grow’ and ‘My effort and attitude determine my abilities’.
“Such self-talk evokes positive emotions and will help you to stay motivated through the challenging circumstances. A positive attitude is what employers are looking out for.”
Read more on WSG’s MyCareersFuture.sg Careers Toolkit: “A Right Mindset Gets You Closer to Your Next Job”
The next best thing is to know your employment rights, guard against job instability by making sure you have enough emergency funds (if you can), and take everything in your stride. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Increasing your employability
We previously wrote about 3 job search mistakes and 5 boo-boos Singapore’s jobseekers make on their resume.
In some cases, not getting hired or called up for an interview might just be a case of a poor job fit (the qualities you have don’t match what the recruiter is looking for), poor timing (for example, economic slowdown due to Covid-19) or differing expectations, such as those of millennials.
Take this opportunity to increase your employability — a career coach can help with that.
Q: For a jobseeker in this current climate, how do they assess and increase their employability?
Mr Liew says: “The key is to be able to stock-take both the soft skills and technical skills you have. It really depends on one’s willingness to explore opportunities in other industries, such as the SQ cabin crew taking alternative roles like Care Ambassadors. This is a good example of using your transferable skills despite the change of environment and industry.
“WSG has a series of workshops that helps jobseekers with different levels of job readiness — spanning from a need to reframe mindsets, to job search tools to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to aid them in their job search.
“Career coaches, like myself, are available to provide coaching and advisory to job seekers and partner them in their job search journey.”
Sign up with WSG’s Careers Connect here.
Don’t ignore ‘job search burnout’
One of my close friends has been trying to land a permanent job since she got back from an overseas stint. Bad timing. With Covid-19 and the resultant economic slowdown, her job search has not been fruitful (and discouraging).
Q: How much should jobseekers push themselves?
Mr Liew cautions: “One should be mindful of job search burnout, which can happen when you push yourself too hard in the job search process.
“If you feel that you have already lost the motivation of going to a job search website to search for jobs, it will be a red flag. You should exercise self-care and be involved in other activities that will recharge you mentally and emotionally.”
Read more on WSG’s MyCareersFuture.sg Careers Toolkit: “20 Self-Care Tips when Job Hunting”.
With the above in mind, in between applying for jobs and going for video interviews, my friend has been adding variety to her daily schedule with exercise, Netflix, signing up for free online courses to enhance her employability, and using me as a sounding board whenever she gets yet another rejection.
Is it time to re-evaluate your career?
If you’re facing a slowdown in business, told by your employer to take no-pay leave, or are considering a career switch, take the opportunity to re-evaluate your career.
Read more on WSG’s MyCareersFuture.sg Careers Toolkit: “Key Essentials to a Job Fit (VIPS)”
Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, this downtime is a good chance to recentre and refocus — being crystal clear about your career goals and the options available to you will definitely be an asset in the future.
Workforce Singapore (WSG) offers career coaching and advice at no cost, to help you personalise your career plan and achieve your goals through unbiased feedback. You’ll also get help with job search skills so you can stand out from the crowd and gain the support and confidence to keep your head up through tough times.
Steps to prepare for your career coaching session
Read more on WSG’s MyCareersFuture.sg Careers Toolkit: “How to Make the Best Out of your Career Coaching Sessions”.
Sign up with WSG’s Careers Connect here.
If you’d rather go for the self-help route first, MyCareersFuture.sg/careercoaching offers useful tips and advice catered to every type of jobseeker — even those who are unsure of what they want or need.
Find out more about how WSG helps individuals like us develop our skills and explore career opportunities. Sign up with WSG’s Careers Connect here.