Jobs Search Chronicles: My Job Hunt as a 40-Year-Old

Retrenchment is tough especially in your 40s. Retrenched in 2017, Hazlinda Binte Juma’at, 41, shares her job search journey so far.

The airline/travel industry is in my blood — I’ve been in it for more than 20 years and it’s something I am really passionate about. However, since I was retrenched in June last year, I’ve been struggling to re-enter the industry.

If I had known it was going to be so difficult I would have prepared earlier, looking at whether I possessed the needed skills to take on different roles or enter a different industry, while I was still employed. Looking back, there were signs showing that the company was struggling as business was bad for quite a while, and although I did keep my eyes and ears open for prospective jobs, I didn’t start actively job hunting until after I was retrenched — only then did I start searching the various job sites and sending out job applications.

In November 2017, I signed up with WSG, and was assigned to WSG’s Career Matching Provider, Ingeus Pte Ltd. I felt I was lacking in direction and felt very lost with my career path as I didn’t have a clear idea on how to move forward.

To Change or Not to Change

In the early days of my retrenchment, I toyed with the idea of switching careers and for a short while, considered teaching. However, after some soul-searching and answering some questions posed by my Career Coach, Adeline Tiah, I realised that my passion is in the travel industry and that I don’t want to leave it.

It’s something that I both enjoy and am good at.  I like meeting and dealing with people and it’s nice serving people who are so excited about their travel plans. Bringing a smile to their face, especially after I have helped them solve a travel challenge is very rewarding for me.

Even though I haven’t found a job yet, I thank my lucky stars that I opted for WSG’s Career Matching Services. Not only has it helped put me back on the career path that is best for me, it has provided me with many valuable insights that have helped me with my job search. For instance, my Career Coach made me realise the need to update my resume and highlight my skills and strengths.

My Career Coach also convinced me of the value of being visible and active on the business social media platform LinkedIn, something I was very resistant to before as I am a bit wary of social media apps in general. However, after my Career Coach took me through LinkedIn’s sign-up process and shared its benefits and advantages, I decided to give it a try.

I’ve no regrets here and I’m glad I was open to this as LinkedIn has been a positive experience for me. I have been getting more call-ups for interviews and have received more attention from potential employers through it.

Never Give Up

Being retrenched has not been easy, especially going through a number of first interviews and not being called back. It’s easy to feel discouraged and down — there are times you feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

On top of this, I fell very ill in March and had to be hospitalised, which set back my job hunt by a month. Thankfully, I am on the road to recovery and am now back on track. I have interviews lined up again and if these don’t work out, I will just keep looking out for the right job for me — I have faith that there is something out there for me.

It’s disappointing when you’re not called back after the first interview, but my motto is to try, try again and always maintain a positive attitude. I feel that if I persevere, I will get to show that I can shine in my job.

Moving Forward

I am also working on upgrading myself for my new job by hitting the books again. I have signed up for a diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management and aim to pursue a degree in January 2019. I feel that learning is a lifelong process and I know it won’t interfere with my work as I am committed to studying part-time while working full-time. Like many others, I have other commitments, such as supporting my family, so I need an income.

I plan to liaise even more closely with my Career Coach and continue sending out targeted job applications.

Three Tips I Have Learnt When Trying to Rejoin the Workforce

As a retrenched 40-plus-year-old PMET, this is what I have learnt from my current job-hunting experience:

  • Begin updating your skills before you take on a new job. Even though upskilling is a lifelong process, it’s advisable to do this while you are still employed, especially if you are an older jobseeker who may not be able to afford long periods of unemployment. I realise now that pursuing my studies earlier, while I was still employed in my previous job, might have helped me secure a new job faster. My lesson learnt here is not to be complacent and take things for granted.
  • Be open to advice from the right sources and implement the changes. From my Career Coach, I have learnt the importance of not sending out the same cover letter and resume to every employer. Instead, I now target my job applications and have learnt how to look out for keywords in job advertisements and weave them into my cover letter/resume.
  • Build an online presence. Following the advice of my Career Coach has also resulted in me getting job offers through a medium I would never have considered otherwise: LinkedIn. It has widened my business network and I have seen the difference this is making — I have received more responses to my job applications and more call-ups for interviews through LinkedIn than through other channels. An added bonus is that it helps me to more easily follow companies in the airline/travel industry, so I see the latest job openings and news that are relevant to me as well.
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