With a positive mindset, retrenchment can be an opportunity to reflect on your career and possibly explore new ones. For 45-year-old Chu Seng Chou, it was a time for reflection and exploration.
He recalls, “I was hit hard by the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and the economic recession of 2007. In both downturns, I was a QC Technician and when both companies I worked with ceased their operations in Singapore, I was retrenched.”
1. Pick Up the Pieces with the Right Attitude
The first instinct for many who are experiencing retrenchment is to worry over their financial stability. It is natural to just grab any opportunity and accept the first job that comes your way.
Mr Chu shares this sentiment, “After each retrenchment exercise, my life became one demoralising short-lived job after another.”
He gradually came to terms with his retrenchment and started to evaluate his career choices. “The first rule of positivity is your attitude. With a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, believe that there is a job out there for you. Have faith that you’ll get that job.”
2. Identify Your Interests and Get Paid For a Job You Love
Like the Confucian saying goes, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
See retrenchment as an opportunity to find out what your strengths are. Take an online test such as a Briggs Meyers test or an Enneagram test. You may also discover more about your unique talents and abilities, by having a session with a Career Coach.
For Mr Chu, he had a keen interest in computers since he was a young boy and that led to his early career choices in electronics manufacturing. Over the years however, he realised that he also enjoyed interacting with people. He knew he had a sociable personality and easily made friends at work. Despite his lack of industry experience, he could see himself in the Customer Service or Retail industry. His decision was later encouraged when he met his career coach.
3. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone and Upgrade Your Skills
Mr Chu’s NTC-2 in Mechanical Engineering was relevant in the electronics manufacturing industry but he needed more skills to prepare for his career switch into the Retail sector.
“I knew it was going to be different from the backend job roles that I was used to in electronics manufacturing, but I had to give it a try. In September 2009, I took up a course in WSQ Communication and Relationship Management – Operations. A year later, I went on to get my WSQ Certified Service Professional at the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies.”
4. See a Career Coach and Discover More About Yourself
In gearing up to re-enter the workforce, career preparation is important. Getting help from a professional career coach allows you to seek career development and advice you need to be job-ready. At Workforce Singapore, career coaches at Careers Connect provide customised career guidance for individuals at all career life stages. Careers Connect career coaches are able to suggest improvements on your resume and share valuable tips on how to prepare for interviews. Trained and equipped with personality and strength finder tools, career coaches can help you discover what are your strengths and weaknesses, interests and dislikes. For example, career coaches are trained in various tools to assess jobseekers skills and career preferences. Armed also with industry knowledge, they will also be able to steer you in your career path towards the industry of your choice based on your personality, work experience and qualifications.
In 2011, despite going through the various skills training courses, Mr Chu was not getting the interviews he wanted. Looking for more guidance, he found out about WSG’s Careers Connect on the Internet. He called to make an appointment and that was how he met his career coach, Mr Wilson Ng.
5. Create a Resume That Stands Out
A. State your career objectives right at the top.
One of the things that Wilson did, as Mr Chu’s career coach, was to assist in reviewing and reformatting his resume. Wilson focused on Mr Chu’s newfound career objectives of wanting to be in the customer service line and made sure the resume highlighted his passionate interest in interacting with people.
B. Next, list your personal strengths.
Mr Chu observed, “He reworked the sequence of my resume and placed my career objectives and interests just second to my personal details so that focus is placed on it. Then he listed my personal strengths in brief bullet points, where he highlighted my 19 years of working experience in retail, manufacturing, engineering and shipping industries.” This format made it easy for hiring managers to recognise Mr Chu’s working experience without having to go through all of his employment details.
C. Move your weaker points to the last page.
Mr Chu also noticed that Wilson moved his education background to the last page. “Wilson explained that employers have many resumes to go through and we needed to capture their attention within the first page. That meant all my strengths had to be summed up in the first few seconds of reading.”
Within a month of career coaching sessions with Wilson, Mr Chu landed a job at MUJI Singapore as a Retail Associate. Less than two years later, he rose through the ranks in the sector and became a Team Leader at one of Singapore’s biggest supermarket chains. He has now made a career switch and is a Desktop Engineer at BusinessIT Pte Ltd.