Job hunting tips for retrenched IT workers

Jobseekers should use variety of job hunting methods, and consider new industries as well as roles that fit their experience and skills, say recruiters.

To boost their chances in today's highly competitive job market, retrenched IT professionals looking for employment need to extend their focus and be proactive in their hunt, say recruiters.

Understandably, jobseekers would want to apply for positions they are more familiar with, said Dhirendra Shantilal, Asia-Pacific senior vice president at Kelly Services. But, he urged these professionals to be more flexible and open-minded to opportunities in new and growing sectors.

Shantilal said in an e-mail interview: "This will widen their job options and raise their visibility in the job market at the same time."

Peter Ferries, executive manager for IT at recruitment and HR services company, Randstad, said this means considering different industries or roles that fit their skills. It also requires utilizing a variety of job hunting methods, including approaching relevant organizations directly or tapping on personal and professional networks.

Networking with friends, business contacts, alumni groups and former colleagues may lead to employment opportunities because a large number of IT vacancies are not advertised, said Ferries in an e-mail. As such, jobseekers focusing only on advertised positions may not be maximizing on their employment opportunities, he said.

Shantilal also advised retrenched workers to adopt a "can do" spirit and be prepared to take on new challenges and learn new skills. They should also learn to adapt to new working environments, as well as cultures, languages and nationalities, given today's "borderless" world, he said.

Jobseekers could apply for positions where they can easily transfer their skills, he suggested. For example, experienced engineers can impart their skills and knowledge as trainers or lecturers in the education industry.

"With their years of practical hands-on know-how, they can become excellent teachers or even role models for their students," he added. "At the same time, they can acquire new skills. This will make them better, more well-rounded professionals with a broader range of skills."

Seek jobs where you can value add
However, while retrenched workers should be encouraged to go beyond their comfort zone to maximize their options and explore as many different opportunities as possible, jobseekers also have to stay realistic.

Ultimately, said Ferries, jobs will be offered to IT professionals based on their skills and experience, so these considerations need to be relevant to the role they are applying for.

Candidates will see greater success by focusing on jobs where they can provide the most value to potential employers, he said.

"Right now, employers are less likely to [want to] train or hire professionals who are a 75 percent-match [to the vacancy]. As such, you need to be very clear on what you bring to the table, and maximize your opportunity by targeting organizations that can utilize your skills and experience," Ferries explained.

Shantilal also suggested that IT professionals look for jobs that suit their skills, aptitude and interest.

"This will enhance their chances of doing well in their jobs, while deriving satisfaction at the same time," he said. "This also need not stop them from looking at regional and global markets for new opportunities and to expand their career horizons."

Keep a positive attitude
Meanwhile, Shantilal advised retrenched IT professionals to adopt a positive attitude and not let their retrenchment dampen their spirits.

"Instead, it should strengthen their resolve, and they should use this period to upgrade themselves by attending relevant courses, networking with friends, ex-colleagues and business contacts, while at the same time actively looking for job openings," he said.

Ferries noted that it was also important that retrenched IT workers, during an interview, remain honest and upfront about their retrenchment. Rather than avoid the topic, they should talk openly about the reasons behind their retrenchment.

"You need to emphasize that the retrenchment is no reflection on performance, but rather an economic reality right now," he said. There is no stigma attached to being retrenched as most employers are aware of the current economic situation, he noted.

Shantilal added that most interviewers are also now more understanding and sensitive when they discuss the subject.

In fact, Ferries said, some proactive employers view the current environment as an opportunity to hire strong candidates who may not otherwise be available in the market under normal circumstances.

In addition, candidate who display signs of desperation during an interview will appear to lack confidence and poise.

Ferries said employers like to interview candidates who are keen, positive and have clearly prepared for the interview by researching the organization and role for which they are being interviewed.

"Desperation [can be easily identified] when in an interview, it is clear that the person just wants a job, any job, and wants to start immediately," he said.

Even when jobseekers want to secure a job fast, they should spend the time to do thorough preparation and research, he stressed. "Having a clearly defined picture of what they will bring to the role, and the organization, is hugely important," Ferries said. "Of course, this takes time and effort, but employers want to hear what a candidate can bring to their business, and not simply any business."

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