5 steps to rebound from retrenchment

IT professionals should take time to accept being laid off, review own strengths and weaknesses, and be persistent in marketing oneself in order to regain employment, HR execs advise.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

The IT industry is one of the economic sectors that is particularly vulnerable to retrenchments because it is susceptible to outsourcing. However, human resource executives point out that Asia's IT employment market remains strong and retrenched jobseekers can take the chance to reevaluate their strengths and explore new opportunities.

According to Claire Smart, associate director of information technology at Randstad, the IT industry is one that is particularly susceptible to offshoring exercises and "as a result these sectors see retrenchments occurring more than others".

Still, she pointed out that Singapore was one regional market facing a talent crunch. "With a 2 percent unemployment rate, it is unlikely retrenched professionals will be out of work for long pending their ability to market themselves back into the employment market," she said.

Anthony Ung, country manager of JobStreet.com Singapore, added that jobseekers should be aware that their skills and knowledge are sought after not only in Singapore, but regionally.

"The IT job market is still very much in demand in the region. Getting retrenched may not be a bad thing for some as it's a good time to evaluate your own skills to see if they are aligned with the current market requirements," he pointed out.

Ung noted that at present, the most in demand positions are in the mobile technology area. "Whether iPhone or Android, companies are looking for developers to help them create apps and mobile solutions," he said.

However, in the event that one does get retrenched, the executive felt it was important to first regain composure and take stock of the situation as soon as possible.

"Firstly, you should stop feeling sorry for yourself and avoid blaming the companies for the layoff. It will not help by harboring these feelings. Instead, it will be wiser to focus on how you can get back into the game," he said.

Smart added that employability was "about marketing yourself correctly".

She said: "Keeping abreast of technology updates, key skills in demand and market movements will give you the best chance of quick re-employment. It will enable you to tailor your resume and identify skillsets that would be most attractive to future employers."

Both executives also gave their tips on how someone who has been laid off can regain employment.

Be honest about being retrenched
The country manager called on those who have been retrenched to "always be honest" as there is no shame in being in that position given that layoffs are "common" these days. There is no longer the level of stigma associated with retrenchment since 2008's global financial crisis, Smart concurred.

As such, jobseekers should just focus on what values they can bring to the potential employer, just like anyone looking for a job, Ung said. "If you are able to convince the employer that you can do the job and the value you bring to the table, whether you had been retrenched or not, should not be a point of evaluation for the employer," he noted.

Refresh your resume
Ung also stressed the importance of one's resume, saying that it is the "ticket to a new opportunity" for them.

The Randstad associate director added that it was critical for jobseekers to update their resumes--both online and physical copies--so as to highlight the most relevant and in-demand skills and technologies for the position they are applying for.

"Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Potential employers could be looking for you right now!" she noted.

Manage personal expectations
Smart pointed out that a comparable position from the one you have just been released from might not exist or be available straight away. "Look for opportunities that might help you build on your expertise or up your skillset," she said.

The alternative would be for the retrenched professional to be more open to other possible opportunities in the market, Ung advised. "Do not close your doors or be too picky about the company you want to join. In fact, attend as many interviews as possible as this may open up possibilities in areas that you may not have considered before."

Be persistent
"Actively seek opportunities and be persistent. Don't let a few knockbacks put you off," said Smart.

Ung agreed: "Candidates may feel depressed especially after several months of unsuccessful attempts in securing a job. No matter, do not give up. If you are not getting the results you want, change your approach."

Let go of ego and pride
The JobStreet.com executive said it was important to come to terms with the situation and adopt a more humble attitude to look for help, too.

"Talk to your family, friends, acquaintances, former customers or suppliers. Inform them that you are looking for a job and be open about opportunities out there," he said.

Smart added that recruitment companies, professional bodies, school alumni, etc, are also good job contacts to get in touch with.

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