People generally do not think about the possibility of losing their jobs or being out of work for very long, but it is important to know what it takes to be prepared for such a scenario in case it happens. Photo: Andrik Langfield/Unsplash.com
SINGAPORE — The job market situation seems to be improving, based on recently released official statistics showing lower overall unemployment rate and no increase in retrenchments.
Beneath a rosy-looking picture, however, about 85,000 residents here are still out of work and more than 14,000 are likely to be retrenched in the next year.
While the manufacturing sector was hardest-hit, even companies such as Singapore Airlines have said they may need to lay off workers.
Meanwhile, re-entry into employment dropped from about 72 per cent in 2015 to about 65 per cent last year, with workers over 50 having the hardest time finding new jobs.
People generally do not think about the possibility of losing their jobs or being out of work for very long.
It is important to know what it takes to be prepared for such a scenario, though, in case it happens.
The most important is to have a cash reserve equal to at least six months of your salary, so you can at least cover normal living expenses.
In addition, you should review of your finances to minimise debt and stand ready to pare back on luxury spending to leave more for necessities. Even if you live with family or your spouse has a job, your budget will be tighter if you are out of work.
It is also important to keep your skills up-to-date. At the very least, it helps you in your current role. And if you lose your job, it will help you find a new one.
Review your CV honestly, then develop a learning plan to boost your capabilities. You can figure out the most sought-after skills in your sector and attend courses, use online learning and read in order to acquire new leading-edge skills.
You can also talk with your supervisor and colleagues, offer to take on new projects or learn new skills to boost your capabilities. Continuous learning shows current and future employers that you take your job seriously and gives you an edge over other job candidates.
Maintaining a strong network of contacts in your industry is also vital. A multitude of studies have shown that at least 70 per cent of jobs are not advertised. Instead, most hiring is done through industry contacts, friends and acquaintances.
The best way to find a job, then, is to have solid relationships with people in your industry that you can ask for help. Although many people feel they are too busy to network, it is better to make networking a habit while you have a job rather than just something you start when you need a job.
You can go to lunch or coffee with contacts, attend conferences, join industry associations and keep in touch via LinkedIn or other networks. Starting a blog and discussing your area of expertise also increases your visibility.
And if you see warning signs such as layoffs in your industry, work being outsourced, or company benefits being eliminated, get prepared for the worst.
HOW TO WORK YOUR WAY BACK
If you do lose your job, or are out of one already, your full-time role becomes finding another job. Several steps can make that job search more effective.
The first thing to do is to update your CV and cover letters or references. Ask industry contacts to review these and provide suggestions on areas of improvement. Your cover letter is important, since it can provide a compelling case for why you should be hired.
You should also let your network know that you are looking. Even though there may be a cultural bias here against failure and losing face, no one can help you if they do not know you want to find a new job.
Even if your network does not have a job available, most people are willing to help and can keep a lookout for new opportunities. Openings can come from unexpected sources.
Check out job listings using local online job boards and search engines such as Indeed.com. While you should cast a wide net and apply for jobs that are relevant, focusing your search on openings that are a good fit is far better than wasting time applying for less relevant positions.
Some people go a step further and identify the hiring manager at the firm where they want to work, then contact him or her to explain how their experience would benefit the company.
Even though retrenchment can be hard, stories abound about well-prepared individuals searching intensely and finding a job quickly. And many of them enjoy their new role better than what they had before.