The recent labour market report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in September indicated retrenchments rising slightly compared with the first quarter of 2021. In particular, the unemployment rate rose among those 40 years old and above as well as those with degree qualifications. This is despite job vacancies being at an all-time high in June due to demand in growth sectors such as financial and insurance services, professional services, and information and communications.
Permanent Secretary for Manpower, Aubeck Kam shared that MOM remains “…concerned for our mature workers, and they remain the focus of our job interventions.”
Many individuals that have lost a job have concerns about multiple aspects of their lives and lifestyles. It is important to recognise the impact on their emotions and subsequent actions taken as a result of being affected.
The immediate and obvious impact of job loss is the loss of income. Many displaced workers find themselves without sufficient income or savings to cover the necessities and unexpected emergencies.
A Prudential Singapore survey found that 1 in 2 Singapore residents indicated they would struggle or be unable to meet their financial needs in the event of unexpected illness or job loss.
Many workers, especially those that have invested time in building capabilities for their previous employer, identify with their career. Their role gives them recognition, status, belonging and self-esteem as well as a social network to belong to. When they get retrenched, they question their value and self-worth. The worker goes through an identity quake, experiencing a disruption in how they view and understand themselves. An identity quake used positively can offer opportunities for self-reflection. Displaced mature and middle-management workers who have more financial commitments such as children’s education, mortgages and elderly parents would also experience more financial stress.
Workers who have recently lost a job can experience anxiety, depression, distress, emotional withdrawal, illness or health complaints, as well as reduced self-esteem, satisfaction with life, and physical health. This can take a toll on their sense of well-being, affecting both psychological and physical health. Others might show a grief-like response to unemployment, shame from being out of work, or threatened identity following job loss.
Retrenchment does not only impact the worker. It can also affect others in their household such as family members and other dependents. Partners and family members have to adjust to the changes in lifestyle and detrimental effects can include domestic violence, partner depression and physical health symptoms, children’s problems at school, reduced relationship quality and satisfaction, and even divorce.
For those that have lost a job, family and social networks are important in helping them deal with the emotions. However, these networks can also become a source of stress as they might place unrealistic expectations or undue pressure on the worker to find and accept a role.
A recovery plan includes steps to recognise and process feelings, planning a time table, gathering resources for a job search, and executing a search strategy.
The first step is to process feelings. The displaced worker should take space and time to decompress by recognising the loss and talking about their feelings with their partner and close friends.
When the individual is ready, the next step is to plan a timetable. Self-reflection might show that the individual is not yet ready to return to work. Perhaps they might want to take a sabbatical, pursue qualifications or hobbies, or they might be at a loss to next steps due to unfamiliarity and lack of understanding about what a job search entails.
Once a timetable has been set to secure a new role, the jobseeker can start to compile resources relating to the job search such as performance evaluations, testimonials, contact information for colleagues, and reference materials. These will be used to update the resume, as well as online profiles such as LinkedIn and job portal profiles.
With a timetable and a set of resources, the jobseeker can create a search strategy covering areas such as personal brand, sources of inspiration, preferred industries and companies as well as search methodologies.
Optimally, executing the recovery plan together with a career coach can improve outcomes through access to expertise, and opportunities such as assessments, workshops and networks.
Career coaches help jobseekers understand the transition process, especially if it involves changing industries as well as identify and suggest ways to resolve frustrations with the process. Thereafter, coaches work with jobseekers on an action plan, provide counsel on effective planning and devise steps to execute the plan, job search strategy and methods.
One of the key areas that the coach will cover is the career communications portfolio. This portfolio includes:
An outstanding resume that showcases the jobseeker’s brand and achievements as well as highlights relevant career achievements and milestones
96 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary candidate-sourcing tool. A jobseeker will need to create and adapt an exceptional Linkedin profile to stand out in the crowd.
A standalone resume may no longer be an effective networking tool, and sharing it to a network might not achieve the results wanted. Instead, the jobseeker may need a one-page resume, a marketing brief, or a brand bio to help contacts understand their background more quickly and effectively than a resume.
A career coach is a useful resource to help jobseekers resolve and move past their retrenchment episode, and move forward with confidence with their action plan and communications portfolio. Throughout this process, family and friends play an important role by providing encouragement and support, and motivating individuals to seek help when needed.
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