There’s a common saying in football — you’ve always got to have a Plan B when your main strategy isn’t working, especially if the referee sends off your best player (referee kayu!).
So what’s your career Plan B if and when things go wrong? And don’t think they won’t – for those working in the tech industry, some career soul-searching has been going on, given recent retrenchments in the sector.
The threat of the other dreaded “R” word, recession, means that those working in other industries are hardly able to rest on their laurels either, with companies in Singapore more cautious in hiring this year, according to the Singapore Business Federation’s (SBF) latest National Business Survey.
According to LinkedIn, conversations on the platform around economic uncertainty are on the rise. Posts mentioning the terms “layoff” or “retrenchment” increased 17.9% compared to last year, while posts mentioning “recession” are up an eye-popping 879%.
If neither the current economic market nor your employer can truly give you job security, what’s the solution?
That’s probably why the term career cushioning has grown popular in these turmoiled times.
It’s defined as the process of creating job security, either by securing more stable jobs elsewhere, or figuring out how your current skills, talents, professional values and interests can translate to potential career paths in the absence of present opportunities.
Essentially, it is one of the key parts of building career resilience: preparing yourself for the possibility of working somewhere else or doing something else.
So, what should your next step be?
First, ask the right questions. Here are some questions you may be asking, and answers from two career coaches: Maureen Chow (MC), a career coach with Ingeus, and Raphael See (RS), a team leader for Maximus. Both agencies are career-matching providers under Workforce Singapore (WSG).
What’s the best strategy for finding a new job to career cushion?
(RS) Here are some things to look at before you start looking for greener pastures:
- What are your expectations for your next position, job scope, and salary?
- Have you identified how you want to job hunt? Different job portals are usually better for different industries. For example, Monster is popular with tech employers, Cultjobs is a good resource for creative roles, and Fastjobs is useful in looking for jobs in small and medium enterprises in Singapore. And then, of course, there’s MyCareersFuture by Workforce Singapore, where you can search for jobs based on your skills, industries, government support provided, and more.
- Have you revised your resume recently? Research new resume trends, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS), and the best way to craft your resume to attract hiring and human resource managers and systems.
Beyond these, you’ll also need to figure out how to address questions during interviews about why you’re looking to leave your current role. Here are two key concerns employers tend to have.
A potential employer would want to be convinced that you are motivated enough to not only make the switch, but also to commit to this career on a long-term basis.
Frequently, employers are concerned that such career switchers may be only using their job as a “test bed”.
Each job comes with its own set of realities. A good demonstration by a jobseeker that he is aware of and has prepared to take on such realities will give confidence to employers.
A potential employer will try to align your past experiences, skills and knowledge to sufficiently gauge what is needed to bring you up to par with the role’s demands. Do you really have the chops for the role you’re keen on, or is it beyond your grasp?
Address this during the interview by sharing with the employer how you plan to bridge any competency, skills, or experience gaps in the shortest time possible. This will also demonstrate your commitment and genuine interest in the position.
My work industry is going through tough times, and it looks like a sunset sector. What should I consider when it comes to changing industries for career resilience?
(MC) Here’s a list of factors to consider when it comes to changing industries:
- Your current skills and experience
- Your interest and motivations for the new industry
- Research and knowledge of the new industry
- What jobs are available in this new industry, and what skills are required?
- What’s the future of this industry, and how fast-paced is digitalisation and change happening?
- What training is available to upskill for it, and by whom?
Some other key questions I ask jobseekers as a career coach in this situation include:
- How willing are you to change and adapt?
- Are you willing to take on additional learning to enhance your knowledge of a new industry, with or without government-aided programmes?
- What are your personal interests and preferences?
- Do you have a network of connections for other lateral industries, such as suppliers or customers, who can help you to join their industry?
Ultimately, the ability to articulate your experiences and skillsets will help in better identifying alternative job goals. For the change to be successful, you need to know yourself well, what transferable skills you have (and don’t), and how these apply to a new job industry and environment. Good luck!