Whether during a global pandemic or an economic downturn, the job market can face serious repercussions: people losing their jobs. Maybe you’ve lost your job too, or you know someone going through the painful effects of job loss. The aftermath can be shocking, stressful, and even confusing. How does one bounce back from getting retrenched?
Here, we explore stories of people who have experienced retrenchment and job loss in one way or another. They share important lessons that they’ve learnt from their experiences and how you can take a step forward to bounce back from this temporary setback.
1. Use this time to recuperate and recharge
Ken Tan, a father of two primary school-going children, lost his job weeks before COVID-19 hit Singapore.
“I wanted to ease off from a hectic routine that had seen me put in almost 60-hour workweeks (including night conference calls and weekends) for several years. Now, I can fully recharge to be ready for the next chapter, both physically and mentally. This means exercising more regularly and catching up on recreational activities I didn’t have time for, such as reading, assembling plastic model kits, and solo motorcycle rides.”
The harmful effects of not taking a break have been proven time and time again by science.
Imagine a marathoner who doesn’t stop running or a car that drives at race speeds non-stop- they’re both bound to break down sooner rather than later.
A USC and MIT study showed that our brains aren’t idle when we take breaks — they are actually working hard to process our memories and help us make sense of what we have experienced.
2. Don’t be afraid to talk about your problems
Dr John Lim, President of The Singapore Counselling Centre, has helped many PMETs get back on their feet through counselling.
“There is an average increase of 30% year-on-year of older Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) seeking counselling due to retrenchment. Remind yourself that one setback does not mean you are doomed to be at rock bottom for the rest of your life. Dealing positively with your emotions lays the foundation for personal growth.
Remember that you can and will get out of this cycle of emotions. If you feel overwhelmed by these emotions, don’t hesitate to speak with a qualified counsellor, coach or therapist. When one door closes, another will always open. Keep an open mind and an open heart – be receptive to new obstacles and opportunities that will come your way.”
Often, those who experience job loss will go through complicated emotions, such as:
- Shock and denial
- Depression and acceptance
- Acceptance and relief
3. Strengthen your skills
Mrs Pauline Leow, a 44-year-old Singaporean who left her corporate job in 2016 and strike it out on her own to become a learning facilitator.
While Pauline wasn’t retrenched, she is a perfect example of how upskilling is equally important, whether or not one is employed.
There are plenty of SkillsFuture courses available for Singaporeans to upgrade themselves, but interestingly only 20% of the resident labour force in Singapore have utilised their credits.
Pauline was originally eyeing a baking course that piqued her interest but decided to instead train in skills that would take her nearer to her career goals.
She used her credits on an advanced certificate in training and assessment course and now teaches effective communications at Republic Polytechnic.
4. Seek out opportunities
Leong Yew Wah was made redundant at 55 but continued to improve and upskill himself.
Yew Wah is a perfect example of someone who understands the phrase “time and tide wait for no man.” Instead of waiting for a job to come his way slowly, he sought opportunities.
Launching himself into Workforce Singapore’s Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for 12 months, along with the help of WSG’s appointed Career Matching Provider MAXIMUS Asia.
He eventually joined Modern Beauty Wellness Pte Ltd, an SME in the beauty and wellness sector, as a Management Operations Officer.
5. Ask for help
Alan Tang retrenched from a 28-year management career.
For 15 months, Alan was out of work and at a loss for what to do.
Seeking an upturn in fortunes and help to move in the right direction, he approached a career coach at Ingeus, a career matching provider of Workforce Singapore (WSG). A career coach helps workers, including many retrenched individuals, find their footing and develop a game plan for their next role. This may include recommending career programmes, skills to learn, interview practice, and more.
With the advice and assistance provided by his career coach, Alan soon found employment in a new industry as a product and market development manager at StarHub.
More inspiring stories of career comebacks
- Tough Times, Tough Singaporeans: How We’ve Bounced Back Despite Career Challenges
- Can’t Find a Job and Feeling Depressed? Learn How This Singaporean Surmounted His Challenges
- Overcoming Adversity: Advice From a Visually-Impaired Artist
We wish you all the best in your career journey ahead.