If you have not read about the plight of a retrenched senior banking officer, do read the Straits Times article here. His is not a unique situation. There are many such displaced professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in Singapore and they face a daunting task of getting back onto the employment bandwagon. Some of the issues were highlighted in the article: (1) a reluctance to hire people without relevant technical skills for open positions, and (2) the inability of the PMETs to convince employers that they can accept a job paying half his previous salary. Be that as it may, PMETs can still manage this rough patch by adopting one or more of these ideas.
(1) Demonstrate your employability
No employer will pass up on an opportunity to hire a person whom they are convinced will contribute tremendously to the business. The problem is, sifting out those who can and those who can't is mighty difficult, even with assessment tools to help. Hence, many of them resort to de facto measures of value like relevant work experience. So how can a PMET overcome this? By demonstrating your value to the company, not just in words but through tangible, applicable knowledge. Pick out key objectives from the job description and expound how you will achieve them. Show them a plan to ramp up both your capability and the capability of the organisation in delivering value as soon as possible. Anyone who comes with a plan of action for the company will have a much better chance of being hired.
(2) Match your CV to the Job Description
The issue with many PMETs is they assume that hiring managers understand what their CV means. I have seen countless number of CVs of PMETs hoping to the join the logistics industry from another industry, but they list their industry-specific jobs which only a person in that industry will understand. They do not match their inherent skills with the job requirements, expecting that the hiring manager can make that connection. That will NEVER happen hence you will need to be more specific in explaining why your experiences make you a good candidate for the role. Failure to contextualise your CV to the job requirement in the industry is the number one reason why PMETs do not get shortlisted for an interview.
(3) Sustainable expected salary
Many PMETs think that the way to be hired is to have a low expected salary, especially if the previous salary was high. They think that if they can come in on a lower ticket, they will be a better hire than one who has less experience and coming in at a similar level. Unfortunately, this tactic backfires more than it succeeds. The reason is because many hiring managers will see that low expected salary level as unsustainable, and this is simply a ploy for you to land a job. This will also mean that the moment you receive a higher offer, you will leave the organisation. This will create more problems for them, and disrupt business operations. Hence,they would prefer to hire someone who has less experience on a similar salary level because they know that that level is more sustainable. So how can a PMET overcome this?
a. make sure the gap is not too large. We understand that there may be some value in lowering your expected salary when you cross over to another industry, but that amount cannot be so low that it discounts your inherent value.
b. explain how you can make up the difference. If you have previously been earning $12,000 per month and now are asking for only $6,000, the drop will be seen as too drastic, unless you can share how you can make up the difference. There was one candidate who interviewed with me who explained, after much discussion, that he has sizeable savings, and that his wife had rejoined the job market, so the difference in the salary would not affect his lifestyle, and that $6,000 was sustainable for him. This allowed me to recommend him to the hiring company.
Salary matters are usually very sensitive and that is the reason why recruiters advise never to include these in the CV. But you will invariably meet with this question early on in the job search process, so you have to be strategic in the way you handle salary matters.
(4) Don't include a picture in your CV
Even if some companies ask for a picture, it is best not to include one. This is because it can influence the selection process negatively. If you use a poorly taken picture that makes you out like a convict, you will surely not be selected. If you were to use a professionally touched-up picture, and when you turn up and you don't look anything like the picture, you give the interviewer cause to doubt the veracity of the rest of your CV. Hence, it is best to just leave it out, and let your personality shine through the words.
The thing is, some PMETs may be touching 50, and they may have grey hair. The problem with grey hair is that it may make you look older than you are. Even though interviewers should be blind to age, if we come across looking younger than we are, we give off more positive vibes. It shows that you take care of yourself, and that is a good thing. You should also dress well for the interview, taking pride in both posture and deportment. All these have a non-verbal cue of "I Am Confident!" and confidence is a key factor in being selected for the job.
(6) Adopting the growth mindset
I would like to add the final point to a successful job search - adopting a growth mindset. One researcher shared at a recent job fair that I had participated in that there was only one factor which determined whether a candidate found a job quickly or not, and it was the growth mindset. The growth mindset is a learning mindset, and it adapts to "failure" by uncovering what is working and what is not, and then changing those aspects to become more successful. A PMET with the growth mindset does not adopt a blame culture, but instead takes ownership of the situation and works around impediments. If you have a growth mindset, you will find the job search experience both a growing and a learning experience.
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