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Moving on from Retrenchment

When retrenchment hits, it feels like your world has shattered. Every plan and hope vanished. The range of feelings and emotions is indescribable and lots of negative thoughts, concerns about the future and self doubt will arise. Read on to find out recommended steps and resources to help you navigate on from retrenchment.

Process your emotions and regain your confidence

Dealing with retrenchment can be a brutal process for many. Give yourself the time and space to think through what had happened. Here are some ways you can get support in doing this.

  • Sharing with a trusted or loved one

Arrange to speak with someone you trust or love. Be open about how you are feeling and about your concerns and worries. Be specific about the type of emotions you are feeling and why, by using an Emotions Wheel. In sharing your challenges with others, you are not leaning on them to solve your issues, but you are asking for understanding, empathy and objectivity. At the end of your conversation, share with the other person what has become better for you.

  • Journalling

Journal on a notebook or type into an online document about how you are affected by your retrenchment. Be specific about the type of emotions you are feeling and why. At the end of each journal article, make sure you list out 3-5 things that you are grateful for.

  • Take a break

Go on a personal retreat, somewhere in Singapore or the region to reflect and process what has happened. As you look out into the world and nature, realise that there is so much going on in the world and marvel at how life can be beautiful. Remind yourself about where happiness and joy comes from. This can help you see your situation in a different light.

  • Speak to a counsellor

When you start to struggle with sleeping, eating and prefer to isolate yourself from others, try speaking with a counsellor. Counsellors give you a non judgemental space to express yourself and they offer a listening ear and advice, help resources to support you to move on in healthy ways. Here is a list of affordable counselling services available in Singapore.

Identify your next steps

When you are emotionally ready, you will experience a clearer mind for better decision making. With a clean slate and uncertain future ahead, what is next for you?

  • Career switching

If you feel like doing something different for your work, start by exploring your interests and your experiences. Make a list of your past work experiences and identify areas of work where you felt engaged. Explore industry maps, skills frameworks, skills reports to find out if there are any emerging areas of work that appeals to you. You can use tools like MySkillsFuture Interest Profiler and Avid Adventure's Wit Fit Grit to explore careers based on the skills and interests you currently have. Consider government funded programmes like the SkillsFuture Career Transition Programmes and Professional Conversion Programmes that facilitate career conversions.

  • Moving into similar roles

If you are engaged by what you had been doing, finding a job in the industry will become your next step. Besides going into job search, consider learning and developmental opportunities from established education institutions and online sources such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, Coursera to help you pick up new skills before you enter a new role. Consider using your SkillsFuture Credit to take courses related to the roles that you intend to apply for. These learning opportunities could also supplement your unemployment period, to showcase your determination to learn and upskill as you continue with job transitioning.

  • Taking a break

If a longer break is needed, set yourself a timeline for your break and list out goals you want to achieve during the break. This helps you stay focused and also allows you to communicate your extended break to those who care about you. Consider using templates like these to craft out your goals.

  • Financial assessment

Review your financial situation to objectively see how long you can last on your savings and resources. Prioritise important expenses like health insurance and liquidate any assets that could help you tide over the unemployment. This would include any retrenchment payout that you may have. As a benchmark, you should set aside 6 months worth of savings to support your next steps. Have discussions with your close ones and family on the changes to family budgets, expenditures so that they can support you. You can get Credit Counselling for financial literacy support too.

  • Pursue legal advice

If you think that you have been unfairly treated or compensated in the process of retrenchment, you can refer to these guidelines from Ministry of Manpower for Responsible Retrenchment Practices. If you are a union member, you can look for legal representation and advice from the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management.

Engage your networks and share what you are looking for

No man is an island, we all need support from people around us. When you are ready to engage in job search, share your hopes and aims with your network.

  • LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social media platform for you to reach out to people you know as well as the people in the industry you are interested in. Choose to follow specific hashtags in your profile, to curate your LinkedIn feed, complete your LinkedIn profile with your experiences, skills and headline. Ensure that your profile is either "Open to Work" or "Open to Recruiters" so that your network knows you are on the lookout for roles. If you are not getting views or engagement, try to contribute articles, opinions and engage people in the platform so that you can get noticed. You can also consider learning from online videos, articles such as Adrian Tan's Everything You Need to Grow your LinkedIn for tips on how to enhance your LinkedIn profile.

  • Colleagues, Ex Colleagues, Friends, Relatives, Family

Compile a list of people from the different areas of your life and send them a message or email, stating your present situation and the help that you need from them. You can use a script like this:

"Hi _______, as you may know, I am presently in the middle of a job transition and I would like to seek your guidance to help me in this transition. After considering my past experiences, I realised that I would like to work in a role that allows me to _____________. So if you know any vacancies or anyone who is looking for roles like _________, ____________ and ___________, please do let me know. I appreciate you looking out for me. Thank you for your partnership."

  • Catching up

Instead of staying isolated at home, choose to arrange for meetings with different people. This is a great time to catch up with people who matter and also with people who have information, advice or guidance that can help you in your transition. Help is not a one way street, so remember to offer your help to the people you meet by asking "Is there anything I can help you with" in the midst of your conversation.

Enhance your job search methods

The job transition process is not a sprint, it is more like a marathon. Keeping yourself sharp and prepared is crucial to help you last the race and stand out from others.

  • Resume Writing

Attend resume writing workshops, get resume templates to craft your resume. Workforce Singapore's Careers Connect has resources for resume writing and they conduct various career preparation workshops for free. It helps for you to share your resume with people you trust to get their feedback and first impressions, so that you can see any potential blind spots.

  • Seek career matching help

Workforce Singapore and e2i have a suite of free career matching help for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. Partner with them to get job referrals, access to job fairs and interview opportunities. If you are working in a leadership or senior role, partner recruitment agencies and recruiters for opportunities, as many of senior roles are often serviced through specialised headhunting or screening. If you get a role that you are not interested in, it may be helpful to refer suitable people whom you know for those positions too.

  • Utilise MyCareersFuture portal

MyCareersFuture is a job portal operated by the government and it has some interesting features such as a skills matching algorithm, salary ranges and number of applications that are useful to job seekers. You can enhance your usage of the portal through these tips.

  • Be organised in your job search

Use a software like Teal to keep track of your job applications. It is a smart and organised way to monitor your job search progress and helps you to focus on open leads. It helps you stay objective in your progress too, when the rejections or lack of response starts to affect you emotionally. Teal's job tracker also analyses jobs from LinkedIn and points out key words to help you determine whether the job is a fit for you.

  • Practice Self Care

Job searching can be tiring and mentally exhausting, demotivating. It is always important to remember the rejections and lack of response is not personal and hence it should not affect how you see yourself. Be accountable to a loved one or a trusted friend about your progress, learn to share your successes and rejections with them. Turn to your faith or religion to help you to see hope as you progress. Invest time in exercise, relationships to build up your physical and social networks. Use phone applications like Headspace to help you track your wellness levels. If you have time, try to volunteer in causes that interest you as it helps you stay engaged by being productive and also allows you to meet more people.

Retrenchments are in between an old and new career chapter. As you learn to bounce back, may you bounce higher.

At AVODAH People Solutions, we provide career guidance services to people who are considering career changes, making a job change or currently in a transition to find a job and also career enrichment services to people who want to be more effective at work. Share your career situation with us so that we can support you. You can also use our curated listing of free career resources.


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