Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Thursday September 21st 2017

Seven Steps To A Smoother Transition After Retrenchment

Seven  Ways To  A Better Transition After Retrenchment

Written by: Gilbert Goh

I have being receiving regular emails from our retrenched PMETs and some of the stories were heart-wrenching.

Many would have read of the matured engineer who used to earn $100,000 per annum but went jobless for 20 months. He was retrenched from the sunset semi-conductor industry. His wife is the current breadwinner now and I am sure that the family dynamics have totally changed after that.

He is now thinking of starting a small engineering business.

Globalisation has  totally changed  our economy nowadays and jobs are decreasing as many organisations seek to merge  with one another to save cost. Employees also need to multi-task alot these days as companies try to  reduce manpower.

Many PMETs are  put out of work permanently as the jobs created  are reserved  mainly for the service sector. Traditionally, such work is performed by foreigners who are favoured by employers because of the cheaper cost factor.

The future does not look bright for our working population.

With this in mind, I decided to write  this  article to assist our PMETs transit better after retrenchment.

1. Adapt and adjust to survive

This may sound like a cliché but the earlier the retrenched PMET adjusted to the current market condition the better is his re-employability.

These are very  tough times and only the fittest will survive. Sadly, the good old days of our PMETs having the luxury of a buffet of available jobs to choose from are now gone.

Globalisation has revealed that our worse competitor is not from our own local citizens  but most likely  a well-qualified cheaper foreigner globe trotting around  for jobs. He is able to compete better due mainly to the lower cost factor.

Moreover, the fixated mindset of our matured PMETs to depend on others providing them an income based on  services rendered has  seriously blunted  our entrepreneurial acumen.

We have all along depend on a stable income to help us pay for our mortgages, maid, children’s education and year-end holidays. It has enslaved us into a comfortable cocoon of which we are reluctant to come out of.

Singapore is one country in the world that provides the best incentives to start a business but not many locals are capitalising  on that advantage. Instead, we see many foreigners coming in to start all kinds of businesses and many locals are now working for them!

I have received alot of emails from displaced PMETs but so far could recollect only five of them seriously considering starting a business to make ends meet. We may be too conservative and risk-averse for our own good.

Perhaps, a lack of solid planning way  may have prevented the PMET from earning an income using  the business route. Many stay  in their comfort zone when they are gamefully employed and suffer a suddent jolt when they are retrenched.

Planning after retrenchment may be a tad too late  if you want to start a small business as it takes a lot of market research and experimentation. There is also the unwillingness to take on more financial risk  when you are jobless due to a lack of income and family pressures.

Doing it slowly when you are employed may be one of the better way as you can experiment with the business model without the pressure to succeed. When the opportunity arrives, you can simply transit to the business full time with confidence.

For those who are very business-averse, taking on a job that is totally out of our comfort zone is key to our survival as the retrenched IT manager will no longer be able to get back the same job in the sunset semi-conductor industry. He may also need to be retrained for the new industry.

I subscribe to the motto  that having a low-paying job is better than nothing at all. Working is also good for our own personal esteem and it  keeps us  alert and alive.

We are also constantly in tune  with the working community and opportunites abound when we touch base with other people working alongside us.

2. Decide what you want – early

I have read that many retrenched PMETs are at a loss on what to do next once they are out of work.

Most frantically  applied for  jobs in the same industry thinking that their experience will enhance their employability.

For sunset industries like the semi-conductor field, this strategy will not work as such jobs are already gone .  Even if it is  available, there will always be a huge supply out there  going for a very niche small market.

Of course, the next natural thing many would do is to  start slashing their expected salaries and apply for lower-level positions. This looks like a trend in this tough economic time.

A better strategy is to plan ahead for you next career  -  when you are still gamefully employed.

Don’t leave the planning until  you are hit with a retrenchment  – that will be too late.

Your mind will be clouded with uncertainty and you  do not have the luxury of time on your side especially if the next career needs you to be retrained.

A soon-to-be-retrenched PMET who wrote to me recently said that he  wanted to start a government-sponsored course in the healthcare radiology career.

The course lasts three years and  he will be paid an allowance of $1000 a month during that period.

He was recently retrenched with a neat severance package and his last day of service will be  Jan 2011.

I thought that he has  planned well in advance as he:-

  1. Knows what he wants for himself – career in the healthcare industry
  2. Knows the time frame of his course – 3 years
  3. Knows how much he will receive – $1000 a month allowance
  4. Knows he has prep his family adequately before retrenchment – a feasible plan laid out

Sadly, he is one of the very few whom I know who  has a realistic well- thought- out plan and more importantly knows where he is heading  after retrenchment.

So, for those who are still floundering in post-retrenchment blues, take some time to plan ahead.  Once you have decided what you want to do, stick to that plan as there will always be detractors and obstacles while you go about executing your plan. Always persevere and you will succeed.

For those who are employed now, my advice is for you to stay prepared and plan well ahead as retrenchment can come like a thief silently. You won’t have the luxury of time and a clear mind to plan after that.

3. See a career coach

I find that our PMETs  do not take to seeing a career coach readily for career mapping  advice.

Maybe, there is a lack of professional career coaches in our human resources arena.

The cost factor may also deter many from seeing a career coach.

Some may even link seeing a  coach for career advice to being a personal failure!

Most career coaches charge a small fee to cover their expenses – around $100 – $200 per session for an hour  of face to face consultation. Many also prepare a comprehensive package of around 4-5 sessions and this can set you back by $800 to a few thousand dollars for the top-notch coaches.

A good career coach can help us to focus on our core strengths and suggest improvement on our weaknesses. They will be able to suggest improvements on our resume and even do interview trial runs with us if necessary.

More importantly, most coaches have extensive connections to headhunters and some can even quickly link you up to potential job offers as many jobs are unadvertised openly.

Many coaches  have useful career tracking  tools to  help the executives find out  more about  the kind of career that better suits him  based on his  personality,  work experience and qualifications.

Transitioning.org offers free career coaching only to the unemployed community and you can email me at gilbert@transitioning.org to find out more.

4. Plan a sabbatical trip alone

I encouraged those who can afford  to plan a life-changing trip on your  own especially   if you have a good severance package to fall back on. Set aside a small budget for the well-deserved sabbatical rest.

Remember to bring no one along but yourself.

Of course, you have to prepare your family adequately so that they don’t think  you are deserting them!

Many matured PMETs  worked all their life and have never taken a trip on their own to rediscover themselves. Many plough on doggedly, like a robot,  to provide for their family but not really asking themselves if thats what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

Retrenchment provides  the middle-aged executives  the opportunity to take some time out and get recharged during the period when the midlife crisis phenomenon will have taken centre stage.

Physically we are no longer at our  fittest and career wise we are also going downhill.

People in this age group also begin  to question their fundamental reason for existence and always ask what will make them tick so that they can  live  life more purposefully.

Money making may not be their  foremost agenda now compared to younger days  and they are looking for a noble vocation  to serve out their remaining years.

That is the reason why many matured PMETs joined the teaching or social service profession after being retrenched when they are in their forties.

A good long sabbatical may  be the prelude to a resurgence that you may need for the  next lap.

Remember to return home though after the trip and always seek  your family blessings when you decide on that purposeful trip.

5. Take good care of  your family

Many retrenched PMETs  neglected  their family in their desperate search for work.

Sadly, some families broke up as a result of the neglect and stress that unemployment brings.

The retrenched executive  now stops performing the routine staff for his family as he wallowed in depression and self-pity.

Psychologists have all along advocated  that those who have lost their jobs should try to live their lives as normally as possible.

Moreover, it is a good distraction  when we stop focusing on ourselves for a while by doing something beneficial for our family members.

More significantly, we need the support of our family when we are down and out  – they are the reasons for us to  live on meaningfully.

Losing their support  at this crucial period will further worsen the situation for us.

Never neglect  your family –  they will  also appreciate the   extra efforts put in by you  to spend time with them however down you may be.

6. Network network network

Readers would know by now that my previous three jobs were all from referrals. One job even led me to China where I taught business English for a year in south-western China.

Busy working executives make the mistake of not networking at all and paid the price of their inertia  by  aimlessly starting to call up all their contacts pleading for help  when they are being laid off.

Our over reliance on online social networking websites such as facebook, twitter and blogging have also deter us from the conventional form of face to face meeting.

Nothing beats a person-to-person chat over  coffee compared to  the current faceless formless mode of communcation. You can feel connected with the person when he laughs, nods his head or frown. I rather spend an hour with a friend face-to-face  over coffee than ten hours online.

Social networking has to be done  regularly and if people see that you  are sincere in relationship-building, they  will respond  when you are in need as you have taken time before to build the bond with them.

Networking  needs time to nurture and relationships  are not built over a short period of time.

The motto  of reaping what you sow  is very true in the area  of networking.

Essentially, networking means getting to know more people and showing that you are a sincere person who cares for others.

Simply going round and collecting namecards may not be effective networking. You need to put in the efforts to meet up with them and find out how they are doing.

7. Focus on the positive in spite of

Always look on the bright side of things even though the world is crumbling round us.

I know that this is tough especially when you have sent out 100 application letters and receive only five interviews.

You can focus on the negative aspect of your jobless state or learn to look at the positive side of things.

There are  always two sides to a coin and its up to you to see which side you are on.

I used to be very negative and this is  the first impression that people  have  after knowing me for a while.

Its like a tag permanently  stick on to my personality! “Negative Gilbert”…aw!

After staying jobless and depressed  for a prolonged period, I decided to apply positive mental attitude (PMA) to my life as I saw that Iwas going nowhere.

I was forever miserable  and even consider suicide as an option.

It was initially  tough  as my mind is forever switched to the negative mode – its like a TV  that is always tuned on to channel 5 and you can’t change the channel.

I decided to make it a point to think positively whenever my mind is switched to the  natural negative mode.

For example,  I have just missed the bus and my mind would automatically switch to the whining negative mood: “Oh no, I have miss the bus and I need to wait another fifteen minutes for the next one! What a drag.”

Now, I would try to see the positive side of the situation: “Oh I have miss the bus – its ok anyway I can take the time to browse through some magazines at the nearby bookstore,” which I did.

It takes a while for me to practise PMA and I have not always being successful.

I still sometimes fret when I am faced with an adverse situation.

However, my mindset has now changed alot and it is not always tuned to channel 5 – I have alot of channel 8 in me too!

The unemployed PMETs need to apply alot of PMA in their life as joblessness is always linked to negativity and insecurity.

Learn to look at things differently from now on and treat unemployment  as part  of life’s journey that one has to go through so that we all can be better husbands, wives, fathers or  mothers.

Its also in adversity that w can better appreciate the finer things in life and not to take things we use to have  for granted.

Conculsion

I hope that I have provided some useful tips for the discouraged retrenched executives to have a smoother transition. Never give up!

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2 Responses to “Seven Steps To A Smoother Transition After Retrenchment”

  1. sal says:

    Most Sporeans are tie down to housing, car, Reno, education loan n etc…worst if u are sandwich generation, need to take care of yr parent n in laws. U must rework yr finance such that, if u get retrench you are financially sound if not you will be more worried. Money management is important, don’t be asset rich but cash poor society.

  2. Steve says:

    I faced the same issue a few years ago, discriminated by AngMos and Indians in my office. They are all FT. I was jobless for 3 years and start looking jobs outside Singapore and finally ended up in China with 1/2 pay I used to have. Now I am a FT in China.

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