Unemployment Slump Is Here But Don’t Worry
With a burning promise to “Make America Great Again”, market projections put the US economy as steadily bullish under President Trump earlier this year. Coupled with growing advances in the technology industry, the future of the Singapore economy seems to bode well. Yet, unemployment has risen to 2.3% in March 2017, the highest since the Global Recession in ‘08.
Worryingly, this trend had been worrying and has been especially present in the last 6 months beginning Jan 2017. Consultants from Citadel Search have interviewed or spoken to at least one person who is displaced on a daily basis. These are unprecedented times. We have never had such an experience in our 12 years of work! This phenomenon has prompted us to pen our thoughts in order to reach out.
Natural unemployment exists in two forms, frictional and structural unemployment, best explained recently by Minister of Manpower, Mr. Lim Swee Say, as “missed matches” and “mismatches” in his speech to Ministry Of Manpower, Committee of Supply.
Frictional unemployment occurs between the period when workers and firms are in the process of locating each other. In the past, job hunting occurs over a long period of time and this may cause higher frictional unemployment. However, with growing number of recruitment organisations, such as Citadel Search, this number will reduce gradually over time. With the Singapore Government’s oversight reaching out to improve educational and career guidance as well as providing advice, and the increasing variety of technologies to aid job search such as LinkedIn and other job portals, this rate should be less of a problem in future.
The real concern is the second group of natural unemployment, which is a mismatch of workers’ skills against the needs of companies. Structural shifts in industries results in possibly permanent massive unemployment. With the intensity of global competition amping up, and being a tiny red dot that punches above its own weight at the frontier of technology, Singapore is distinctively more susceptible to the tectonic shifts brought about by disruptive innovation.
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While you may think that all these are irrelevant to you, you should not be complacent just because you currently have a nest to roost. The plague of a skill mismatch is ever present, and strikes anyone at the unlikeliest of times. In today’s uncertain world, an iron rice bowl is certainly a misnomer!
To combat and cope with unemployment, here are 5 tips you could consider.
# 1 Upgrade Yourself
In line with the Smart Nation initiative, the Government has many programmes to encourage technological literacy amongst Singaporeans. One of the initiatives, Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme Plus (CITREP+) by IMDA, aims to build a strong core of local ICT professionals with Smart Nation capabilities. Expanded to support entry-level professionals in April 2016, such ICT courses and certifications are subsidised heavily.
Skills Future, another recently launched Government initiative, enables Singaporeans to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities to develop their skills in a variety of fields, such as Digital Technology, Leadership Development and provides career guidance; whether you’re a student just starting out, or a mid-level employee. On top of that, it’s absolutely free! Yes, the Government provides you with an initial $500 credit, which will be topped up periodically. Have you used it?
Initiatives such as Adapt and Grow by Workforce Singapore also provide career guidance and relevant skills upgrading subsidies for early career starters and mid-career switchers. Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) target Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) aiming for a mid-career switch to undergo skills conversion and move into new sectors that have good prospects for career progression.
# 2 Try Contracting
Do not hesitate to take up temporary or contract work. The key to securing job offers is to demonstrate you have certain competencies and skills; achievements such as the completion of business critical projects will be good to have in your CV. Through such experiences, you will also gain new skills that could diversify your current opportunities. Moreover, if the employer likes the work you are doing, perhaps they could convert you to a FTE (full time employee).
At Citadel Search, we try to change the mind-set of individuals to appreciate contract jobs. Often, people shy away from contract jobs thinking they aren’t as good as permanent jobs or entail a lack of security or appeals to lower-mid jobs only. We see a rise in retrenched workers, over the last 2 years, rejecting proposed contract jobs due to these pre-conceived notions. There were some who preferred to stay home and not have a job than take the contract work! Thankfully, however, there were some we were able to successfully convince. Contract jobs exists for a good reason and offer you opportunities to extend yourself in places you would not have considered if the traditional mind-set prevailed.
Volunteerism is also a good way to spend your time and employers also look to such activities as proof of a productive use of time. This will improve your chances, and it also builds up connections along the way. Who knows, you may even find a prospective employer while volunteering at the museum or F1 event!
# 3 Polish Your Resume and Interview Skills
Learn about the hottest new jobs that are currently in demand. The IT, E-Commerce & Innovation and HealthCare industries are booming and demand for workers is high. New economy jobs now require multi-disciplinary skills, such as statistics and marketing, engineering and finance etc., therein lies the challenge of going beyond the traditional parameters of your current job.
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If you are keen to look for a new job, polish up your resume to ensure that you are using achievement-oriented language in your resume. When we say this to candidates, they often go ‘What is that’? What we find is that candidates often write their resumes in task-oriented language e.g. ‘Responsible for Profit and Loss’. That means nothing! What you want to be able to do is write in achievement format. Tell the recruiter what you have achieved in driving profits or reducing costs through ABC management, supply chain transformational projects, etc.
To get the latest job updates, follow Citadel Search on LinkedIn.
Additionally, increase your presence professionally on social media. Do tailor your resume for individual positions, and include words from the job descriptions. Do this and your resume will come up higher in employer searches. We see candidates every day and we know what the employers want!
# 4 Flexibility Matters
At this year’s May Day rally, Prime Minister Lee urged Singaporeans to be “open and flexible” when looking for new jobs. Be willing to try something new, not just new jobs with new employers, but also consider new careers in different industries. Take up courses, re-skill and if you get a job offer, consider it carefully.
It was extremely gratifying when we offered a recent candidate an opportunity to take a job that was 45% off her last pay. It was a job she had no experience with but she had strong core-competencies, a positive attitude and the client was willing to give her an opportunity to try her hand!
In line with the first idea of skills upgrading, adapting calls for changes in behaviour, and sometimes, when switching jobs, it may be necessary to be realistic and take a pay cut to retain employability as you will have no direct first-hand experience in the new industry.
# 5 Patience Is Key
A job search to find the most suitable role for yourself takes an average of six to eight weeks, but there may be times where it is longer and this wait differs for different job levels and the status of the economy. Do not be disheartened if time stretches by and you are still unemployed. Understand that as much as you are searching for an ideal job, perhaps another company out there is also searching for someone like you.
Do keep in contact constantly with a recruitment firm, such as Citadel Search, as we will be able to help you refine your job search.
Citadel Search has seen higher recruitment activity since July 2017, so get ready and apply these 5 tips to empower yourself and embrace employment once again!
Whether you are one of our fine candidates or an established client or prospect, we hope you enjoyed this article. If you are interested to learn more on how we can aid your job search, do visit our job board or contact us to have a chat.