Seeking a respectable job after a retrenchment.
AFTER he was retrenched from his US$100,000 a year job, Paul applied for many jobs but received no replies. In desperation, he wanted to announce his eagerness to work to as many people as possible so he put on a sandwich board to sell his skills. He stood outside a railway station every day with the board and handed out his r[e']sum[e'] to passers-by. This story was reported in the BBC World Service to share the plight of the retrenched workers who want to get regular employment.
On 17 Dec 2008, STATS ChipPAC Ltd, a leading semiconductor test and advanced packaging service provider, announced a restructuring plan to better align its operations with business outlook as a result of the global semiconductor downturn.
Since the middle of 2008, the homegrown company has taken a number of actions to reduce its operating costs. These included productivity improvements, material cost reduction, and reduction in capital expenditure. The company has also reduced labour costs through attrition and hiring freeze, mandatory shutdown and vacation, reduction in overtime, salary freeze of executives and voluntary separation.
To further align operating costs with the challenging business outlook, the company is implementing a restructuring plan to reduce its global workforce. The current restructuring plan involves a reduction of approximately 1,600 employees, representing 12 per cent of the firm's global workforce.
"The restructuring plan that we are announcing today is a painful but unavoidable action given the deterioration in semiconductor demand globally as a result of the global economic crisis. While our balance sheet is strong and our liquidity position is healthy, we need to resize our operations to better align with the changed business environment ahead. We are confident that with these proactive actions, we will be in a much stronger position to weather this economic downturn and meet the challenges ahead," said Tan Lay Koon, president and chief executive officer, STATS ChipPAC.
On 4 Dec 2008, AT&T Inc, a premier communications holding company, announced a planned reduction of about 12,000 jobs, or about 4 per cent of the firm's total workforce, citing economic pressures, a changing business mix, and a more streamlined organisational structure.
On 8 Dec 2008, Dow Chemical Co said it will slash 5,000 full-time jobs, about 11 per cent of its total workforce, close 20 plants and sell several businesses to rein in costs amid the economic recession. The number of multinational corporations that will retrench staff in 2009 will continue to grow as they follow the lead of Toyota, General Motors, DBS Bank, and Chrysler.
As the effects of the recession worldwide sink in, more large and small companies are expected to announce downsizing plans. Whether they call it retrenchment, firing, downsizing, restructuring, or cost reduction exercises, it means the same thing--that thousands of experienced and skilled workers will be paid their retrenchment benefits and will be out of work.
Retrenchment is more painful to senior executives because of their high salaries and perks, it is very difficult to find another post of equal stature. If they were to accept a job that pays less or one with a less impressive designation, they lose face, and will also have to change their lifestyle.
Most of the time, it's not about money if they have put aside enough savings to see them through their family responsibilities and house mortgages. The pain is in waking up one morning and having no office to go to, having no one reporting to you; and not knowing how to pass the time.
My friend who opted for early retirement from the civil service was well off financially. After a three-month stint of doing what he always wanted to do, he missed going to office every working day--something he had been doing for the past 32 years. He felt like a drug addict suffering from cold turkey treatment so he rented a furnished office at Beach Road and made it an office that he can commute to each working day although there was very little business to be conducted. After one year of business expenses, he came down to earth and began his office routine at his condominium. If a retiree can have such withdrawal symptoms, the sudden change of routine is even worse for a manager who has been retrenched.
When a company needs to reduce the workforce, outplacement services can help strengthen the relationship between the firm and departing employees, by showing its commitment to their long-term career prospects. By providing outplacement services, the firm shows the affected employees that it has faith in their skills and experience, and wants to ensure their survival long after they leave the company.
Formerly, when companies downsized, they sent employees off with a severance package. Nowadays, companies enlist the assistance of coaches or outplace service firms to help retrenched employees start with new jobs, or advise them on distilling their career skills to make it easier to find a new job. Such a move enhances the company's image in the eyes of its stakeholders and the public at large. The remaining staff will feel that the company has compassion for its employees and will continue to be loyal to it.
Generally, outplacement services include:
* Skills, personality, and interest assessment. Coaches will help candidates identify their strengths and weaknesses.
* Resume updating and improvement, and
* Job placement and outplacement information.
Outplacement is a process of help given to a staff member who has been made redundant in an economic downturn or a company restructuring. Take note that this process is not a guarantee for finding employment, but rather a remedy from the shock of retrenchment. The objective of an outplacement process would be gainful employment.
Outplace service firms can assist not only in helping employees transition out of the company, but also in assisting the company understand the legal issues regarding employee termination.
PeopleSearch Pte Ltd provides outplacement services besides recruitment services. Their clients for such services include companies in the oil and gas industry, electronics and semiconductor manufacturers, and financial institutions. In the outplacement process, PeopleSearch will objectively assess the staff 's career history and strengths and make a comparison to prospective employers' requirements for a job match. A personal analysis of the employee in question will be created for that purpose.
The employee's r[e']sum[e'] will be customised into a personal portfolio highlighting his achievements and unique qualities. This is the art of personal re-branding. PeopleSearch will tap into its wide array of networks to ensure that the employee is linked to the relevant industry for their job search. This network will also be extended to the countries where PeopleSearch has offices in the Asia-Pacific region.
For many people, outplacement is the first time in their careers that they have had an objective conversation with anyone about their achievements and future career goals. PeopleSearch's support thus will include all the main elements of career transition:
* Helping candidates to recover their footing,
* Analysing skill-sets, and
* Mapping out a route to a suitable role.
Consulting director at PeopleSearch Jaime Lim says: "We have meeting rooms where we conduct our face-to-face, one-on-one discussions and interviews with candidates as well as group workshops. They could also use the personal computer, photocopier, and scanner should they need to do up and send their curriculum vitae. We have a business centre."
At PeopleSearch, a sample full outplacement service package can have the following stages:
1. Interviewing the candidate.
2. Profiling tools and analysis. The profiling tool used is Harrison Innerview. There are two underlying theories that are integrated in the Harrison InnerView methodology. The first is called Enjoyment-Performance Theory and is based upon Behavioural Theory. The second is called Paradox Theory and is an extension of the "psychological opposites" theories explained by Jung and Freud.
3. Cover letter and resume writing.
4. Resume posting to three online career sites.
5. Attending interviews where candidate is trained on grooming and etiquette, preparation, do's and don'ts, and follow up, and
6. Proactive job search where assistance is provided to search for relevant jobs and marketing the candidate to 25 companies.
Jaime could not specify a length of time from step 1 to 6: "It is highly dependable on the calibre of the candidate and the market demand. Typically, it could take anywhere from two weeks to even three months."
She adds: "The success rate for placements depends on the candidate. On an average, it's more than 30 per cent. Candidates could also land themselves a contractual job while searching for a permanent one."
It is true that some candidates can get another job more quickly than others. Some senior managers have become too contented with their posts over the years and may not have kept themselves up to date with the changes in the industry. Job search today requires new skills, new strategies, and an entrepreneurial approach to management of one's career. The retrenched manager must compete with younger job seekers who can accept the same position on a lower salary. It's true that experience comes with a higher price tag but in a recession, companies look to savings in the payroll.
Some outplacement agencies have built up a well-stocked resource centre for candidates to use. The resource library contains audio tapes, videos, books, periodicals, and newspapers specifically selected to support the job seeker. The library materials cover a range of topics including job search, job retention, entrepreneurship, goal setting, communication skills, motivation, self-esteem, and negotiation.
The outplacement industry has changed tremendously over the past 30 years. At that time, the agency merely provided a cubicle and a telephone. Today, the emphasis is on career development, not merely getting another job. Besides the phone, the agency provides the PC, Internet access, coaching, and seminars to add value to the candidate in his search for another job.
Some candidates find that meeting other retrenched people day in and day out makes them more depressed and many stop going to the outplacement agency. Since outplacement services are expensive, most employers pay for the maximum of three months which they think is a fair time period to gain new employment.
For companies that cannot afford hiring outplacement consultants, they could set aside a budget to purchase outplacement software fro retrenched employees. Such software can reduce the time and cost of outplacement services, while still giving individualised service for the employees. Through online programs, employees can access outplacement information on their own time, and in their own homes. With these software, employees can take personality, interest and skills assessment tests; search and apply for jobs; and develop customised CV.
Clear the Cobwebs from Your Resume
IT MAY be true that the last time you applied for a job was over eight years ago. But now that you are unfortunate to be retrenched, you have to swallow your pride and put your energy into looking for a new job in the same industry or maybe to take the opportunity to switch to another field.
If you don't have outplacement agencies to help you, you can use the following guidelines to help yourself.
1. Assess yourself. Know thyself. Do a personality test to find out your strengths and weaknesses. What is your vision and mission? List the target companies you think are worth exploring.
2. Prepare your campaign. Narrow down the list of companies you think are likely to require your service. Find out the people you should contact in the companies that can help you get an interview.
3. Polish your resume till it shines. List your accomplishments in order of importance. Have a makeover photograph of yourself taken in your best dress--you should look like a TV star. Ask close friends to help you check your resume and cover letter. Each resume should be customised for the target company. Use a layout program to give your applications the professional look. Send out the applications and wait for the interviews.
4. Be confident at the interview. Some interviewers will try to make you lose your temper by asking nasty questions. Keep your cool; they're merely testing you.
5. Be prepared for more than one interview. If you get a second interview, it means that you are among the shortlisted candidates. Some companies will arrange for a panel interview where you have to face six or eight managers. Other firms will pitch you against competing candidates. In the short time given for the interview, you have to sell yourself and your knowledge and experience.
6. Be patient. If you don't succeed at one interview, try and try again. Don't expect headhunters to look for you if you just brood at home and continue to feel sorry for yourself.--CT Tan