The profile has agreed to share his story under the condition of anonymity. His name has been changed to protect his identity.
In 2016, Nicholas Tan was retrenched from a manufacturing multi-national company (MNC) where he held a senior position in its IT department for about five-and-a-half years.
The company had decided to restructure its operations, and the entire department became a casualty.
“First you are recovering from the shock, then you have to deal with the stress [of looking for a new job]. Furthermore, it was done during the Chinese New Year period, which was very cruel,” he recalled of the experience.
Upon receiving his compensation package, Nicholas promptly sought advice from the NTUC U PME Centre on whether it was fair and in line with current employment guidelines.
The career coach from NTUC U PME Centre wasted no time in giving him advice.
“The compensation was unfair. I worked for five-and-a-half years but was only paid for five years. Furthermore, they had made the compensation taxable, so I had to pay tax on it.”
“We are not financially trained, and the coach’s past experience with restructuring companies helped with looking at the compensation package,” shared Nicholas.
Thanks to the advice from NTUC U PME Centre, Nicholas was able to receive a fairer compensation package from the MNC.
Help to Look for a New Job
Nicholas’ next step was to find a new job, and once again he found support from the NTUC U PME Centre.
“I was worried as I was required to write a new CV and brush up my interviewing skills since I last looked for jobs in 2010,” he explained.
After doing an analysis, the career coach gave Nicholas tips to transform his resume into one that was more suitable for a mid-career professional looking for career progression.
“He helped me to come out with the right structure, and make it more impactful so that it would be easily picked up by employment websites and stand out among the hundreds of CVs. He also did well to position it for senior-level jobs,” explained Nicholas.
After that, the NTUC U PME Centre conducted mock interviews with Nicholas to better prepare him for upcoming job interviews.
“After nearly six years of staying in the same job, my interview skills were rusty, so he [the career coach] helped to polish and shine my skills,” he said.
The NTUC U PME Centre also readily shared information on job opportunities and executive search firms for Nicholas to consider.
During the few months that Nicholas was unemployed, he was proactive in searching for a new job.
After submitting resumes to hiring managers, he would follow up with an elevator pitch that may have given him a better chance to get noticed.
The hard work by NTUC U PME Centre paid off, and Nicholas received two job offers, eventually choosing the one that best suited him.
The Second Blow
In 2019, about three years after the first retrenchment, Nicholas found himself in the same boat again – the company he was employed in underwent a major restructuring and moved their IT operations overseas.
Once again, he was out of a job.
Fortunately, things were better this time round, as the company had brought in NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and executive job coaching services to provide support to retrenched staff.
Thanks to the advice and guidance he received from NTUC U PME Centre during his previous retrenchment, Nicholas felt he was better equipped to handle the situation. He had no need of the company’s resources.
However, he did need help with one thing – improving his LinkedIn profile. Once again, he turned to the NTUC U PME Centre.
When Nicholas was unable to attend their weekly LinkedIn sessions, a career coach scheduled a one-to-one meeting to provide customised advice.
“He taught me self-help; to learn from how other people presented their LinkedIn profiles; to be a good marketer and sell your strengths; to get endorsements from bosses and friends, and attach those testimonials to job applications,” he detailed.
The career coach also further sharpened the CV to direct it at firms looking for C-suite executives, something Nicholas was targeting.
“His effective coaching and encouragement to beef up my LinkedIn profile eventually bore fruit, resulting in me securing an IT director role with an MNC,” shared Nicholas.
“I’ve emerged from each restructuring stronger than the previous one — in terms of employability and in looking for a job. When one door is closed, another door is open, and this open door could be bigger, not just because of my experience, but because of mentoring by the right people at the NTUC U PME Centre,” he added.
The IT director has since referred several of his associates who have been affected by restructuring to the NTUC U PME Centre, and they have been grateful for the support.
For Mid-Career Professionals: Nicholas’ Tips for Enhancing Employability
- You are never too old to rejuvenate your brand equity. Don’t just revamp your CV, but also look into a having a LinkedIn Profile. With LinkedIn, you can maintain a steady stream of job opportunities, as you never know when you will need it again.
- Seek help, don’t bury your head in the sand. However, you should also do the hard work of searching for a job yourself. One way is after you have sent out the resumes, call up the HR and do an elevator pitch.
- Change the way you perceive your experience when you write your CV. Don’t be a generalist. Find out how to bring the specialist skill into your resume.
- Stay on top of your employability. After you land your job, you should do a pulse check every six months, and ask yourself where you are in your career in the company, are you employable, or if you have learnt something that makes you employable in the next three to five years. Be sincere, realistic and confident about achievements.