MBA Fair, 11th April, 2018

An MBA event with some useful ‘freebies’.

As many of our readers are interested in the topic of an MBA (Master of Business Administration degree), we have agreed to advertise this up-coming MBA event in Singapore. This event is free-of-charge.

For those who are considering doing an MBA degree or have an interest in the topic, there are some ‘freebies’ you might be interested in such as a one-on-one chat with business school admissions directors, GMAT instructors (probably worth going for this alone!), and scholarship information (another worthwhile attraction!).

The event will at least give you much information on a range of MBA and Executive MBA courses that the organisers are ‘marketing’ and a chance to talk with someone from those universities who will be able to answer questions relevant to their institution. Another valuable feature of this MBA event is that there will be panel discussions featuring school representatives and alumni – the alumni will be able to give you the real picture of the pro’s and con’s and the up’s and down’s of each of the programmes being marketed.

The information ‘flyer’ we were sent is as follows:

Join the Access MBA Tour and connect One-to-One with world’s best business schools. Find your MBA match with the help of our international team of business education experts.

Hold personal meetings with Admissions Directors from prestigious MBA programmes, get advice from our MBA consultants and GMAT instructors, hear from school representatives and alumni during Panel Discussions, and learn about 2 million euros in scholarship opportunities.

Some of the participating schools: INSEAD, IE Business School, ESSEC Business School, HKUST and many others

Date: April 11, 2018

Time: From 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm (upon invitation)

Venue: Orchard Hotel Singapore; Address: 442 Orchard Road

Metro Station: Orchard

Register athttps://www.accessmba.com/link/5a

To secure your place at the event, you would be well advised to register at least 10 days before the event.

This is your opportunity to take the first step towards your MBA journey!

What is involved in Outplacement Support?

Outplacement support benefits the company as well as the individual

This is a question I have to frequently answer either by e-mail or over the phone. When retrenching a staff member or members, people in the Human Resources department like to offer the person or persons involved various supports to help them secure another job. This is also aimed at protecting the company’s reputation, both internally and externally.

The Benefits of Outplacement Support

Providing outplacement support presents a more human and caring side of the company, and to the remaining employees, it shows that the company is going to great lengths to help the retrenched staff. This lessens the inevitable blow to staff morale that accompanies retrenchment.

To the outside world – customers, clients, suppliers, the media, etc – a company that provides outplacement support is viewed as less mercenary and penny-pinching. Even when people don’t fully understand the need for the retrenchment, by providing outplacement support they perceive the company in a more positive light.

Of course there are huge benefits to the retrenched staff from outplacement support, and as stated in a previous article, it helps their self-esteem as well as places them in the best possible position to secure another job.

So what is involved in outplacement support?

Career Choice and Planning Programme

There are generally two programmes involved. The first, which we in Sandbox Advisors call ‘Career Choice and Planning’, is focused on providing the individual with a clearer understanding of their career goals; the options or choices they have; the constraints they face; their skills and strengths; their work values and motivations; their core interests, particularly those related to work or career; and their personality type and how it affects their career and job search.

This ‘Career Choice and Planning’ programme not only leads the individual to a better understanding of themselves, but helps them identify ideal industries and careers to focus their job search on. In doing so, it broadens the scope of their job search and widens out the variety of jobs they are willing to pursue. In short, it increases their options.

The process also uncovers vital inputs for crafting a new, impactful resume, cover letters, and online profiles such as LinkedIn. The increased self-knowledge also helps prepare them for job interviews and salary negotiation.

The steps involved in the ‘Career Choice and Planning’ programme includes psychometric inventories or personality assessments – the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interests Inventory (SII); the completion of a set of self-assessment exercises to uncover achievements, skills and strengths; work values elicitation; and the unearthing of deep aspirations about work and career.

Transition and Job Search

The second programme, which we call ‘Transition and Job Search’, focuses on getting interviews and converting them into a job offer.

Resume, Cover Letter and LinkedIn Profile

The starting point of this programme is the crafting of an impactful resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile – these are the tools used to secure interviews. To create these impactful instruments, the individual has to complete a workbook that compiles and assembles information in particular formats – they are provided with a guidebook and supporting materials to help them. Their career advisor then uses this to craft an impactful resume and profile.

The Job Search

Once the individual has a new resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile, they are ready for the job search part of the programme. Their career advisor helps them develop a three-pronged job search strategy focused on the three approaches to job searching – job boards, employment agencies or recruiters, and networking. Using a guidebook and directed by their career advisor, the individual produces a personalised strategy for their job search. This, and the use of the tools discussed above, will attract more interview calls.

Preparing for Interview

The interview preparation part of the programme involves two workbooks. One is focused on presenting the individual’s career achievements and key strengths in an impactful, structured manner – this also provides a structure for answering unexpected questions. The second workbook is focused on answering interview questions, and in particular, focuses on commonly asked and expected interview questions specific to the individual’s job target. When the ‘content’ for interviews is prepared, then there is practice in the ‘techniques’ of successful interviewing, including a mock interview and how to be proactive during interviews. Building and presenting confidence and poise during interviews is also practiced.

Ongoing Support

When the preparation stages described above are completed, we provide ongoing support to the individual for a period of two months. This involves tracking their job search activities and providing advice on how they should tweak their approach if necessary. The individual is also provided with guidance for ongoing needs, such as tips for upcoming interviews and dealing with various job search situations. This support ensures that they ingrain all the best practices for a good job search and that they execute a speedy and effective job search.

What to ask for when networking

Ask for advice, not a job!

Networking can be a complex process for many people! There are different aspects to it and all of them require thought. Starting with a clear objective is important – knowing exactly why you are doing it and what you want to get out of it provides direction and motivation. Knowing who to connect with or meet is also important – otherwise you could end up with hundreds of contacts who can’t help you with your objectives. Knowing how to get connected to or meet the people who can help you in your job search is another important part of networking. These aspects of networking have been dealt with in previous articles on this website.

The question of what to say to people or ask of them once connected is frequently asked. This question typically arises when new networkers hear that the golden rule of networking is not to ask for a job. Asking people you have just met or been connected to for a job can create awkwardness, especially if they don’t have a job for you. Asking for a job directly scares people off and can create a ‘cul de sac’ or dead-end for you. So what do you ask of them instead?

Assuming your objective was to connect with people who are in a position to offer you the type of job you are seeking (or at least to connect with people who know these people and could connect you or introduce you to them), then what you ask for is advice or information. Asking someone for advice is non-threatening – it doesn’t create awkwardness – and frequently strokes the person’s ego as it shows respect and admiration. People ask advice from people whose opinions they believe matter, and when asked for advice, it’s natural for the person asked to assume that the person asking admires or respects them. They therefore are likely to agree to help!

The advice to ask for is about your career or about your job search. Tell the person that they have taken the career path you wish to pursue and that you wish to discuss with them the best way forward for you in your pursuit. You are merely asking for career advice.

Or you might again say something flattering about their position or career to-date, and on that basis you are seeking information or advice on the best way to achieve your career goal (i.e. get that job!). As long as you are not asking them directly for a job, they are likely to agree to meet you or get involved in an e-mail exchange. Meeting face-to-face is the most effective way of doing this, and asking for just fifteen to twenty minutes of their time shouldn’t be too much. Always end such discussions by asking them who else might be able to help you.

Even without asking for a job there is much to be gained from such an encounter. You meet them, discuss your career and job search, and they might actually have a vacancy for you! If they don’t, you will have gained valuable knowledge about your career or job search, and they may refer you to someone else who might have a job vacancy or who can introduce you to someone else who might. No matter what the outcome, it’s a positive one for you.

To back up your position that you are not there to ask for a job, do not bring a copy of your resume with you! If asked, tell them that you are there for advice and information so didn’t bring a resume with you, but that you will send it to them shortly afterwards.

This type of meeting (it’s called informational interviewing) is not difficult to conduct, and consistently produces positive outcomes.

Singapore Jobs Forecast for 2018

Better outlook for job seekers

2018 looks better for job seekers

2018 brings a new year with better prospects for job hunters in Singapore. The economy is improving and confidence in it by employers will lead to greater hiring demands. According to a survey conducted by ManpowerGroup Singapore, 16% of employers said that they are planning on increasing their staffing levels in 2018. However, 5% stated that they expect to decrease the number of staff, and 74% stated that they expect no change in staffing levels. This, according to the survey report, gives an 11% growth in the net employment outlook, even when adjusted for seasonal variations. This is good news for job seekers and is the strongest outlook in 2 years, up from 7% for the same period last year.

So where will the job increases be?

The strongest expected staffing level increases will be in the public sector and education with a 22% growth. In the services industry, IT is again looking at strong growth with increasing demand for cyber security specialists, digital applications, data mining and analytics, software applications and software development. Anything to do with helping businesses increase their online presence and market or sell through smart devices will be in strong demand. The government’s focus on Singapore as a Smart Nation is also driving demand for specialist labour in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), especially for software engineers, data scientists, and IoT (Internet of Things) specialists.

The transport and utilities industries are also said to expand in 2018.

Other than in FinTech (finance focused technologies) related jobs, the financial industry is only expected to have a moderate increase in staffing levels. Here, as well as real estate and the wholesale and retail trade sectors, employers seem to be adopting a ‘wait and see’ policy in relation to the economy – if the economy expands more than expected, then they will be hiring. If not, they are not expecting any changes in hiring.

Retrenchments are slowing

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Market Report for the third quarter of 2017 shows that retrenchments are slowing. There were 3400 retrenchments in Q3 2017, down 6.6% from 3640 in Q2 2017, and down 19.4% from a year ago when retrenchments were 4220 in Q3 2016. The slowdown is mainly attributed to the services and manufacturing sectors.

But PMETs hit hard again

Unfortunately, around 70% of retrenchments hit PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians), with most retrenchments being in the services industry (always very vulnerable to shifts in confidence in the economy). Fortunately the government has placed great emphasis on helping retrenched PMETs find new jobs with financial incentives for employers to employ them, and many up-skilling and re-skilling initiatives.

More good news for those retrenched

The good news from the Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Market Report for Q3 for those retrenched is that the six-month re-entry rate is up 1.9 percentage points to 66.4% over Q2, and up 2 percentage points over Q1. This can be attributed to the improving economy and the government’s initiatives.

Overall, job seekers can expect an improvement in hiring in 2018.

Make Networking an Integral Part of Your Job Search

Be ‘strategic’ when networking

Using Job Boards

Some people rely only on job boards when searching for a new job, but using job boards has a low success rate. They also involve the greatest competition – there are thousands of others using the same job boards and many of them are looking for a job similar to the one you are searching for.

Using Employment Agencies and Recruiters

Others use employment agencies where recruiters try to match suitable candidates to a job that a company asked them to fill to – the recruiter gets paid by the hiring company when the position is filled. So the recruiter searches their own database for suitable candidates – this database is of people who have contacted that employment agency in search of a job. If that doesn’t produce a few candidates, the recruiter will look for more by advertising the position on job boards (where the competition for jobs is severe), and also by searching relevant LinkedIn profiles.

Of course, many job hunters use both approaches, and that increases their chances of success. However, in job searching, many jobs are actually filled through word-of-mouth where a hiring manager asks their contacts if they know of a suitable candidate. If they don’t know of someone, they will ask their own contacts, and so on. This is called networking.

Many Jobs Are Filled Through Networking

Networking is how many jobs in Singapore are filled. It also happens online, especially through LinkedIn, where a hiring manager asks their ‘contacts’ (i.e. all those they have connected with on LinkedIn or Twitter or other social media sites) if they know of someone who might be suitable for a vacant position they have. The process also works in the opposite direction where job seekers ask their contacts for help in their job search.

However, many people don’t know how to network – they merely connect with a wide range of people and end up with lots of ‘connections’ that they either don’t follow through with or are of no use to them in their job search. Knowing many people who are interested in flying drones won’t link you up with a hiring manager who is looking for a marketing executive – except by coincidence of course!

Network ‘Strategically’

To use networking productively, whether it be face-to-face or online networking, it must be done strategically – in other words, it requires a specific purpose and a plan to achieve it. Obviously the ‘purpose’ is to find a suitable job, and the plan should involve identifying all those people who are in a position to offer you the kind of job you are looking for. That is the starting point – identifying people who might have the type of job you are looking for. Then you need to identify where these people ‘hang out’ – what forums are they members of or what association meetings do they attend? These are the places a job hunter needs to ‘hang out’ also.

This can be brought a stage further by identifying the people who know or are connected to the people who can hire you for your targeted job. Where do they ‘hang out’? This is where the job hunter needs to spend their time networking. There is no point in meeting lots of nice or interesting people when networking if they are not in a position to help you in your job search. The time to meet interesting people is when you have a job, but when you are in job search mode, you must be ‘strategic’ in your networking – look for and connect with those who can help you.

Getting the Most out of Working with Recruiters (2)

Help recruiters to help you

We saw in part 1 of this article that recruiters are very busy people trying to match candidates to vacant positions and that they are paid by the hiring companies to do so – this means that they work for those companies and not for you the job hunter. Because recruiters are busy, job hunters should prepare properly before contacting them, including creating an ‘elevator pitch’ to use with them. We also saw how viewing recruiters as your partners in your job search makes the relationship more productive.

In this second part of the article, we look at some more tips for working with recruiters.

Be clear about your job priorities

Knowing exactly what is important to you in a job is essential so that you have criteria for evaluating an offered position. This includes establishing a salary range that identifies that figure below which you will not consider accepting a job no matter what the other favourable conditions might be, as well as the desired actual salary. You also need to be clear about your other expectations of a job such as location, travel, career advancement, career development opportunities, medical and other benefits, etc. Your job priorities should be a written list that you can refer to, and when dealing with a recruiter, that you have clearly and honestly communicated these so that they use them in matching you to a vacant position. This will make the process easier for both of you.

Be flexible with those priorities

Some of your job priorities will be ‘concrete’ in that they are “must have’s” – for example, if travel in your work is very important for you, you will not be happy in a job that doesn’t encompass this, so that’s a “must”. Other priorities may be less set in stone and you should be flexible with these. For instance, a job offer may be on the lower end of your salary expectations but it might have excellent health coverage which can add more than $400 into the overall package. Similarly, reimbursed tuition fees, increased leave or excellent opportunities for advancement may also make-up for the lower salary. So when discussing priorities with a recruiter, especially when a job offer is being made, be flexible where you can, but remain rigid with your “must have’s”.

Listen to what the recruiter suggests

Recruiters will make suggestions as to what to include (or not include) in your resume when applying to specific companies, or what to say to a particular hiring manager during interview, etc. One of recruiters’ main irritations is when candidates argue with them over such suggestions and insist on doing it “their way’ – the recruiter knows their client and is making the suggestions so that the candidate will more easily ‘fit’ with what the hiring manager is looking for. So listen and heed what they say!

Work with multiple recruiters

There are dozens and dozens of employment agencies operating in Singapore, some good, some bad, many in-between. Job searchers should do some research on which agencies deal with the industry they are targeting jobs in and through further research, find out if the agencies they are considering have a reasonable reputation. Then the job searcher should work with a number of different recruiters to increase their exposure to the job market – different recruiters and employment agencies will have different companies as clients, and not all recruiters will have access to all available positions or hiring managers. So it makes sense to work with a number of different recruiters in order to have access to as wide a pool of vacancies as possible.

Getting the Most out of Working with Recruiters (1)

Know how to work with recruiters

The recruiter is not working for you

Recruiters are busy people – they get paid on results, and those results are the successful placement of a person into a vacant job. They are paid only when they fill the position and it is the hiring company that pays them. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are working on your behalf – they aren’t! They are working for the company that pays them.

When you as a job hunter deal with an employment agency, bear in mind that the recruiters are busy trying to match candidates to vacant positions. They receive hundreds of applications and speculative resumes for every position on their books and they simply do not have enough time to read all those resumes in detail – they spend less than 30 seconds skimming through them. So you must help them in this process by having a focused resume and clearly showing how you match the key requirements of the job you are applying for.

They are very busy people – so prepare before you call them

Job hunters frequently complain that recruiters are abrupt and don’t spend much time talking to them – as stated above, they are very busy people and simply don’t have the time to talk to people who aren’t a good ‘fit’ for a position they are dealing with. So understand their situation, and when you talk to them, be as brief and concise as possible. If the recruiter phones you, it means there seems to be a ‘fit’ between you and a job, so again remember they are busy and be focused on demonstrating how you meet the requirements of the vacant job. If you talk about irrelevancies, then they will be abrupt in bringing you back to talking about the essentials. For them, time is money!

When responding to a job advertisement, find out the name of the particular recruiter dealing with that position. Sometimes it is stated in the job ad, but if it’s not, call the employment agency and ask who is the recruiter involved. Then use their name in the cover letter / cover e-mail – this slightly more personal touch will always work in your favour. Again, your attached resume must be focused and show how you meet the requirements of the job. If it isn’t thus focused, it goes into the garbage bin.

If you ‘cold call’ a recruitment agency, prepare properly before the phone call – write down what you need to say and ask. Prepare an “elevator pitch” (the 30 second statement of who you are, what you do, what type of position you are looking for, and something unique about yourself) and have it in writing in front of you. The main tactic when talking to a recruiter is being brief, concise and relevantly focused.

View recruiters as partners in your job search

Recruiters may be busy people, but you can still look on them as partners in your job search. To do so, you must be completely honest with them and not try to hide any gaps in employment, or the fact that you were job hopping at a certain stage, or fired from a previous position, etc. They will be able to advise you on how such situations should be presented in your resume and at interview – they will also make sure not to refer you to an employer that they know might have a problem with your particular issue.

If a recruiter phones you but you were unavailable, be respectful and return their call as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you are involved in a job offer negotiation, as there are numerous stories of people who have had job offers withdrawn because they were slow in getting back to the recruiter. Unless your experience and skill-set are very unique, there will always be another candidate to offer the job to! And when a recruiter sends you to a hiring manager for an interview, make sure to promptly provide them with feedback on how things went.

A further posting will continue discussing how to get the most out of dealing with recruiters.

The Reality about Resume Length

A resume needs to cater for the personality type of all hiring managers

The Debate

There is a forever ongoing debate about whether a resume should be just one page or as many pages as it takes to demonstrate a person’s candidacy for a position. The reality is that both opinions are correct – the truth is in the eye of the beholder!

It is the preference of individual hiring managers that matters, and if you ask a group of them, some will say they prefer a one page resume while others will say they want to see a lot more detail. This is down to their ‘personality type’ and in particular, how they prefer to take in or perceive information.

The Theory

You probably have heard of Jung’s theory of personality that is the basis for the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (the MBTI). According to the theory, some people like to take in information through their senses – they like facts, figures and details. They are practical and realistic, and need the detail of a situation before they can see the ‘big picture’. These are called “Sensing” types. In the MBTI four letter designation, these are an “S”.

The opposite preference to Sensing types are people who take in information through “Intuition” or an almost “sixth sense”. In the MBTI four letter designation, these are an “N”. They are future-focused and see possibilities, and prefer to see the ‘big picture’ first, before being able to focus on the detail and facts of a situation.

The Implications

It is safe to assume that approximately half of all hiring managers will be an MBTI “Sensing” preference, and the other half will have an “Intuition” preference. So what are the implications of this information and how should resumes be constructed to meet the preferences of both types of hiring managers? The Sensing types will want to see the details, so they will be interesting in the list of positions you’ve held, the responsibilities involved, and what you achieved in each position. The Intuitive types will want a ‘snapshot’ of where you’ve been, what you have done, and what you can probably do for them. Once the Intuitive has grasped the ‘big picture’ about you, and if interested in what they see, then and only then will they want to see the detail.

Now you can see why the debate about a one page resume or a multiple page detailed one is a forever ongoing one, because both positions are correct depending on the personality type of those discussing the matter. So a resume needs to provide a brief, concise snapshot, followed by the detail. Hence the importance of the first half of the first page of a resume – this should provide the overview of your career and what your strengths are, but focused on a particular job so that the hiring manager reading it can quickly determine if you are what they are looking for. This satisfies the preference of the Intuitive types.

To satisfy the preference of the Sensing type of hiring manager, your resume then needs to provide the detail of what was briefly mentioned in the ‘snapshot’ – the responsibilities and associated achievements of each position held. Again though, these need to be focused on the requirements of a particular job.

The Difference between Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is a lot more than your resume

You have spent a lot of time and effort in crafting your newly updated resume, and are proud of the result – it looks good! Now you need to get your LinkedIn profile uploaded so that people (especially recruiters and hiring managers!) can find you in searches. So that’s just a matter of ‘cut & paste’ from your resume to LinkedIn – right? No, actually! That’s the lazy option and a lost opportunity to portray and sell yourself to the world.

So if copying your resume is not the proper way to creating a LinkedIn profile, what is? And what are the differences between the two?

The Focus

The differences is firstly in the audience they are aimed at. Your resume should be focused on the requirements of a particular job (generic resumes don’t get you an interview anymore!), so the audience for it is narrowly defined.

A LinkedIn profile, on the other hand, has a potentially much wider audience – if you are job searching, you want recruiters and hiring managers from different companies and possibly different industries looking to fill a range of jobs to find you. Even if you are not in the market for a job, you want to portray a professional image of yourself because customers, clients, suppliers, colleagues, your bosses, competitors’ staff, their bosses, etc, may all have a look to find out more about you. And wouldn’t it be nice if a head-hunter contacted you even if you are not looking to change jobs!

So you need to craft your LinkedIn profile in such a way that all of these people can find you. You do this by focusing on two other differences between a resume and a LinkedIn profile – the Headline and the Summary.

The Headline

The headline in your resume should be focused on that one job you are sending it for – it should say something about your job title or area of competency and mention a few key skills required for that job. The headline in your LinkedIn profile should contain some of the keywords people might use in a search to find someone just like you – someone with your skills, your strengths, and experience. The headline is the first place a LinkedIn search goes to, so you should help your potential searchers by using the keywords they will use. If you want some help with this, Google or LinkedIn search for someone reasonably well known in a position similar to yours. Look at their headline and note the keywords they used.

The Summary

The summary or profile in your resume should be just one paragraph in length (but short enough to read in a quick glance) and mention your position, some skills and achievements related to the key requirements of the job you are seeking, and perhaps an educational qualification if that too is key.

The version of the summary in your LinkedIn profile can contain all the information used in your resume’s summary and a lot more! You have a maximum of 2000 characters to use, so make the most of them. Write this summary in the first (I, my or me) or third (he/she, his/her) person – a resume summary shouldn’t contain pronouns, but LinkedIn ones do – and be less formal. Bring in something interesting about yourself, perhaps a passionate pastime or leisure pursuit – if you play on the local football team or are dreadful at but love tennis, mention it – it will portray you as more human. Even though there is a separate section in LinkedIn to list your skills and competencies, it can be useful to use some of those keywords in how you describe yourself – this again helps your profile to be ‘found’ in searches.

Be Creative

LinkedIn facilitates telling your story in multi-media, so, depending on the type of industry you are in and how you want to portray yourself professionally, make good use of this facility. You can have a link to your ‘master-copy’ resume (the not so focused one), a link to a video clip of you presenting at a meeting, a picture of you missing that tennis ball (!), a picture of that award you received, etc. Just make sure that they are in keeping with the image you want to portray and are appropriate for the industry you work in.

Understanding Recruiters

You need to understand recruiters to work well with them

Most people going through the job search process have to deal with recruiters at some point. However, many people are critical about their experience of dealing with them and complain about them not responding to phone calls, being rushed or abrupt, asking for resumes to be sent but never calling back, etc. Understanding more about recruiters and how to partner with them makes the encounter more productive and less stressful.

Types of Recruiters

There are two types of recruiters and they each work differently: agency recruiters, and retained recruiters.

Agency recruiters work on a contingency basis, meaning that they only collect a fee when they place a job seeker with their client company – the person taking up the appointment must stay in the job for a certain duration, generally ninety days. They usually deal with recruitment for junior and middle-level positions.

Retained recruiters are hired exclusively by client companies to manage senior management positions and their fees are paid up-front. As most people’s experience of recruiters is with agency recruiters, they will be our focus in this article.

So what do recruiters actually do?

When a company engages an employment agency, the recruiter contacts the hiring manager involved to gain more specific information on the job vacancy such as responsibilities, required skills, salary, reporting structure, etc. They then check for a match with their own company’s database and also scrutinise major job boards for suitable candidates. In recent years, they are also making greater use of LinkedIn.

Once the recruiter has identified a number of possible candidates, they contact them, usually by phone, for a screening interview. While this may seem like a casual chat to a candidate, it is very much an interview! Their goal is to ascertain the candidates ‘fit’ with the job, their expectations in relation to salary, job advancement, etc, and to discuss why they want to leave their current job (or why they left their last job).

When the recruiter has 8 to 10 candidates that appear to be suitable for the vacant post, they invite them for a more in-depth interview at the agency’s office. This time, as well as focusing on whether the candidate ‘fits’ the job, they collect information on their background (experience, education, goals, etc). If the client company has requested it, there may also be psychometric or aptitude tests. The additional goal in these interviews is that the recruiter wants to screen out any candidates they feel may not stay in the job for three months – their fee depends on this!

When the recruiter has a list of 5 or 6 strong candidates, they send the details to the hiring manager, along with the recruiter’s notes and recommendations. Usually the recruiter then coordinates the interviews for the hiring manager who interviews them.

Many recruiters will coach the candidates on how to approach the interview, how to answer certain questions, what they need to know about the company, etc. This is very valuable and candidates should pay attention to this advice.

As well as getting feedback from each candidate, the recruiter follows up with the hiring manager. If the hiring manager wants to hire one of the candidates, the recruiter establishes the details of the offer to be made and contacts the candidate to discuss the offer. The recruiter acts as a negotiator between the two parties until agreement is reached. Once the candidate starts work and stays for 90 days, the recruiter’s fee of 20% to 30% is paid.

If the hiring manager doesn’t want any of the candidates seen so far, the recruiter restarts the process to look for more candidates.

A follow on article will discuss tips for working better with recruiters.

Should you keep your LinkedIn profile General or Focused when job hunting

Decide whether to keep your LinkedIn profile focused or general

To be effective, a resume must be focused on the specific requirements of that one job in that particular company. When applying for different jobs, you send (or should send!) differently focused resumes for each position applied for. A LinkedIn profile on the other hand has a potentially much wider audience – and you cannot have (or shouldn’t have!) different profiles for different audiences.

A question arises then, particularly during job hunting, as to whether you should have a general LinkedIn profile, or to focus your profile on your specific target job (i.e. the position you want to secure).

When you are clearly focused in your job search and have a specific job target in mind, a LinkedIn profile focused on that job is the way to go. Your LinkedIn profile will be more consistent with your focused resume, and searches from hiring managers or recruiters related to your job target are more likely to lead to you. So, for people who are searching for a new job, a focused LinkedIn profile is recommended.

However, keeping your profile general will have it look different to your resume and may be more appealing – you can ‘play’ with it more and make it more personal – more ‘you’. Being general, it will attract or match to a wider set of jobs in searches, leaving you open to a wider set of opportunities.

But if it is too general, your profile might not sufficiently match the keywords hiring managers or recruiters might be using in searches – the keywords they use are related to the key requirements for the job they wish to fill. You might end up with a prettier or more attractive profile, but it won’t be particularly useful to your job search if it doesn’t lead to ‘hits’ in job searches or tells recruiters and hiring managers that you have the skills that match their job vacancy.

The other issue in whether your LinkedIn profile should be general or focused is about what your current employer sees! If your profile is very specific or focused on a particular job, and that job is different to the one you are in now, your employer will know that you are looking for a new job. Remember that LinkedIn informs all of your contacts that you have updated your profile, and if you are ‘connected’ to your manager or others in your company, they will see your new profile and status.

If this is not an issue and won’t cause you problems, then go with a focused profile as it will achieve better results when job hunting.

If it is an issue and you don’t want your boss to know you are ‘available’ to the job market, keep your LinkedIn profile more general, but a little focused too – you want searches to lead to you for the jobs you want. The way to do this is to ensure that your profile’s Headline and Summary contain the keywords that match the type of jobs you want. Of course, there will need to be some emphasis on your current role so that your profile seems informative of your current situation and therefore less like you are looking for a new job. This dual approach is ambiguous and will serve both your purposes of looking for a new job while not alerting your boss about what you are doing!

Why companies should use outplacement support when downsizing and retrenching

Outplacement support has multiple benefits

For various reasons companies in Singapore are downsizing and retrenching staff. In some industries, jobs are being lost to technology, increasingly so since the government placed more emphasis on the need for greater productivity – there are many government schemes in place to support increasing productivity. Jobs are also being lost by moving them overseas to cheaper labour markets such as Malaysia, Vietnam and China.

Every year therefore, more employees in Singapore are receiving the bad news that they are to be made redundant or retrenched. This can be devastating and very frightening news. Employees with families wonder what is to happen to them and their dependents – will they be able to afford the mortgage on their apartment, pay medical fees for elderly parents, and meet other commitments. They worry whether they will be able to find a similar job elsewhere or whether their career has become obsolete. How long will it take to get a new job? The questions are endless and the anxiety high.

Downsizing and retrenching doesn’t just impact the individuals to be laid off. It also affects those whose jobs survive – they too are frightened that it could happen to them. All of this has a big effect on morale and consequently productivity suffers. This negatively impacts the company internally. But there are also external negative impacts – the company’s image and reputation are affected: people view the company as heartless and inhuman for treating their loyal workers this way and this can reduce sales.

Both internal and external negative impact can be greatly reduced if the company provides outplacement support for employees to be retrenched. Such an initiative should be a crucial part of the marketing campaign that accompanies the process. Companies that provide outplacement support are seen as less heartless and even concerned for the ongoing welfare of former staff.

So what is outplacement support? There are two elements to outplacement support. Firstly there is career review, choice and change. This is where retrenched staff receive career coaching to help them review their current worth in the labour market or assist them in choosing a new career. With some upskilling, the person may well be able to continue in the line of work they have previously done, but in industries where jobs are being downsized, usually there is a reduced demand across the board for such jobs. Retrenched staff are encourages to look at a new career, perhaps something they previously had wanted to do but never got around to it. Frequently psychometric inventories or assessments (often incorrectly called personality tests – but they are not ‘tests’ as there are no right or wrong answers!) can be used to suggest a career in which they might find fulfillment and contentment. Strengths-based and values-based approaches are often used too. The objective is that the person will have a clear idea of the job and career that they are going to pursue. This clarity and specificity is necessary for successful job searching, which is the focus of the second element of outplacement support.

People who have been employed for an extended period usually do not have the knowledge and skill required to successful secure a job in modern day Singapore. They need to know how to craft an impactful resume and to be able to refocus it on the specific requirements of an employer for a particular job. They also need to know how to promote themselves in an interview as the best candidate for the job in question. And before getting an interview and sending in a resume, they need to know the three approaches to finding an available job in Singapore. Outplacement support equips people with these necessary skills and knowledge.

The benefits to a company of providing outplacement support to retrenched staff is twofold: it lessens the negative impact internally as both outgoing and surviving staff see the company as supportive in the process; and through well-managed public relations and marketing, customers and the public in general don’t view it as heartless and only focused on the bottom line. The earlier outplacement support is planned and engaged the better – this gives retrenched workers more time to find a new job – hopefully even before their current one disappears.