Tuesday, 9 April 2019

I'm retrenched: 3 things to think about

  Posted at  April 09, 2019 29 comments


When it rains, it pours. In life, we always have to be prepared for the unexpected. I was just posting about how one should have a Plan A and a Plan B for his/her career on 31st March and here I am one week later, retrenched at age 31! It took me a while to process this piece of news and let it sink in. (Note: This is not a post to garner sympathy. Don't.)

I have called a "Safety Time Out" on buying counters as my immediate priorities have been changed, albeit unwillingly. I too, once thought it won't happen to me. At least not so early in my working career but here I am. Unfortunately, due to company restructuring, they have decided to close my whole department and shift operations elsewhere.

Immediate objectives:
  • To secure a new employment (there is a bit of buffer time to do so)
  • To minimise spending and stay afloat on my current emergency funds.
  • To halt further purchase of stocks/Reits until I am employed again.
    (Those already bought will remain for now in portfolio)

Following my own set of advice I wrote on 31st March, my immediate thoughts are:

For circumstances like retrenchment, one can practically:

- Cut down on unnecessary expenses. e.g subscriptions

My subscription plans are already at their minimum after a review 2 years ago. The only thing I can cut further would be my mobile plan expiring late this year or early next year. I would likely switch to data only plan which are in the $20-30 range and not purchase new phone + combo plan. 

- Start thinking of Plan A: Building a career advancement (so you are not easily replaceable)
Tell tale signs were already there and the danger of my industry is that it is quite niche, meaning it is hard to find similar jobs if things go south. I needed to think of a Plan B that would allow me to be more employable.

- Start thinking of a Plan B: In case you are retrenched.
The plan was to start on getting certification in Safety. This will take me a year. I forsaw that there would be changes in my company, and those were communicated to take place in 2020. Unfortunately, it came prematurely.

- Downgrade lifestyle if possible (but not burning another side of candle)
I am currently good on this. Food wise, I won't be saving much except choosing cheaper options.

- Keep an emergency fund of at least 6-9 months of living expenses in the bank
I am good to go for this. Have ample to stay afloat for now. I will still have some income coming in.

As some readers would know, K.C. is in the oil and gas sector. This is a sector that has been ravaged badly from the oil crisis in recent years and certain areas have not recovered. There are also intense competition for business.

A globalised workforce:
In a 2016 article by CNA, they interviewed a few people who lost their jobs and were under 30. My opinion is that depending on the sector you are in, the Singapore market has already been like this for some time and a globalised workforce means that the rice bowl that you and I have now are ever so easily replaceable. Your job could be here, but gone tomorrow.

Bank executive James Ng* was retrenched this May when his job at an American bank got offshored to a cheaper country. The 26-year-old had been processing credit card applications at the bank for three years when he was laid off.
“I wasn’t too surprised (by the retrenchment) because my job scope was being reduced as the workload increased for the team in the offshored country,” he said, adding that his last duties at the bank consisted of training colleagues in the Philippines to do his job.
“The younger ones got retrenched first, in my case. This is because the seniors are the ones who contribute to revenue,” said Desmond Kok*, 28, who was retrenched by National Oilwell Varco in May.
At the time, the mechanical engineering graduate from National University of Singapore (NUS) was less than halfway into his four-year trainee programme with the US oil and gas firm.

Anyone can take our place anytime if our employers decide to shift operations elsewhere. Companies may also regularly use "restructuring" to get rid of redundancy. Many MNCs may also shift operations elsewhere.

At the end of the day, the job market isn't as safe as we think it is and we would be well right not to take things for granted or be complacent with what we have.

1. It is not your fault (but don't play the victim)
Sure, it feels sucks to be retrenched. But as we can see from the above scenarios, usually it is not our fault that we have been retrenched. Many of us might suddenly feel a sense of loss of direction because we have pinned all our hopes and life around our work.

Our work defines us. When people ask us who we are, we often start by introducing what we do (in our line of work). This sense of identity is now lost.

Take a day or two to process what has just happened but please, do not take your emotions out on yourself or the loved ones around you. We might feel bad about our situation but don't go into self-pity mode or go into a victimised mode. This phase won't last (because eventually we would wake up to our senses and then find a job again). However, if you had acted out badly in the fit of the moment, it might have done some irreparable damage to you and those around you.

We are always finding something to blame and account for why this happened. We could blame others or even ourselves. But, it being a business decision, it is neither discriminate or indiscriminate. Once you have recovered from the shock, just got to move on and look ahead.

Keep your emotions in check. But go easy on yourself and others. 😇 Be more positive.

For me, I'm pretty chill about my situation. However, I would be lying if I said it didn't affect me. To be honest, there are many implications: such as affecting my saving/investing goals or plans to getting married. 

2. Where are you now and where headed from here?
In Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Sun Tzu said: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”. He also says “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Only fight a battle you know you will win (where you have the right tools, right resources). We can only do that by knowing where we are and where we are going from here. The immediate goal is to secure employment. The main enemy is not knowing our own value, and what is available in the job market out there. Discuss with your family/ spouse on possible methods to cope. Chances are if you had done planning beforehand and also included this possibility you would now be sitting on some emergency funds. It is not time to hit the panic button, yet.

I wrote an old piece on getting more interview hit rates and it has got to do with understanding what the employers want and giving them what they want (provided we have the relevant skills and not cheating):
https://30yearoldinvestor.blogspot.com/2018/11/interview-process-cycle-how-to-increase.html

I am well aware of my capabilities at the moment and aware of the market. The idea is not to start making excuses for yourself but after the dust has settled, quickly access where we are in our careers. Know what options are available to take and if need be we need to tailor or resumes/cover letters to "win the war". 

We should also narrow down certain goals:
- is it just to secure a position? (can we stomach a pay cut?)
- could it be a chance to upsell instead with relevant experience?
- what industries and jobs are we building into? Are we also changing industry altogether?

3. Take action! Set daily achievable goals.
Break it down into small little daily targets so it is not overwhelming. The task of securing a job immediately puts a lot of stress on ourselves but we can break that down into smaller, easier actionable steps that would lead us to it.

To secure a Job we need to go for interviews.
To land interviews, we need to send out resumes and CVs.
To send out resumes and CVs we need to be smart about it and edit/ tailor it to suit the job descriptions.

Working backwards,

To secure 1 job offer, it may take 10 to secure 1 (10% success rate)
To get a job out of 10 interviews (10% success rate), 20 interviews (5% success rate)
To secure 1 interview might take alot of CVs sent. Every 5 CV sent (20% success rate),
10 CV (10% success rate)

Idea is this: If we do not send out enough CVs, there won't be interviews. If we don't go to enough interviews, we can't possibly hope to land a job.

I think by now, it is clear that sending a few well-tailored quality CV or resume is better than mass spamming a generic one. Assuming we do 1-2 quality one per day for a month, we would have sent out at least 30 applications. Some industry might be smaller and have lesser openings, that is fine.  

I will keep to one quality CV per day. Until I exhaust the possible openings I can apply to. Its a numbers game.

-------------------------------------------------

If you are retrenched and happen to read this, know that you are not alone. This is only a passing phase of life. It won't be fatal, unless we let it fester and rot. 

Edit (30/6/2019): I have since secured employment. Find out how I did it at https://30yearoldinvestor.blogspot.com/2019/06/retrenchment-and-25-pay-increase-that-i.html

Until Next Time, 

K.C.
If you like this post, you might like our facebook page as well. I'm also on Investing Note.


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You don't need to pay anyone/company to have a plan of your own and work towards achieving Financial Independence. Only we alone have no conflict of interest with our own money. "30 Year Old Investor" is a personal blog about a Singaporean's savings and investing journey.


Being the average Singaporean, K.C. is also interested in good food, a little bit of politics and a good slice of humour.

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Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The views expressed, opinion and information in this article are strictly for informational purposes to encourage educational discussions only.

No content on this site constitutes - or should be understood as constituting - a recommendation to enter any securities transactions or to engage in any of the investment strategies presented in our site content. We do not provide personalised recommendations or views as to whether a particular stock or investment approach is suitable to the financial needs of a specific individual. No representation or warranty expressed or implied is made as to, and no reliance shall be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information or opinions contained on this website.

"30 Year Old Investor" shall not be liable whatsoever for loss or damages of any kind arising from the result of any use, reliance or distribution of the articles or its contents from information contained on this website.

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