Older staff must take new steps to stand out
AS SINGAPORE matures into its 51st year of nationhood next week, it is also apt to consider "remaking" yourself to stand out in the job market - age notwithstanding.
Today, technology and the ways of communicating and working are radically different.
Turn the uncertainty that comes from these changes on its head. Reach into the confidence you had as a young professional vying to make your mark on the world instead.
Give yourself some room for being nervous when assessing the current work environment. But also think forward.
Ask yourself: "How do I fit into the bigger picture?"
ASSESS YOUR SKILLS
Determine what skills employers expect from today's best candidates.
Take stock of all your accomplishments and experiences.
Use your own personal skills inventory to match with the requirements of the roles you are interested in.
Consider these questions:
What jobs am I qualified
What jobs require special education and training?
What advancement opportunities do these jobs
offer in the long term?
Which jobs are a good fit for my personality?
What skills and talents
do I want to use?
Your answers will help you determine what important professional skills are needed in your next employment or career-building opportunity.
Upskilling refers to career planning and development. When a person gains new skills or builds on his existing skills - upgrading to the next level of qualification - he is upskilling.
This is usually done through vocational training at the diploma or certificate level, though not all require certification.
SkillsFuture classes are a good way to start.
At your age, you will likely have immense experience and insight to offer. Upskilling will make you even more desirable as a job candidate.
JOIN AN INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
The best industry associations offer practical benefits to members. These include certification, conferences, webinars, networking events and a job board.
Additionally, industry associations often commission industry research, so members can keep up with trends that are likely to shape the sector.
Such benefits are important to anyone looking for a job.
To fill a skills gap, perhaps all that is needed is to take one or two courses. Online courses and technical institutes are some affordable options.
Educators also run executive seminars. These also double as a way to stay in touch with other executives and hear about jobs that have not been advertised.
No matter what type of work you do - or want to do - continuing education is vital to advancing your career.
Again, tap into SkillsFuture classes to utilise the funded courses so you do not have to dig into your own pocket.
While maintaining a professional network may seem obvious - and it is crucial when exploring new job opportunities - not everyone does it. Or, they neglect to upkeep their circles or broaden them over time.
Because a big slice of networking today takes place in the virtual world, people in their 50s and 60s may feel they have been left behind.
Though it might seem daunting at first, networking in your senior years is not as hard as you may think. Get on track with these ideas.
1. Create networks:
Start by reconnecting with former contacts, colleagues and classmates, for instance.
Look through your name cards to sieve out a handful of people with whom you have worked previously - in particular, those you are comfortable with.
Text them. The next step can be to create a chat group on smartphone apps like Telegram and WhatsApp.
Or, keep the newer connections going. These can be people you have met at industry events or while volunteering.
2. Plug into social media:
If you have not done so already, create profiles on popular social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Post updates regularly.
The easiest way to maintain a presence online is to repost links - stories or opinion pieces - by simply clicking on a "share" icon.
The online networks also act as hubs to a digital community where you can meet people who share similar professional backgrounds and interests.
If you need guidance, the People's Association has senior wellness programmes aimed at those 50 and older that include modules such as Smartphone 101 For Seniors and Getting Connected Through Facebook.
3. Start volunteering:
Doing volunteer work, in addition to work and family, is a luxury for time-pressed workers in Singapore.
But volunteering is a powerful way to put theory to practice. For instance, serving on the committee of a professional association is an eye-opener to different working styles, which you could adapt for new work scenarios.
Serving in an association is also a conduit to "insider information", which may be useful in your new job search or career change.
This article was contributed by
Right Management, the global career experts within United States-listed
HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.