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Jakarta Post

Samuel Ray's guide to job hunting amid pandemic

  • Gisela Swaragita
    Gisela Swaragita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, October 21, 2020   /   01:29 pm
Samuel Ray's guide to job hunting amid pandemic For those entering the workforce as new workers, having an eagerness to learn and being willing to take on any task is great capital to leverage your career path. (Shutterstock/Dragon Images)

As the economy is in crisis, the job security of millions of people in Indonesia is under threat, while millions of others have lost their source of income amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Manpower Ministry data in April, over 1.2 million workers from 74,439 companies in both the formal and informal sectors have either been told to stay at home or have been laid off. This was only at the beginning of the pandemic.

HR professional Samuel Ray said the pandemic had caused significant turbulence in people’s employment situation. All participants in the workplace, from job seekers and workers to employers, are now exposed to a discomfort that has put them in survival mode.

“In general, this year’s theme is survival,” Samuel told The Jakarta Post in an interview on Saturday.

“For job seekers, the competition is tougher. Fresh graduates are not only competing to get a new job with their peers but also with their seniors. For those who are not laid off, their working burden might be heavier, as one person might be expected to do the job of three people,” he said.

According to Samuel, employers and investors also find themselves in an awkward position. It is only natural that investors would want to hold on to cash and stop giving funding to growing businesses, forcing companies to economize. Many then choose the bitter escape of cutting down payrolls or even laying off their employees.

However, Samuel said there is still hope in desperate times. Below are his tips to getting a new job amid the various obstacles set by the pandemic.

Read also: What recession means for you and the economy

1. Know your prospects

Identifying your opportunities is imperative in your job hunting process.

“You have to know whether the kind of industry you are about to enter is in its sunrise or sunset period. Today, the trend in industry changes at a fast pace. In one or two years, something can turn obsolete,” he said.

He gave the example of the banking industry, which in the past absorbed a high number of workers. Now with the creation of digital and branchless banks, the industry does not need as many tellers and customer service staff as in the past. The mining industry is also seen not as enticing anymore as people become more interested in green energy.

On the opposite side, the trend is growing in the technology industry, bringing a great salary growth in the sector, he said.

“About three or four years before the pandemic, talents in technology such as software developers and UI/UX designers had begun to be in high demand in Indonesia,” he said.

If the current situation forces you to go back to your hometown, where corporate ladders might not be as promising as in big cities, you can consider a prospect in freelancing and adapting to the digital nomad lifestyle.

“The gig economy is in trend now, and you can work from anywhere,” Samuel said. The challenges in freelancing is that you have to do all managerial, administration and marketing duties on your own, which requires great self control and self management. Freelancing in a small town could also mean you have to conquer the daily struggle of getting good internet access. However, if you can overcome the obstacles, succeeding in freelancing can be very rewarding.

You also may take advantage of the recession by going back to school. 

“Maybe for so long you've had a dream to get a master’s degree. This is a good time to do that,” Samuel said. “You can go back to school for one or two years while waiting for the pandemic to recede. Then, when you’ve earned your degree, you're ready to bounce back to the workplace without a gap in your resume.”

2. Know yourself

Mid-level and senior professionals who now suddenly find themselves jobless during the recession may also use this opportunity to identify their personal strengths and weaknesses, and even reevaluate their careers and consider jumping into different sectors.

“For those who are laid off in a mid-level career, you might want to observe your career path and consider taking other roles. If you want to shift occupation, for instance you used to be a journalist and now you want to move into a digital industry, you have to identify which skills you have that can be translated to this new field so we can leverage on day one,” he said.

Senior professionals may use this opportunity to consider a career in consulting.

“I imagine a senior professional would be someone who has knowledge and the know-how. Also, they might have made a good name for themselves and are respected [figures] in the industry,” Samuel said.

“Seniors can use their acquired skills to advise other people in the industry.”

To start a consulting career, they can utilize their professional network and take advantage of social media.

3. Know your strategy

The right strategy is key to winning a new job. Samuel suggests a controversial but perfectly legal backdoor way of using referral networks. 

“In fact, many companies offer incentives for their employees who can recruit new employees from their network,” he said.

Through referrals, usually a job application process can be done quicker and more smoothly than applying through job portals.

You also have to be conscientious from the start of the process. 

“When you write your CV, all job descriptions have to be written along with achievements that can be proven by numbers or certificates,” Samuel said. 

“In interviews, you have to make it a competency-based interview in which you answer questions with sample cases of your achievements, and make your narrative have an interesting story arc.”

It is also okay if you do not nail your first interview, as the more you do interviews the more you learn from your mistakes. Losing an interview will only make you more prepared for the next ones.

“In the end, we will meet an employer that appreciates us for who we really are,” he said.

4. Know your worth

The final stage of a job application process is when you are offered the position with a package of compensation and benefits. Many times, we know how to work but do not know how much we are worth.

To know how much pay you deserve, you can discuss your salary prospects with other people in the industry. Some sectors, however, are more discreet than others when it comes to salary discussion. If those in your field generally consider salary as a sensitive topic, you can consult salary surveys prior to pay negotiation with your employer.

According to Samuel, if you wish to get a new job with an increase in salary, you can expect a 15 to 20 percent raise compared to your latest pay.

In negotiation, you can also mention your personal needs that you wish can be covered with the increase.

“For example, you just have a newborn baby or the location of your new office makes your commute longer than usual,” he said. 

Samuel also suggests to negotiate the salary through email to avoid ambiguous nuances, as well as to record the deal.

5. Don’t lose hope

Losing your job, routines and safety net can be stressful, but Samuel encourages people who have just been laid off to stay positive in this trying time.

“I was laid off from a job once, just after I got a promotion to be a manager,” he said. “What I learned from that time was I became more of an overthinker and stressed if I let myself be idle and [wallow in] self pity.”

Samuel suggests keeping yourself busy while job hunting, for example by learning a new language or taking an online course to keep your mind occupied.

He said looking for a job is like a trying to sell a product.

“We have to have a salesman mentality. If a door closes for us, try another. Eventually, we will get the one that will hire us,” he said.

He also sent a word of encouragement.

“I saw many good deeds done amid the pandemic. Some people buy more food via delivery service and give an extra portion to drivers. Many people on Twitter retweet posts about people trying to get a job,” he said.

“The only thing we can do is to move forward. We can still survive by believing that there are still good things in the world in this trying time,” he concludes. (wng)