Job Application Follow up – Good or Bad Idea?

There are two camps as far as job application follow-up is concerned.

1). Do Follow-Up

“Having hired 100’s of staff directly, I can’t tell you the number of times a call has made the big difference. A call to tell me just how interested you are in the post, and to show that you really want this job, not just any job makes all the difference. Many hiring managers feel much the same way, and e-mail is far too easy to ignore (and usually is).

Pick the phone up. Be polite. Explain why you are so keen. Don’t ask if I have your details, that’s too easy to say yes. Tell me your availability and ask for a slot. Don’t fear the phone by hiding behind a mouse.”

2). Don’t Follow-Up

“Calling does no good if you’re not a highly qualified candidate … and if you ARE a highly qualified candidate, I’m going to contact you anyway.

I’m hiring for a job right now that’s received more than 400 applications. If just 20% of those applicants called me, that’s almost a full day of my time right there. But what I’ve actually noticed is that the candidates who DO call are invariably the ones who aren’t well matched with the job. I don’t think I can recall ever getting a call from a candidate who was really strong, in fact! It’s almost a signal that they’re not going to be right.”

So here’s what I suggest for making a job application follow up in Singapore:

  • Only engage in a job application follow up for roles which you really like and/or where you meet the requirements the employer/recruiter is asking for. This is just to express your interest/competitiveness and also to make sure that your application is not overlooked (sometimes you might not appear in the search results of the employer’s/recruiter’s applicant tracking system).
  • Make it clear very early in the email/conversation that you are getting in touch because you meet the requirements of the job and because you think you can do great things in the role. You are not a desperate job seeker who is making contact just for the sake of it.
  • Follow-up  5-7 days after you make the application.
  • Try and get the relevant recruiter/hiring manager’s contact details from Google or LinkedIn. Give them a phone call if possible and only send an email if you can’t get hold of anyone to speak with.
  • If you can’t find any contact details at all, for a relevant person:
  1. For Recruiters: Call the board line and ask for the person who handles XYZ sector/function.
  2. For Hiring Managers: See if any of your connections on LinkedIn work at the company and try to get information on who the hiring manager is and possibly ask them to put in a good word as well.

Should You Take a Low Paying Job While Waiting for the Job You Really Want?

“Do I take the low paying job today, or hold out for the higher paying job that I want?” 

The old saying that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is certainly an odd one. But at the core of this saying is the idea that the resources you have at your disposal in the here and now are of greater value than theoretical resources that may or may not come your way later.  This old adage holds much truth and should apply, at least to some degree, in your thought processes where finding a job is concerned.

 Employed Candidates are More Attractive

There are some real practical issues that need to be addressed on this topic.  For example, according to statistics, it is also generally easier to find a new job with a better salary once you are already employed.  Employers gravitate towards the resumes of individuals who already have jobs.

In one study by Infinity Consulting Solutions, 417 job hunters were surveyed and 59% agreed that employed individuals were given preferential treatment. A likely reason behind this phenomenon is that employers figure that if you were a truly valuable commodity, you would already have a job.

Of course, this idea is inaccurate, but it will likely continue to persist for the foreseeable future.  As a result, if you are unemployed, you might want to take the job that you are offered so that you can more easily move on to work with a different company in the future.

Assess Your Financial Situation

Take a look at your family’s needs for the near future and also the long-term. If you are in dire financial straits and need immediate employment, then you should likely take the job that is being offered to you.  On the other hand, if you are fairly certain that other offers truly are around the corner and you aren’t having financial issues, then waiting may make sense.

Now as for the contrary view, it should be pointed out that if you jump at the first job you are offered, you could very easily be selling yourself short.  If you are in a downward economic cycle where jobs are scarce, then jumping on that first job offer makes a lot more sense than it would if you are in a booming economy.  Make sure that you investigate the appropriate salary for your position and skill level.  It goes without saying that you don’t want to be holding out for a salary that virtually no one is getting in your given field.

Is there Room for Advancement?

Another key question is whether or not the job you are being offered is a “dead end job” or has room for advancement.  Many people end up with fantastic jobs that they like with excellent pay, but these jobs didn’t start out that way.  On occasion, a low paying job may be the better long-term strategy where advancement is concerned.  However, if you plan to take a job with hopes for a better salary and position in the future, make sure that these options really are open to you.

In some cases, employers will try to lure people into low paying jobs by stating that there is room for advancement, but these is no factual evidence to back up their statements.  You may want to take a few minutes to talk to other employees at the company and see if they believe that promotions are indeed possible.

On the Job Experience

Another consideration is that of experience.  If the low paying job in question offers great experience and will serve to boost your resume, then it definitely is offering something additional in value.  This could be quite helpful in securing a better paying job one or two years down the road.

Ultimately, every job-seeking situation is radically different, as every job seeker has his or her own set of needs and circumstances.  There is no cookie cutter approach that can determine whether or not you should take a low paying job instead of a higher paying one.  However, by following the points that we have outlined in this article, you stand a good chance of making the right choice.

Dealing With Company Application Forms

Having spent hour after hour poring over your resume and polishing it until it’s word perfect, it can actually be pretty frustrating when you’re then asked to complete typical company application forms, which can be tedious and time consuming. There are, however, several good reasons why employers ask you to do so and it’s important that you know which parts of the form you must complete and which you might be able to pass over.

The first thing to understand about company application forms is that one of the main reasons for being asked to complete them is because they provide prospective employers with the opportunity to get you to sign to say that all the information you have provided is complete and accurate.  A huge percentage of resumes are believed to contain omissions, exaggerations and downright lies, but of course a resume isn’t signed.  By getting your signature at this early stage of the process, an employer has something which is more legally binding, if they later discover that the information you provided was inaccurate or incomplete.

A second reason why some employers, and large organizations in particular, like to get candidates to complete their own company application forms is because it provides them with the information they need in a standard format.  Resumes, of course, don’t just provide essential details, but they act as marketing tools too and this, along with the varied resume formats that job seekers use can make it much more difficult for businesses to unscramble and record what they need for their employment records.  In many cases, of course, applicants also choose to leave out certain details from their resumes, such as their age, gender, marital status and so on, in order to avoid unwitting or even deliberate discrimination.  In many countries, however, employers are obliged to collect demographic data to provide to the authorities, and they typically use a section of their company application form to do just that.

So, of all the details that you are likely to be asked on an application form, which can you or should you leave out, and which are you strongly recommended to fill in?

Demographic Data – Although, as I have just mentioned, some businesses are required to collect this information, you, the job seeker are in no way obliged to provide it.  Any demographic data that you do choose to provide is usually legally protected in terms of how employers can use it, and basically no employer is supposed to use it for discriminatory purposes.  Whether they do or not, however, is something that can’t be guaranteed, and so this one really is your call.

Qualifications – The qualifications section of a company application form is one that you do need to complete, for your own sake.  It is worth mentioning, however, that employers typically ask for the dates of your education which, of course, can help to give your age away.  My advice would be to complete this section anyway, because without this information the employer may not be able to carry out background checks such as those to confirm the validity of a university degree.  Better to run the risk of revealing your age than to be eliminated from the recruitment process because the employer can’t verify your qualifications.

Work History – Assuming that your resume is complete and provides adequate detail, you may be able to dispense with the work history section of the form and just append a copy of your resume instead.  Only do this if it’s mentioned that it would be acceptable, because some employers will want the information laid out in a specific way and some may want your complete work history rather than what may be only an abridged version in your resume.  In addition, whereas you may have concentrated on achievements in your resume, the application form may ask you to concentrate on tasks and responsibilities.

References – Most company application forms will ask you for the names and contact details of two or more professional or personal references.  In some cases it will ask you on the form whether it’s okay to take up the references now, which you clearly wouldn’t want to happen if your current employer is one of the names that you have included.  I would always advise against providing the names of referees on a resume or a company application form until you are in receipt of a firm job offer, by which time the employer will already have made a commitment to hiring you and it would take something fairly drastic to make him change his mind.  Rather than just leave this section of the form blank without any explanation though, it’s probably better to explain that you will be more than happy to provide references if you are offered the job and if possible ask if this would be acceptable.  If it isn’t, then really you are going to have to make a judgment call and decide whether it’s worth sacrificing a chance at the job, or at the very least irritating the employer, or whether it might be better to just provide the details anyway.

An Effective Job Interview Follow Up Email/Letter

If you are one of those people who do precisely nothing after a job interview other than wait for the recruiter’s decision, then you certainly aren’t alone.  In fact, much to the dismay and disgust of employers, the vast majority of interviewees do absolutely no job interview follow up.  Not only is this perceived as being downright ill-mannered though, but job seekers deprive themselves of some incredibly valuable opportunities by not doing so.

Even though you thanked the interviewer for their time and consideration before you left the interview, it’s still considered to be good form to write a thank you email/letter after the event.  This is something that you need to do as soon as you possibly can after the job interview, however, because your timing here could be absolutely crucial in terms of putting your name at the forefront of the recruiter’s mind just when he or she is making that all-important hiring decision.  When you create your job interview follow up letter though, you shouldn’t just be thinking about thanking the interviewer, but also about:

  • Re-emphasizing how and why you are the perfect fit for the role
  • Filling any gaps that you might have left during the interview itself and/or
  • Correcting any blunders that you might have made

Even with the best will in the world, when recruiters sit down to interview what might be dozens of candidates, they all start to become a bit of a blur.  Of course, interviewers do take notes during a job interview so that they can assess each of the candidates fairly, but unless someone comes across really strongly or something is said that makes them stick in the interviewer’s mind, it can be hard to tell them apart after the event.

When you write your follow up email after the job interview, therefore, your first aim should be to remind the recruiter of who you are by referring to something memorable that came up during the course of your discussion.  It could be something that the interviewer brought up or that you yourself raised, but either way, when the interviewer reads your letter he is likely to remember the conversation and the person he was talking to at the time.  You might, for example, begin your letter with something like, “I am writing to thank you for the opportunity to meet with you earlier today, as well as to say, once again, how impressed I was to hear about your organization’s nomination for the coveted Company of the Year award.”

The bulk of your follow-up letter after the job interview, should then be devoted to reinforcing the match between what you have to offer and the role that you have just interviewed for.  In fact, you could start your second paragraph by telling the interviewer explicitly that your meeting reinforced your desire to work for the company, as well as the added value that you believe you could bring to the role.  How you follow on from this though, will depend on whether you merely wish to reiterate how your skills and experience match up to certain elements of the job, whether you need to address any concerns or weaknesses that the interviewer might have raised, whether you need to bring in something that you forgot to mention during the interview such as some relevant experience or a particular skill or qualification that you left out, or whether you want to correct a misunderstanding of some kind.  Whichever is the case, use this opportunity to really sell yourself all over again by making direct links between what you can do and the problems or issues that the recruiter is facing.

All that remains then is to close your letter with a final vote of thanks and a call to action.  You might invite the interviewer to contact you should he or she require any further information, for instance, and then remind them of your contact number.

Interviewees clearly have no way of knowing just how much of a close call it sometimes is between them and the next candidate, but when two candidates are very closely matched during a job interview, a perfectly-timed follow up email/letter can really make a difference in terms of making one stand out over the other.

Perils of Giving Your Boss the 2-Fingered Salute During Your Notice Period

resignation-letter-notice-period singapore

So, that great new job offer in Singapore is in the bag and you’ve just handed in your resignation letter.  It’s time to kick back, relax and just coast your way through to the final day of your notice period, right?  Wrong!

We all know how important it is to make a great impression when we start a new job, but what many workers fail to appreciate is that how they behave in that period between handing in their notice and actually leaving the company is every bit as vital.  Treat it as a rest period during which to recover before moving on to your next role, do nothing more than make a half-hearted effort to tidy up a few loose ends or worse still, take the opportunity to stick two fingers up at your boss while you’ve still got the chance and you could be facing the repercussions for years to come.

Before I come to a few useful tips to bear in mind while working out your notice period, there are a couple of things which are worth mentioning in relation to resigning from a current position.  First of all, before you even think about sitting down to compose your resignation letter, always make sure that you have a written job offer from your new employer in Singapore.  Offers made verbally over the telephone can easily be rescinded, leaving you high and dry.  Also, as a mark of common courtesy, do let your current boss know that you are going to be moving on before you present him or her with your resignation letter.  Particularly if your departure is unexpected, it will help to ease the blow slightly, and it also leaves the door open to negotiations and counter offers.

Once the deed is done and your resignation letter has been handed over, the first thing to remember is that you are still an employee of your current company right up until the last day.  It doesn’t matter how bitter you feel about your employer or how anxious you are to move on, the organization is paying you right up until the end and you have an obligation to perform your role to the same (hopefully high) standards that you have always upheld.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will just disappear under the radar now that you have resigned or that anything you do after handing over your resignation letter won’t count, because it will.  In fact, the chances are that your employer in Singapore is likely to keep an even closer eye on you than usual during your notice period and as your behavior during this time is going to be the last thing that is remembered about you, you need to make sure that you make a great parting impression.

The attitudes that employees choose to adopt when they are on the way out of an organization truly define their levels of professionalism.  True professionals try to make the transition between their own leaving and the starting of their replacements as smooth as possible.  Their aim is to ensure that the company suffers no disruption or inconvenience as a result of their departure.  Not only do they make sure that their work is up-to-date and that their managers, colleagues and co-workers are fully briefed on the status of their projects, but they actively help to train their own replacements so that they can pick up easily where they themselves leave off.  In essence, they demonstrate their accountability and their commitment right up to the very last moment in the job.

Particularly if you don’t feel very well-disposed towards your employer during those final few weeks, you might be wondering why you should bother to leave on a good note.  Don’t forget though, that not only might you want your current boss to act as a reference for you, but there is even a possibility that you might encounter him or her again at some time in the future.  For the sake of putting in that last little bit of effort, is it really worth taking the risk that your boss might spot your resume in a pile of applications and reject it because of the way that you behaved when you were on the way out?  Who knows, as inconceivable as it might sound at the moment, you might even want to return to your present organization a few years down the line, so it is vital not to go burning any bridges.

Finally, however much animosity you might feel towards the company in Singapore that you are leaving, unless you choose to negotiate an earlier leaving date, never go before your notice period is up.  Not only will it create an extremely poor impression if you leave your boss in the lurch, but you could be sued/penalized for breach of your employment contract.

Exit Interviews – Should You or Shouldn’t You Take Part?

Employees choose to move on to new pastures for a variety of reasons.  In some cases it might be management or leadership issues which are the catalyst, whilst in others it might be a lack of training or personal development opportunities, the working environment or organizational culture, the lack of flexible working or good old-fashioned money that stirs them into action.

The more proactive organizations, of course, tend to take the time and trouble to find out about the concerns and the perceptions of their workers long before the resignation letters start piling up on managers’ desks and in time to make changes which might encourage them to stay.  Sadly though, not all companies are so forward thinking.  What many will do, however, is to invite departing workers to take part in exit interviews which are usually designed with the aim of helping employers to learn from their “mistakes”.

As an employee, the first things to understand about exit interviews are that taking part in them isn’t compulsory and that there are both advantages and disadvantages to doing so.  Before going on to look at the type of questions that you might find yourself faced with in an exit interview, therefore, let’s just take a quick look at some of the pros and cons from the worker’s perspective.

exit interview
Exit Interview: Good Time To Spill The Beans?

Pros

  • Agreeing to provide constructive feedback to your employer on your departure is an act of goodwill which can ensure that you leave on good terms, that your employer is less likely to give you a bad reference in the future and that you don’t burn your bridges should you decide that you want to return to the organization at some time in the future.
  • Although not everyone is particularly concerned about what happens after they leave, if the working conditions of your former colleagues and co-workers do matter to you, then bear in mind that the information you provide could be instrumental in bringing about improvements on their behalf.
  • If used in a constructive and appropriate way, your comments have the potential to work towards the greater good of the company by helping it to address certain of its weaknesses.  If you genuinely believe in what the organization stands for and are interested in its continued success even after you have moved on, then taking part in an exit interview could give you the satisfaction of knowing that you were able to make a difference.
  • Some exit interviews are designed in such a way that they represent an opportunity for outgoing workers to transfer their knowledge to existing or replacement staff.  Again, if you are interested in the future health and prosperity of the company, then an exit interview can be a great way to make a final contribution before you leave.

Cons

  • Although most companies use exit interviews as a means of identifying issues so as to bring about positive change, this isn’t true of all of them.  For example, some use them as fishing expeditions to ascertain whether departing employees intend to take legal action against them after they’ve gone.  If you do intend to sue your employer or if you mistrust the company’s motives for inviting you to take part in an exit interview, then it is always advisable to decline.
  • As you will see below, some of the questions which are commonly asked at exit interviews might seem like an invasion of your personal privacy.
  • The format of exit interviews varies.  Some take the form of face-to-face meetings during which the interviewer records your responses while others require you to complete a questionnaire.  Either way, providing meaningful responses does require time and effort that you may not wish to expend.
  • Where questionnaires are used to obtain the feedback of outgoing workers, some companies claim that the information is gathered and treated anonymously.  Unless you have 100% trust in your employer not to use your comments inappropriately or in a way which might be harmful to your future professional life (such as by noting them in your personnel file or including them in references provided to other employers), you could be running a huge risk by filling in the form.
  • Getting the balance right between providing feedback which is helpful and constructive but positive nevertheless can be extremely tricky.  If you do say anything negative at this stage of the game, it could well come back to haunt you in terms of a poor reference or by closing the door on any chances of being able to return to the company at a later date.  If you make derogatory comments about a manager or leader which get back to them and then come across this person as a boss, a co-worker or even a client in the future, then you could find working with them extremely difficult.

Here is an idea of the type of things that you might be asked during an exit interview.

Your decision to leave

  1. What is your main reason for leaving?
  2. Do you have any additional reasons for leaving and if so, what are these?
  3. Why are the issues that you have just described of such importance or significance to you?
  4. What was the catalyst that triggered your decision to leave at this particular time?
  5. Were you exposed to any discrimination or harassment during your time with this organization?
  6. Could this company have done anything which would have affected your decision to leave?
  7. Before making your decision to leave, did you look into the possibility of a transfer or a change of role/responsibilities?

Your line management

  1. How would you describe your boss’ line management capabilities?
  2. Did your line manager support and motivate you?
  3. How do you think your boss could improve his or her management style?
  4. Did your line manager provide you with regular and adequate feedback on your performance?
  5. Do you think that you were provided with sufficient training to enable you to do your job effectively?

Your role

  1. Were the duties and responsibilities of your role as you expected them to be?
  2. What did you find most satisfying about your job?
  3. What did you find least satisfying about your job?
  4. What would you have changed about your job?
  5. Thinking back to your earliest experiences within this company, do you think there was anything that we could have done better in terms of making you feel welcome and in terms of your induction?
  6. Do you think that the company gave you sufficient opportunities to use your skills and abilities?
  7. Do you think that you were given sufficient responsibility?
  8. Did the company meet your needs in terms of training and development opportunities?
  9. In what ways do you think the company made your job more difficult?
  10. Did the organization’s systems, policies or procedures get in the way of doing your job effectively?
  11. In your opinion, were you given adequate resources to be able to do your job to the best of your ability?

Your working conditions

  1. How would you rate your work environment and working conditions?
  2. How do you think the workplace and the working conditions could be improved?
  3. Were you satisfied with the compensation package that you received?
  4. How would you rate the organization’s performance and salary review system?

Your general view of the company

  1. What are your general feelings about this company?
  2. What do you like most about this company?
  3. What do you like least about this company?
  4. How would you describe the organizational culture of this organization?
  5. Would you recommend this company as an employer?
  6. Based on your experience of working for us, what do you think it takes to succeed within this organization?
  7. Do you think this company has helped you in terms of fulfilling your career objectives?
  8. How would you rate the levels and quality of communication across the company as a whole and within the department that you worked for?
  9. What do you think the company could do to improve the way that it gathers and uses the opinions and experience of its staff?
  10. What do you think the organization would need to improve in order to retain its best employees?

Your future with the organization

  1. Given the right set of circumstances, would you consider working for this company again in the future?
  2. Is there anything this company could do that would convince you to reverse your decision to leave?

Your new employer

  1. What is your new employer offering you that you think we can’t provide?
  2. Would you be prepared to tell us who your new employer is?

Your replacement

  1. Could you offer any tips to help us to fill your role effectively?

Age Discrimination: If Old is Gold, Why Can’t I Find A Job?

I am a “baby boomer.” At the age of 56, I should be enjoying my life as an older worker,  basking in the glory of a long, established and successful work history.

My kids are self-sufficient and I should be looking forward to spending my days travelling and taking up hobbies I never had time for. I should be writing this from my home office, in my three bedroom, three bath house, and then cozy-up near the fireplace, to watch TV, in our family room. We should have dinner parties, go to shows or concerts, trade in our cars every few years, and once a year plan a fabulous family vacation, in locations including Hawaii, the Bahamas, Mexico, and even Europe and Asia.

First and foremost, we would have plenty of money put away in ‘retirement plans,’ a 401K and other investments we’ve made through the years. Since we planned well, we’d be all set for retirement, and have plenty put away for our kids, when we pass. This is as close to the “American Dream” as it comes!

However, my real lifestyle is as far from this as Wisconsin is from Singapore! Part of it is due to my husband becoming disabled on the job, some 20 years ago. Because of the severity of his condition, he hasn’t worked since 1995. He receives monthly Social Security Disability Benefits, which are absolutely ridiculous, not to mention insulting, when I think of the amount of money he used to earn, and would have continued to if this hadn’t happened.

We moved from Chicago to Madison, in 1990, and in ’92, I had my youngest child, who is now 18. My other son was 3 ½, and between my decision to stay home and raise my kids, and my husband’s medical problems, it was some years before I could return to the workforce, on a full-time basis.

By the time I could think about working full-time, I had been out of the workforce for nearly 10 years, and was 43 years old. I, the big shot, thought any company would hire me on the spot. I had never been so wrong about anything before, in my life! I honestly couldn’t even estimate the number of jobs I applied for between that time and now, but I’m sure it climbed toward the thousands.

I had skills and experiences, in many areas, and so I thought it would make me an asset, as a well-rounded person. However, I had no degree, hadn’t worked in a professional capacity in almost 10 years, and what made me so in demand before we moved, was now obsolete and technically outdated.  Since I lived in Madison, WI, with the University of Wisconsin [that happened to rank 17 on a list of the top 500 universities, worldwide] a ten minute drive from my home, I believed my lack of a degree was my biggest problem. I was competing for jobs with recent college graduates and didn’t have a chance.

Long story short, after a very time consuming and tiring job search effort, I finally found a permanent position at an insurance company, through an employment agency, in 1999.

I thought my inability to find work easily was because I didn’t have a degree, so I showed them, and went back to school!  Once I had my degree, I thought things would magically be different. With my practical experience, current education, and high GPA, I figured I couldn’t miss. I was wrong, very wrong. Nothing changed from the day before I started school, other than putting myself $100K US in debt.

Searching for jobs was still an uphill battle. I tried every angle I could think of, such as taking out all dates from my resume, always wearing something appropriate and spent a great deal of time getting my hair and make-up just right, for an interview. Since I’m very short, I always wore heels, the higher the better, and had great posture, probably from the years of ballet I took. I looked my interviewer in the eye, had a strong handshake, brought a list of questions, as I did my homework and studied the company, and sent thank you notes to all interviewers, as soon as I got home.

Once this continued to the point of no explanation, it was the first time I seriously considered I was facing age discrimination because I was an older worker.

One reason I had such a hard time considering my age was holding me back — because it just didn’t make sense. Why would any employer not grab an older worker who had the technical skills, a current, relevant education, experience working in relevant environments, knowing how to interact with people, and having the wisdom and insight a person could only get through experiencing life for this many years? It wasn’t logical. I remember only too well how I acted in a place of business 30+ years ago. I certainly didn’t take anything seriously, and in my mind it was more about making social connections, than about doing work. Older workers are much more settled, are serious about the work they do, have no other agendas, and won’t call in sick because they’ve been out getting drunk, the night before! Why is this so hard to understand?

Some of the biggest myths about older workers, is we can’t learn new skills, we don’t stay on the job long and take off too much time, we’re too slow and inflexible, and expect to be treated with “kid gloves.”

I returned to school in 2005, at the age of 50 and graduated when I was 54. Not only was I capable of learning new skills, but I excelled in my courses. I was a very poor student as a child and in high school, so in my case, I actually was able to learn and retain more the older I got! Out of the 32 total classes I wound up taking, in 27 I earned a grade of ‘A,’ and for my bachelor’s degree, I earned a 3.8 GPA.

What’s more, they say older workers not computer savvy, yet all my courses had a big focus on online learning.  As far as not staying on a job long or taking off time, I always joked with my interviewers, saying, “At least I won’t be taking off time to have babies!”

Of course things are changing, and many companies do see the value of mature workers. Retailers such as Home Depot, Sears, Roebuck and Co, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack are just a few companies that are actively looking to hire older employees. You should learn about and seek such employers. However, as an older worker looking for a job, you also need to do what you can to bust such myths and convince employers they are not applicable for your case.

One expert in the field of workforce development and career counseling made a rather startling revelation about age discrimination. She feels many older job hunters are so convinced the reason they can’t find a job is due to age discrimination, they may be unwittingly sabatoging the situation. She calls it “reverse age discrimination,” or “reverse age bias.” Older job seekers often make inferences about younger supervisors and workers, just as younger workers assume things about us, mature workers. It’s particularly difficult when we know our experiences and knowledge are far beyond an individual who has the power to decide if we do or do not get the job, and it’s hard not to let our attitude affect what we say or how we come across. Unintentionally, we sometimes come across as being arrogant, overconfident, or superior; behavior that surely won’t win us any job!

Other things older workers may do that hinder employment are refusing to learn new technology, especially computer skills, and believing job-hunting methods that worked 10 or 20 years ago, will still work today. Don’t let such things hold you back.

As an older worker, your job search will be hard and you might face age discrimination. I have tried to point out some issues which cause this, so that you can work towards overcoming them. I think focusing on these makes more sense, as opposed to more ‘cosmetic’ suggestions you might read about, to hide your age during you job search. One way or another, employers will find out how old you are eventually.

Test Drive Your Job References With A Fake Call

The job search is time consuming and involves many activities. One area which you probably aren’t spending enough time on, is your job references. What you should know, is that a bad job reference can make you lose a job offer which was coming your way.

Most companies will get in touch with people you have worked with/for previously and ask them about your behaviour and performance. This includes people you have provided as job references and might also include people not on your list.

The information received from these people is often seen as a credible, independent and first-hand perspective. When speaking over the phone it is also possible for employers to probe for details and read between the lines. So it certainly carries more weight than the job reference letters you might have received, which are too generic, often contain similar words for everyone and frequently have positive statements which might not be true (and employers know this).

If one of your important references (such as a previous supervisor) says negative things about you, this can make employers change their mind about hiring you and pick another candidate. You obviously don’t want this to happen and here are a few things you can do to avoid such a situation:

Select Each Job Reference Carefully

This goes without saying. You should select people who will be more likely to say positive things about you.

Provide Enough Job References

Don’t provide just 1-2 job references. Go with 3-5 so that employers feel they have enough people to talk to, which reduces the chances of them contacting people not on your list.

Take Permission From Your Job References

It is a good idea to call people you intend to use as a job reference and ask them if it’s alright for potential employers to contact them. If you already took their permission during a previous job search effort, then make sure to give them a heads-up the next time you are looking for a job, so they know that people might be calling them to talk about you and can prepare accordingly.

Train & Arm Every Job Reference

If possible, have a discussion about what they could say and provide them with enough information/data/reminders about all the good work you did.

And Here’s The Best One – Test Drive Your Job References

You never know what people might do and there is no harm in taking some precautions. So ask a friend to pose as an employer and call your job references, to ensure they aren’t saying any bad things about you.

Singapore Job Application FAQ: Should you provide salary information?

Many job advertisements in Singapore ask applicants to provide their previous/current and expected salary. This information could be used to:

1) Quickly weed out candidates who earn/expect well above the salary the employer wants to pay

2) Have a better understanding of your salary expectations, so that they don’t pay you too much more than you expect (sometimes even if they think the job role justifies a higher amount!)

While you don’t want to upset potential employers by not providing information they explicitly ask for, you don’t need to provide exactly what they ask for either.

My recommendation is to give a broad range for both the previous/current and the expected salary. Something like this, for example:

Example 1 -> Previous/Current/Expected salary range: SGD 4,000 – SGD 6,000

Example 2 -> Previous/Current salary: SGD 4,000 – SGD 6,000; Expected Salary: SGD 5,000 – SGD 7,000

This achieves a few things:

  1. You provide them with the information they ask for
  2. You minimise the chances of being weeded out in early stages
  3. You leave enough room for negotiating a fair salary, once you progress through the selection process and have a better understanding of the exact job scope

How to resign from a job, professionally and gracefully

When leaving an employer it is best to make a graceful exit, no matter how much you dislike your supervisor, peers or the company. Doing so is best for your reputation in the long term and you never know who you might cross paths with in the future.

Here are a few tips on how to resign properly:

  • Before you submit a formal resignation letter, have a talk with your supervisor(s). Explain your reasons for leaving the job and re-assure them, that you will make the transition as smooth as possible. Also agree on how much notice you should provide. In most cases, the proper response from your supervisor should be to wish you luck and to offer you any help you might need. They might even provide some useful company/department specific information on how to resign.
  • In some instances, your supervisor or others in your company might react badly to your resignation. They might behave rudely and display other behaviour which is not appropriate. Sometimes they might try to make you feel guilty about leaving. Remember, that you are not doing anything wrong by leaving the company and there is no reason to feel guilty. Also keep in mind that such a reaction is not good practice. Try to maintain your composure and be graceful in your exit, even if your employer in Singapore is not.
  • Check your employment contract and company policy, to have a clear idea of what formalities need to be taken care of. You should be clear on your expected entitlements – such as expense claims, unused vacation/sick leave and other benefits you should receive. For many of these you will typically receive monetary compensation on a pro-rata basis.
  • Get in touch with HR and provide them a formal resignation letter. Make sure to mention you last day of work and to request them to confirm all formalities you need to go through and to also confirm your entitlements/dues.
  • Try to spend your last days in the company as though you were not leaving. In other words, keep your work standard at the same level and complete all outstanding assignments (as far as possible)
  • Avoid burning any bridges and maintain good relations with people at work. Get the contact details for people who you want to stay in touch with and maintain as part of your network.
  • Your employer might say that they do not want to lose you and are willing to provide sweeteners (such as better salary or change of role/job scope). In this case, it is recommended to only take the offer if you think it is very lucrative/attractive. Studies/research has shown that people who do so, typically leave within a year (or might be asked to leave as well). This is because, although you might stay back, you have made it clear to your employer that you are not committed to the organisation.

I hope you found these pointers on how to resign useful. All the best in your new role!