How to Avoid Getting Retrenched

As you readers may know from my profile page, I am from the financial services sector where hiring and retrenchment can happen within a short time frame. The concept of having the same job till you retire is no longer relevant. In the beginning of this year, I receive news that the firm I was with had been acquired by a US private equity firm. Recently (9 months later), we received the dreadful news that some of us had to be let go.

The axe fell fast and swift, there was no time for handover. Those impacted had to leave on the same day, or given till end of week to exit. Although I am not impacted by this round of restructuring, I am sad and shocked to reveal that my line manager was. I decided to write this article because I had witnessed for the 1st time how crude reality can be. Brief background about my manager, she has been with the firm for more than 20 years, gaining extensive experience in her industry. Granted, she is an expensive hire but no mercy was shown when the parent firm decided to retrench her and the rest.

I will share what I have learnt from this experience and how can we survive being jobless/ unemployed in Singapore.



1. Update your LinkedIn Profile and Resume

I make it a personal habit to update my LinkedIn profile and resume consistently to ensure that it reflects my latest skill sets. It will come in handy if I am axed as I do not think I will be in the right mindset to think about the ex- job, much less come up with a perfect resume.

With my resume updated, I am able to begin my job search immediately.

2. Stay relevant by working on your skills and taking up new skills

Being in the workforce for close to 5 years, I have come to realise that what I learnt in school is not very relevant to my job scope. As with most of my colleagues, most of what we know is picked up on the job. Having said that, how many of the future employers will be willing to give us a chance to ‘learn on the job’? What I have done to stay relevant includes brushing up on my investment skills (to make my money work harder for me), expanding my knowledge to other financial products and working on my tech and analytics skill-set.

You should be reading consistently and read as much and wide as you can. The National Library Board in Singapore has the NLB App that allows its readers to read books for free.

The free courses offered by Google online is a good place to start for those who want to explore a career in marketing. Nonetheless, there are free online self paced courses other than Google to upgrade yourself.

For those who may not be sure what interests them, you can refer to Workforce Singapore to see what excites you. Refer to Training Exchange tab for list of training providers.

3. Network and Volunteer

Expanding your social circle will be useful because you will never know when your next job lead might come from. Even if your job is safe, it does not hurt to get to know more people outside your industry whilst doing fun activities together. These days, the networking activities are unlike in the past where networking is a formal event (cue: formal attire and wine glasses). Take Lean In Circle as an example, members can join a Circle or volunteer at the Lean In events. By doing so, they are able to get to know one another in a relaxed environment.

4. Have an Emergency Fund in place

This covers the sundry expenses incurred. The amount varies but it is recommended to have between 3 and 6 months worth. As far as I am aware and assuming the parent firm does not change the benefits, my severance package consists of the number of years employed + 2. This amount should be able to tide us though till I am able to secure my next job.

In the event that I am retrenched, I should require about 3 months worth as there is only my husband and I living in the same household. Our expenses should not be higher than households with children.

5. Ensure Sufficient Insurance Coverage

I cannot stress on the importance of having your own insurance in place. For many of us, we were auto-insured by the company’s health provider when we joined the firm. We do not realise the significance of this privilege until it gets removed from us. A visit to the General Practitioner can cost you about $50 for consultation alone. Being hospitalized can set you back by $10,000 est. Such high costs implies that one must be sufficiently insured to be safe from setbacks.

6. Create Multiple Streams of Income

Having multiple streams of income is ensures that you do not get desperate when your monthly income is cut off so sudden. There is no iron rice bowl in this age and society. As I am writing this article, I am well aware that I may be let go at the next round of cutting. I can at least take comfort that I can use the dividend payments from my REITS portfolio I have to tide over the expenses incurred.

7. Join a Trade Union (if applicable)

Joining a trade union benefits the employees as they have a representation should there be any dispute. The Union Leader is able to step in as an intermediary as assist do their best to resolves those disputes. Your feedback/ complaints carry more weight as a group. Your employer is more likely to listen if you raise them via your trade union. They are also there to ensure that the employment contract terms are fair and reasonable. Refer to this link to see if there are trade unions in your sector to join.