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Got retrenched? Here's how to talk about it in your job interview

This article is more than 12 months old

When it comes to getting retrenched, we know it's important to take practical steps like reworking our resumes and rethinking the way we spend money.

The one thing we don't consider as much though, is how we should go about talking about it in our upcoming job interviews and to what extent we should be honest about what happened.

Ms Lee Ling Xiang, manager of sales and marketing, industrial and services at recruiter Robert Walters Singapore, shares some advice.

How to assure your potential employer that your retrenchment was not a result of your lack of productivity

"You should open up about the current industry climate, the nature of your previous employer's business and its business performance - without revealing overly-sensitive information - to provide some context as to why you were retrenched.

"We find that when candidates are upfront about the predicament they were in, they come across as being open and objective.

"If it's about productivity, it depends on the job function you were in - if you were in a sales role, productivity and achievements are measurable. However, if you were in an IT engineer role, it would be harder to gauge.

"It is paramount that candidates share their key achievements and examples of how the current climate has affected not just the firm, but also their role, which then helps justify the redundancy."

How much you should say about it when probed

"You should always be honest about the situation and provide the right context as to why the retrenchment happened. However, we would encourage candidates to not spend too long talking about it. Employers will appreciate candidates who are positive and forward-thinking rather than those who dwell on the past."

How to talk about what you have been up to while unemployed

"You should always talk about the new things you have taken up while between jobs, be it a freelance project, a course or even a relevant hobby. You should also talk about your upskilling efforts, particularly if these are relevant or add value to the role you are applying for. This will show that you have been using your downtime wisely and have taken to the experience positively."

How to pitch your skills and qualities

"It is important to emphasise the transferability of your skill sets and agility in adapting, particularly when applying to a company in a different industry. Generally, it is the honest and open-minded candidate (who has) a higher chance of securing the role as it reflects their willingness to listen to suggestions."

This article was first published in Her World Online (