8 Recession Job Hunting Insights You Always Wanted To KnowBy Tang Kai Long • 11 min read
Singapore is going into recession, and people are worried about two things: getting employed and staying employed.
We interviewed a recruiter who shares his recruitment know-how, and how he used that to successfully find a new job during Circuit Breaker period. And how you can use it to level up your job hunting too.
Due to confidentiality reasons, this recruiter has requested to remain anonymous. Here’s a quick background: He’s got 5 years of experience in HR and recruiting, and is currently with an MNC in the chemicals industry.
1. You may have applied to reposted jobs that are no longer hiring
I’ve applied for 100+ jobs and still have not found a job. Why haven’t I heard back from my job applications despite sending out so many of them?
There are lots of reasons why you did not hear back. But there’s one reason not many jobseekers know about. You may have applied to reposted jobs.
What are reposted jobs?
Many job portals offer employers a “Repost Job” function. If they’ve not hired anyone for the job after a while, they can “repost” the job with the click of a button — instead of re-doing up a brand-new job post.
What does that mean for you?
At the start of the Circuit Breaker, some companies had reposted their jobs. However, many are forced into hiring freezes shortly after reposting those jobs. Meaning some of these reposted jobs are no longer an open job listing despite being recently posted on the job portal.
What can I do about it?
Alas, there isn’t much you can do. Up to a couple of months back, JobStreet showed the initial job posted date but have since changed their site interface. Most job portals do not show the initial job posted date. But knowing this is one of the reasons why you’re not hearing back can hopefully help you understand what’s going on a little more.
2. Applying directly to a company isn’t better than applying through recruitment agencies
I see that some of the jobs listed on job portals are posted by recruitment agencies instead of the company itself. Is it better to apply directly to a company or through these recruitment agencies? Does it make a difference?
I would recommend agencies for three simple reasons.
- Owing to the Circuit Breaker measures, many of the HR are swamped with paperwork and processes like managing grants and manpower, etc. It makes more sense to offload the recruiting to external agencies that can help out with the screening process.
In-house recruiters may not have the capacity to juggle the new tasks at hand and handle recruitment at the same time. Also, for companies with a history of engaging recruitment agencies, this period would not be an exception. If anything, more companies would turn to agencies to relieve some of the workloads.
That being said, if the recruitment agencies don’t notice you or shortlist you for an interview, you would probably have even lower chances with the company’s HR. Because recruitment agencies solely focus on screening candidates and are incentivized to recommend more candidates to their clients (i.e. company’s HR) because they earn a commission for each candidate hired.
All these simply mean that you would stand a better chance of hearing back if you applied through an agency.
- Also, the agents are incentivized to speak on your behalf. Commission aside now is a crucial time for agencies to strengthen their relationships with their clients – by providing quality candidates.
Especially for recruitment agencies who have a long history working with their clients, their recommendation of your CV probably has more credibility than your stand-alone application.
- Having the chance to talk to someone may significantly increase your chances of being noticed. For many jobs out there, because of its nature, applicants can end up sharing a very similar CV – to the extent where only the name and particulars are different. I have seen too many such examples.
A chance to speak to an agent would then provide the opportunity for you to showcase the soft skills you have that aren’t necessarily reflected on your resume.
3. Many companies rely on job portals
Then, is there a difference between applying directly on the company’s career site versus applying on a job portal, if the same job is posted on both sites?
This depends largely on the company. There are certain companies that are not active on their own internal portals but merely posted it there as a pre-requisite. They still rely on job portals for the majority of their candidate pool. For such companies, you would stand a higher chance of hearing back from them if you were to apply through a job portal.
However, for larger companies like Facebook or Google, they don’t really have to rely on job portals. Anyone who is interested in working with them would go straightaway to their career portal and look for job openings.
All in all, I would say there isn’t a significant difference applying between the two.
4. Recruitment agencies are favoured during times of crisis
How about if we were to compare job portals to agencies?
That would depend on the situation we are in.
During times of crisis like the situation we are in right now, job portals may be deceiving. After all, the only information you have is what they put in the job listing. The listing can be as ambiguous as the company wants it to be.
What that means in our current situation is that you may be applying to a role where you have to take on multiple people’s workload. This is especially so if the company is retrenching a lot of people and is actually hiring for someone to replace the workload of 3 headcounts.
To avoid that, applying through an agency can offer you more information. The agent can better explain the scenario to you before you decide to dive into the job.
Conclusion: Agencies are favoured during times of crisis.
During normal times, there is a lesser chance of job portals being deceitful. The jobs that are posted are usually what they claim to be about.
However, when it comes to agencies, they may very well be stockpiling candidates. What that means is that you may be applying for a position that has yet to exist. The agency may be gathering piles of candidates so that when new jobs come they can immediately respond to the ad. By the time they get back to you, it may have been weeks after. In some cases you won’t even hear back from them.
This is the part where applying through a job portal outweighs applying through an agency because then you will have lesser worries about applying into a dubious job posting that doesn’t even exist. You wouldn’t be “just another candidate” laying in the agency’s candidate pile.
Conclusion: Job portals are favoured during normal times.
Related article: 15 Best job portals to find jobs in Singapore during COVID-19
5. There is no “best time” to send in your application
Is there a better time of the day to send in an application that will increase the chances of my application being reviewed earlier or at all?
6. Don’t send a follow-up to all the jobs that you applied for
If I don’t hear back from the company after an interview, should I follow up? How should I follow up?
My recommendation wouldn’t be a one size fits all because different HR has different ways of handling applications.
From my perspective as a recruiter, if you have already been invited down for a first-round interview, I think I would be able to spend a bit more time to explain the situation to you – whether or not you have been shortlisted or if there is something else holding up the process.
There is another very common scenario where you have applied for a job and haven’t heard back for the past twenty days. Here’s the thing: after finding a good number of profiles that fit perfectly what we are looking for, we aren’t incentivized to proceed with the rest of the pile.
It’s only fair we do so, yes, but we don’t handle only recruitment. Especially in times like this, we are also managing grants, people, and legislation. It is only normal that we hesitate to review the full pile of applications. In such situations, the least I can do with their phone calls would be to politely tell them that I will look further into their profile.
Also, if you find a job that you really like and feel that you are a really good fit for, do not be afraid to drop an email or give them a call. A lot of people are worried that it may be annoying – what’s the worst can could happen?
Getting ignored or rejected? They weren’t going to reply to you anyways. On the flip side, if they have yet to come across your profile, this may be a good chance for you to be introduced to the recruiter.
That being said, do not go on a frantic rage and send an email for every single job that you posted. That can easily backfire when you receive zero responses. You will be in a very depressed state. Do it for the jobs that you are really interested in and for those that you feel you stand a good chance at securing.
Ultimately, it is a very honest and truthful process. If I could tell you that you are not being shortlisted, I would. They don’t have to lie to you and give you false hopes. They don’t owe you that. Also, always remind yourself that they don’t report to you.
7. An eye-catching CV is good, but the content is more important
I feel like my CV is very similar to every other applicant. I don’t have any particular experiences that are really ‘different’ from everyone else. What is the best way to stand out to a recruiter or catch their attention?
I struggle with this as well. Because I am in HR, I come across a lot more CVs than others. Many of them are truly identical – literally to the extent that just the name and particulars are different.
What I do is I design my own CV to closely resemble that of a CV that actually caught my eye.
From my own experience, I would say that you wouldn’t have to make it very different. At the end of the day, what the HR or the recruiter cares about is not an eye-catching CV, but one with substantial content. You can spend a lot of time trying to decorate your resume with gold and silver, but it wouldn’t matter if the content isn’t what they are looking out for.
Instead, people who are into CV building, they use job descriptions to ramp up their CV. All companies provide job descriptions to their employees. Whether it’s the start of the job or during their appraisal, all you need to do is copy the job description and put it into your CV. Of course, that wouldn’t be all.
Mention your greatest achievement and how it ties into your career. Also help the recruiter understand where you are coming from and where you are heading towards. If your goal within the next 3-5 years aligns with the kind of employee they are looking out for, it will be easier for them to bring up such discussions when meeting in person.
With everything considered, your CV should be presenting a brief but spot-on summary of yourself to the recruiter.
Tip: Pay attention to make it so that your CV isn’t hard to read.
8. If you don’t have experiences or skills, you need the right attitude
I am a fresh grad without any working experience. What is the biggest value I can bring to the company?
I have heard and said this a lot: “Skillsets and task-based performance can be trained. It just takes time. There is nothing in the working field that is so difficult that you couldn’t be trained for or taught with time.”
With that said, your attitude would influence the bulk of my hiring decision. Attitude and character are consistent over time – so if you don’t have the right mindset, that is something very hard for me to “teach” with time.
Considering the lack of experience, that would be the largest factor that comes to mind. This is a difficult time for fresh grads to begin their career – more so than ever. We’ve curated the best-of-the-best career resources out there in our Covid-19 Career Resources page. Includes companies still, recession job hunting tips, work from home advice, mental wellness support, and more resources you don’t want to miss.
It’s definitely going to be challenging – but it won’t be impossible ❤️
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