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Scaling The Ladder


Grab Those Opportunities!

With the start of the new year, many people are considering moving to greener pastures. The high-technology industry sector is usually a complex one, so how can you find new job opportunities in this sector and land your dream job?

Everyone is familiar with channels such as classified advertisements, internal job boards or job websites. However, in some cases, senior-level positions or unique jobs are not advertised in the usual channels, as the company prefers to source for candidates selectively. Here are some tips to help you in your job search:

Networking

Rather than leaving the responsibility in the hands of the employing organisation, it is better to be proactive and use your own networking skills to identify new career opportunities. Who do you know in other companies in your area of expertise who may be aware of job openings?

Which companies are actually growing in your particular sector?

Check out the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are taking on new talents from larger organisations that are restructuring. Or, it may be the large multinational companies that are expanding, as they merge or acquire other companies.

Conferences and exhibitions are useful venues for networking, particularly if the event focuses on your technology sector. Alternatively, networking can be done on a smaller scale, through face-to-face meetings or a friendly chat over drinks.

Virtual networking is also increasing in popularity, through sites such as Linked-in. These online websites give you the opportunity to link up with new business contacts, build networks with your existing contacts and widen your network nationally and internationally.

Executive search firms

Executive search organisations, particularly those that specialise in your sector, have the advantage of knowing what is going on in the industry across a wide range of companies.

They are aware of senior positions in the market, some of which are not openly advertised externally and can help you to market yourself to potential employers. Those with global offices can widen the search internationally, if you are willing to relocate.

Check with your acquaintances on which firms they rate well, or contact headhunters directly to find the one you are comfortable with.

Applying for opportunities

Once you have found the right job opportunity, now comes the more challenging part applying for it. When brushing up your curriculum vitae, do remember that frequently a non-technical human resource person may be the first to review it.

So do not flood your CV with technical jargon or use abbreviations, which may not be known by those outside the sector. Instead, be clear about what you have achieved and when, as well as your roles and responsibilities.

Key information needs to be presented in a clear and succinct format in the first two pages. Although it is important to make your CV stand out, most technology companies prefer to see well-structured content without distractions, such as the use of several colours or unusual fonts. A brief profile at the beginning, summing up your experience and key skills in three to four sentences is often a good idea. Tailor your CV, or at least your cover letter, to the role you are applying for, and highlight the relevant experience.

If you have been networking appropriately and have a great CV, you should be able to get that coveted interview. It is important to keep up the good work by preparing yourself well. Improve your chances by reading up on the company. If you have a presentation, make sure you prepare well for it.

Firm handshakes and first impressions are important, so dress appropriately. In some cases, this could be a suit and tie if you are applying for a senior management role in a major MNC pharmaceutical. In others cases, it could be more casual, if you want to fit in as a product developer in a young up-and-coming IT start-up.

Thinking laterally

If your sector or market is not doing so well, can you transfer your skills to another? For example, employers within the medical devices sector are frequently willing to take on those with experience in the semiconductor industry.

Are you willing to relocate? Many pharmaceutical companies are moving research and development and manufacturing operations to China and need experienced and skilled individuals. Would you consider working for a contract organisation, particularly as more high-tech companies are outsourcing specialised functions?

If your skills do not transfer well to that sort of environment, you may wish to get involved in more cross-functional projects within your own organisation, to gain the experience. What about interim management, where experienced professionals take on operational or strategic assignments on a short-term basis? Interim managers need to be able to stomach risk, as they operate on a freelance basis and are typically self-employed.

Finally, most importantly, stay positive and driven, and you will achieve your goal. - Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Laura Thomas, managing director of RSA Singapore, a global provider of resourcing services to the life science and health-care sectors. Taken from The Star's Classifieds Section.

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