As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the global economy, businesses have been forced to fold and employers tasked with cutting cost moves like laying off employees.
Big companies in Malaysia haven’t been spared from these tough times. Media powerhouse Blu Inc, for example, has ceased operations and laid off more than 200 employees.
It’s not a new development for most companies in Malaysia, but for some employees, it could be their first-ever devastating crisis, especially after devoting so many years to a company.
What’s one to do after being laid off? Talent and culture manager Joachim Ooi from Photobook Worldwide KL, an online photo gifts company, shares with us some advice on how to bounce back.
Take a deep breath and don’t panic just yet, you can get out of this funk. We have faith in you!
The first step
According to Ooi, it is common for companies to compensate the employees they are laying off based on the years of service. Fresh graduates or new hires, however, might want to speak to a human resource expert or a legal friend for more details.
“Everyone has to know their rights to lawful compensation. Most people will receive a month or two of compensation, or more, depending on the years of service,” Ooi said. He was himself laid off by a previous employer.
Ooi recalled putting a strong front in front of his bosses after he got wind of the management’s decision. In hindsight, there’s really no need to hide the emotions, Ooi said.
“It’s okay to cry and feel disheartened,” he said. “Embrace your emotions. Take a few days to recover and process your thoughts.”
No financial commitments? Time to reinvent yourself
Being laid off can be an opportunity for you to find your true passion as long as there are no financial commitments like a mortgage. If you have this, it is best not to be picky with the jobs that come your way, Ooi said.
“For example, if you’re from a sales background, you need to be open to try out other job functions like business development and operations. Be flexible and fluid about your options,” he said.
He also advised people to focus on developing hobbies that can be monetized, like baking, writing, or designing, if they are in need of cash.
Staying competitive in the job market
Being laid off is also a good time to spruce up your CV and start networking again. If you haven’t created a LinkedIn account yet, now is the time to do so.
“Build up your network, on LinkedIn, and in real life. It’s OK to mention you were laid off and that you’re looking for a job. Ask your connections to spread the word. They’re happy to help,” Ooi said.
Being laid off isn’t an issue for many HR professionals since such people were usually not fired due to poor performance, according to Ooi.
Attending virtual career fairs is another way to build connections. Such online events run up until the end of June and hosted by companies like Talentbank, Lazada, and TalentCorp. It’s a good opportunity to submit resumes for a chance to get hired.
“Certain industries are flourishing in these times, like banking, telecommunications, and delivery companies. Look out for them,” Ooi said.
In the meantime, you can also upgrade your skills through online courses and webinars, which have been popping up more than usual recently.
These courses, some by the likes of Harvard Business School, cover areas including digital marketing, wellness, and politics. Some of them are also free-of-charge.
Look out for each other
Layoffs are never a good thing, even for employers, according to Ooi, and it is important to reach out to one another for support.
Ooi said that he has seen job seekers gather on various WhatsApp group chats to help each other seek out opportunities.
“Jobseekers have to look out for each other. Like, some of them have formed a WhatsApp group where they will share vacancies from other companies and encourage each other to apply for this or that position. It becomes a space of comfort and care between not just jobseekers, but friends. They’re all in this together,” Ooi said.
Ooi has also built an online community to help jobseekers who were laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic connect with potential employers.
Malaysia’s unemployment rate hit highest in a decade earlier this year at 3.9%, according to the Department of Statistics. More than 600,000 Malaysians are said to be unemployed.
Ooi wishes for all laid-off employees to never give up in their endeavors.
“Be patient, and the right opportunity will find you,” he said.
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