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Keep focus on key skills in hard times

Published on Friday, 22 Feb 2013
Mark Enticott
MD, Ambition Hong Kong

I am 43 years old with a Master of Engineering - Mechanical degree and over 20 years of research and development (R&D) experience in the engineering field, most of which was at managerial level. I also have experience on the mainland. I have recently become unemployed and cannot find a suitable job as most vacancies only offer a very low salary - less than HK$30,000 per month. I don't mind obtaining experience in junior positions, such as working as an accountant, or even reducing my current salary by 50 per cent - I'm just afraid that I am too old to compete in the job market and I think an employer would throw away my résumé upon first glance at my date of birth. Would it be easier for me to find these types of jobs through a headhunter? Am I too old to start again? What should I do? Engineer

Searching for a new role while being unemployed can be very difficult and frustrating.

Firstly, you need to focus your search in your key skills areas and at your level of experience. Taking a substantial pay cut will not assist your job search as you will end up applying for roles for which you are overqualified. Often employers will not interview such candidates, as it raises questions such as whether the person will stay in the role for an extended period of time.

Furthermore, it is important that you apply to roles where you have prior experience. Employers want candidates who have the skills and experience to fulfil the role. If you have a background in R&D, trying to move into a junior accounting role is not making good use of your 20 years of experience.

It is important that you use a mixture of approaches to assist your job search. This should include registering with recruitment firms that are specialists in your area of experience, using social media such as LinkedIn, and making enquiries in your existing network.

Attending relevant networking events in the engineering area can also assist in getting to know new people who might be aware of job opportunities.

If your personal circumstances allow it, I would recommend keeping your options open on relocating for work, as this can widen the scope of opportunities available.

Mark Enticott is the managing director of Ambition Hong Kong, a leading global boutique recruitment firm with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and London. Ambition specialises in the banking and financial services, finance and accounting, technology, and sales and marketing sectors.

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