Cody Szeto is director of the IT&T, engineering, supply chain and procurement divisions at Kelly Services Hong Kong.
Will finding a job without my usual contacts be easy?
I have more than ten years’ experience working as a developer for information systems firms. Though I am good at my job and have been successful, in all my three jobs, I was helped in the door by a friend or a contact. Of course, I went through the interview process like anyone else but my path was certainly eased each time.
My current employer is scaling back its operations and I am looking elsewhere in anticipation of this. Though I have plenty of work experience, I am not so used to approaching companies off my own bat, especially as few of my former contacts are still in the city. What advice do you give?
Our busy schedules have driven us into working in a rat race. Now, with your employer scaling back its operations, before looking for a new job, it may be an opportunity to critically review your interests and skills and take your career to the next level by aligning it with your experience and life goals.
There are questions you may ask yourself: what are the three most important criteria I want from work? What am I happy about with my work? Am I motivated? Is my current work in line with my experience and career aspirations? Are my work and life in balance?
With your substantial experience in software development, you may consider furthering your career in the following directions. You can continue with your current work but with a different employer and in a more senior role; or find a job in a related industry but to explore other higher-value roles. You can leverage your existing skills and network to open up your own business riding on the many technical trends ahead, such as fintech, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
If you are intent on continuing as you are, you can simply go to job aggregators or job sites to understand the description and requirements of the posts available in the market. Within the realms of a software developer role, you may want to list out your unique strengths in terms of skill sets and industries, and apply accordingly. If you need help in updating your CV or gaining some interview tips, the internet is full of resources.
If, however, you are considering a change of direction, you may need a bit more preparation. For example, you can consult one or two recruitment agents and discuss with them your options in higher-value roles such as system analyst, business analyst or project manager, capitalising on your long experience.
Based on your experience, coupled with their knowledge of the market, the consultants should be able to identify possible career options, introduce you to openings that match your profile, and fill you in with added information about the openings.
Of course, you can also discuss your entrepreneurial intentions and career direction with other trusted contacts in the industry and obtain a second opinion.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Entering the labour market without my contacts.