From The Straits Times    |

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You’re on the hunt for your next job, but the desired offer just isn’t coming your way. How long should you hold out before lowering your expectations?

Deciding how long to hold out for a desired offer requires careful consideration of several factors as the hiring process has become increasingly complex and time-consuming, says Mr Anurag Garg, regional director at recruitment agency Michael Page Singapore.

The first decision to make is whether to resign or to continue working during a job search. Those facing strong push factors, such as a toxic work environment, may need to quit while others, such as those with financial responsibilities, are likely to choose to continue to work.

The number of interviews and the length of time without an offer before a candidate should change their expectations can vary significantly based on industry, job level and regional job market conditions, he said.

“While there is no definitive rule, as a general guideline, going through several interviews over a few months without receiving an offer may signal the need to reassess expectations and consider adjustments.”

Job seekers who quit to focus on the job search can strike a balance between avoiding a lengthy career gap and holding out for a desired offer by considering part-time or temporary work in their field, Mr Garg says.

Such work could enhance their skills and keep them connected to the industry while continuing their search.

Candidates can also mitigate the impact of a career gap by demonstrating how they stayed productive, such as by pursuing certifications, freelancing or volunteering, he said, noting that employers are becoming more understanding of career gaps nowadays.

In deciding whether to adjust their salary and benefit expectations, job seekers could compare their expectations with those of others.

For instance, job seekers could talk to friends or peers in the same profession and of a similar level, and refer to published job data, says Mr Puneet Swani of human resources consultancy Mercer.

They could also speak to headhunters who can provide them with a typical salary range for their level and experience, adds Mr Swani, who is a career business leader for Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific.

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Interviewer comments could also provide useful hints.

Mr Swani says comments to look out for include “We like your profile, but you are too expensive” and “We are going through a major restructuring and at this point are being conservative in our packages”.

It could also be telling when candidates are informed that their experience is more than what is required for a role, or asked about the increase they expect from their current compensation package.

“These questions could give you a good indication of where you stand in relation to the role you applied for, and prompt you to either adjust your expectations or continue to search for other opportunities,” adds Mr Swani.

Meanwhile, candidates who have faced repeated rejections despite being confident in their worth might need to re-evaluate their job search strategy, Mr Garg says.

He advises job seekers to seek feedback from interviewers that could help them identify areas of improvement, a sentiment echoed by Mr Swani.

Mr Swani says candidates could potentially gain an edge by incorporating their prospective employer’s expressed vision and mission into interview responses.

“It is fundamental for them to prepare well and pre-read about the company, its competitors, and the customers’ perception.”

He adds: “There could also be situations where upskilling or reskilling is required, especially if a new technology is being used and certain skill sets might be in demand.

“While candidates might have the relevant education and work experience, they might not have kept up with changing technologies. Those who are returning to work after a break should be more aware of this.”

Mr Garg says job seekers could increase their visibility to prospective employers by engaging in networking and personal branding, such as through a professional networking platform LinkedIn or by attending industry events.

“Additionally, considering alternative roles or expanding the search geographically may open up new opportunities,” he added.

This article was originally published on The Straits Times.