Sun, Nov 21, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Workers need to prepare alternative sets of skills

CAREERS People are increasingly having to seek new jobs in the middle of their working lives; a knowlege of other skills could help them

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In order to get ready for a possible mid-life career crisis, a working individual should begin developing secondary professional skills as soon as possible, a study by 1111 Job Bank revealed.

An online survey conducted this month that drew 1,071 participants aimed to seek opinions from working professionals regarding mid-life career crises. The study was released yesterday.

According to the study, 34 percent of participants thought that a career crisis was likely by the age of 35.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed felt that inability to find jobs was the greatest mid-life career crisis, 35 percent feared lay-offs and 34 percent were unwilling to change careers.

The survey also showed a majority of people thought that 35 was the highest age at which a person could easily find new work.

Having secondary professional skills was seen as a key to overcoming a mid-life career crisis.

"The age at which mid-career crises happen has fallen from between 40 and 45 to 35 to 40. A pershon should concentrate on acquiring secondary career skills as well as strengthening their personal networks," Wu Jui-ying (吳睿穎), a 1111 vice president and spokesperson, said yesterday.

Recognizing the importance of acquiring secondary professional skills, 54 percent of survey participants stated that they had been actively developing new skills, but 45 percent said they had yet to do so.

Wu explained that there were three categories of skill that enterprises looked for during the hiring process: professional skills that a particular position requires, communication skills and a high emotional intelligence quotient -- sometimes known as EQ.

Concerning communication skills, Wu said that there has recently been a trend among high-tech enterprises to re-name their human resources departments "employee relationship" departments.

Wu said this trend showed a shift from the idea of a top-down management style to one of relationship building between employers and their employees.

"As a result, face-to-face interviews are the key to the entire hiring process," Wu said.

"A candidate's resume can only show so much of his past work experience and his educational background; only through interviews could he manifest his communication skills. Therefore, one should never miss interviews with potential employers," Wu said.

In order to test one's EQ, Wu pointed out, employers often throw out many situational questions to candidates in interviews in order to evaluate how they respond.

Wu said that an example of situational question could be when a customer makes a very provocative remark that might affect the image a company presents.

"How a candidate responds to such a remark is a telltale sign of how well he can keep his emotions in control," said Wu.

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