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ERP Pitfall? A Manager’s Prolonged Job Change Process Case Study

​If your company is ready to offer you an early retirement package (ERP), would you accept it? Receiving a buyout may seem like the right move for those who are already seeking new opportunities. However, even after your initial emotions settle, you will need to weigh both the pros and cons of taking the offer. 

The case study: Apex provided job change support to a senior management professional in his late forties. It took him one and a half years to find a new career after accepting the ERP offer from his previous employer.

Accepting an early retirement offer

He was a very talented, well-experienced senior product manager at a mid-sized global firm, with two decades of marketing experience.  

When his company presented the early retirement incentive plans, he learned that it was also planning to go through a major reorganization while also reducing the size of the workforce. Worried about the lack of growth opportunities and his ability to stay motivated, he decided to accept the ERP offer.

Some early retirement packages may include meetings with a job change agency, but he was looking to further advance his career and land a better position, so he came to Apex to have a career consultation session. 

He seemed like top talent, leading his team for a long period of time, with excellence in communication skills, assertiveness, and delivering intelligence. Also, his reason to leave was valid, he was seeking a new challenge in the marketing field, with the motivation for learning new marketing skills in a broader market. 

Given his impressive resume and skills, no one expected it would take one and a half years for a top talent like him to find a new opportunity despite his age disadvantage.

Impressive career falls into a sequence of rejections

He decided to apply for several positions and one of the global firms with a robust pipeline invited him to interview. However, the result was surprising for all. After the final interview, the offer was provided to another candidate due to a personality fit. Soon after, he reached another final interview, but unfortunately, the offer was canceled due to a global issue at the company. 

The job change process in Japan takes 3-6 months on average, so ideally you would like to find one within that range so as not to shrink your market value. As more competitors begin seeking job change opportunities, the chances of landing a better position tend to decrease. In the worst-case scenario, you will start to review and lower your ideal requirements. 

His efforts did not pay off during the pivotal first six months, even though he was invited to interview with 10 different reputable firms, sometimes going through six rounds of interviews at some companies. Having seen the misfortune that he did not deserve, we held a meeting with him again to understand what actually resulted in the negative outcomes.  

What to look for in an answer from a manager candidate

In the mock interview with him, the underlying reason was unveiled. It was neither his inexperience nor unskillfulness, but his misunderstanding of what employers are looking for in his answers.

At a job interview with a new manager, the hiring companies ask questions to figure out if you are the right person to manage their projects or products. So, they primarily want to hear about your success stories and how you delivered as a manager. That is, you should tell a clear story about how you developed strategies, translated those strategies into actions, and how that helped to drive success or overcome obstacles. 

He covered too many granular details about how he executed the strategies. A management candidate should focus the answer on how to set the strategy, tactic, and road map while presenting excellence in strategic planning and resourcefulness. The hiring managers may get bored hearing you explain the details of what you did. Instead, they want to hear you unfold your story about why and how you did it. 

See the pros and cons of receiving an ERP

He sent a resume to 43 firms, went through 21 job interviews, and eventually received an offer one and a half years after he decided to leave the previous company. A better salary offer was not achieved, as the salary negotiation typically gets harder once you are unemployed without a salary.

Even if it seems convenient for you to take the ERP deal, accepting it without considering all the factors would be the wrong choice. Depending on the offer and the company, some packages provide a fixed retirement date and the employee’s last day of work. This may sometimes prevent your fast move to the next career, albeit you succeed in finding a new opportunity while employed. By the same token, senior employees in their 40s or 50s will face challenges in finding their next position soon after using the opportunity for traveling or spending time with families. Do not forget that a lot of competitors from the same previous company are in the job change market as well. 

The key to success in his late career move was solely his positive attitude and sincere efforts for the coming opportunities. We had worked tirelessly for him throughout the entire job change process to ensure his success, but generally speaking, finding the right career is time and resource intensive, which can end up reducing the number of career possibilities if too much time transpires. 

Due to the pandemic, the number of companies offering ERP to their employees in Japan during the first five months of 2020 doubled that of the same period of the last year, and the number is expected to grow in the coming months. If your company presents you with early retirement incentive plans, review the packages carefully, as well as the pros and cons, before taking the dive into an impromptu decision. Your career plan always comes first. In the era of uncertainty, it is strongly recommended that you constantly work with a job search agencyto receive industry updates or market information related to career opportunities, as well as the evaluation of the offer that you are reviewing.

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