Hong Kong executives have not yet recovered from the results of a gloomy economy and job market, according to a regular career confidence survey begun early this year by career transition firm Right Management Consultants. The survey was conducted in 17 countries. Answering two very simple questions, respondents gave their feedback on, firstly, what the possibility was that they would get laid off in the next year and, secondly, how easy or difficult they thought it would be for a laid-off person to find a similar job at the same pay. 'In this reality check, our executives are not optimistic at all,' said Teresa Ho Kei-mei, senior consultant of Right Management Consultants. 'We [in Hong Kong] are among the top three overall in expressing the considerable possibility that we could lose our jobs as well as encounter difficulties in finding a new job of similar rank and remuneration after redundancy. Although good recovery signs are evident, people have just not felt the impact yet,' she said. The career transition firm is urging employers to communicate with their employees. 'We are not advising that employers make empty promises but rather that they should inform their staff of the situation they are in right now and what the foreseeable future is. Timely and positive communication is essential to getting the workforce motivated,' said Ms Ho. She said employees needed to stay ahead of changes by managing their careers instead of being passive. They should take a long-term view of their careers. 'We should all ask this question of ourselves: Where is this career taking me in five years' time? Everyone should take control of their own career and develop a plan and destination. It does not necessarily mean that they will definitely get there but they will certainly be closer to the destination,' said Ms Ho. As the job market is getting tougher, it will take more time to land another job. Although those who are laid off do not always face an immediate financial burden, they do experience emotional trauma and a sense of loss. 'Some will speak to friends and families for help and advice. However, their peers might not have the time and right skills to help them take the process one step further,' said Ms Ho. This 'one step further' means getting into the next job or venture. 'The next venture can be establishing a business rather than securing another job,' she said. On the other hand, a job-searching process is like a full-time job, from listing the prospective companies and preparing a sound resume, to selecting and preparing references, excelling in the interview and negotiating a package. 'These are all important. We all understand that hiring a candidate is not only about background and experience but a combination of everything. Career transition firms are here to help the job hunters during the process - adding valuable skills or helping them understand their psychological state. Employees should fight for this type of service for their own benefit.' A number of corporations are already employing the service under their global policies. This is a way for progressive organisations to translate the cliche 'we care for our people' into action. Through a career management programme, employers can also benefit by having a more motivated workforce and, eventually, higher productivity. Besides taking care of people who are let go, it also helps retain the staff that are left behind. 'Business situations are changing and so are the people. The top talent has a lot of choices. As a responsible employer, you need to send the right message across,' said Ms Ho. With more than 10 years' experience in human resources, Ms Ho is aware that a good people strategy can deliver productivity and results. 'In my previous capacity in a global bank, I was involved in setting strategies and directives to match people with business results. These tools are very powerful,' she said.