9 Things You Can Do When You Decide to Change Careers Midway to Ensure It Is an Easy Transition

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9 Things You Can Do When You Decide to Change Careers Midway to Ensure It Is an Easy Transition

With automation taking over pretty much every industry, it is now more common than ever for people to change their careers midway. Also, millennials with their spontaneity-based approach to work and constant restlessness have glorified zig-zagging career paths.

So whether it is your passion that leads your decision to change your career stream or it is a necessity driven by industry changes, the world has never been more open to this kind of switch.

9 tips to make the transition easier for you when you decide to take the plunge

1. Acquire new skills

While it goes without saying that you should scour the pages on the web to know all you can about the new industry or profession, you could also benefit from updating your skill set with some short courses.

There are several vocational courses available in Singapore for gaining or improving technical expertise and even softer skills like leadership training or public speaking. You can choose to attend webinars and sign up for courses online. Most will even provide you certifications.

What you may not have considered:

  • Asking your current company for help with acquiring new skills. If you’ve been acing appraisals so far, companies may want to retain you and fund your course part-time (and train you for a different department).
  • Upskilling or re-skilling can be done with your current job, till you are ready.

2. Don’t discount your experience

List down all the achievements that you have made in your career so far and the qualities in you that made it possible. Then list down the qualities that are required in the new role you desire. There are bound to be some items that are common on both lists.

These are your link to the next step. Rejig your resume accordingly to showcase how you are suited for the new role. You might find it helpful to seek feedback from past employers and colleagues to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

What you may not have considered:

  • Some skills are universal. Say, for instance, managing large teams. They are needed across many roles and sectors.
  • Experience in one job holds you in good stead for another.  However diverse or irrelevant it may seem now.

3. Take a sabbatical

Risk-averse? Not so sure the new career you want to embark on is ‘the right one?’ No worries. Take time off from your current job to figure it out. A short-term sabbatical away from routine and what you do for 8 hours a day may help you figure out whether you actually miss the work you do.

What you may not have considered:

  • Changing careers may be a reaction to office politics, a bad manager or your appraisal. You like what you do, but not where you do it! In that case, you need a change of company not career.

4. Network

Reach out to people you know in the new industry or profession. Ask for introductions. There are several networking events and groups that you can join for free and also conferences and symposiums, for which you could buy an admission ticket.

These offer excellent opportunities to absorb new valuable information and to meet and mingle with people who have spent time in the space that you are pursuing.

What you may not have considered:

  • Networking is for all, not just extroverts. People who find it tough to mingle with people can start with smaller meet-ups or carry along a friend to help.
  • Many meet-ups and networking events are free. It is an easy way to sense the market sentiment too.

5. Find a mentor

Connect with people on Linkedin. You will be surprised to find how many people in leadership positions are open to connecting and meeting people who would like to share and discuss learnings with them or are looking for mentorship. Make sure to do your homework before your meeting to make the most of it.

Alternatively, you could also join a mentorship program with SBF or SkillsFuture SME mentors.

What you may not have considered:

  • Mentors can find you jobs or give you very essential references.
  • People who mentor you can be junior in age, but senior in the field you are venturing into, so don’t think of mentors to be experts with grey hair. Yours could be a yuppy millennial.

6. Volunteer or do an internship

If you can afford to do it, voluntary work can be an excellent opportunity to build your portfolio and showcase your talent. Many organisations would be willing to offer an eager learner an internship and perhaps even pay a basic allowance or stipend for their time.

An internship can provide you with insights into the new industry you want to enter and possibilities of bagging a full-time gig. This approach may feel like it is slowing you down temporarily, but once you get your foot in the door, it is really up to you how you take it forward.

What you may not have considered:

  • Unpaid internships or volunteering work does not always show you as cheap labour or someone willing to work for free. It shows interest, passion and inclination as well.
  • Looking for temporary, contract positions is also a good idea. Be happy to cover for maternity breaks or sabbaticals.

7. Seek professional career counselling

Doing it all, but still falling short? Get suited up. Well, we mean you need to get the experts in. Companies that specialise in career management can help you streamline your thoughts and work with you through the process of identifying what moves will be most beneficial.

Career Ladder and Sand Box Advisors are two such companies that provide one-on-one assistance.

What you may not have considered:

  • Changing careers is a long-term play. So, paying an expert to figure it all out is very smart.

8. Save, save, save

Financial stability is probably the biggest fear keeping most from changing career direction. With smart investments, you could have one less thing to worry about. If possible, try to phase out the process.

Explore options for working part-time at your current gig, before you pull the plug. In the meantime, cut costs and make sure you are investing wisely. Here are 52 ways to start saving.

And before you take the final plunge, make sure you have built up your emergency fund. Here are some tips on how to get started on your emergency fund.

What you may not have considered:

  • Having your support system back you up for a few years. Whether it be your spouse or your parents, seek financial help. Or take a loan from them with payback terms to make-up for short-term loss in income.
  • A personal loan from the bank may also help, but make sure you carefully consider the interest payments and don’t get yourself mired in debt that you cannot manage.

9. Be inspired and believe in yourself

You are not the first person to have changed your career path midway and you won’t be the last. Some of the most successful people in various fields did not have linear career growth.

Did you know that Julia Child worked in advertising and secret intelligence until she wrote her famous cookbook at age 50? Jeff Bezos worked in computer sciences at Wall Street before he launched Amazon at the age of 31. So stop worrying and start doing. Believe in yourself, be patient, and fearlessly chase the new world that beckons you.

What you may not have considered:

  • It is not unprecedented.
  • The greatest corporate stories have ‘change your career’ as their morals. 
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