Gone are the days when you can expect to stay in the same company or industry to build your career. With the rise of technology in the past two decades, entire industries are disappearing, and industries which didn’t even exist ten years ago are now thriving. It is inevitable that we need to think of changing jobs, changing industries and even changing careers as part and parcel of our working life.
But it’s so tough to even think of changing job industry in Singapore!
The fear of change is very real for many Singaporeans, and this is totally normal. The need to upgrade your skills, to learn new things and even to start again from scratch in your career always has risks involved. But the risk we’re talking is less like jumping off an airplane in flight and more like leaping over a big puddle.
That’s because many of these fears are really in your head. We spoke to Dennis Chan, a Senior Career Coach with Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect about moving into an industry that you’re not trained for.
Why should we consider changing our job industry?
There are many reasons why you would want to switch industries. These can be summarised into push and pull factors. Pull factors include hearing good things about the industry, such as the higher salaries or the lower barriers to entry. These include industries like IT, where software engineers and developers are in high demand, and there are many opportunities to pick up a new programming language.
For many, the main push factor is that you have been unemployed for some time. Why did you leave your previous job? Maybe you were retrenched, or maybe you felt you deserve to be paid more, or maybe you suffered in a poor work environment or under poor management.
Another reason could be because you feel you have lost direction in your career, or you’re looking for new challenges that your previous career didn’t provide.
What are the common concerns people have about changing job industries?
Mainly, it’s because they feel they don’t really know much about the industry they want to switch to. Maybe they feel they don’t have the skills or the personality for the job, or that, once they switch, they’ll realise they don’t have any interest in the industry after all.
Others fear having to start their careers all over again, or that they’ll have difficulty working with a set of younger colleagues who are more experienced with technology.
But the truth is, these fears are often unfounded. An insurance claims officer I helped thought that you needed to be an extrovert to be a successful financial advisor.
I helped him understand not only that introverts can also be excellent financial advisors, because a lot of their work requires one-to-one conversations with clients, but that with his experience as an insurance claims officer, he already knew much more about the other side of the industry than most of his peers. Today, he is very happy with the switch.
What should people who want to switch job industries do?
It’s a simple but important three-step plan:
1. Have a transition plan, especially if you are still working
Changing job industries takes time and you should make sure that you have sufficient resources. Start saving up so that any financial changes to your life does not affect your loved ones and cause unnecessary stress later. The harsh truth is that there is a possibility of a pay cut when switching job industries, so you need to be prepared for that.
2. Research the new job industry you want to switch to
This is more than just reading the news and thinking you can be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Ma. You must know what skills are needed to do the job well. You also need to network with people in your chosen industry so that you can learn more about what they do. Getting to know people also helps you get a foot in the door during your job search as they can recommend you for job openings.
3. Be humble and update your resume
If you have a fixed mindset that the job needs you more than you need the job, you’re going to have a very hard time. The key to switching industries is being flexible and adapting to new situations. You need to work harder than others to learn the ropes of the new industry.
The key to this is knowing how to update your resume. Unfortunately, we are now in a job market that favours companies, which means that your resume needs to be able to stand out and get you noticed.
Wow… but for many of us, it’s been a long-time since we had to go for a job interview!
Yes, and WSG is very aware of that. That’s why Careers Connect, located at 3 places island-wide, provides a range of resources to assist you in your job search. These include self-help resources to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. We also provide free career coaching from people like myself to guide you in making career decisions, as well as partner you in your job search.
You can also attend our career preparatory workshops, to help you with your resume writing skills, your job interview skills or even learn what to do in a networking session, for example.
What about those who are unsure if they really want to switch job industries now?
If you have just started out on your career and are already thinking of leaving, be patient with yourself. Take the time to find out more about your current industry and how you can contribute to it.
You can also take the time to learn more about yourself and what you’re passionate about. Identify skills that may be transferable regardless of industry, like project management or counselling. Most importantly, consider volunteering in your desired industry as a way of getting a feel of the work before committing.
And don’t think career coaching or approaching WSG is only for people who are in desperate need. If you are considering switching careers, make an appointment with our Career Coaches. The earlier you get help, the easier your career transition.
Are you considering changing job industries? Find out more information on the WSG website or call 6883 5885 to make an appointment with one of their career coaches.