By the SMU Social Media Team
Finding yourself at a career crossroads can be daunting. Leaving behind the security of a role you know well to embrace the unknown can feel like an exciting but overwhelming decision.
Equally, a more agile career approach is likely to become the norm as technology continues to change the way we work and looks set to replace humans in some sectors. So, keeping an eye out for your next move may be the key to career success.
And the good news is, with the right approach, it is possible to move in a different direction and establish yourself in a new industry, even if you think you don’t have the right experience. Here six tips to scratch your mid-career itch successfully:
1. Start with some soul searching
What motivates you? What are your values? And what quality of life do you desire? Identifying and expressing the things that really matter to you as an individual will be your compass during this time of change and uncertainty.
When you first entered the workforce you may have been motivated by the money and prestige of a role in a particular organisation or sector; or you may have been steered in a particular direction by family members, keen for you to follow a traditional path to success. Now you’ve notched up several years of experience, it’s the perfect time to re-examine your aspirations and chart a career course which aligns with the things you really value in life.
2. Compile a skills inventory
Once you decide on the new direction you want your career to take, it’s time to compile a skills inventory. We all have a unique set of skills and assets—what do you have to offer? Write down your professional and personal attributes, including any experience developed outside the workplace, volunteering and qualifications. Make sure you organise and articulate your skills inventory in a way that makes it easy for prospective employers to understand what it is you can bring to the table.
3. Highlight your transferable skills
Halt the hesitation! Many of us hold off making a career switch because we think we lack the right experience to change tracks. But from your skills inventory you’ll be able to pick out those that are relevant and highly sought after by employers in other industries. Remember to also look beyond technical, or so-called ‘hard skills’. While they will be necessary for some roles, ‘soft skills’ such as emotional intelligence, communication and the ability to handle stress are often valued most highly—making them among the most transferrable.
4. Update or acquire new skills
Your skills inventory will also help you address any skills gaps in your resume. Don’t be discouraged if you discover an area which needs attention—the good news is you can now acquire new qualifications.
For some, that might mean taking a break from work to pursue a master’s degree full time, but this option may not be viable others. Studying a part-time master’s degree could be another possibility and is most definitely do-able if balanced well. But, if committing to an extensive programme is a definite no-no for you, there are many short-term professional courses available in Singapore to choose from. The SMU Academy, for example, offers short courses for working professionals—some of which are even credit-bearing modules that you can ‘stack’ towards a master’s degree, at your own pace.
5. Expand your network
Embarking upon a career change can be a lonely journey. Networking is a helpful way to avoid getting trapped in analysis-paralysis. Meeting and exchanging ideas with the people you admire in your chosen field can be a productive way to learn and also get the word out there that you are on the look-out for a new challenge.
6. Approach your career change as a journey, not a day-trip
Embracing the concept of life-long learning will ensure you remain relevant and competitive in a constantly evolving job market. A more flexible approach to work is likely to become the norm anyway, as technology redefines the employment landscape and renders some roles obsolete. Make use of the growing number of programmes available, such as Professional Conversion Programmes listed on the Workforce Singapore website, or SMU’s professional and continuing education programmes to update your skills regularly.