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What You Need to Know About Changing Careers

When we were still in school, we thought we had our lives all figured out. We thought that our college degree is our ticket to success. It will carve out our career path, decide our future for us, and make us the best version of ourselves.

But give it a few years of working on a 9-to-5 job, and we’re exhausted. The glamour of our college degree has now dulled. For some reason, we can no longer see ourselves thriving in our field. The civil servant now wants to venture into business, and the businessman now wishes to be a pop star.

Career-switching is a process many professionals, young and old, have experienced in their lives. Neo Kian Hong, once the Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Defence, is now the CEO of SMRT. He has proven that his former career isn’t a hindrance to managing a big business effectively. But of course, Neo Kian Hong didn’t venture into business unprepared. He took several post-graduate degrees, including a Master’s degree in Management of Technology.

But if we’re just average young adults, how can we follow Neo Kian Hong’s example? What if the field we want to pursue isn’t in business?

That’s when we realize that schools never taught us how to change careers. Our teachers only encouraged us to pursue our dreams, without considering if we’d ever had new dreams in the future.

That said, here are the shocking truths about switching careers your teacher never warned you about:

1. You Will Be Your Biggest Obstacle

Changing careers isn’t always as simple as making a decision and acting on it. Most of the time, it involves weighing the pros and cons and feeling afraid. You want a new job, yet you’re scared of getting a lower salary. The new field and roles don’t fit your current skills. You’re worried about what your family and friends will think, and you’re afraid of losing the status you’ve already earned from your current job.

At first, these obstacles will look external. But in reality, it’s you that created them. Your own fears are the ones holding you back.

Clear these obstacles and overcome your fears. If you keep them any longer, the harder you’ll find it to change your career.

2. Clarity Comes From Within Yourself

When we’re no longer happy with what we do, we tend to figure out why through the internet. We seek out the stories of people who have also changed careers. But why aren’t you getting clarity from reading their stories? Why can’t you realize what you really want to do after a period of reflection?

That’s because clarity or realization comes from within yourself. Instead of relying on other people’s stories, you have to analyze your own personality. You can do that by reading books, receiving counseling, listing down the things you enjoy, or taking a class. Simply put, investing in yourself is the key to discovering your new passion.

3. Having Contacts in the Field You Want to Pursue is Advantageous

You can learn about the field you want to pursue through research. But nothing compares to getting insight from a field insider. Reach out to your personal contacts in your chosen field, and set them down for an informational interview. If you don’t have a contact, a perfect source for it is your college alumni network.

4. You Have to Acquire New Skills

Even if you’re passionate, say, in music, you can’t thrive in the industry without the necessary skills. What if you want to compose a song, but you only know simple chords or keys?

Passion alone isn’t enough to drive you to success. You also have to combine it with the right skills. You don’t need a Master’s degree anyway unless your field specifically requires it. If not, online courses or evening courses will suffice. Experience, of course, is another great teacher.

5. Your New Employer May Not See You the Way You See Yourself

When you’re so passionate about a particular field, you tend to see yourself as the ideal person for it. But in reality, some hiring managers will see otherwise. It is the number 1 reason people fail at changing careers.

Marketing yourself will be your biggest challenge once you’re ready for a new job. After all, you don’t have extensive experience in the industry or field yet. And hiring managers often prefer experienced candidates.

That’s why acquiring new skills is critical. Even without sufficient experience, the right skills can win a hiring manager over. So get the job by demonstrating your skills. Combined with passion, and a serious intent to thrive in an industry, you can change careers successfully.

Don’t forget to share your values, beliefs, and interests with hiring managers, too. Explain how your chosen role will reinforce them. Doing so can make a prospective employer more likely to hire you. Afterward, then you can confidently say that you overcame the career-switching challenges you never learned in school.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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