Ready, set: 3 things to double confirm before attempting a mid-career switch

Feel like work is starting to become a chore? Desiring a fresh challenge? Or looking for a job that provides stronger financial stability? There are many reasons (all valid!) for wanting a career switch but none of them, no matter how strong their driving force, make the move any less daunting to take. To help you out a little, we lay out some good-to-dos, plus resources, that could help make your intended transition a little smoother.

While ‘mid-career switchers’ typically refers to older workers who have worked for a period of 10 years or more, we’re speaking to anyone looking to change their job/switch industries. So this includes young folks as well!

1. Are you financially ready for this change?

If you’re younger with lesser obligations (unlike mature workers with young children, for example), this will probably be the least of your concerns. It doesn’t mean that you should go “eh YOLO” and disregard this, though! Your bills aren’t going anywhere, for one thing.

Even if you have a job lined up already, you should ideally have 6 months of savings help cushion the initial shock of (potential) pay cuts and/or the loss of benefits, which you’ll have to adapt to eventually.

If you’re older, you’ll have more on your plate. Will the drop in pay cause a significant change to your lifestyle, or do you have enough cash/liquid assets to manage just fine? Will you have the willpower to sustain a less cushy lifestyle, which could add to the stress a different environment will already bring you, if otherwise? If you’ve dependents and or a spouse, are they fully aware of what your career switch will entail and are the most important needs covered?

If you’ve a financial advisor, make plans to review your financial status before making the leap so that you’ll be able to make your career switch with less worry on your mind. It’s always better to be safe than sorry—plus, you’ll be able to direct more energy into your new career/career search!

2. Do you know your intended industry/role well enough?

According to Monster Singapore’s #IMadetheSwitch campaign, which surveyed more than 2400 respondents across Southeast Asia, 26% of mid-career professionals desired a mid-career change because their jobs weren’t what they expected.

Is this why you’re taking a leap of faith?

Well, if you make a switch thinking that so-and-so role or industry would be a much better fit without doing your homework… you’d just be falling into the same pit! Researching on a broader scale and talking to professionals already in prospective industries is oh so important: this can give you insights into career opportunities or industries that you might have overlooked, as well as what skills are especially in demand.

Take the maritime industry, for example: did you know that it faces a huge lack of manpower, not just in Singapore but worldwide? In 2016, The Manpower Report published by BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping found that the shipping industry faced a global shortfall of about 16,500 officers. Industry growth will cause this to swell to 147,500 (anticipated) by 2025! Be it a marine engineer officer role or ship charterer post, could a job opportunity await you here?

A strong understanding on your dream industry can also help put you in a better position with employers or those in hiring positions, giving them the assurance that you’re serious in your decision and worth their investment.

3. Are you prepared to hit the ground running (all over again)?

Let’s face it: you’re probably going to start from the ground up and find yourself surrounded by a bunch of fresh young co-workers, armed with degrees and knowledge that you might not have. One of them could even be your supervisor. Can you lower your pride and expectations and learn with enthusiasm and passion?

You’ll definitely find yourself lost, and maybe struggling a little, because of the unfamiliar culture of your new environment. Do you have ways to cope?

That isn’t to say, however, that all your expertise will come to waste. Sit down with some coffee and make a note of the skills you’ve gained throughout the course of your working life. See which ones are transferable. Soft skills like leadership and conflict management are always useful in any industry, and are worth highlighting during interviews or in CVs. In an article on My Careers Future Sharon Tang, who switched from the finance industry to healthcare, shares how her skills in negotiation and problem-solving help her greatly in her interactions with her geriatric patients! In the same manner, find out how your skill set can help you in other industries, and whether they’re relevant enough.

4. Do you know what resources are available to you?

Now that we’ve covered enough ground, here are some resources you can check out to help you better plan for your switch or discover opportunities. We’ve mentioned a few in our article on trend spotting, but we’ll list them out again here:

To get a clear idea on current trends:

  • Recruitment Specialists like Hays and Robert Walters often publish things like sector specific reports and whitepapers, which you can consult to get a better idea of the job market or current ongoing trends. Another good source is, of course, LinkedIn.
  • Government publications like the Ministry of Manpower’s annual job vacancy reports
  • Occasionally, established/larger corporations will publish reports/whitepapers revolving around their industries’ outlook (one example being Ernst & Young).

For up-skilling/getting a taste of prospective industries:

We wish you all the best in your career journeys, and hope that it will be extremely rewarding! If you’re a company or mid-career professional with advice to share, please drop us a comment or email so we can better help our readers!


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