Thinking of a career change in 2013? Here are some pointers to take into consideration.
By Yong Yung Shin
As 2013 kicks off, many will be re-evaluating their career paths—some will be looking for job advancement while others may be aspiring toward a complete career change in order to follow their interests or explore a new environment. Whatever the motivation is, however, it is not something to be embarked upon impulsively.
“When your gifts, talents and abilities meet a need, that’s your purpose,” says Dr AR Bernard, advisory chairman of City Harvest Church and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in New York. Sharing on finding one’s calling in life during a leadership meeting at CHC earlier this year, he gave the acronym D.E.S.S.I.G.N:
- S-skills (acquired abilities)
- I-identity (behavioral and personal characteristics)
- N-nature (our likes and dislikes, disposition and/ or way of thinking)
Changing one’s career, more often than not, demands sacrifice—financially, certainty and stability, or status. Usually, it’s all three. “Sure, I took a pay cut and started from entry level but I really enjoy what I’m doing now, and I feel that my skills are being utilized and constantly developed; I would do the same thing all over again if given a choice,” says writer Jan Choo, 32, who made a switch from sales and marketing into journalism after spending a year in the former.
But caution needs to be exercised before one makes the leap. According to Lance Foo, regional director of Riverchelles International, a recruitment firm in Singapore specializing in executive search services for international trade-related businesses, in the age of disposable employees, career management must be wise and carefully choreographed.
“Based on all that I’ve witnessed in the last decade of (senior) executive placement, I generally would not advocate mid-career switches, unless one is in a domain that is facing off-shoring (moving jobs to cheaper, more efficient venues).”
“Head-hunters evaluate candidatures based on selected core competencies; typically, the essential ones are planning and organisation capabilities, strategic thinking with commercial awareness, communications and stakeholder engagement capabilities and flexibility, coupled with resilience,” adds Foo.
“My advice to potential career changers is to ensure they have explored all possibilities internally before making a leap. If you’ve been in the same role for one or two years, check with your management for new responsibilities and experience. Only when these are not available, then look at the option to look elsewhere. Sometimes, all we need is a mind-set change and not a career change.”
Practical tips for ensuring a successful career transition include doing a thorough self-inventory to find out your transferable skills and leveraging on your network, be it through your personal circle of family and friends or social media tools such as the increasingly popular LinkedIn.
In his best-selling job-hunting manual What Color Is Your Parachute, author Richard N. Bolles says, “In going from one career to another, make sure that you preserve constancy in your life as well as change, during the transition. In other words, don’t change everything.”
“Archimedes said, ‘Give me a fulcrum and a place to stand, and with a level I will move the Earth’,” Bolles adds, “You need a place to stand, when you move your life around, and that place is provided by the things that stay constant about you: your character, your relationships, your faith, your values and your transferable skills.”