Questions that people ask about my mid career switch:
” How did you do your mid career switch in Singapore? “
” What were the courses that you took to land you in your current job? “
” Did you take any specific modules in your undergraduate studies and did that help you get your present job? “
I often receive such questions from peers who were looking to do a career change.
My mid career switch from Construction to Digital Marketing
Initially, I was from the construction industry. After a few years into my role, I decided to move into the digital marketing industry.
If you have read this far, you must be very keen in changing your career path.
But before I share my career change experience, I would need you to think deeply.
I have structured this post into 2 sections for 2 groups of people.
If you are determined to do a mid career switch but you are unsure how to do it + You know what is your main job motivation and what you are looking for in your future job.
Continue reading 🙂
If you just happened to take some course and you feel like you want to change your career path, then skip ahead to read about it here .
On one hand, doing a mid career switch successfully is not easy but on the other hand, when you managed to switch into a role that you like, the feeling is indescribable.
Imagine doing a job that gives you the job satisfaction that you’re looking for, that’s me 🙂
Follow these 7 steps to do a mid career switch
1) Decide on the industry that you want to career switch into
You don’t want to spend so much time trying to enter the industry then after that, you regret it. So, make sure you know which industry you are aiming for.
2) Know the type of job/career you want
If you are not sure what type of job you like, I would recommend you to look at the job advertisements’ job description.
From there, you can imagine how the work is like and whether you would like the job scope.
You can also ask your friends who are doing jobs that you are looking for. For instance, if you are looking for a HR job, find a friend who is working in HR or as a HR coordinator. He/she is likely to know other people in the same line and industry.
Alternatively, google for ‘a day in the life of an hr coordinator’, research online. You will find some information that can help you decide on the job that you like.
If you are not sure what type of job suit you, try personality test or behaviour tests. But, always take it with a pinch of salt.
3) Assess your skillset
See for example, you are targeting a Content Specialist role:
What you can do is to compare a few job descriptions of content specialist role and see what is common in the job descriptions & requirements. In the picture above, we see that the person needs to have basic understanding of content marketing strategy, and understand SEO (Search engine optimisation), know how to grow audience from creating blog post.
So if lets’ say you want to do your mid career switch into this role, but you don’t have the necessary skills then upgrade yourself or enroll yourself in a diploma or degree course.
If you are a Singaporean, please use your Skillfuture credits if you haven’t OR use your PSEA account if you are below 30. (I know the PSEA was something new to me, I thought that after graduating from university, the PSEA was useless, but hey, in the end i used my PSEA to pay for my conversion diploma at Singapore Polytechnic!)
Otherwise, do an internship to gain experience.
I enrolled myself in Singapore Polytechnic to do Marketing Management(Part-Time) Conversion Diploma. My cohort was the last batch. This course is no longer available at Singapore Polytechnic but they have started a new course that includes digital marketing: Conversion Diploma in Digital Marketing.
I also enrolled myself in a Udemy course in digital marketing and applied what I learnt in my blog.
I especially love using jobstreet because I can track my job applications whether they have been viewed by the HR.
Do also update your Linkedin, recruiters often use Linkedin to screen you before they call you for an interview.
What I did
I opted for Linkedin Career Advice (Go to profile > dashboard > )
From there, enter your preferences for the type of advice you’re looking to receive and they will show you a list of people whom you can chat with to find out more about the industry or their job. I wouldn’t say it was super useful in helping me to get a job but I got some insights from C-suite people and managers who told me what they look out for when they hire people in the digital marketing field.
5) Set Your Goals
I set a resume application quota for myself, for instance, I must send 10 resumes per week. You don’t need to follow the same quota as me. But you must set a realistic goal for yourself.
6) Ensure that your resume is updated
Limit your resume to no more than 2 pages. Try to squeeze as much information into the page as possible. (That does not mean putting everything you’ve done since primary school in font size 4)
Pick out salient points to highlight relevant experiences that will boost your chances of getting that dream job.
Make sure every space in your resume is used wisely.
Ensure that your resume is easy to read.
If the role is on Marketing and you are from an engineering role. Think hard on which aspects of your current role can relate to the marketing role. Soft skills are something that all jobs need.
What i did
I try to incorporate figures and numbers where possible, because it’s more impactful.
Eg: Manage many construction projects VS Manage over 20 construction projects worth X billions
See the difference? (:
7) Take Action!
It took me a year to do the mid-career switch as there were times when I was too tired from my day job to job hunt during my free time.
Sometimes I would get too dejected from my job application rejections.
But when things get tough, recalling the reasons why I was expending so much energy on it in the first place keeps me going.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.Amelia Earhart
So take action to do your mid career switch! Wait no more.
Your future depends on what you do today.
Have you also done a successful mid career switch? Share with me your experience below.
Questions to ask yourself before doing a mid career switch
Stuck in a job that you feel isn’t for you? Considering to do a mid career switch but not sure how to nor what job to do? I was in the same situation as you.
Sometimes when you scroll down your Facebook newsfeed, you may encounter sponsored posts on quitting jobs. Mainly it is about quitting a job to do the things that you love, work for your passion.
There will always be a debate on whether to work for passion or for money.
For our parents generation, which is mostly the baby boomer era. They usually hold onto 1 job regardless of whether they like their job or not and retire after it.
But for our generation, the millennials, we don’t really want to work just for money. This is likely attributed to millennials having more choices than our parents generation where they have to earn money to help put rice on the table for their siblings.
In all jobs, there will be good and bad days. So in my opinion, a dream job where there are no bad days doesn’t exist. Instead, a job that one sort of enjoys the work or is neutral with the job, I think that exists.
If you are feeling unhappy at work, you’re not alone.
A survey conducted by TodayOnline in 2018 found that 45% of S’poreans are unhappy at work in 2017.
Often at work, we may have bad days. Sometime in the morning, we might even dread going to work. There may be times we feel that we dislike our job and have an interest/passion in another job or industry instead.
Before we start thinking of quitting our jobs to pursue our passion, it is safer to first think of the following points:
What does a job mean to you?
There is no right or wrong answer. It just depends on what is important to us. Some may prefer to stay in the same job as they do not want to step out of the comfort zone and start the arduous job hunting process.
Some may see a job just as a job. It is just a means to get money to survive. It just depends on an individual’s perspective on what a job means to them.
Our time at work takes up a huge chunk of our life. We graduate in our mid-20s and work till late 60s, effectively, we will work for 40 years of our lives. Do we want to stay in a job that we dislike and regret later on? Job hunting is tiring and slow, no one likes job hunting. What if we do our homework and play to our strengths and interest, and find a job that we have passion for?
Of course, we do really have to be realistic about the type of passion that we have. If we have children or bills to pay and the passion that we have is unlikely, not able to let us provide rice on the table, then it will be too risky. Taking a temporary cash loan might help bridge the gap for awhile between job switches, but unsustainable in the long run.
My view point
For me, i wanted to live my life to the fullest. I’m not saying that if you don’t want to do a mid career switch, you are not living your life to the fullest. It’s a personal choice 🙂
I didn’t want to stay in a industry just because the job was of decent pay. I didn’t want to regret and ask myself, why do i want to stay in an industry that I couldn’t see myself doing in the long term for? Why am I wasting my time here? (in case you think I’m rich, I’m not ok, I was under the financial assistance scheme in university, and I save like crazy until today)
I wanted to be in an industry that I was passionate about. I didnt want to do a 9-6pm job just to earn money. I wanted to do a job where I like the scope of work and earn money from it. Because, staying in the industry where i wasn’t passionate about started to make me feel like a shell. I felt empty and frustrated easily. I dreaded going to work.
Apart from those thoughts, I didnt want myself to regret choices that I didn’t make. I wanted myself, 40 years down the road, to pat myself at the back, and tell myself, you made the right choice.
Do you know which factor matters the most to you in a job?
Is it the salary? The job scope? The working environment? Job location? The working culture? The job progression opportunities? The company’s reputation?
For most of us, it will be a combination of multiple factors. Again, it is one’s own perception.
What I did
For this aspect, I took out a piece of paper and wrote down the various factors and ranked them. For eg, the one i did (with 1 being most important):
- Job Scope (1)
- Job Location (4)
- Working Culture(5) – i feel that culture is see luck de, so i didn’t want to put too much importance to it.
- Company’s Reputation(2/3 -> I find it hard to decide)
- Job Progression(3)
I think you can infer by now that, job scope mattered to me ALOT.
Why? Firstly, I just started work a few years ago, i felt that I need to gain experience and learn. Therefore, i felt that apart from salary which is definitely important, job scope was more important for me to learn hard skills. My belief is that if I can find a job that allows me to learn abc skills, I can use the skills learnt + experience gained to ask for higher pay at my next job.
Salary was #2 to me because I asked around and many people told me that career switch is like restarting from scratch, so most of the time it is a pay cut. I felt that it was testing me of how much I really wanted the career switch. Whether i really really wanted to switch or whether its like aiya the grass on the other side was greener. This will really test your determination. For me, I’m lucky that when i did my mid-career switch, i had no commitments, no house, no baby. So I was willing to take a paycut.
Do you know what kind of job you like? What is your passion?
This is something you have to sit down, write down your interests and figure the things you enjoy or can foresee yourself doing in the long run. No one can answer for you nor know it better than you.
What I did
For me, other than doing that, I also did online personality tests to see the kind of jobs I am more suited for. I also did tests to see what kind of jobs matches the strengths and skills that I have.
Do you know what are the hard and soft skills needed in the job that you aspire for?
Sometime we may not know what skills we have. Don’t worry, you are not alone. A way to find out what are the technical skills needed in a job that you like is to look at the job’s description. Most of the time, the skills are listed in there.
If you are below 30, you can use your Post Secondary Education Account funds to pay for the courses (provided the course can be paid using those funds). Alternatively, you can use Skillsfuture to pay for it.
It would be wise to think whether the technical skills that you want to learn are value adding in the long run to employers.
What I did
I was a Executive Contracts Manager in the construction industry, so that time I sat down and thought through what I did in my everyday work.
A brief example of my job scope: Conducting tenders to procure contractors and consultants and ensuring prompt payment. Quite a bit of administrative work. Managing construction projects that were large scale, ranging in hundred million.
Skills that I thought i learnt from my scope of work: project management, contract management
I was aiming for digital marketing and I couldn’t think of anything related from my role to the industry that i wanted other than a tiny relation to project management, as I thought about managing digital marketing projects. So i thought that to close the skill gap, I need to enroll myself in some courses.
Do you know what are your strengths and weaknesses?
This is linked to the previous point. Our strengths can be technical and soft skills. By knowing our strengths, we can find a job that leverages on it.
What i did
Whenever my bosses gave appraisals, i would take note what they wrote, and so i figured what were my strengths. Apart from that, it was also some self-reflection, like I sat down, and wondered aloud to myself, what is my strengths? What am I good in?
I also thought of what kind of job I prefer, a job that requires me to move around, like Sales? Or a job that is desk bound?
Can you afford to do the career switch?
For instance, from an office job to a job with no regular salary? This depends on the life stages we are in.
Before I did my career switch, I pondered over all these factors. I did up a list where I listed the skills that I have nurtured in my job at that point of time. I also did online tests to see what type of jobs I am suited for based on my personality in the workplace. Apart from that, I also took up courses to increase my skills and knowledge in the industry that I have interest in.
Once you have sort of figured out the career you want to pursue, next you have to start job hunting to do your career switch. Job hunting is tough for fresh graduates, and it is tougher when you aren’t a fresh graduate and yet, looking for an entry-level job. Chances are employers will prefer the fresh graduate over you as they are cheaper to hire and they pick up skills fast.
“Do what you love and love what you do”
I was lucky that I managed to successfully pursue a career in the industry of my choice.
Back at my cushy job, I had a good boss, good colleagues, working environment, but I couldn’t foresee myself staying in the same industry in the long run. I know not many people will do the same as me, leaving a cushy job in the public sector to join the private sector.
However, in the course of figuring out what is most important to me in life and as well as in a job, now I have better job satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment.
I enjoy the challenges in my job and sometimes when I look back at the old me, I feel really proud of myself for taking the step to pursue my desired industry and job.
I did it, what about you?