Today, many employees no longer aspire to doggedly climb the vertical career ladder to secure a job. Instead, they prefer to branch out, pick up transferable skills, and work toward wide-ranging (but still related) experiences to build up their value. According to global professional services firm Deloitte’s 2021 Global Mobility Trends Report, having the skills to be professionally mobile can ultimately lead to success (both for you and your company). In other words, what matters more than job-hopping is having the skills to succeed in the next job, and the next.
Regardless of which life stage you are in, you can build your career mobility by being proactive and creating opportunities. Consider the following milestones as a guide:
In your 20s
Determine your passion
Think of your 20s as the decade when you discover what fulfils you. The cliché is true: to succeed at anything, you have to find your passion. This is why, at job interviews, employers usually ask, “What are you passionate about?” They want to know how to keep you motivated if you get the job.
There are several ways to find this out for yourself:
- Take note of which work tasks you find most enjoyable or easiest to do.
- Think about what your strengths are. Recall past employee assessments you’ve gone through; how did your supervisor describe your performance?
- Imagine a scenario where you are not working in your current industry. What do you see yourself doing instead?
Understanding what fuels you is not a one-day task. It may take weeks or even years, so be patient. Once you figure it out, begin shaping your career decisions around this passion.
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Expand your network
Use this period in your life to make connections and grow your network. As you become more familiar with your industry, reach out to experts from whom you can learn. Follow them on social media.
Take the time to attend courses or webinars, especially those conducted by the industry experts you follow. People who likely share your interests will be attending those same talks and taking up the same courses. Use the opportunity to grow your professional circle.
You could start by looking into the following organisations for like-minded individuals:
- For the business community: Trade Associations & Chambers
- For the arts community: National Arts Council Singapore
- For IT professionals: Singapore Computer Society
In your 30s
Adopt a growth mindset
In this next decade, you must avoid stagnation. Keep learning, be open to change, welcome constructive criticism, and constantly push yourself.
One way to be sure you continuously flourish is to upskill. Determine which skills you need to increase your value across industries. There are numerous programmes in Singapore that can help you with this task:
- SkillsFuture Work-Study Programmes offer diploma and post-graduate degrees from both Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and accredited private providers.
- Coursemology gives you soft skills training in a wide range of programmes, from leadership skills to customer service skills.
- British Council Singapore organises full-day workshops to enhance your interpersonal communication skills.
- To improve your strategic thinking and people management skills, NTUC Learning Hub offers a slew of courses for soft skills training.
Go beyond your comfort zone
It may not seem so at the start, but leaving the familiar can ultimately help bring you job stability. When you step away from your office routine to work toward increasing your professional value, it makes you mentally and emotionally stronger. This will make you an asset to any company.
What better way to do this than to relocate overseas and expand your horizon? Singapore is home to many multinational companies that run global offices. For instance, there are HSBC, Shell, Accenture, Deloitte, and GlaxoSmithKline. If you work in one of these multinationals, you could explore a transfer to an international office. On the other hand, you could do it in reverse and apply to a company that has an office in a country where you would like to relocate.
Living and working in another country is like deep-sea diving. It sharpens all your senses. It is exactly how you can attain career mobility.
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In your 40s
Grow your personal brand
It may be disorienting to be in your 40s and realise that you want to be doing something else. However, as a career mobile employee, you can hit the ground running (or walking briskly, at least). To do this, you need to focus on developing your personal brand.
Find inspiration in fashion designer Vera Wang’s story. Growing up in New York, her dream was to become a professional figure skater and compete at the 1986 Olympics. She did not make the cut, and instead reoriented to working for Vogue magazine. At 40, she opened her flagship bridal boutique in New York. She has not looked back since.
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Wang succeeded because of several factors. She knew what she wanted to do, and what she wanted to be known for. Because of her work with Vogue, she was familiar with the industry she wanted to enter. Wang knew who her audience was, and how to reach them.
These are all ways you can build up your personal brand. In this digital era, social media can also help you establish your online identity. With enough passion and hard work, you can then own your mid-career pivot.
Apart from helping develop your career mobility, mentoring gives you several other benefits.
- By becoming a thought leader, you cement your authority and build your leadership skills.
- The confidence you develop will be evident to everyone you work with, especially your superiors. They will also appreciate your initiative to help the less experienced. This can open up opportunities toward your career goals.
- You gain new perspectives when you teach someone. You become more empathetic, humble, and open-minded.
- When you have to explain concepts to your mentee, it forces you to communicate more effectively, which is a vital skill for career mobility.
Career mobility is job stability
Job-hopping is no longer the career taboo it used to be. What is more important to employers is seeing motivated and skilled people who are constantly looking to improve themselves. The way to survive—and thrive—then, is to update your skills constantly while working toward what it is that moves you. In this era of disruption, the career ladder no longer necessarily leads straight up. It can branch out in other directions, leading to one consistent path: your fulfilment.
This article is contributed by JobStreet.