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5 minute read

Career Planning: Why it Matters and How to be Smart About it

The deejays of Kiss 92FM discussed with a seasoned career coach on useful career strategy tips. Learn more here.

Kiss 92 deejays talk about career planning

Career planning: It’s the latest buzzword these days, with many worried about how stable their rice bowls are given the growth of both artificial intelligence and robotics, and the fact that the job market will continue to change in the coming years.

But at the same time, some Singaporean workers are more confused than clear about the whys and hows for career planning, and how to go about it in a strategic and systematic way.

Speaking on Kiss 92’s BIG Show, experienced career coach Adrian Choo, from Career Agility International – Singapore, shared his know-hows with Glenn Ong, the Flying Dutchman, and Angelique Teo.

Here are some key pointers below!

What is career planning and why does it matter?

Adrian: I think one of the things I hear as a career coach often, is that jobseekers and workers say they don’t plan everything out in their lives.

But yet, when there’s a long weekend coming up, they do take careful effort in planning what they’re going to do and where they’re going.

It doesn’t make sense that when it comes to their career, they don’t spend enough mind space or thought about what they want to do next, or even the career moves after their next job.

Given how disruptive the market is, this is even more important! Look at how banking has changed so much, for example – when was the last time we stepped into a bank branch? In my case, I haven’t been to my bank (DBS’s) Bishan branch in almost two years!

You can see that with technology, consumer behavior has changed and it’s all about convenience. Just recently, I was trying to explain to my 15-year-old daughter what a cheque was.

Another reason Singaporean workers might not do career planning could be because of complacency — they expect their company will take care of them.

But if we’re being honest, we know that isn’t always true, and we should take charge of our own careers!

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How does career planning differ for different workers?

Adrian: When you’re in school, your idea of career planning is just to get a job in any industry. But as you get older, it should get more sophisticated. After all, you have different needs, right?

I do think the younger workers don’t quite take career planning as seriously. And I’ve seen some who think: If I leave this job, I’ll just relax a while, and then look for something else to do after.

My take is that if you’re starting your career at 20, your goals should be to gain exposure and experience. It’s fine to experiment, to learn which industries suit you but don’t hop around too much!

In your 30s, you need to settle down and choose the one industry you want to be really, really good at.

And then in your 40s, the goal is to deepen your expertise, and in this way, this helps plan for career longevity.

Even for those who are non-PMETs (professionals, managers, executives & technicians), career planning matters. For example, I know of someone who is a commercial diver. Now, he’s aware that he can’t do that indefinitely, given how physically taxing the job is. So how does he plan for his career after?

And for those in jobs that require frequent travel, you’ve got to start thinking about the longevity of the role. If it’s going to still be there in the long run, and crucially, are you going to still enjoy doing it? Or would you prefer something more exciting, or different, or stressful?

Don’t let fear hold you back

Adrian: What is the end goal? You want to plan for career longevity, to make sure you can continue working in a job you like for as long as you want, until the day you retire.

And part of this is having the skill sets and experiences that are in demand in the marketplace, which is what keeps you employable!

Now of course, for those who aren’t enjoying what they’re doing now, but held back by fear of change, I would say this: Pause and ask yourself, why are you feeling this way? What are the actual reasons and triggers? Did a new boss come in? Or perhaps there’s a new technology that’s come into the workplace that you’re not comfortable with?

If you’re feeling unhappy in a job, you need to take a pause, step back and analyse, and do some career planning.

Sometimes, it also helps to take a break for one to two weeks to tune out, recharge, refresh and come back refreshed to your career.

Sometimes in career planning, it’s not about wanting a better job, it’s about figuring out WHAT is a better job, and then figuring out how to get to it. You’re just not going to get there if you don’t have a career strategy, or if you stop learning.

And even if you’re not feeling fearful about your job, it’s still always good to stop and figure out your career path and strategy. Because as the saying goes, the best time to fix a roof is when it’s not raining.

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What’s your career velocity, and what can come next?

Adrian: So sometimes, some Singaporean workers feel a need to take a step back and shift a gear down, depending on what stage their career is, or the timing of their personal lives. And that’s normal – everyone changes career velocity sometimes. But at some stage, you have to question how long you want to hover for.

In addition, in reflecting on your career, jumping ship might not always be your first point of consideration, but rather what your cause of action will be. I suggest that with career planning, have a notebook or journal to write down all these facts. And when you’re alone, somewhere relaxing like by the pool or beach, ask yourself what do you want more of, and what do you want less of, that will make a better job for yourself?

Ultimately, once you start thinking about these questions, it’s going to be really, really powerful, and you’ll learn nothing is truly set in stone!

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