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Changing Careers? Here’s How to Ensure Your Current Skills Are Still Relevant

Changing careers seems like a Herculean task, involving career planning, upskilling, and maybe even finding a career coach. How do you get ready for the shift? Should you wait for a job offer first before moving? And when you do finally make the shift, how do you stay relevant?

While changing careers can be a daunting task, the secret to enduring the initial hardships of changing careers is none other than grit. You must be able to push through every obstacle armed with the awareness of every aspect affecting your career transition. Changing careers will be one of the most pivotal points of your life – so it’s only apt that you apply a life transition theory to career changes.

The Career Transition Theory

One of Singapore’s top career coaches, Han Kok Kwang, recommends the tried and tested Transition Theory by Nancy Schlossberg, an author and counsellor who created the 4S Model. The 4S model aims to assist anyone going through a huge life event, and Coach Han used it to endure his career change, which became one of his best life decisions yet.

The 4S Model is pretty simple: it intends to help you understand every internal and external facet of your career shift. In short, it guides you to understand your state of self, your situation, your support system, and the strategies you can employ to achieve what you want.

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Changing careers may not always be a clear-cut path. To do it the right way, it is crucial to take stock of every variable for a better understanding of what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. Only then can you arm yourself with the unshakeable grit to see things through.

Here’s how Coach Han used the 4S Model to achieve a successful career change.

The 4S Model: Situation

To analyse your situation, cover the following areas and ask yourself the following questions. Answer honestly.

  • Trigger: What triggered your career change?
  • Timing: Is it the right time for a career change?
  • Control: What is currently under your control?
  • Role change: Is your changing role considered a gain or a loss?
  • Duration: Do you see the change as permanent, temporary, or uncertain?
  • Previous experience with a similar transition: How did you handle it last time?
  • Concurrent stress: What is the root of your stress right now?

Coach Han’s career transition began when he was triggered by the thought of not having enough time to see his children grow up. That, coupled with the restless feeling of being too young to “retire and cruise,” pushed him to further analyse his situation as he prepared for a career change.

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The 4S Model: Self

Then comes the matter of understanding yourself.

  • Personal characteristics: What are your views on your life, such as socioeconomic status, gender, age, stage of life, state of health, and ethnicity?
  • Psychological resources: How do you see your ego development, outlook, and commitments and values?

When Coach Han reflected on himself, he found that he was competent and connected. By building faith and trust in himself, he was confident enough to pursue being his own boss, stand out from the crowd, and make great things happen.

The 4S Model: Support

Now comes your support system.

  • Intimate relationships: Do you have someone you trust wholeheartedly?
  • Family units: Do you have a family that can support you if you fail?
  • Networks of friends: Do you have friends that are good influences and supporters of your career decision?
  • Institutions and communities: Are there communities you can turn to for questions and insights?

As career changes are big life decisions, having a large and understanding support system can help you go a long way. When you feel down, you have someone to share your thoughts with. When you feel stuck in the rut after months of job rejections, you still have someone cheering you on from your corner. There’s nothing more motivating than unwavering trust and faith.

The 4S Model: Strategy

Most people typically jump here straight away. They miss out on the very important first three S’s and often feel like they’re missing something. Only when you have a solid grasp of your sense of self, a secure support system, and an open situation, can you then start thinking about the strategies for your career transition.

  • Those that modify the situation: What can be done to move things in your favour?
  • Those that control the meaning of the problem: What are the fixed variables in the situation?
  • Those that aid in managing the stress in the aftermath: How will you deal with life after the career change?

During his career change, Coach Han realized very quickly that he’d have to strategize branding to get successful.

“When you are on your own, you have no corporate brand, like your position and company name. To stand out on my own, I must be perceived as a credible authority. I had two ideas: Get a PhD or become an author. PhD means a nice-sounding Dr Han. But I dropped it because it is also known as Permanent Head Damage, and the market perception is PhDs are academics,” joked Coach Han.

“Author sounds good because it is author-ity. I had no clue how to write a book, so I attended a workshop on “Write your book and get it published in 90 days”. True enough, my book was out in 90 days. Then harsh reality hits! How do I sell the book?”

“Huge lesson learned: ‘Writing is tough but selling the book is 100x tougher.’ [I] managed to connect with the right people, work extremely hard, and was finally rewarded with the number one bestseller spot on the Times Bookshop list.”

Coach Han is a living example of how the 4S Model works. Once he got to the strategy phase, his grit and confidence eventually paid him back tenfold.

“I got invited to talk shows on radio and TV and raised funds for the Community Chest with my book. That’s how I transitioned from corporate manager to being a bestselling author.”

So there you go, the big secret to career changes. You can’t skip straight to upskilling seminars and assume that’s all. In reality, it’s a big undertaking that takes some mental gymnastics to go through. But when you’re equipped with the right insights and guidance, the only way you can go is up.

This article is contributed by JobStreet.

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