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3 minute read

How Can I Make a Smoother and More Successful Career Switch?

Wondering how you can switch careers better? Here’s advice from someone who is experienced in helping others make that change.

“On average, jobseekers change their careers after a two-year timeframe,” reveals Michael Teo, director of local career advancement centre EduCareerSG. 

According to his experience working with clients at his company, two years is the timeframe that most individuals feel is sufficient “to understand the A to Z of the role”.

EduCareerSG was co-founded by Michael and three others back in February 2018, in a bid to bridge the skills and competencies gap between jobseekers and employers and help them find a better fit. The company specialises in providing tailored programmes to assist individuals wanting to embark on a career switch.  

Switching careers is not unheard of these days, with more people being open to changing job roles and industries. This could be brought about by various reasons such as a lack of career growth opportunities, an unfavourable work environment and a lack of knowledge growth. It could also be brought about the perceived “financial potential”, where individuals will seek a higher income. 

“That’s when if the individual doesn’t get their desired promotion, they will work towards it at another company,” he says.

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However, there are perceived negative notions that are not quite true of the concept. 

One of these common misconceptions that Michael recognised is some jobseekers may view career switching as breaking out of their comfort zone. “There is a common misconception with these people that changing careers will reduce job stability, and they will not know how they will cope in a new environment or if they will develop into an indispensable asset in the new company,” he shares. 

“But this can be changed.” 

Michael acknowledges that a majority of people possess another misconception: that changing careers equals lower pay. “But that’s not true!” 

Michael believes that these jobseekers are not comfortable embracing change, nor do they know what awaits them in their new role. As such, they’re not sure if they can command the same remuneration.

Drawing from his experience in the field, he says that he’s seen many cases where job switchers have instead increased their job stability and potential earning power.  

It’s not impossible to be better prepared for a career change. Michael speaks of a few skills jobseekers can work towards to make that transition easier and increase their chances of success. 

A key hard skill, he notes, is proficiency in commonly used computer programmes that are relevant to the job market, such as the Microsoft suite. “A large majority of companies, regardless of the role or industry that you’re going into, will require you to use Microsoft Excel to a certain degree,” Michael advises. Having the relevant qualification or certification as proof of your proficiency will help give prospective employers confidence in the right job fit.

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He also identifies soft skills that can increase the success of a career switch. He shares three significant ones that go hand in hand – adaptability, problem-solving and communication. “One should learn the skills of moving into a new environment to adapt and fit into a different culture, as well as to analyse mistakes and problems, and suggest practical solutions,” he speaks of the former two. 

“This would not be effective without good communication skills, both verbal and written,” he adds. “With good communication skills, you are able to convey new ideas, collaborate with others and build positive team relationships with your colleagues.” 

There’s also the fourth skill — equally valuable in the workforce — of having emotional intelligence. This is the managing and handling of the emotions of different people, including “knowing when is the right time to speak up about something, and to act upon certain tasks to foster a positive working environment”.

When asked about how welcoming employers are of individuals embarking on a career switch, Michael believes employers who are open are looking for “something more refreshing to create an uncommon competitive edge”. 

“Because if you’re hiring someone who is experienced in the industry, the company will probably be doing the same thing over the next three to five years,” he says. 

“Hiring someone going through a career switch but still possessing the essential skillset to perform the daily duties may impose new insights while creating new value and products for the clients,” he adds.  

To increase your chances of success in a career change, Michael advises individuals to embrace changes and attend training courses to equip themselves with relatable experiences and skills. This enables them to get the relevant endorsement and qualifications to prove their competency to a new employer. “These are indeed things to look into to get more credibility,” he says.   

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