Should you stay or should you go?
If you’ve been doing the same thing for a couple years and suddenly wake up in a panic thinking, “This is SO not what I want to be doing right now,” don’t worry, you’re not alone. Changing jobs can be stressful enough, but changing careers entirely can legitimately cause a panic attack.
Having said that, you wouldn’t be the first person to suddenly decide you wanted to go from, say, being a banker to an architect. Lots of people switch careers and go on to be successful; it just takes a bit of courage (and research… don’t just jump into something without really thinking about it).
Beyond the resume
“Today, employers look beyond experience when hiring. The most attractive candidates are the ones who also bring to the table transferable skill sets that could benefit any organisation, regardless of their line of business. For example, a bank relationship manager with good exposure to regional business practices and great communication and leadership skills could be a viable candidate for a regional leadership role,” says Frank Koo, Head of Southeast Asia (Talent Solutions), LinkedIn.
Frank also believes that more employers are looking at their organisation’s culture before hiring. “You’ll see more employers ask candidates about their values and passion to assess how well they can fit into the company and work with existing employees,” says Frank. “That’s why it has become important for any professional to ensure that beyond relevant work experience, they’re also able to articulate their passions and personal interests.” Being able to do this both in an interview and online is crucial.
Six seconds to impress
For online resumes, a study in 2012 by online job-matching service TheLadders showed that recruiters and hiring managers only spend an average of six seconds reviewing your resume – which means being concise is the key. A good resume is only one page long (two at the max) and features only the key points of your previous employment and any major successes and achievements you contributed to.
An oldie but goodie that helps when acing interviews is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People; its suggestions for how to connect with people are just as relevant in an interview as in social situations. One great tip is to ask questions during the interview – it’s an effective way to show you’re keen on the job and that you’ve done research into the role you’re applying for.
Also remember that while it might not seem like it at first, some skills are transferrable (particularly things like budgeting, management and people skills) and it’s important to recognise that. This is, of course, where research comes in and knowing your strengths as much as your weaknesses. If you’re going from being a banker to an architect, you’ll inevitably have to head back to school, but when you’re done with that, it might not be necessary for you to start right at the bottom. Sometimes, it’s also about how you sell yourself.
When you’re ready to make the leap, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Talk to people, network and don’t be afraid to fail. Speaking to people in your new dream industry is a great way to get an idea of what’s really necessary to succeed in the field, and could be a great foot in the door.
3 Women With (Successful) Alternative Careers
From celebrities to Singaporeans, lots of women have made the leap from one thing to another and lived to tell the tale.
Actress to Businesswoman.
After being unable to find non-toxic products for her family, Jessica decided to start The Honest Company and produce these products herself. The business now offers everything from food to skincare.
Lawyer to Founder of Awfully Chocolate.
Lyn Lee started Awfully Chocolate out of a personal love for chocolate cake and an inability to find “the one” in Singapore. From a small shop on a back alley, the brand has developed into a regional franchise with shops in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
Spice Girl to Fashion Designer.
Definitely one of the greatest success stories when it comes to switching careers. The former Spice Girl managed to translate a love for high-end fashion into a career that has won accolades and respect from the industry.
5 Things to Think About Before Making the Career Switch
Decide what you want to do
It sounds boring but it’s never bad to have a plan. Decide what your long term goal is and what it takes to get there. Maybe you need to go back to school to learn relevant skills or take a paycut and intern again to learn the ropes of your dream job.
Prepare your resume
A good resume should start with your most recent employment and go backwards. There’s no need to list every single job you’ve had since you’ve graduated, but make sure all possible relevant experience is there. At the same time, remember, SIX SECONDS! So everything should be as short and concise as possible.
Write a good cover letter
If you’re cold-calling or e-mailing your future boss, remember, they probably get a million e-mails just like yours. So make sure you stand out. Get straight to the point, tell them why you want to work for them and, once again, keep it short.
If you’re thinking of getting into a creative industry, think outside of the box to get a future employer’s attention. Whether it’s sending them a postcard or a graphic-focused resume, standing out from the competition can go a long way.
Know your audience
Before you go into an interview, know who you’re meeting and have a few questions to show that you’ve thought about the role. Questions show enthusiasm (not ignorance) and real interest.