The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down and brought about unprecedented social and economic disruption. We woke up to new norms, changing lifestyles and shifting mindsets. The world was instantly propelled onto the digital pedal to a borderless buzz of social and online platforms, webinars, video meetings and remote working.
Whilst some positive things have emerged from this crisis, the pandemic has mainly caused most people to experience a heightened level of anxiety.
It is not only the lack of social interaction but job insecurity, the loss of livelihood, bread-and-butter issues that have caused sleepless nights. To survive the economic losses caused by the pandemic, businesses have adopted measures such as hiring freeze, “juniorised” positions, organisational restructuring, shorter work weeks and to a greater extent, redundancies. Some senior candidates have been left high and dry with head counts frozen and fewer senior openings.
Many of these senior people have been working in the same role for many years and do not know what else they might be able to do or how to revitalise their career. As a recruiter, I have received more calls than ever before from candidates facing such a dilemma. In particular, a HR Business Partner mentioned that he has been receiving an unusually high number of direct approaches from candidates via LinkedIn.
Our recent webinar, “Navigating a Career Transition” enthused a large audience. We have heard from our credible panellists on their insightful viewpoints and inspiring stories of how they had successfully navigated their career change, pivoting them to their current positions.
With overwhelming queries pouring in after the webinar, I felt compelled to share my thought process and consideration of my personal story - how I did my mid-life career change.
Mid-life career change, thought process and consideration
The key to a career transition begins with a clear intent of why we want the change, what’s the outcome we want and making a shift in mindset. We need to be self-aware and figure out what’s our why. What’s the end-game?
The change cannot happen overnight. It is a journey that requires deliberate planning and it does require time, energy and effort to get there.
Prior to embarking on my recruitment career, I had always worked in corporate services and operations for many years. It was my comfort zone and the only job I knew. After many years in that line of work, I was left unfulfilled and felt that I wasn’t maximising my full potential. I wanted to make a career change but was clueless how to embark on it, or what other professions could I do. Afterall, this is the only skill I have.
Naturally, I had fears. Fear of venturing into the unknown, fear of risking the security of my job, fear of starting from the bottom again, fear of failure. I felt helpless and trapped.
Every other day, I tried to figure out what to do or how to go about it. I would attend a motivational talk, felt a strong desire to do something about my career change, but would lapse into a duration of “status quo”. I even thought of starting a childcare centre because I was a Sunday school teacher before. There were days that I thought of giving up the whole idea of changing my career. My emotions fluctuated over a period of 3 to 4 years and yet, nothing happened.
Does the above episode resonate with your sentiment?
Bridging the gap to the new career
When contemplating a career switch, we often find ourselves too entrenched in our comfort zone, worried about the opportunity cost or perhaps, feeling stuck in an area of work where we have honed our skills for many years.
To begin with, we need to have a mindset shift. Taking that first step to venture out into the world, taking a risk and being prepared to take a step back and even accept a pay cut in exchange for a chance to gain new skills or industry learning experience.
Many do not realise that the core skills which we have acquired in our roles are transferable to any other industry. When pitching ourselves to a potential employer, we can use our “skill-based” story to showcase who we are and what we have to offer.
Use the “skill-based” story and play it to our advantage. Talk about our expertise and the value we could bring to the job. Use real-life examples of how we have resolved complex issues or managed stakeholders at the office to demonstrate our capability.
Check out relevant courses or certifications to gain the relevant knowledge to get a head-start on the new career. Research the industry we would like to move into and find out the industry-specific lingo or acronyms.
The ‘intermediary stepping-stone’ move
Recruiters are not the best go-to person if we do not have prior experience in the particular career we intend to move into. Afterall, recruiters are typically mandated by clients to headhunt the ‘cream of the crop’ candidates for the position.
So, how do we go about doing it?
Well, we need to adopt an ‘intermediary stepping-stone’ move to help gain the initial hands-on experience in the new career.
Turn on our charm at industry networking events, get referrals and introductions to hiring managers and do all we can to get the connections to open doors to new opportunities.
It is about “who knows me” and “who can help with recommendations to open the door for me”.
If possible, we can also opt for job-shadowing with our current employers if the new career we are interested in is available.
A career transition takes time and more often than not, a lot of hard work and effort.
I have successfully made a career change with sheer determination, perseverance, and forbearance.
I’ve done it, and so can you!
“Whether you think you can or you can’t. Either way, you’re right.” – a wise man/woman once said.
For more insights on how to successfully navigate a career transition, feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.