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Myths About Switching Careers Debunked

8 Myths About Switching Careers Debunked, Like Guaranteed Pay Raises Or Being Too Old To Do So

Career switch in Singapore

Let’s get one thing out of the way first, a career switch is miles different from a job switch. It’s not as simple as hopping to a new company in a role with similar responsibilities. A career switch involves stepping away from what you’ve been doing your whole working adult life to pursue another calling.

With that in mind, maybe you’re on the edge of making the leap but concerns like having to get a new degree or starting from the bottom are clouding your mind. No worries, we’re here to give you some clarity – here are 8 myths about switching careers debunked:

1. You need a completely new degree

You need a completely new degree
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Good news for those who aren’t great at hitting the books. You don’t always need a completely new certificate to make a career switch. It really depends on what you want to do and the job you are applying for.

Of course, if it’s a drastic switch, like from engineering to nursing, you’ll probably have to go back to school, whether part-time or full-time. Even in such situations, career conversion programmes can help with reskilling and training. There are also many cases where an internal training programme or short external course would suffice.

Data analytics, UX/UI design, and digital marketing are just some careers that can be picked up through part-time diploma programmes that take less than a year to complete. Once certified, you’ll be able to apply for relevant positions in your new industry.

2. You must start from square one

You must start from square one
Internships are not the only way to enter a new industry.

Thankfully, this myth is false. While you may not have technical knowledge in a totally new career, soft skills you’ve picked up, like leading and managing, can still be applicable in your new role.

This means that internships are not the only way to get your foot in the door of a new industry.

You can still lead in other ways, like spearheading internal welfare projects when you join as a senior executive or junior manager. 

Having said that, numerous companies now also follow a flat hierarchical structure where the seniority of the job title doesn’t matter too much. Smaller companies are usually run by people who have to don multiple hats. You could come in as a subordinate project manager but be thrown more responsibilities because you have experience in other fields.

3. You’re guaranteed a pay raise with a career switch

You’re guaranteed a pay raise with a career switch

Unfortunately, this is false. An increase in salary is definitely a strong motivation to switch careers, but realistically, you should expect a cut in pay in your first years of your new profession, especially if you’re already well-established in your current one.

As we’ve mentioned, you may not have to start at square one. But you aren’t likely to make a horizontal leap in hierarchy either, so don’t expect the same pay you’ve been garnering as a senior manager in an executive role. You might have to re-climb the corporate ladder before getting a match in pay.

Certain industries like law and fintech lead in terms of pay, so moving out of these areas will likely see a decrease in salary as well. However, beyond just monetary gains, other industries may offer meaningful opportunities, such as being able to contribute back to society.

4. You should only switch careers when you’re young

You should only switch careers when you’re young

Don’t let people who think old dogs can’t learn new tricks tell you likewise about switching careers when you’re old. While youthfulness does have its advantage in giving you more time to build a second career, that shouldn’t hinder you from wanting to make a switch.

Those who switch careers later in life often do so because personal obligations have been fulfilled, such as earning enough money to raise a family. Now that finances have been taken care of, they look to pursue passion projects they never had the opportunity to or to find better work-life balance.

These days, many companies are also open to hiring older candidates for the wealth of experiences they can bring to the table. Start ups, for example, may be headed by a young team without much managerial practice, and they’ll need someone with that experience under their belt to lead the way.

The SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme is another way for older job seekers to try out new careers.

5. You need to have many years of experience

You need to have many years of experience

On the other end of the spectrum, young jobseekers with fewer years under their belt may be questioning a career switch if they don’t have enough experience.

Give yourself more credit and recognise the value of soft skills and unique abilities, like expertise in new social media platforms. Think about differentiating yourself in other ways by highlighting your accolades and accomplishments.

It also doesn’t hurt to start building a portfolio of different projects you’ve worked on in your spare time, which can include volunteering experiences. Showing that you’re dedicated to improving your skills outside of work makes you a standout candidate for a career switch.

6. You must stick with your new career

You must stick with your new career

Let’s say you’ve done all the necessary to make your career switch – upskilling with a relevant course, updating your resume, and applying for positions on LinkedIn. But once you receive a job offer, you come to realise it’s not what you expected it to be.

It might seem like sticking with your decision might be your only choice, and it’d be a waste to let go of such an opportunity. Nevertheless, we’re here to tell you that there’s no shame in changing your mind. 

If you feel stuck in your current position and are unclear about the next steps to take, try seeking guidance from professionals such as Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect beforehand.

They’ll be able to clarify your doubts and shed light on what it means to make a career change. Having a third-party evaluate your career standing can also give you a more realistic point of view before you make such a decision.

7. You should already have strong industry connections

You should already have strong industry connections

Even if you are moving to a new industry, you can tap on your existing network to find new and exciting opportunities. With just about every professional on LinkedIn, it’s likely that someone you know will know someone who knows someone in the industry you want to jump into. Take advantage of these connections to advance your career in the direction that you want.

You can also attend industry-specific networking events in person to meet new contacts. Just remember that it is not a social gathering, so stay professional and focus on making connections with potential employers.

That being said, even an informal gathering could be an opportunity to network. Sometimes a casual setting is more conducive to making meaningful, lasting connections. In such cases, don’t sell yourself in conversations but connect over social media perhaps and follow up later.

8. You need to wait for the job market to be in your favour

You need to wait for the job market to be in your favour

As cliche as it sounds, there is never a perfect time to switch careers. The job market is ever-changing and there will always be ups and downs in the economy.

What is more important is to keep yourself up to date with these changes so that you are not caught off guard. Staying adaptable to how different industries are developing can make it easier to make the switch when you want to. Being ready also gives you an edge over other job seekers.

Plan your career path with Careers Connect by Workforce Singapore

Career switches are possible but don’t jump into them blindly. If you’re still unsure about how to plan your career path, you can consult Careers Connect.

Set up by Workforce Singapore, Careers Connect provides complimentary career guidance and advice. Whether you’re struggling with your job search after being laid off or wondering what tangible steps you can take to climb the corporate ladder, you’ll be able to get personalised advice from the team over video call or even via text messages.

career guidance team
The career guidance team makes it easy to reach them by offering convenient options like video calls.
Image credit: Workforce Singapore

Those who do need more help, such as with interview-grooming and resume-polishing, can get 1-on-1 career coaching. Here, the coaches work with you on goals you want to achieve and setting expectations. This could mean recommending career conversion programmes or linking you with a work-study programme, should your career switch require an upgrade in skills.

Workforce Singapore
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Workforce Singapore

The website is also a resource portal that includes useful articles on upskilling and career development for fresh grads, mid-careerists, and even mature workers.

For many, planning out your career may seem like a lonely and personal journey. But it doesn’t have to be. Turning to Careers Connect ensures you’re making informed decisions for your career.

Find out more about Careers Connect here

This post was brought to you by Workforce Singapore.