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

Changing Careers? Here’s How to Ensure Your Job Skills Are Current
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 10 March, 2022
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How To Ensure Your Current Skills Are Still Relevant

Changing careers seems like a Herculean task. First, there are worries about career planning, upskilling, and maybe even finding a career coach in Singapore. How do you get ready for the big shift? Are you prepared to leave an entire career behind? Should you wait for a job offer first before moving?

And then, after mulling those questions, you are hit with the hardest one of all: when you do finally make the career shift, how do you even stay relevant? One of the toughest challenges of changing careers is the feeling that you have miles to go before you can catch up with others in your field. You're constantly wondering how much you need to learn, relearn, and upskill. It can be a daunting task, but we've found the secret to enduring the initial hardships of changing careers.

It's not just about upskilling through workshops or courses, which we still highly encourage, by the way. The secret is grit. You must be able to push through every obstacle armed with the cognizance of every aspect affecting your career transition. Changing careers will be one of the most pivotal points of your life—right up there with graduation and marriage. So it's only apt that you apply alifetransition theory to career changes and not just simple career tips.

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 go 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 single internal and external facet of your massive career shift. In short, it will allow you to understand your state of self, the situation you're in, the support system behind you, and the strategies you can employ to achieve what you want.

See, changing careers is not a clear-cut path. You don't walk on a straight line from point A to point B. It's not like you can just apply for another job, and attend a few seminars to get up to speed. If you want to do it the right way, you need to take stock of every variable so you have 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 analyze his situation as he prepared for a career change.

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 took stock of himself, he found that he was, objectively, competent and connected. By building faith and trust in himself, he was confident enough to pursue being his 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 big career decision?
  • Institutions and communities: Are there communities you can turn to for questions and insights?

As career changes are a big life decision, 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 rejected job applications, you still have someone cheering you on from your corner. There's nothing more motivating than unfailing trust and faith.

The 4S Model: Strategy

And last comes the strategy. This is typically where most people jump straight away. They miss out on the very important first three S's and are left wondering why they feel like they're missing something. Only once you have a solid grasp on your sense of self, a secure support system, and an open situation, then you can start thinking about the strategies that will lead you toward a 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 of the situation?
  • Those that aid in managing the stress in the aftermath: How will you deal with life after the career change?

When faced with a career change, Coach Han realized very quickly 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 one1 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 be 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, like the JobStreet Career Resources page, then the only way you can go is up.

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