Congratulations! You have decided to step out of your comfort zone!
Let’s face it, most of us like to remain in our comfort zone where familiarity and routine provide us with a sense of safety and predictability. In terms of work and career, we like to be able to anticipate just about every aspect of our job and know how to perform or solve any work tasks with ease and convenience.
However, staying too long in our comfort zone at work and in our career can put us in a stagnant phase where we feel unmotivated, and suffer a drop in our productivity or even creativity. To grow ourselves professionally, we need to be constantly engaged with new challenges.
We can do this by either taking on new responsibilities in our current job or exploring a career switch into a new job role or industry. The latter may seem an obvious and easier option but changing jobs or moving into a new industry is no easy undertaking. Here are some survival tips which can help you transit into your newfound career smoothly.
- Embrace the unknown and adopt a positive mindset
This is easier said than done but take it one step at a time. Stepping into unknown territory, be it embarking on your new roles or meeting new colleagues, can be intimidating and apprehensive. Your family members or friends may even throw a wet blanket at you for leaving a job which pays better than your newfound career. However, do not let all these negativities dampen your determination to step out of your comfort zone.
Instead, arm yourself with a “fearless” and “can do” attitude to embrace something new and unfamiliar. Treat your industry switch as an opportunity to disconnect from your limiting beliefs and move towards evolving to be a stronger and better person with more clarity than before, just like Nicolette Choo.
Nicolette was an HR and Admin Assistant in the wholesale trade/medical devices industry and had previous experience working in HR in the retail industry. As she felt that the F&B environment was similar to retail, she decided to make a career switch to Koi Thé Singapore Pte Ltd, a global company specialising in hand-made artisan tea, as an HR Executive.
Her family was initially not keen on her career switch, as they felt that the F&B industry was not as reputable as the medical industry. However, Nicolette felt that she needed to be challenged at work, otherwise, she would be complacent and not learn anything new. Her friends were also supportive and encouraged her to try out a new industry for a change of environment.
She took up a 3-month Career Conversion Programme where she underwent structured on-the-job training, such as taking up courses in Excel and Personal Data Protection Act. She learnt how to use the company’s schedule management system to generate reports and forms, and message employees directly through the system to resolve queries faster.
“I had the opportunity to go for courses during this period, which I am thankful for as I did not have such chances in my previous employment. With the new skills and knowledge that I have acquired, I am confident that I have transited into the new job role well,” she said.
- Become like water, my friend
Bruce Lee famously said, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water, my friend.”
Career switchers have to learn to be highly flexible and adaptable in a new job role or industry. Do not allow any external factors to affect your self-worth and self-definition. Even if you are unable to adjust as quickly as you hope, do not feel overly disappointed. As long as you display a commitment to adapt, learn new information and stay humble, you are already on the right course.
Another wise quote from Bruce Lee to ponder about: “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” Be the wise man!
- Learning is lifelong; don’t be afraid to start from the basics and ask for help
Everyone (regardless of age) must abandon the mindset that what you have done in the past is always right, and instead pursue new knowledge and training in your new workplace confidently. Be assertive and do not be shy to ask even the most elementary questions to clarify everything you need to know about your new industry. Start by befriending helpful colleagues and seeking out meaningful mentorship opportunities, be it from your superiors or even your juniors.
Nicolette benefited from the guidance of two mentors, Limru and Jessie when she needed assistance to understand the company policies and standard operating procedures. She shared, “With their help, I managed to integrate into the team without much trouble and learnt new methods and techniques to assist me with my job duties. Jessie also provided direction so that I can look forward and anticipate what I should achieve for the rest of the year.”
Being supported by mentors also helped her colleague, Mr Tan Siu Loon, who switched roles from an assistant restaurant manager in the fast food industry to becoming an Operations Project Executive at KOI Thé Singapore Pte Ltd a year ago.
Siu Loon signed up for the 3-month Career Conversion Programme offered by KOI Thé to learn skills required in Operations and Project Management which would help him adapt better to his new career.
During his training period, he attended external courses such as project management, which imparted in him valuable skills to manage projects with a solid foundation and proper workflow knowledge with his team. Siu Loon also took an interest in learning how KOI Thé’s products were developed and prepared from start to end and appreciated the ability to participate in innovating new products for customers.
He received mentoring from his supervisor who guided him by sharing experience and knowledge about the industry and new areas unfamiliar to him, which further fueled his passion for learning.
- Network extensively and participate in structured conversion programmes like the Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs)
If you have no clue where to start, a good starting point is to enrol into structured conversion programmes like the Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs). CCPs are targeted at career switchers to undergo skills conversion and move into new occupations or sectors that have good prospects and opportunities for progression. Trainees will undergo structured on-the-job training to transit into the new job role.
Companies facing manpower crunch and are open to hiring people from different industries can also work with NTUC’s Employment and Employability (e2i) to tap on the CCP scheme to tackle skills gaps among job seekers interested in taking on the available jobs. These companies can receive funding support from the government to partially defray the cost of hiring without compromising the necessary training of a new hire under the CCP scheme.
- Don’t just dream. Plan and pursue your dreams.
Changing careers, especially into something new, can be a daunting experience. It also takes a tremendous amount of inertia and effort to start everything that you have built in your previous career from scratch. However, with so many resources and opportunities around us nowadays, we should listen to our hearts and do what we want to do.
Conscientiously set trackable and achievable goals to learn something in your new job every day. Thereafter, stay committed to practising and honing your professional skills until near perfection.
Overcome the fear of changing paths and remember you only get to live once.
Learn more about e2i’s business solutions at www.e2i.com.sg/businesses
Learn more about KOI Thé at www.koithe.com