I’m a 30-something average Joe and like most, I work for the dough. I stayed on for a good eight years in my first job. The money wasn’t bad, but life became mundane and routine. I began wondering how I could achieve more in life because it felt that I was working without a purpose.
Opportunity came knocking soon and I plunged into it without much consideration. I joined the banking sector in 2010 without any industry expertise. Armed only with positivity and self-belief, I gave myself a year to prove my worth.
I thought my years of work experience would give me an edge over my peers and I was ready to take on the challenge. Or was I? Gradually, I realised how idealistic I had been.
I was not prepared for the different skills and long hours in banking; it became increasingly difficult to keep up with my younger, more qualified colleagues. After one year, as anyone can guess, I decided to call it quits. I was unable to cope with the rigours of the job or meet the bank’s expectations. There was a gap between reality and the ideal career I had in mind.
After that episode, I sat down and reflected. I evaluated the following: What are my strengths? What do I want to do? What is my passion?
Passion is the driving force of why you want to do well in your field of work. It compels you to go to work feeling energetic, optimistic and filled with anticipation. Given my past experience, I have gathered some key points that may help reduce the culture shock involved in a mid-career change – or at least minimise the damage to your bank account.
Here’s the real deal
Assuming that you are an experienced professional and would like to embark on a career change, ask yourself some of these questions, in no order of preference.
1. Do you have enough savings to tide you over for a period of salary decline?
2. Do you foresee yourself working in the same line for the next five years (at least)?
3. Do you have support from your loved ones?
4. Do your personal values align with the organisation’s values?
5. Do you know how you are able to contribute to the company?
6. Do you know what you really want in your job?
7. Do you know where your passion lies?
8. Do you possess the necessary functional or soft skills to succeed?
And if you do move into banking from another sector, be prepared to:
1. Take a pay cut or a junior role, especially if you don’t possess the necessary skills or experience.
2. Work under someone who is younger than you.
3. Undertake a lifestyle change.
4. Get ready for a steep learning curve which means devoting additional hours and effort to make up for lost time.
5. Keep up to date on industry trends.
6. Maintain a positive mindset.
What pushes people to have a mid-life career change? Money, job satisfaction, better career progression, a change in goals, eureka moments and so forth. I am sure we have our own reasons, but have you really given enough thought to it? Reality may be much more brutal than you think.
Jeffrey Teow is a product head for an organisational development firm in Singapore. The views expressed are his own and not those of eFinancialCareers.
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