Future of Work | Mid-Career Switch: A Framework to Assess Your Next Career Option
Updated: 10 hours ago
Top 3 reasons for a career switch: Fulfillment, Career Growth, and Salary Prospects. What are your career aspirations and how do you pick a worthwhile next step? Here’s an evaluation framework to help assess your options.
The Top 3 Reasons why you should make a Mid-Career Switch
Career burnout is incredibly real in Singapore. We used to see work as a means to be financially independent and glorified the idea of staying at the same company for a long time.
Moreover, in light of the pandemic, the government is enhancing more job support measures for job seekers. Therefore, a mid-career switch can be less intimidating and financially viable than ever before. Now, with more reasons to reassess our career path, making a mid-career switch could possibly be one of the best decisions to make.
Reason 1: Personal Fulfilment and Passion
After 10 years of working as a graphic designer, Gog Meng Hee realised that the job didn’t match his preferred working style. “I missed face-to-face interactions,” he explained, “It was almost a fully desk-bound job, and the only communication channel to the world and my client is my computer.”
It can be a dreary experience starting the workweek every Monday knowing that the nature of your work doesn’t excite you.
“I (also) didn’t enjoy the frequent amendments,” says Meng Hee. Making a seemingly endless series of edits for a client is commonplace in the design world. The frustration that Meng Hee felt might be something many others can understand, even if you work in another industry.
If you consistently feel like you are dragging your feet to work each morning, or perhaps you know your heart is not truly in the work you do, you are not alone. A 2019 report by Qualtrics finds that “2 in 3 Singaporeans dread going to work daily”.
Specifically, of those in the middle of their careers and were willing to make a career switch outside their field of study,
36% said that they want to switch to pursue personal fulfilment and passion.
Reason 2: Stagnating Career Trajectory
The second most common reason for a mid-career switch is a stagnating career trajectory. 23% of career switchers in Singapore cite the lack of advancement opportunities and growth as their reason for making the switch. Ms Chew Siew Mee, country manager at JobStreet.com Singapore, explains, “When their career trajectories stagnate, employees do not derive any form of satisfaction and may begin to resent their jobs.”
Reason 3: Salary Prospects
Along with a lack of career progression, limited salary prospects are also cited as another reason for making the switch. 31% of career switchers did so to get a better salary and financial stability.
Personal Fulfillment, Career Growth, and Salary Prospects are the top 3 reasons for making a career switch. So how do you make sure that you are switching into a career that will be worthwhile?
For those who are still exploring what fulfilment means for you, check out our guide on how to start planning towards a fulfilling career. For those who are looking to make a job or mid-career switch and have 2-3 options to consider, this is a practical ‘thinking-frame’ that you can use to assess those career options.
Introduction to the Mid-Career Evaluation Framework
3 key attitudes ground this framework: Adaptability, Long-term Thinking and Welcoming New Beginnings
Accept that things will change. New jobs will emerge, and others will be made obsolete by technology. This principle helps you make space for change in your plans.
2. Long-term Thinking
Think about costs and gains on a 15-30 year timeline. In evaluating our choices, we have to keep future payoffs in mind. For example, if you choose to enroll in upskilling courses on top of your full-time job now, the financial burden and physical exhaustion are some of the short-term costs. But as your career progresses in the long-term, these skillsets could invite job opportunities with far better prospects. Having smart resilience means being able to take short-term costs to reap long-term benefits.
3. Welcoming New Beginnings
This principle helps you play the long game. Sometimes we can get too comfortable with the jobs we’ve always had. This can keep us away from being brave in imagining new ways of working. Take this new chapter as a fresh new start, and permit yourself to explore other areas that you might be good at. That’s the spirit of a mid-career switch!
This ‘thinking-frame' consists of 3 overlapping circles:
Desirability - How personally fulfilling might this career be for me?
Feasibility - How do-able is it to successfully make this mid-career switch?
Viability - How much career growth might I have in this new career?
Our goal is to find a career option that sits in the overlapping portion that fulfils all 3 circles.
This framework is based on a model created by the global design and consultancy IDEO to evaluate business innovations. Isaac Jeffries explains how this model works, “in order to run a successful business, we have to create something that is Desirable (people want it), Feasible (we can actually do it) and it has to be Viable (we don’t go broke).” We adapted this comprehensive, well-proven model to think about our lives and our careers.
How to use the Mid-Career Evaluation Framework
This framework is a thinking tool that can be used during or after the research for your mid-career switch. For example, if you are doing an informational interview with someone in the field, you can fill up this framework as a way to consolidate your thoughts.
You can use this framework as a tool to help guide your thinking in unpacking the holistic and long-term view of jobs: they should be personally desirable, feasible to get to, and viable for earning a living.
Download the Mid-Career Evaluation Printout here:
The Three Considerations in the Career Evaluation Framework
Consideration 1: Desirability
Our first circle, Desirability, is about your passions and interests. Without a compatible fit into the areas that you feel naturally more fulfilled in, finding satisfaction in your new career endeavours would be a difficult feat.
For some, a desirable job might be accompanied by a rush of excitement or passion. A straightforward way to find this is to think about your interests or hobbies. Perhaps you like hosting and entertaining guests at home. This is a clue that you might be passionate about working in the hospitality industry.
However, for most of us, a line of work with a good interest fit might be more subtle and is best discovered by trying it out. Generally, a job that has good desirability for you should:
Feel like it sits well with you and aligns with your values
Suits your expectations on how you want to balance work and life
Feel challenging, but shows progressive success in an enjoyable way
In assessing job desirability, also consider these enduring factors such as personality, values, and work interests. Christopher Soto writes, “sudden, dramatic changes in personality are rare. (Changes in personality) tend to unfold across years or decades, rather than days or weeks.” This allows you to assess how you might interact with the job in the long run.
Here are some considerations when assessing desirability:
Given my personality and style of working, how might I perform in this role and industry?
Where do my values align (or not align) with this job or industry?
How is my level of interest regarding the industry/domain of this job?
How might my expectations of work and lifestyle change through the next 10 years?
As said in our previous guide on Planning Towards a Fulfilling Career, “Ask yourself, what ideas, stories and environments excite you? What do you find yourself getting effortlessly drawn to?”
Consideration 2: Feasibility
Next, we assess how realistic it is to gain the required skills, experience, or certifications to enter the career path given your existing resources and personal bandwidth.
For every option in life, there always is a State A and a Point B. State A refers to where you’re at now. This includes your accumulated hard skills, soft skills and knowledge from your life and work experience thus far. Point B represents the minimum required standard to work in a certain job.
Take the job of a Registered social worker for example. According to Social Work Accreditation and Advisory Board (SWAAB), here are the tangible requirements to be a registered social worker that would make up Point B:
Note that Point Bs can be made up of implicit requirements that are not formally stated. For example, social workers are expected to have strong communication skills to flexibly adapt to the style of their clients and pick up nuances that a layman might miss.
Here are 3 ways to suss out the requirements:
1. Job Descriptions
Look at multiple job descriptions across different companies for the same job and pick out the requirements that repeatedly appear. These are the basic requirements for the job that most companies have.
2. Speaking to People in the Role
You can search on LinkedIn for people in roles and industries similar to the job you have in mind. Reach out with a friendly message to invite them for a video call or a quick chat over coffee. You can ask questions such as, “What are some key skills needed for this job?