What does it take to have a successful mid-career transitions?



You are stuck in a rut and dreading each day of work, and a change of career seems to be the only answer.  Or you may have been recently laid off and you are from an industry where there is cost cutting and restructuring. Basically, you are at a career crossroad and you are wondering about your next step : Where do I start ? Should I be considering a career switch? Which industry should I be considering? How do I increase my chances of getting hired?

There are many people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who face these situations and their challenges are different from those of younger job seekers.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can plan a later-life career change. We hope that the tips covered below, can help empower you in making a successful career transition.


Discover who you really are

Before starting your job search, it is important to spend time to reflect and discover who you really are and what you really like to do.

Understand your skills and interests, values and motivations, likes and dislikes, passions and personality, strengths and weaknesses. Finding a job that aligns with your traits will not only increase your chances of success in the new job but also make you happier. Here are some ways to begin your passage to self-discovery.

  • Discover your personality


With personality tests in the market, you will learn what motivates and energizes you. You get to understand why you choose to react one way over another, or to prefer one thing to another. This in turn empowers you to seek those elements in the work you choose to do, and avoid the things that frustrate and demotivate you.


  • Evaluate your skills and talents


Ask yourself: What am I good at? What do I most enjoy doing? Then consider the transferable skills and capabilities you can bring over to the new job. Examples of transferable skills aside from the specific job function or technical domain area are organisational skills, problem solving skills, people skills, creativity and innovation skills, and etc

Making a career switch is stressful enough, so instead of making a complete career change, it is good to ponder about roles or jobs where you can use some of the knowledge, skills and capabilities that you have acquired over the years.


  • Explore your passions   


Moving for financial gain in mid-career, like a fat salary, may not be enough to keep you interested. The money may be right but remember that you will be doing this job day in day out. On top of that, when you are in the 40’s to 60’s, most people tend to experience less energy. So it is best to consider something you are really interested in which will energize you, when you’re thinking about a new career.

Oprah Winfrey once said : “Passion is energy. Feels the power that comes from focusing on what excites you”.

  • Evaluate what are your Values


Identify those values that best represent your principles, standards, or qualities you consider important or desirable in your life. Then check if the career decisions you make are aligned with you Core Values.

Personal core values are what is important to you and what you admire in other people. Knowing your Core Values will help you in your decision making. It is like your moral and personal guide and compass to professional and personal life.


Personally, I discovered that individuals who spent time to discover and reflect who they really are have more success in their career transition that those who dive straight in and start sending out their resumes to potential employers or recruiter. For example, if you let your entire professional network know that you’re seeking new opportunities the moment you receive your layoff notice, you may feel tempted to rush into something that isn’t right for you. You don’t want to rush into the job hunting activities and realized that you have been climbing up the “wrong tree”.


Articulate your Personal Uniqueness

Today, rapid changes in technology and the uncertainty in global economy climate are core factors that affect the Singapore job market. To stand out from the other candidates for the job, you need to differentiate yourself.

With the data you collected about who you really are, you can start to determine your personal uniqueness. You can help potential employers see why they should consider you compare to the other many applicants, by articulating your personal uniqueness and how this uniqueness can benefit the hiring company.

Your Personal uniqueness can be specific areas like :

  • Personal Core Values
  • Strengths / Talents
  • Passion
  • Technical skills
  • Transferable skills
  • Industry knowledge
  • Market experience
  • Qualifications & trainings
  • Language abilities


Manage your mind

Your mindset will determine how successful your career transition will be.

For anyone going through any career change, it is going to get really uncomfortable and scary for many as you will be dealing with a lot of unknown about the future. And there are some things that is beyond your control (economy situation, job availability, hiring managers’ perspectives of hiring older worker, etc) when you embark on the journey of mid-career transition. Here are some tips to prepare yourself mentally and keep a healthy outlook during your mid-career transitions :


  • Be Pragmatic and take small steps


Give your goals a realistic time frame and work out a contingency plan. I know of many clients who has a lot of enthusiasm when they started out their career transition but got disillusioned, discouraged and even depressed after a few month into their career transitions with their unrealistic expectations.

Check if you are willing to be retrain or start from the bottom to take on a new job. If you have decided to go for a complete career change, you will need to keep in mind the impact on you and your family. You may have to start from ground zero and this may put you out of your comfort zone.

Ask yourself if you are prepared to take a pay cut. Examine your current financial commitment, evaluate if you can make cuts and get a concise idea of exactly how much money you need to make. It takes a great deal of courage to do something your heart desires at the cost of some financial loss. However, this courage can pay off in the long term if you find a career in which you feel satisfied and passionate.

At the start, it is important to set yourself small but achievable targets, such as writing your resume, or contacting a few members of your network for informational discussions each week.


  • Decide on what you want to control


As mentioned, there are many things that beyond our control like the availabilities of suitable jobs, the economy situation, the biases of hiring manager, etc.

Instead of dwelling on the things that you can’t control or influence, focus on staying positive and moving forward in your plan to find another suitable job.

We can choose to control how we see things and how we response to them. It is important to be aware of your perspectives, attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and moods during this transition and ask if they are serving me.


  • Be open to change


It is normal to feel uncomfortable and stressful during mid-career transition. We can choose to embrace a positive way of thinking that energize us.

Zoom in on an attitude, a belief or a perspective that you want to change. Then visualise what you want instead to achieve the desired outcome.


  • Pillar of support


Find support. Since your transition affects your family as well, speak to them before you embark on the journey. You can also seek external support from friends or professionals (relevant government agencies that support unemployment, coaches, etc) too.

If you’re finding this period challenging, use appropriate stress management techniques to cope with your new situation.


  • Keep Learning


Whatever direction your new career takes, you’ll only be successful if you keep your skills update. Often, you need to pick up some new skills for the new job.

Connect with professional bodies to understand what skills and knowledge are needed in your industry, and use social networks to keep abreast of technological and other issues facing it.