Should I Change Jobs In 2021?

6 questions to ask before taking the leap.

By Sasha Gonzales      6 February 2021

Are you thinking about moving to a new industry in 2021? Career and executive coach Paul Heng answers some of the questions you should be asking yourself before deciding to make the switch.

Q: I’ve had the same career for many years now. How do I know if I should change careers or industries?

Paul: Use this “Ideal Job” guide.  Break down your job into activities – that is, what you actually do, for example, identify prospective clients, engage clients, build relationships, initiate sales conversations, close sales, deliver services, and so on. Now, sort these activities into three “buckets”:

Learn: Activities that teach you new skills or knowledge

Stretch: Activities that you know how to do, and need to do more of to be an expert

Eyes Shut: Activities that you can do with your eyes closed and that you’re likely already an expert in

If you have an almost equal number in each bucket, you have an ideal job. In this case, you should stay put. If you’ve been doing the same job for some time and you have more activities in the “Eyes Shut” bucket, then you’re likely just going through the motions at work and not exactly learning or progressing. If this sounds like your situation, then you may want to make the switch.

Q: I’m not happy in my career but I’m not sure if I’m ready for a new one. How can I tell it’s time for a real change and that I’m not just bored with my current job?

Paul: Ask yourself why you’re not happy, and be objective. Not liking your boss is not an objective or good enough reason for switching careers. More appropriate reasons would be that you’re not being challenged enough in your current career, that you’re eager to try something new or different, or that you feel your skills and knowledge could be put to better use elsewhere. Remember, though, switching careers doesn’t mean you have to leave your current company – it could just mean making a lateral move to another role or department within the company.

Q: What’s the best way to learn more about a career that interests me? For example, is it enough to just research it or should I speak to someone in the field?

Paul: Doing research about a particular career is a wise decision – you’ll gain a better understanding of what it entails and the qualifications and experience required. But, if you know someone who has the career you want, that’s even better. It wouldn’t hurt to ask them questions to get more information. You could ask them about a typical working day, what skills, qualifications and experience they have, what they’ve learnt so far, how they’ve contributed to their field, what opportunities they have to advance in their industry, and so on. It’s always great to have some insider knowledge.

Q: How do I “sell” myself and play up my skills if I’m moving into a different industry as a “newbie”?

Paul: If you don’t have any real experience in a particular industry and have nothing to “sell”, so to speak, you can close the gap by showing an interest in that field and acquiring some knowledge about it.

Q: What industries are expected to grow in the next five to 10 years in Singapore?

Paul: Some popular industries include financial services, healthcare, artificial intelligence and digitalisation, tech start-ups, and property.

Q: Is it worth investing in extra training or a new diploma or degree before embarking on a new career? How much can this affect my salary when I switch industries?

Paul: There’s no downside to acquiring more knowledge and skills. Even if you don’t end up using them, they will stay with you forever. For every job, there is a perceived value, both within the company and in the job market. Your salary is determined according to the perceived value of the job, and not your qualifications (fresh graduates who have just landed their first job are an exception).

Share your career change experience or job hunt tips with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg