Classroom To Boardroom - 3 Lessons I Learned During A Career Switch

Classroom To Boardroom - 3 Lessons I Learned During A Career Switch

A former schoolmate left the Teaching Service to be a financial planner in early 2015. This came to me as a surprise as I thought he made an outstanding educator. Nevertheless, I admire his courage to reboot his career in his mid-30s.

Career transition was much tougher than perceived when I made the switch in my early 30s (and I'm glad I left early). When I was 24, I started my first job as a trainee teacher. Close to 6 years later, I left the Teaching Service to pursue a career in Adult Learning.

I was a government scholarship recipient but this accolade did put off many hiring managers for some reasons. Subsequently, I left that out from my resume since there's no reason for them to hire someone who's perceived to be a threat to their jobs. There's also no correlation between the number of scholarships attained and the job fit.

At hindsight, there are 3 areas I could have done better before making a career switch:

1. Learn new skills

Armed with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), conferred by the National Institute of Education (NIE) of Nanyang Technological University, I assumed that demand was high for people of my qualifications. Unfortunately, direct job experience matters after several job interviews with both private and public-related organisations.

While some employers recognise your current skill-sets, never assume that everyone takes your previous job experiences seriously. Sign up for night classes to equip yourself with new skills that can take you to the next job.

2. Count the cost

Do you have bills to pay and kids to feed? Are you mentally prepared to take up to 30% (depending on the role you are going for) pay-cut for a second (or third) career? Go to Glassdoor and research the salaries offered to roles you are applying for.

Recruiters (both internal and external) found my last pay way too high to match for an entry to a slightly senior role in Adult Learning. I was disappointed that my classroom teaching and team supervisory skills couldn't justify a match in my last pay or even an increment. I thought they were just making excuses for me to take a pay-cut. For your information, there wasn't any Glassdoor (or any websites or apps to compare salaries) at that time for me to research on the expected pay of the role I've applied for.

However, after some years working as an HR professional, I have to admit that it would be a dealbreaker if I insisted my second employer to match my last pay as a senior teacher. Although I landed myself a role as a Senior Executive in an HRD function, I wasn't happy with what I was earning. It took me some time to get over the idea of a reduced monthly income and cut down on unnecessary personal expenses (such as clothing and social life) as I had a housing loan to clear, utility bills to pay and dependents (my parents) to feed.

3. Research the industry

Do you know enough about the industry before you make the switch? Network and talk to people in that industry through conferences or online forums. The learning curve on the job was really steep and at times, I regretted not learning enough about the adult learning industry before I took the plunge.

Note that the above does not represent the views of other mid-career professionals and they may have other considerations that are different from mine. While there are many things to consider when doing a career switch, do take that leap of faith if you are even just a bit ready for it.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn

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