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Switching to a new career

  • Written by Nelson T. Dy
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 298

It makes sense

(Part 1 of 2)

HI Nelson. I’ve been working in the financial services sector for five years. Actually, I’ve been working for this company since I graduated. Three years ago, my boss asked me if I’m willing to be assigned to Dubai and take on a project in their subsidiary. Though it was not related to my function in the company at that time, I was very willing to take the challenge. Now, I’m going to be repatriated back to my company in Philippines. The project is already finished here in Dubai. As I was trying to reflect on the things that happened in the past five years, some questions lingered in my mind in terms of career path:

1. Is there a way to know which function / role will be a better fit to me?

2. Should I focus more on what I wanted to become (but not the best or well equipped in terms of skill sets) or focus on what I have already done (comfort zone) and develop it further?

3. I’m also considering career transitions wherein I wanted to go to another industry (FMCG) and function (corporate planning). Given my current profile as an Operations Officer handling Projects in Dubai,  I’m not sure how I can sell myself or shift to where I wanted. I would like to ask for your advice regarding this.

Thank you very much for your help!  Best regards, T.S.
My response:   Hi T.S.!  Is there a way to know which function or role will be a better fit for you?  Actually, there are several formal tests (Strengths Finder comes top of my mind) which you may want to shop around. Your HR may help you there.
Meantime, try this quick and easy method. Make two lists. On the first list, write down all the tasks that you are really, really good at. It can be work-related (such as problem-solving) or not (such as painting). Then on the second list, write down all the tasks that you enjoy doing even without pay (such as creative writing or public speaking). Now look at both lists. Are there overlapping or common items? In other words, can you identify tasks that you are both great at and love doing? These point to the jobs that suit you best.
All right, your second question.  Which is better:  Job A which you like to have but you are not the best at? Or Job B which you’ve already done and intend to do better? There are several ways to answer this, but my money is on Job B. Here’s why. Generally speaking, people are happy doing what they are really good at. If you are in Job A with a gnawing sense of inadequate competence, will you be happy? Unhappiness leads to diminished performance which leads to further unhappiness. The vicious cycle spells slow death to your career.
Organizations reward excellence. Still in Job A, your performance is hampered by a relative lack of skill. At best, you may be tolerated and retained on the company payroll. But deep down you may feel guilty, fraudulent, trapped or undeserving. At worst, you will be slated for replacement. Remember, there will always be someone younger, smarter or better than you. You may find yourself dreading performance appraisals or worrying the day will come when you will get the ax.
Actually, the real solution is to upgrade your skills through additional training, whether shouldered by the company or out of your own pocket. Then, perform to exceed company expectations. But this has to match your interests. Aside from not being the best skilled for Job A, suppose your heart is not in it. Then your dissatisfaction will hold you back no matter how much training is invested on you.

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To be concluded in next week’s article. Meantime, you can reach me via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for comments or questions.