Your early career years can be some of the most exciting yet nerve-racking periods of your life – possibilities abound as you embark on your new journey as a working adult, but the abundance of choice can also be a source of stress for those who have yet to find their career footing.
Bryan (not his real name) understands this all too well. As a finance graduate, he had expected to join his peers to become an analyst. His first role fresh out of university was at a business consultancy; but he left after a year because he wanted something with a stronger finance focus. His second role in financial operations at an investment back did not last long either, as his job scope and work required for progression were different from what he had hoped, and he resigned after three months.
More lost and confused than before, Bryan knew that he didn’t want to return to a consultant role, but had no idea how to move forward. He has a keen interest in private equity and investment banking, but had limited options due to his of experience.
Yet, Bryan’s story is not defined by the roles he’s left — it’s by the roles he’s found.
With the help of IBF Careers Connect, Bryan has hit his stride as a wealth management relationship manager, and despite the longer working hours and steep learning curve, he’s happier and more fulfilled in his career than ever before
If you’re just starting out in your career and have yet to find where your passion, purpose and skills collide, here are six lessons from Bryan’s experience that you can use to find your way through this formative time.
1. Seek Help from Career Advisers
Most of the major turning points in Bryan’s career happened right after he reached out to IBF Careers Connect. At IBF Careers Connect, Bryan met with a career adviser who helped him better refine his job search by analysing his interests and personality before recommending suitable roles. The career adviser was the one who first put him on the path of becoming a relationship manager, working with him to tailor his CV and forwarding it to financial institutions for suitable roles in retail banking and wealth management.
IBF career advisers help job seekers open more doors by facilitating referrals for relevant roles, identifying programmes that enhance employability, uncovering competencies and skills in line with labour market trends, and connecting them with other finance professionals.
No matter the stage of your career, career advisers can be invaluable in asking the right questions to steer you in the right direction. If you’re in need of some guidance or simply want to know what opportunities are available, try reaching out to IBF Careers Connect to get in touch with a career adviser.
2. Know Your Personal Strengths and Interests
His career adviser put Bryan through a profiling assessment. The results showed that he was extroverted by nature and would probably do well in client-facing roles.
Bryan had previously chosen two jobs that were desk-bound and “routine”, which could have contributed to a lack of job satisfaction as he wasn’t playing to his strengths. Now, in his relationship management role, he gets significantly more face-to-face interaction with his customers and colleagues, and is feeling much more fulfilled in his work.
His biggest strengths are also his listening skills and problem-solving acumen, both of which are invaluable in his current role, where he has to advise customers on the best wealth management solutions based on their current and future needs.
Bryan reflects that, “everything he did up to this point in his career was wrong,” He continues, “I like meeting new people and cannot sit down for more than 3 hours. My previous role in investment banking requires plenty of research which I sometimes have to sit for 12 hours straight and clearly I couldn’t.”
Now, after having a better understanding of his personality, interests, and working style, Bryan is able to better focus his career, and develop a clearer vision of his ideal job.
3. Build Networks and Find Mentors
When Bryan was feeling lost in his career journey, he didn’t know who he could turn to for advice – his university professors were back in Australia, and he didn’t have anyone in Singapore with whom he felt comfortable discussing his career dilemmas.
When he reached out to IBF Careers Connect, his career adviser offered him plenty of valuable advice. In addition, his current role at the bank places him under the mentorship of a supportive manager, who gives him adequate guidance without putting too much pressure on him to perform: a tactic which seems to be working because Bryan is more motivated now to do his best at meeting his monthly targets.
Bryan also regularly attends finance-related workshops and courses to keep himself up-to-date with current trends in the financial industry – and he’s made valuable connections through them. IBF organises a regular calendar of events that covers a wide range of topics, from sustainable finance to data-driven technologies in banking, which are great opportunities for finance professionals to keep abreast of emerging topics while meeting like-minded peers from the industry.
4. Move On from Jobs that Don’t Fit You
Singaporeans tend to be afraid of leaving jobs too early because they may be labeled “job-hoppers”. But as Bryan is happy to testify, moving on from an unfulfilling or unsuitable role is the best things you can do for your career.
“I did consulting back then because that was the first opportunity that came my way,” Bryan explains. “But if I could turn back time, I definitely wouldn’t have taken up that job. I would probably have tried to apply to a more financially related role.”
He even recently advised a friend to move on from his current job sooner rather than later. “I told him that if he really wants to quit his job and try something new, he should try it now before turning 30. It always seems super terrifying, because I know exactly how it feels, but for me leaving my old job was the best thing I ever did.”
Moreover, being a “job-hopper” is no longer necessarily a bad thing. Depending on how you explain your move from role to role, job-hoppers can be seen as hungrier for challengers, more adaptable to new circumstances, and equipped with wider professional network.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Your Peers
When Bryan first faced doubts in his career, he felt like he couldn’t approach his peers for advice or support.
“I was a bit embarrassed… Because my peers seem to have their life all sorted out and they were happy in consulting or in a bank,” Bryan shares. “And then I was just the guy who’s like, “Oh my god, what am I going to do?””
It is important to accept that everyone’s career is different – you’ll develop at different paces, in different directions, and with different destinations. Understanding that your career journey is unique will help change the way you define success, and make it easier for you to achieve it.
In Bryan’s case, his ideal career has changed and evolved from his days in university, where he thought that there was only one “standard route” for a finance graduate. While his peer may have found their niche in research or analyst roles, he has found fulfilment in building relationships with his customers and helping them achieve their financial goals.
6. Deal with Uncertainty by Embracing Change and Staying Adaptable
Life rarely turns out the way you plan. Setbacks, roadblocks, and unexpected turns of events are common facets of life, and the most successful of us are the ones who stay adaptable to changing circumstances.
Embracing uncertainty as an opportunity – and not an obstacle – is key to continual success, both in life and at work. In Bryan’s case, he embraced the chance to take on a new role, one that he had never considered before, and it turned out better than he had ever anticipated. “After I talked to IBF and they shared that my profiling results suggested a fit to a sales-related role, I was a bit sceptical at first,” Bryan admits. “And then the next thing I knew I got hired. And now I really enjoy what I’m doing.”
“Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never tried or even considered before. Restarting your career could be just what you need.”
Bryan describes his experience with IBF Careers Connect as amazing. He continues, “I went in hoping for some answers and direction, and during the process, my career adviser gave me some career suggestions and insights into my own personality that I had not even realised myself.”
When you’re not sure of which road to take, it can be tempting to hop onto any bandwagon that happens to pass your way. But that won’t be a long-term solution to finding your true career calling.
Are you feeling lost or confused about your career, or are you considering making a change? Get in touch with our advisers at IBF Careers Connect who can guide you to make the right decision for your career future.