Singapore – It is now not an uncommon occurrence when a fresh graduate makes a career choice not related to his field of study such a law major turning pâtissier or an engineer becoming a real estate broker.
The current trend among young Singaporeans today is being open to forging their own career journeys not related to what they’ve studied in the university or past work experience.
A survey conducted in October by recruitment firm Monster.com showed that 79% of Singaporean respondents are willing to take on a job not within their expertise.
Monster.com has also started a campaign called “I made the switch” wherein a total of 2,400 respondents coming from Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines were asked about issues on career transformations across Southeast Asia.
The results showed that due to an increase in curiosity and ease of exploration methods, 53% of fresh entrants to the workforce wanted jobs outside their fields of study. Furthermore, for people who are already in the middle of their careers and were willing to make the switch, 36% said that the reason would be based on personal fulfillment and passion while 34% said that the change would happen because of their need for higher income earning jobs.
Founder and CEO of recruitment and training firm ACI HR Solutions, Mr. Andrew Chan confirmed that “A trend among the younger professionals in the 21st century is to favour jobs that offer more work-life balance, resulting in the rise of flexibility as a criterion in employment.” This characteristic is a very common behaviour of millennials in our generation.
The Harsh Reality
Aside from the willingness to make a switch in careers, recent events may point out an underlying issue that would spark such a readiness within the fresh graduates today.
In order to paint a picture of reality, let us portray a common scenario happening today. For instance, Daniel (a fictional character), having just graduated from a prominent university in Singapore wants to get ahead on his job searching and starts giving out his resumes to companies in the country. He graduated with a Business Management course so the positions he was aiming for were sales, marketing and administrative-related roles. He walks into an interview and was asked for his previous work experience. Daniel just graduated and therefore he had none. This became such a repetitive scene that he found himself still without a job after one year and 80 applications have passed.
With more and more fresh graduates being faced with this “experience-needed requirement” when applying for a job, they are forced into taking internships or contract positions instead. Another option would be making a switch and choosing another career, as mentioned earlier.
The National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Singapore Management University (SMU), in its annual surveys or recent graduates, released that only 78.4 percent of graduates in 2017 managed to secure full-time jobs within six months from graduation. This was the lowest percentage in 10 years.
Because no one can wait around 6 months to one year without a steady flow of income, the trending workaround for a scenario such as this would be freelancing or part-time jobs. These two options still guarantee a source of income plus more time to pursue other activities. The much-required work-life balance that millennials seek could also be achieved by taking freelance work.
A sense of accomplishment and passion fulfillment have become necessities when paving a career that it pushes financial and job security lower down in the list.
Young professionals today are not afraid of making big career changes with most venturing into entrepreneurship. Because of the many opportunities that support start-ups like e-commerce sites or work-from-home options like freelance writing, such a change is not difficult to do.
National University of Singapore Tan Ern Ser observed that the generation today would rather do something they find meaningful or are interested in rather than be tied up to an office job with the same routine from 8am-5pm with no room for autonomy.
Unlike the previous generation of employees where job security and tenure were important goals in a career, professionals today expect fulfillment and continuous growth to be present in their current work experience, otherwise, it would not be hard for them to look elsewhere.