Building Skills for Getting Ahead in Our Careers

Stepping into the workforce fresh out of university can be intimidating for some of us. Having grit and being adaptable is essential to navigate the challenging employment climate, but how do we build that? How can we stand out and grow in our career?

Feon Ang, Vice President, Talent & Learning Solutions, Asia Pacific & China at LinkedIn (left), and Winnie Wong, Consultant at The Boston Consulting Group (right) shares tips on how to build our personal brand in our Speaker Series

At the Future Women Leaders Forum 2021, participants heard from different leaders in the marketplace on their personal journeys and tips to future-proof our careers. They learned to take charge of their personal and career development, embrace opportunities, build up their networks and cultivate new skill sets to keep up with the evolving job landscape over workshops, speaker serieses and roundtable discussions.


Here are four key takeaways to consider as you kickstart your career:


1. Incorporate Improv techniques to build your confidence


How do we tap into the power of our natural speaking voice? How do we get into our own voice?


These are questions that kickstarted Improv That Interview! Workshop led by Founding Director Kamil Haque at the Haque Centre of Acting & Creativity.


One way to achieve this is to try improv exercises to think, listen, and respond on the spot which are essential skills to ace any interview!


Participants engaged in Improv techniques facilitated by Kamil Haque at the Haque Centre of Creativity and Acting


Here are a few actionable improv tips that you can practice:

  • Say “yes, and..” By adding on to other people’s statements starting with “yes, and..”, it shows them that you are actively listening, and responding with empathy.

  • See mistakes as opportunities and gifts Take every lesson learnt as an opportunity to improve and be better. If we could frame mistakes as gifts for us to receive and learn, then incoming challenges can be pockets of opportunities.

  • Listen actively Postpone judgment and listen attentively to what the other party is saying. Everyone has a story to tell, be engaged in listening.

  • Respond with your whole body Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but such an exercise can counter the jitters by creating connections through making direct eye contact with the other party to show your willingness to let people into your story.

  • Warm up your voice Before an interview, do simple vocal warm ups to tap into your natural speaking voice, prepare what you want to get out of the interview and remember to breathe!

The perception of talent is very much linked to the reception of sound. Interviewers will unconsciously be listening out for whether you sound in charge, and whether there is dissonance between what they see in your resume, compared to your voice.


2. Build an authentic personal brand and network

A strong personal brand and network can help you to stand out from competition and when done thoughtfully, will support your career steps. The foundation of building and communicating an authentic personal brand that is clear and consistent is driven by values.


“If you’re not clear about what you stand for, it will be confusing for others as well. A strong and sustainable brand comes from having clear values and conviction,” shared Feon Ang, Vice President, Talent & Learning Solutions, Asia Pacific & China, LinkedIn.


Your brand advocates and mentors will champion for you in your absence


To carve a personal brand, it is important to connect the dots between your strengths, what you stand for, and your accomplishments.


“Connecting the dots will help you identify what makes you different and what gets you noticed for future opportunities,” said Winnie Wong, Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.


Cultivating your brand is also about value-adding to others. Find out what others seek you out for. Regularly ask for feedback from others to actively manage your own brand, and other people’s perception of your brand.


3. Further your education, explore different skills


Nurul Hussain from The Codette Project, and Akshita Nanda from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy share their thoughts on pursuing graduate programmes


When you are at the crossroads between deciding whether to continue on your original career path or take up a new challenge in a different industry, furthering your education may provide you with an answer. Ask yourself what you want to get out of the experience, as well as assess your financial situation before making any decisions. Reach out to mentors and your peers to get advice.


“Be careful not to let others impose their expectations on you. You need to know what you want and make your own decision,” shared Akshita Nanda, novelist, graduate student and student researcher at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.


While graduate school can provide you with the necessary experience as well as build up your network, it is not the only option. In today’s digital landscape, there are a plethora of specialised courses online to help further develop your skill sets to move ahead in your career.


“My grad school experience made me understand my own capabilities which were transformational for me. Even though it was a difficult journey, I would not trade it for others,” Nurul Hussain, founder of The Codette Project shared.

4. Embrace creativity


Pooja Nansi (left), Festival Director of Singapore Writers Festival and Claire Wong (right), Co-founder, Joint Artistic Director, and Producer of Checkpoint Theatre discuss how to embrace a creative mindset and develop creative confidence


The evolution of technology makes creativity one of the skills that employers keep a lookout for. Creativity is fuelled by having a growth mindset and being flexible is extremely essential in this digital age. Being creative means you have to constantly think out of the box, create new ideas and learn to take risks.


In kick-starting your career, cultivate an attitude to not be afraid to try. If you fail, fail fast, take the learnings from the experience and move on. When you have new ideas, share with your teams and have open dialogues.

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Organising Committee: Recruitment

Organising Team: Yvonne Mak, Eliza Ho, Eileen Teoh, Casherine Goh, Mona Tan, Nurin Adila, Elizabeth Wee, Amanda Lye

Authors: Joanne Tan, Maslyn Choo Editors: Joaquim Tan, Kristin Loo

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