Making a pivot in your career can mean making a slight shift in the type of work you do or it can mean shifting into an entirely different industry or role. It can be incredibly rewarding yet also overwhelming and I’ve seen many people give up in the process far too soon. I’ve successfully navigated two career pivots and can tell you that it’s absolutely worth the effort, patience, and persistence to go after what you want.
#1) Know What You Want and What It Takes to Get There
A really important step is to do your research. Obtain as much information as you can about this next move that you want to make.
- Skills and Experience – Do you have skills and experience that will transfer over to the new work that you’d like to do? If you have a resume, a resume writer can help you to translate these skills to appeal to potential employers. Do you need more schooling or a certification? Consider if there is additional training or experience that you may need.
- Informational Interviews – Find people who are in the job that you want and ask if you can interview them. At one point in my career I had considered making a switch to work in non-profit. I asked friends and former colleagues who they knew that I could interview. I ended up connecting with several interesting people! After these conversations, I decided that non-profit wasn’t the best next move for me . The information that I gathered was highly valuable and helped me to decide my next step.
- Break the Process Down into Smaller Pieces – What are the next couple of steps that you need to take? Breaking it down will make the process feel more obtainable and less overwhelming.
- Financial Considerations – Will the pivot require a pay cut? If so, are you prepared for the reduced income? Will you need to take out a loan for additional schooling? The more prepared you are to make a pivot in your career, the smoother the transition will be.
#2) Make Connections
- Tell People What You Are Up To – The more people know about the change you want to make, the more they can help you along your path. Let people know what you are up to both in your casual conversations with friends, professionally, and with new connections that you make. That new person you just met may be the very person who can help you get where you want to go.
- Build Positive Relationships – The first time I decided to make a pivot in my career, I was able to make a transition fairly quickly because of the great relationships I had already built with the people that ultimately helped to connect me with my next job.
#3) Avoid Getting Stuck
- Stay in Action and Don’t Give Up – Set a goal to make a transition within X number of months or years; this target may move but it will keep you moving forward. The transition may not happen as quickly as you’d like but it’s important to not give up. Keep moving toward what you want.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” — Vincent Van Gogh
- Think Long-term – I have my coaching clients do what I call “Future Thinking.” Where will you be in 2, 3, 5 years if you invest the time now to make a transition? Keeping the bigger picture in mind will help you to stay motivated when the process feels slow now.
- Ask for Help – Talk through your options with a friend or family member. I have also found that finding an accountability buddy (someone who will hold you accountable to your own goals) helps tremendously. Someone who will simply ask how things are coming along or what your next step is can be a huge motivator.
- Stay Open – In the end, you may end up choosing a different path than you initially thought, however it was the process of getting curious and putting things into motion that got you where you landed so it’s all good.
- Get Creative – Consider creative ways to make the pivot happen. For example, can you reduce your current work hours to try a new side gig or to get the experience you need?
This process can be quick and it can also take some planning. Either way, set yourself up for success by staying informed, using the resources available to you, and taking action. I’ve seen people pivot from administrative or entry-level jobs into technical, highly-paid jobs, for example. The world is full of possibility—and you have the power to make it happen!