Do you feel the need to transition to a new career after many years of working? Well, you are not alone. One of the most common career questions on LinkedIn is about career pivot. Many people want to either change their career or pivot to a new one.
What is Career Pivot?
Biz Penguin defined career pivot as the act of finding a different career, which is still reliant on your current skills but helps you move into a new trajectory.
Unlike career change, career pivot does not require to restart at the entry level. You simply aim to remain at the same level say a manager and within the same pay grade. For instance, an IT lecturer in a university can decide to pivot into the role of IT management in a logistics company. In this process, the person will be able to transfer knowledge from lecturing to the managerial position.
While career pivot may be forced on you through deployments into another job function or layoff, you can also be intentional about career pivot. Your desire to pivot a career can be triggered by experiences such as stress, disengagement etc.
If you continuously feel bored or stressed about your job, that can be a sign that it’s time to pivot. When such warnings are ignored, it can lead to crisis.
The author of Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, Jenny Blake stated that career pivot can threaten what seems like our most fundamental needs. However, fear is a sign of excitement, and with confidence and some form of planning, you can achieve a successful career pivot. Jenny left Google in 2011 and launched her own consulting business.
This article discusses four career pivot strategies for young people.
1. Why do you want to shift?
First and the essential question for career pivot is: What do you love to do and why do you want to change your career path? It sounds reasonable and valid to change for reasons like you are not passionate about your current job, improve health condition or spend more time with your family. However, it is not enough to pivot or change career solely for money or because of your boss.
Never make a career change, career pivot or leave a company because of one person. I know it can be frustrating and easy to believe that leaving the job or company is the best solution. However, you may have no idea who will be your next boss, or the same person may get a job in your new company or role. It is best to build relationships that can help you manage this “difficult person”.
Career pivot can sometimes be a necessity for survival.
As part of the understanding the reason for the career pivot, you should do a self-assessment to enable you to follow a job you will enjoy most. It will be of little value to your career or possibly your happiness to work as a call centre manager when your best-self is when you stand in front of camera and analysis data.
2. Access Your Current Skills
Unlike flight tickets, skill can be transferrable from one career to another. Therefore, before attempting to pivot into a new job, take an inventory of your existing skills. Assessing your current base skill will help you to understand the work you needed to pivot into the new career smoothly.
In an interview with Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Jody Greenstone Miller, CEO of Business Talent Group, recommends a personal and professional audit:
“You must understand your gaps. Ask yourself: What do I know? What skills and experiences do I have? What do I need for the next step? ‘You’re really doing an inventory,” says Miller.”
3. Prepare to fill the Skill Gap
After analysing your current skills, you should prepare a plan to close any fundamental gap between your skill and the necessary skill requirement of the potential career.
For instance, a sales manager planning to pivot into a public relation manager role should be prepared to do public communication on behalf of the company. If this person finds it difficult to speak in the public, then joining a Toastmaster club or coaching class will be helpful.
The new learning does not have to be a university degree or expensive methods. You can learn skills through short professional courses (e.g. Coursera), attend seminars or even taking an internship in a related department.
4. Market and Pitch your Skills
As you work on closing the skill gap, if any, you should start to showcase your passion for the target career. For instance, during an internal meeting with influencers and decision makers, try to carefully express your views on topics relating to the target career.
If Aisha, a project manager wants to pivot into human resources manager role, she can intentionally be making sound contributions to human resources topics during meetings. In this way, other people will learn about her knowledge of the human resources function and ability to add value.
If your target career is in another company, then networking and building personal brand will be helpful. You can start a blog on the subject, publish articles relating the role and talk to people who have successfully worked in the career. A personal brand is more than just uploading nice images on Facebook or Instagram. Your personal brand should convey who you are and how you add value to others.
This final stage is a continuous marketing effort which should be extended to your family, friends and network. You should also work on your online presence like LinkedIn resume and joining relevant groups.
Ready to Pivot?
If you want to switch to what you love, then first identify your passions, assess your skills and start pitching for the new career. Career pivot may come with new opportunities but remember you may also need to learn some new skills and work very hard to add value. Depending on your current skill, it may take time to pivot. Nonetheless, a career pivot can feel a bit scary, even if it’s something you really want! But it’s easier when you do it with preparation, information and support.
Thanks Ebrima. This is very insightful and relevant. I understand this because I recently took a new career decision. It could be challenging. The good part is that I am very happy with the decision I made.
Thank you Chika. As you mentioned, it can be challenging but it worth taking the bold step.