3 Proven Strategies For Making A Successful Career Pivot

We were all taught to go to school, get a degree, and choose a job accordingly. But what if that career doesn’t turn out to be the way we thought it would? Do we stay stuck in that role or make the decision to make a pivot?

As a career coach to thousands of clients from all over the world, I can tell you that the quickest path to an unfulfilling career is to do nothing. Regardless of what someone tells you, you can always make a career change to do what you actually want to do. The hard part is having the courage to try.

As for me, I have changed careers four times. After graduating with a business degree, I got my start in management consulting. Afterwards, I moved to a new continent to try my hand in agency recruitment. And then eventually, found my way to HR, specifically in learning & development. I put all three together to do what I do now at Workhap, and that is to help other people get hired and paid in the careers that they love.

If I can do it, so can you, my friend. We’ve talked about job hopping before, and why changing jobs might be the best thing you can do for your career. Now let’s shift the focus to making a career pivot. Here are three proven strategies that have worked for me and our clients on how to make a successful career change.

Decide What You Want To Do

You most likely know what you don’t want to do, but the hard part is sometimes honing in on what you do want to do. So before you start applying to anything and everything, first make a thorough assessment of what your ideal career looks like. Make a list of what you like and what you don’t like in your current role, and then try to find common themes here.

This is also a good time to reflect on all your experiences before your last role. What skills make you the most confident? What are you genuinely passionate about? What aspects of your current role do you love? This self-reflection will help you identify the type of work that aligns better with your interests and values. 

From there, make a list of potential roles that you feel are more aligned with your goals. But don’t just stop there, do deep research into these industries and teams so you know what to expect. You may even learn that you may have to take a pay cut to get into your desired field. While it may feel like you’re taking a step back, remember that your career is best played with the long game in mind. I have found that a temporary decrease in salary is worth it if it allows you to finally do work that you find meaningful. If you’re going to switch careers, you want to make this pivot count.

List Transferable Skills You Already Have 

It’s perfectly normal to feel hesitant about changing careers, especially if you’re looking at a field that’s a bit out of your wheelhouse in terms of skills and training. So many people think that you need to go back to school or start learning from scratch to even be considered for the new role, but this isn’t necessarily true.

Of course, some jobs will require new certifications and training, especially if you’re dealing with complex or highly regulated fields like technology, finance, or engineering. But for the vast majority of cases, you likely already tick a lot of the boxes that recruiters have for that new role that you’re looking at, and you just need to help them see that in your resume.

My advice is this: look for transferable skills you already have that could make you a good fit for the new role, and highlight that in your resume. Skills like adaptability, having a growth mindset, and excellent communication skills are high on any recruiter’s list because they allow you to thrive in any environment.

Make sure to go through your resume with a fine comb, and emphasize how your current skills and experiences can be applied to the new career you’re pursuing. If you need more help, check out these 5 Classic Resume Mistakes You Need to Avoid.

Connect With Someone Who’s Made The Same Pivot

Often the best way to learn is to hear from someone else’s experience. If you know someone who’s done something similar before, connect with them and ask about their journey. Hearing about their experiences, the challenges they faced, and the lessons they learned can help kickstart your transition and help make the process a little bit easier.

It’s also a good idea to connect with people in the new industry that you’re trying to get in. Make it a point to learn everything you can from their experiences, and ask for tips that you can use to help with your own career pivot.

If you can’t get a hold of someone in person, you can also connect with these people on LinkedIn. Take advantage of the connection request message to introduce yourself and why you’re trying to connect with them. Here’s a prompt that you can use for your connection invitation requests:

“Hey George! Always great to connect with people who are in this space. It’s a big goal of mine to make the move into Data so I love to see examples like yourself! I know you must be busy but I was wondering if you would be open to a quick phone call to share your journey. Thank you!”

I know career pivots seem risky but they are often the key to a new career that you know would be a better fit for you. Decide on what that ideal career looks like first and then go all in on finding the right opportunities that will get you closer to that goal. Rooting for you!

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