Are you planning to pivot?

I keep hearing the word ‘pivot’ in relation to changing direction in your career (or your business). It seems to have been around for a few years, a phrase coined by Jenny Blake who left Google as a Career Development Program Manager, and launched her book, ‘Pivot; The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One.’ 


Is a career pivot another name for a career change?

A career pivot is more nuanced than a traditional career change…where you might change a sector or industry completely or it might involve retraining or starting from scratch. 

A career pivot on the other hand is a smaller change, where you might have some experience already or you might be diving deeper into a particular area and focusing on rather than getting broader. It’s about the intention of moving in a new but related direction. In her book, Jenny defines a career pivot as “doubling down on what is working to make a purposeful shift in a new related direction.” Jenny, adds, “It’s an intentional, methodical process for nimbly navigating career changes.”

Why would you pivot? 

As with any change, it can be triggered by all sorts of things. From feeling bored at work to lacking energy and enthusiasm to get your work done. Perhaps you have been turned down for a promotion or maybe you’ve realised you’re staying in the job only because of the pay or the title it offers, not because you love it. You may even have been suffering from imposter syndrome – although that might be a conversation for another time! 

As you start to plan a pivot of your own, keep that word in mind: intentional. A pivot will take you out of your comfort zone and so you may feel a little uncomfortable, but you should always feel a sense of confidence in what you’re doing. (If you don’t know where to start or need more help then get in touch)


Three things to consider before a career pivot

When it comes to developing your career, whether you’re staying in the same role, pivoting or planning a major career change, first you need to do an audit. Consider: 

  1. What is good/bad about your career right now? 
  2. Which parts of your role would you like to continue? 
  3. Which parts of your job would you like to discontinue? 
  4. What do I need for the next step?

As part of this audit, take a deeper dive into the following three areas: 


Transferable skills

Transferable skills are those which you pick up in life and are transferred across different industries, jobs and even personal goals. For example, you might be a project manager; this skill could be used in any project management role, regardless of the area/topic including volunteering roles. 

In contrast, you may have industry-specific skills e.g. using a particular piece of software and industry-specific knowledge. These are the things people focus on and think they can’t change jobs. In a career pivot, the skills and knowledge you have gained in a particular role may still be useful and could be considered transferable. For example, if you’ve always worked in hospitality but you’re looking to pivot into an events role, you might look at events roles within the hospitality sector in the first instance. 

You could then look at events roles outside your sector that use your transferable skills. Consider how you can use the skills you have and broaden them out so you have more. Seeing your potential in terms of skills not careers helps you to spot the opportunities open to you. It would also be worth noting where there are any gaps in your skillset. 

Your strengths

When it comes to strengths, most people I speak with have a decent idea of what they might be good at – even if they don’t like to tell anyone! These strengths may be part of your job or they may be something you do outside your role; perhaps in a voluntary role or as part of a hobby. 

If you can’t think of any strengths then ask someone you trust, they will tell you honestly what you’re good at, and it’s an easy ask because people like to tell others good news! Otherwise think about the following: 

  1. What kind of positive feedback do you receive from others?
  2. When are you most productive?
  3. What are you passionate about?

When you know what your strengths are, consider which ones you already use at work and which are not being fully used. Where else could you use them? A personal SWOT analysis is really useful for this. 

How you add value

When we are feeling disempowered or stressed in a job it’s easy to think that we are unimportant or that we don’t add anything more than someone else could. When I am reviewing CVs or doing mock interviews I often find people undervaluing themselves. So how do you figure out how you add value? 

So hopefully you will have a list of your transferable skills and your strengths. Now consider how you use these in your role to add value. Let’s take a problem solver. If that’s you, what’s a problem you solved recently? What specifically did you do and what was the outcome? How did that add value to your team/company? Being a problem solver can add a competitive edge to a company or allow you to solve an issue more quickly, leaving time to focus on something else. 

Maybe you are proactive and show initiative? Think about something you did without being asked. How did it benefit the team? How did your team perceive your actions? In what way did you help out? 

What can you do now to help you pivot in the future? 

Once you have taken this career audit and reflected on what you bring to a new role then it’s time to make a plan. Here are five questions to get you started. 

  1. What could prevent you from pivoting? e.g. money, location, skills gaps?
  2. How can you overcome these barriers?
  3. How will you know when you’re on the right track?
  4. What’s important for me now?
  5. What can you do right now to take the first step?

If you need help with any of this then do get in touch, I can help you make a plan, be a sounding board and help you identify your skills, strengths and value. 


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