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How to Make a Career Pivot

If you’re feeling burned out, disillusioned or uninspired by your job, you may be considering making a career pivot. Transitioning to a new career field, even without experience, is absolutely possible! However, you have to be clear on your goals and your transition plan. Here are some actionable steps to help you make a career pivot.

How to make a career pivot

Get Clear About Why You Want To Make A Career Pivot

America’s grind culture has probably—more than once—made you feel ready to quit your job. While saying we’re “always hustling” can be trendy, the never-disconnected aspect of the grind culture has negative effects on one’s mental health and wellbeing.

If wanting an out of the grind culture is your primary reason for wanting a career change, we need to pause. Ask yourself: are there steps I can be taking to create a work/life balance? If our issue with our current career is one not characteristic of the industry itself, changing careers won’t address your needs.

However, if you’re feeling any or most of the following:

  • Waking up each morning with a feeling of dread towards your job
  • Extreme lack of motivation at getting your work done
  • Lack of enthusiasm or excitement
  • Stuck and not growing
  • Under-utilized

then perhaps a career pivot is the move for you. Which of the above resonates most with you? Now, reframe each bullet point as the opposite question. For example: “What kind of work would make me feel excited to wake up to each morning?” Before we start making plans and taking action, getting at the root of our why will ensure our next steps genuinely address the issues we face in our current role.

Create a SMART plan To Pivot Your Career

I am a firm advocate of the SMART goal strategy.

S — Specific

M — Measurable

A Achievable

R Relevant

T Time bound

Once you’ve decided that you do want to enact a career pivot, start planning.

  • What specific kind of work or industry do you want to be in?
  • What milestones are you setting for yourself during your journey?
  • Do you have what you need to be able to achieve your career pivot goal?
  • Is your career pivot goal in line with your needs?
  • How long are you going to give yourself for this transition?

One key thing I like to advocate for as well is having a stable source of side-income or an emergency fund for you to tap into during this period. If you need to invest a lot of time and energy into your career pivot, it might take longer while continuing a full-time. Really think through the “Achievable” component of your SMART goal to determine if this is a path you need to take.

Do a Personal Audit of Your Skills

An audit is an in-depth examination, typically from an outside source. A personal audit is, then, an examination of yourselfin relation to your skillsetas if you are an outside body. Another way to look at this step is: What is it going to take for me to make a successful career pivot?

Remember the “outside source” component of an audit, especially as a woman of color. We are often our are harshest critics, so approach the audit from the outside looking in.

Lidia De la Cruz from Poderosa Coding, for example, identified her why, created a SMART plan, and took steps to fill gaps in her knowledge. Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I know?
  • What transferable skills and experiences do I have?
  • What skills will I need in my ideal role?

Fill your Skill Gaps

Once you conduct your personal audit and identify what skills or experiences you need to make that pivot, you need to actually make that investment of time and energy. Key to starting this is developing your growth mindset.

When the world continues to devalue women of color, we must be our most powerful, loudest cheerleaders.

Developing a growth mindset as a woman of color can take a bit of work. Invite the growth! When you do, you’ll be able to act on your goals and take advantage of all the free educational resources out there.

Own your pivot story

Once you’ve identified a clear goal for your pivot strategy, it’s time to start crafting your pivot story, or how you will frame your change to potential employers. On our latest episode, Fabi Paolini gives us a great strategy: “Take the things that make you different, and leverage them.”

If you’re a former teacher trying to break into tech, what skills from being an educator can you leverage? If you have a lot of international experience, what sets you apart from others in your desired industry?

See your pivot not as a set-back, but as an asset

Key to this part of your process will be honing in on your story and your personal Truth. In one of my favorite episodes on the podcast, Elaine Gonzalez-Johnson drops so much wisdom and inspiration towards finding our individual stories. Listen to this episode if you’re having trouble getting to the core of your story.

Remain Intentional

Making a pivot can be exciting and scary, all in one. Especially if you decide to fully invest yourself into setting yourself up for a successful pivot, not having a stable job, for example, can cause some stress. But remember: you decided to make this change for a reason. Keeping this intentionality in your decisions is important.

As you start to apply to positions, land interviews, and face decisions, remain intentional in what you say yes to. If your choices do not align with your desires and goals, you will end up in the same situation that you made this pivot for.

If you’re here, you’re probably playing with the idea of making a career change. Revisit your reasons for having these thoughts and get at the root of your why. Mujer, you got this.

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