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Pivoting to a New Career? Must do steps.

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

Pivoting to a new career can be daunting for many reasons, not least financially. Will I get the same salary? Will I have to begin at the bottom of the ladder and work my way up – again? These are just some of the questions our coaches get asked every day.

Whether you are mid career and in search of new challenges, were laid off and seeking opportunities in a new field, want to make more money or just plain bored, beginning a new career takes time and dedication – treat it like a project. Use our Making a Career Pivot eGuide to get started.

Assess your skills “gap”

Take stock of your accomplishments and skills. List out what are you best at, what do you love doing?

Search for keywords in job postings for the field or position you want to move to. Then, create a second list of the skills and education needed to succeed in your new career.

Compare the two lists to see how they match up; assess what current skills are transferable to a new career and what skills you need to develop. These could include organization, research, communication, teamwork, problem-solving or adaptability.

Create a Career Pivot Action Plan

Now that you know what’s needed, it’s time to create an action plan. This will help guide you as you pursue the steps needed to pivot. The first step is to list out all your goals. Next, write out the steps needed to achieve each one. Use our Career Pivot Action Plan to stay on track and prioritize the actions needed.

Develop new expertise

You can develop new expertise by learning everything you can about your new field or industry. Act like you are already there by attending meet ups, joining networking or professional groups, or taking a course, all of which can help immerse you in the field.

Upskill – learn something new

Don’t rely on past accomplishments. Actively work on the skills you may be missing. You may find that you need to go to school to get a specific certification or credential. Your current employer may even reimburse you for that. Check out these free resources to check out this list of learning courses, most are free.

Learning something new not only adds new skills to your resume, it gives you fresh topics to talk about in a job interview, making you seem resourceful and interesting.

Job Shadow – get the expertise you know

Network with people already in the field or industry you want to move to. Find someone who is willing to let you job shadow them few hours or even a few days. Volunteer to assist with a project or do some freelance work to gain experience.

Volunteer – work in your new career area

Where can you find a multitude of career opportunities? Almost every non-profit needs and wants volunteers. Even if you only have one hour a week volunteering is a great way to network, upskill and contribute to your community all at the same time.

Virtual volunteers are needed in many different areas including website design, consulting, finance, HR, IT, education, digital media and marketing. Click here for opportunities to make a difference.

Volunteering in a new industry has the added benefit of helping you switch industries, make a move to working with a non-profit or even start freelancing. Add this job to your resume or portfolio to showcase your new skills.

Freelance – launch your own career

Put yourself to work by offering your expertise as a freelancer. Most freelance jobs require existing expertise in a particular field to get started. It doesn’t need to be a long term commitment.

Using a job board like Upwork, LinkedIn ProFinder or Fiverr means you don’t need to spend time finding clients – jobs are posted and you submit a bid or brief proposal outlining your services and rates which gives you lots of flexibility with little to no start up costs.

Start a side hustle or small business – grow your skills

Start your own side hustle by getting paid to do something you love. This can be a bit more time consuming than freelancing and may require start up costs but doesn’t require much prior experience.

Let’s say you love baking or making jewelry and want to sell your products at a local farmers market. You would need to pay for the raw materials in advance before earning any revenue. You may also need a business license depending on the type of product you are selling. For inspiration, we love “How to Start a Business on Your Kitchen Table”by Shann Nix Jones.

Hard work, effort and persistence are all important strategies when pivoting to a new career but not as important as believing you are in control of your own destiny.

Find a mentor

Seek out a mentor or someone in your company who can help you develop other skills such as communication or who can introduce you to other people to expand your network.

Ask your manager for new opportunities to enhance your skills– volunteer to take on new projects and crush them.

Internal opportunities – check internal job postings

Seek out any potential internal opportunities – taking a step to pivoting to a new career can be much easier when you are a known entity. If you have a good reputation for being reliable, hard working, collaborative, agile and flexible you will already have an advantage over an external candidate. See the top skills employers are seeking now.

Do the Two Step

Depending on how “big” your skills gap is, you may need to do the two-step. That is, take on a role that gets you closer to the one you want. This will add credibility and show your determination.

Prepare to Pivot

Update your resume and LinkedIn profiles. Add your new skills and edit out the old; make sure your professional branding reflects the new you. Network – let it be known you’re seeing out new opportunities.

This article is part of our Career Pivot series; job search and career advice to help you make a career move.

Arche helps people architect, navigate and advance their career path with expert advice and tools to support your job search, interview preparation, professional branding, salary negotiations, and career advancement.

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