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How to master a career pivot

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Making the decision to pivot in your career may come from a desire to try something new or, like in these uncertain times, be due to keeping up with skill demand in a volatile job market. Whatever the reason, choosing to cut a new path can be emotional and overwhelming. To ease this transition, we’re sharing our best practices to to set you up for success.

Decide what’s next in your career and why

The first step in navigating your career pivot is exploring what next steps might be possible and why you are looking to make the move. Are you doing it to expand your skill set? Are you looking to move from one industry to another? Are you interested in starting fresh in a new area all together? The answer to any of these career existential questions will determine the plan of action you will need to take. Understanding your why will keep you focused and on track when you feel challenged or start to question whether making that change is worth it.

Who do you know?

If you’re considering a career pivot, reviewing your network for contacts that could help you is essential. If they are in the industry you want to move into, or have functional experience for, not only can they tell you what the ins and outs of what work-life is like, they can also help you isolate what skills you need to be successful (more on this later). They can talk through with you honestly whether you are suited for the switch and can help you figure out what the next steps will be to move you closer to your goal.

Networking requires time and effort, and may require reaching out to contacts of contacts, putting yourself ‘out there’ to people you don’t know very well or at all. Always be polite in your communication and follow up without being pushy. Our advice would be to reach out to people at different levels and various organizations so you can get a wide array of opinions and advice. A goal of networking at this stage is to get help with getting your foot in the door for an informational interview. If you take the initiative to develop deeper connections within your network, you’ll find that uncovering opportunities will happen organically.

What transferable skills do you have?

When it comes to mastering a career pivot, being able to parlay your past experience into your next role will give you a leg up. Think about all the training you've had over the years and your unique skillset and determine what's transferable. For example if you work in brick and mortar retail as a Visual Merchandiser and want to move into e-commerce, how can your skills and training be applied to presentation and navigation of offerings online? Or if you have experience in Email Marketing, but want to move into Social Media Marketing, how can your knowledge of content development and using analytics to make decisions be applied in your desired role. Being able to connect the dots between your current role and desired career will be instrumental when you start interviewing.

Fill the gaps

Once you’ve decided on the career pivot that best suits you, it’s time to ramp up on skills and knowledge you may be missing to make a successful transition. How will you know where you’re coming up short when it comes to your dream role? One way is to research job descriptions online and note what the requirements are. Another option is to talk to people with whom you’ve been networking to get that real-life perspective. To start improving yourself, the great news is that there are more free resources available online than ever before, at low or no cost. We recommend checking out Coursera, General Assembly, EdX and 24 Seven’s Talent Academy.

Re-craft your narrative

Shaping your personal brand story is critical especially when making a career pivot. Hiring Managers will most likely ask you why you’re making a change and how you can be sure this is the right move. This is where the work you did initially on clarifying your “why” comes into play - now it’s time to formalize it into your personal elevator pitch. How you brand yourself as a candidate will set you apart from the immense sea of applicants. What is your personal mission statement? You hear companies selling products and making deals based on their mission statements, but what would yours be? Be sure you are able to sell yourself and your skillset in any given moment. You’ll want to be strategic as an applicant, gather a deep understanding of the role you’re going for, and packaging your skillset specific to the job description so that its evident what you can bring to the table.

Highlighting your soft skills is also a great way to stand out in today’s market. Attributes such as creativity, the ability to communicate clearly, and the ability to quickly learn new skills are important in today’s uncertain job market. Soft skills are a great selling point that can make up for the fact that you lack previous experience in area to which you’re looking to pivot.

Look forward

Successfully pivoting your career will take time and you may have to take a couple of lateral or backward steps to get where you want to go. Continue to look forward with your goal in mind to avoid feeling discouraged. As the job market landscape is rapidly changing, we expect to see more professionals pivoting along their career journeys. Soft skills will become increasingly valuable in the future of work with hiring managers placing increasing value on these candidate characteristics. For more resources to help you with your digital marketing job search, creative staffing needs, or talent recruitment assistance, click here.