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When and How to Do a Career Pivot or Change (and Why Now Might Be the Perfect Time)

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Some of you reading this might currently be employed and working harder than ever. Some of you might be furloughed or laid off and wondering how and where you're going to find another job. Let's also not overlook that whether you're working or not, you're managing a household, making more meals than you ever imagined and possibly raising small humans. And whether it rears its ugly head regularly or not, you're dealing with low level stress, similar to background noise you no longer hear.

With the current upheaval and shifting circumstances, many have been asking themselves whether this is the time to do a career pivot or change. Some of us might not have a choice as entire industries are either going away or significantly changing or contracting. In addition, social shifts and upheavals caused by this pandemic - the ability to do so many jobs remotely and therefore from anywhere - has caused many of us to question our options. Another factor is the acceleration of what technology enables us to do and the possibilities it unleashes.

So if you are thinking of doing a pivot or a career change what is the difference and how do you start? A pivot is a change of roles using similar skills or capabilities used in prior roles. For example, a newspaper journalist who was a foreign correspondent leaves the newspaper. She authors a number of books on the Middle East and becomes a pundit. That's a pivot because she is using many of the same skills she used as a journalist, among them researching, uncovering sources and writing. A career change is that same newspaper journalist deciding to become an artisanal bread baker or starting an e-commerce site selling sustainable home decorating items.

Whether you are contemplating a pivot or a change, there are a number of things that you can do that put you in the best position possible. They include:

  • A bias for action - yes you have to think about what you might want to do, however you need to do something. That something could be talking to people who are already doing the work you want to do, or learning more by attending a webinar or taking an online course. It could mean volunteering to try something out.

  • A shift of your network. Reach out to dormant ties and activate your weak links. Strong links are the people who know you and are in your closest circles. The issue is that they probably have the same contacts as you.

  • Understand that in the same way building your current standing within your field took time, any change will also be an investment that takes time to pay off.

  • Re-think how you see yourself. That's the first step in then being able to present yourself differently whether that's on your resume, on social media and/or in person/ Zoom

A career change can be uncomfortable because it is neither linear nor quick. You often feel stuck in a place where you don't like being, are not ready or able to leave and don't know what you're moving toward. And yet...

In these most uncertain of times when the world has been upended, more organizations are re-thinking and reinventing themselves. That's one reason why it might be the optimal time to do that for yourself. As these industries re-shape their products and services as well as their value proposition, does it give you an opportunity to align your interests and values with theirs? I believe that right here and right now all bets are off and security has been revealed to be the illusion it is. The risk you take individually can be aligned with the risks organizations are taking as they reinvent their future. Is now the time to re-invent yours?

My Talking Talent co-host David Foy and I take a much deeper dive on this topic in our most recent podcast. You can find that episode and others on ITunes, Stitcher, GooglePlay, & Spotify. Feel free to share these links with friends and family. You can also find additional resources in the episode show notes.

If you’re interested in learning more about my course “How to Do a Career Pivot or Change” please drop me a note at

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1 Comment

Aug 28, 2020

A very topical subject. Brilliantly summarised and great advice. Thank you Angela. I agree now is a perfect time to reinvent your career and envisage a better future.

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