Over 7 years ago I made a massive career pivot when I decided to leave behind my 9 to 5 corporate job and pursue blogging full time. That decision changed my life, but at the time it was also full of angst, financial insecurity and fear. There’s no denying the pandemic has created a massive shift in how people are evaluating their lives and their work. Many are looking to make a career change or maybe re-enter the workforce after a prolonged absence from a traditional career path. If you’re looking to make a career pivot, today’s guest post is for you. Career coach and personal brand strategist Julia (@smarterinasec) is sharing some of her best tips for making a career pivot, including how to position your skills and experience in a way that aligns with the job you really want. If you’re on Instagram, Julia’s account @smarterinasec is one of my favorites to follow. Read on for more from Julia.
You’ve probably been inundated with headlines like these over the past few months. And yes, it’s true—the booming U.S. labor market has made now a prime time to find a new job. Workers across industries are nabbing massive signing bonuses and negotiating for (way) higher compensation like never before. Like Veruca Salt, American workers can basically say “I want it NOW!” in job negotiations—and almost always get their wishes granted.
But what does all of this mean if you’re looking to make a massive career pivot? You’re not just climbing the corporate ladder, but looking to scrap a defined path and start anew. In fact, it’s never been a better time to not only find a new job, but make that long-held career change.
Why? Companies are more open than ever to hiring people with transferrable skills. In a such a tight labor market, firms no longer have the luxury of choosing folks whose careers proceeded neatly from point A to point B to point C—and are dipping into different talent pools to fill roles.
Career pivots I’ve recently partnered with clients on:
- Elementary school teacher > project manager.
- Operations manager at a non-profit > strategy consultant.
- Stay-at-home mom > recruiter.
- Food server > technology sales.
These career pivots may seem dramatic, but in reality, the jobs my clients previously held were highly transferrable to the jobs they ultimately landed. It’s truly all about positioning—framing your experiences in alignment with your desired career while, of course, remaining honest about your skillset and accomplishments.
Before you even start applying, you need to figure out if the career pivot you’re interested in making is the right fit for you. Google the sh*t out of it. What does the day-to-day look like? What do people say are the best parts of the job? The worst? How does the compensation for your desired career compare to your old one? Will you have to take a pay cut of any kind?
Also, connect with anyone you know who is in your desired career (and even connect with folks on LinkedIn for informational chats—more on that below). Be like a 5-year old who asks “but why?” until you truly figure out the essence of the job and whether it’s for you.
How To Make A Career Pivot
A few tips once you start the application process:
1. Explore job postings to figure out what aspects of your skillset are applicable to the industry you’re targeting.
Job postings reveal how companies talk about talent—and thus, a great source of inspiration for how you can become that next new hire. Pick a handful of job postings for the industry / function you’re targeting and study them.
What language stands out to you? What skills are they looking for? Does your skillset somewhat align with that of their desired applicant?
If there is overlap, be sure to call out the skills that the job postings mention in your resume / cover letter.
If not, consider exploring a free or low-cost Coursera or Udemy course in the space to confirm your interest before making a financial investment in your career change. Of course, lots of career changes can be done without returning to school—but some do require an additional level of education.
2. Add an objective to your resume.
I recommend that everyone adds a crisp ‘objective’ at the top of their resume. This section captures your core skillset and what you’re looking to bring to your next position. An objective gives you an opportunity to frame your transferrable skills in a way that’s aligned with the industry / position you’re targeting—as your resume alone may not tell that story. This article is a great how-to guide on crafting a stellar objective.
3. Tap your network!
The word ‘network’ has a bad reputation—but it doesn’t have to. Did you belong to a sorority in college? Do you belong to a house of worship? Do you have a child who is currently in school? These are all networks—and while they may not have been intended for professional networking, they can certainly be leveraged that way. Don’t be shy about your desire to make a career change. Reach out to the alumni office at your school or members of your house of worship to see if they could connect you with anyone who is currently in the industry / function you wish to transition to. These folks aren’t strangers—second- and third-degree connections are an incredibly powerful tool for expanding your network.
4. Reach out to people on LinkedIn.
I always encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and utilize LinkedIn as much as possible. If you’re interested in a particular company, shoot a note to an employee who works there to ask for a 15-minute informational chat before you end up applying to a job.
You might be thinking…why would someone I don’t even know reply to my LinkedIn message? In fact, employees are likely financially incentivized to do so through referral bonuses. Most large companies offer bonuses to employees if someone they refer to a company is ultimately hired—and these bonuses have gone up massively due to the labor shortage. So you’re not a random, but in fact, their next mortgage payment.
By reaching out through this method, you can expect 60 – 70% of employees to reply and offer to schedule time with you.
If you don’t have LinkedIn Premium, there’s a character limit to the message you send along with your connection request. You can customize the below message template when reaching out to folks (it’s within the character limit):
“Hi Dan, I hope all is well! My name is Julia, and I’m currently seeking new opportunities in the XYZ space. If you’re open to it, I’d love to learn more about XYZ and the experiences you’ve had at the firm. Would you be free for a 15-minute connect this week?”
If you’re looking to make a career pivot and want a little extra support beyond this blog post, I’d be happy to connect with you. You can visit my website smarterinasec.com, where you can learn more about the career coaching / resume editing services I offer and schedule one-on-one time with me. Also, find me on Instagram @smarterinasec, where I love sharing my favorite articles & reads every day.