If you’re in your mid-twenties to early thirties, and having some qualms about the current state of your career, wondering if there is any room to pursue passions that you’ve tucked under the rug, I can assure you that many people feel the same. A career pivot is something that is absolutely terrifying but undeniably possible. Let’s say you’ve had a corporate job for several years, or a steady freelance career, and you want to venture into another area or take your skills in a new direction, whether it’s more creative or more specialized, a career pivot is very much within your reach. But there are a couple of things you should know and prepare for first before you make what may be a life altering move.
Ways you can tell you’re ready for a change:
If any of the following signals feel familiar, you should think ahead to your next move.
Your current job is no longer what you signed up for
This is what we call a blessing in disguise. If you’re being asked to take on more responsibilities that you don’t necessarily want and that move you further away from your passions, this may be a sign that it’s time to move on. If these changes to your job description are taking you off your desired path, it may be harder to get back on your original track the longer you wait.
What you can offer is losing value and relevance
This could be linked to your current employment or a general trend in your industry, either way, it is a major no-no. You should strive to keep your skills continuously up-to-date. But if your skills are no longer in demand, it’s time for a bigger overhaul.
You’re feeling unhappy, restless, and worst of all, bored
Burnout is real, and if you’re unhappy at your job, it’s more likely for you to reach it before its time is due. Be careful of signs of burnout, which sometimes come in the form of physical ailments, mental exhaustion, boredom, and restlessness. Instead of waiting for that to happen, and if you’re anticipating it, start thinking about it now. Identify moments in your career where you feel you’ve achieved concrete results and felt a sense of satisfaction that had a lasting impact on you. These types of moments may help reignite your passion and guide you towards your next move. It is much easier to come up with a plan when you’re not completely exhausted and burnt out.
If you’ve identified with one or all of the above, here are some ways you can prepare for a successful pivot:
The modern workplace is subject to constant change. We witnessed it recently, when most of us who could, had to work remotely and juggle a whole new set of challenges. Don’t only play defense, but instead, rely on some of the following strategies so that you’re never caught unprepared or feel blindsided by yourself.
Identify your passion
Think to yourself about things you’ve always wanted to pursue but couldn’t—due to many different reasons. Is this passion of yours worth pursuing? Do you think that in the long haul it will lead to successful results? Is it viable? Do you need to start it on the side before you pivot to practicing it full time? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself. Make a list, do some research, and listen to your inner desires.
Always look beyond your immediate job description and monitor how the market is moving, whether in your direct field or in the field of what you’re passionate about. It doesn’t hurt to scan descriptions of intriguing jobs, things you’d be interested in doing, and seeing which skills of yours you may need to strengthen.
Keep socials and profiles up-to-date
Some may say that online presence is everything—and they may be right. Make sure that your social media presence conveys what you want prospective employers or communities to know about you. On top of that, make sure your resume and website/portfolio reflect your most up-to-date experiences as well as your skills. A good tip is to constantly be updating your resume as you go, especially when you learn a new skill.
Keep those connections tight
It’s great to have hundreds of LinkedIn connections, but when was the last time you actually had meaningful interactions with them? A rookie mistake is to get in touch only when you need something. Make sure you continuously expand your network, meeting people for coffee and setting up calls – people love being asked about their experience and it doesn’t hurt to boost their egos. A lot of opportunities nowadays spread through word of mouth or social media, so make sure you are nurturing these connections.
Have a side passion project
Even if it’s not your money maker, this will help in guiding you to build the career you want. It may be a side project that will eventually become your main gig. It is helpful to be involved in things outside of your office, as it paints you to be a well-rounded go-getter. Everyone will want to be around you and near you if you’re doing something interesting.
And lastly, take the leap
When you feel ready, go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? Don’t be afraid to take a chance on yourself instead of spending your life wondering “what if?”
Change is hard, but it is also inevitable—we’ve seen how 2020 forced us to adopt new habits and look at our priorities. Don’t wait till life forces you to change, take control of your own life and do what makes you ultimately happy.