Halloween may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear when it comes to getting a bit spooked. If you feel scared to make a career pivot, that’s totally understandable. Change is intimidating and a fear of rejection is enough to make anyone want to hide under the covers.
One way to make a career pivot feel a lot less scary is to simply get started. Which is why we want to share five not-so-scary ways you can start a career change today. These first steps are easy to take and will help you rip off the Band-Aid so to speak. Once you get things rolling, it will be easier to dive fully into your pivot
Knowing that you’re ready to make a change is the easiest step to take in a career pivot, but deciding where you want to pivot can be significantly more challenging. The truth is, we’re not exposed to the true breadth of career options available to us and there are countless paths we can choose to go down—if we actually knew what those paths were.
If not knowing where to pivot is making you scared to take the next step, you need to spend some time reflecting on what you really want. Professional mind coach Leah Feuer recommends spending some time visualizing your future career. Take a moment to pause, breathe, and allow your mind to picture what type of career you want. Don’t worry about visualizing a specific job, focus more on what you want your days to look like. Do you want to interact with clients? Are you more interested in strategy than execution? Can you see yourself working on longer term creative projects? Let the ideas flow in. Once you have an idea of what you want out of a job, you can start researching what that job would be called.
FYI—Leah shared more great tips for finding your pivot direction here!
If you already have a general idea of different career paths you’re interested in, spend some time researching those careers. The idea of jumping in and applying for jobs can be really intimidating, so don’t do it. Instead, spend some time on job boards reading different job descriptions for the job titles you’re interested in, but don’t worry about applying right now. Instead, just focus on which roles appeal to you and which don’t. Maybe certain industries will jump out at you or you’ll find a role only seems like a good fit if it’s at a more established company than a startup. You can also research jobs in unconventional places like on YouTube, Medium, and even TikTok.
You should also do some digging online. In this day and age, there’s no shortage of career profiles that can give you insight into a variety of roles. On the Zeit blog, we’ve taken a closer look at product marketing and product operations.
While doing your research, keep your skill set in mind. What are you good at? Did you come across any roles that require your specific skills? Take a closer look at them. We all have a superpower skill or two. Not sure what yours is? We broke down eight superpower skills to help your brainstorm.
Again, if you’re in the early days of a pivot, this is not the time to overwhelm yourself by launching into a job search. That being said, now is a great time to refresh your resume. Think of this more as a practice that will help you know what you need to do to fill in the blanks. If you have an idea of where you want to pivot, take a look at your resume and practice adapting your current experience to suit your new chosen role.
For example, let’s say you want to pursue recruiting roles, but have no formal experience as a recruiter. If you were a hiring manager at any of your last roles, you can include your experience interviewing and hiring employees on your resume.
Reflect carefully on your past roles and what skills and experiences you gained from them that can transfer to a new role. Pay equal attention to the necessary skills that you don’t have so you can make a plan for acquiring them, whether that be through taking an online course, asking your manager for opportunities to build those skills, or volunteering for a charity that needs help in those areas.
Before you can start going on job interviews—which is a scary thought at the beginning of a career pivot—you should pursue informational interviews instead. What’s an informational interview? This type of interview flips the script. Instead of being asked about your career history, you’ll ask someone else about theirs. Asking someone for an informational interview gives you a chance to pick their brain about what they do and how they got to where they are. That’s why it’s such a good idea to conduct informational interviews when you’re considering switching career paths.
Let’s say you’re curious about what it would be like to work as a project manager, but aren’t sold on the idea just yet. To get a better idea of whether or not you want to invest your time and energy into pursuing a career as a project manager, ask a few different project managers if they’re willing to do an informational interview. During the informational interview, ask about what their day-to-day responsibilities look like, what skills they need to thrive on the job, what their pain points are, and what career and educational experiences helped them get to where they are today.
To make planning for an upcoming informational interview even easier, here’s an agenda you can follow to keep the conversation flowing.
If you’re scared to ask for help, don’t be. People are more often willing to help than not. Consider reaching out to a connection on LinkedIn, someone at your current company in the role you’re interested in, or a friend who can make an introduction to someone they think could help you.
Come to your informational interview with questions to ask. Their time is valuable and you want to respect it while making sure you get the most out of the experience. This is your chance to get some insider insight into whether or not you should shift your focus to this new career path, so devote some time to preparing for your interview.
If you’re itching to get your career pivot started, we’ve created the On-Demand Pivot Pack so you can access personalized coaching tailored to where you are in the pivot process. With the On-Demand Pivot Pack, you’ll get:
No matter what steps you decide to take next, it’s important to remember that making a pivot is possible. After all, 49% of people have made total career changes at some point, so there’s no reason you can’t join them.