Leah Feuer is a professional mind organizer (aka coach) and artist. She offers empathetic, no-bullshit coaching to entrepreneurs, creatives, and clarity seekers. After ten years in the tech industry, advising startups, launching more than 40 products, managing people, and growing companies, she knows how to help people focus on the things that matter. You can learn more about Leah’s work at leahfeuer.com and on Instagram.
Keep reading for Leah’s insight on how to make a career pivot when you’re not sure where you want to pivot.
One of Zeit’s Discovery Path Program cohorts recently asked, “I'm ready to make a career pivot, but I'm not sure what to look for when I go to a job board?” They continued, “I don't know what my future role is called. I don’t know what to filter and search for on jobs boards and LinkedIn. It's so overwhelming and confusing! How do you clarify and understand the differences between roles and titles?”
“It’s really exciting that you are ready to pivot,” Leah said, “It can be hard to search when you don’t know what you are looking for.” The solution to your challenge starts with a perspective shift. Instead of searching for what you don’t know, start exploring and expanding what you do know. Ditching the search bar for a creative process will help new ideas and opportunities emerge.
Here’s how to get started.
Get clear on what you already know about your dream job. Get a pen and write out your current answers to these questions.
1. What do you like most/least about past jobs and why?
2. What are your strengths and skills? Focus on the ones you enjoy using—not things you are good at but hate. If you are stuck, consider a strengths finder test or asking some colleagues or friends for their perspective.
3. Are there any constraints that will direct your search? (ex. location, pay, company size/stage, industry, work-remote policy, leadership team makeup, etc.)
These questions are meant to act as guides, not strict parameters. If you aren’t finding anything that fits the bill, it may be time to prioritize or dig a layer deeper. For example maybe you thought working at a startup was a constraint, but actually what you are looking for is an entrepreneurial environment. The goal is not to lower your standards, but to hone your understanding of what could be a good fit.
So many people get stuck on this foundational step. It’s scary to let yourself want what you truly want and risk not getting it. I understand this fear, but it’s so important you dream about your next role.
Try one of these options to help you dream about what you want without feeling overwhelmed.
1. Journal without stopping for at least two minutes. Don’t overthink it and be honest with yourself. Here’s a prompt to get you started, “In my dream career I ___.”
2. Try out visualization. First, get yourself settled. This could mean taking a few deep breaths, going on a walk, or lighting a candle. Imagine yourself transported five to ten years out in the future. You are now facing the future you. What do you picture?
3. Brainstorm for a few minutes. Come up with at least ten alternate careers. These careers don’t have to be plausible or exactly what you actually want. After your brainstorming session, see what resonates.
Learn more about things that pique your interest by signing up for newsletters or niche job boards for inspiration, watching a day in the life videos on YouTube or TikTok, and finding some people (or organizations) you admire and learning more about what they do. The more you uncover about the world around you, the more insight you’ll gain into what direction you want your career to go. Passion fuels passion.
Start talking to people who may be able to guide you. Your goal is to get a better sense of what jobs are like before committing to them and strengthening relationships that may lead to your future job. Start with people you know (friends, colleagues, and mentors). Then consider reaching out to people in existing communities (alumni networks and professional groups) or cold-introducing yourself to people (start with LinkedIn) if you feel bold enough.
If you are hesitant to ask for people’s time, push through those excuses. Most people love talking about themselves. Helping people also makes people feel happier. Of course, if they really can’t accommodate your request, they can always say no and that’s okay.
Here are a few talking points to help guide the conversation.
- Tell me more about what you do!
- What’s your day like?
- What are the best and worst parts of your job?
- What makes people successful in your line of work?
- How did you get started?
- I’m interested in x, y, z. Do you know of any companies or roles that might be a good fit for that?
- Who else do you think I should talk to? (Don’t skip this one, it’s the gift that keeps giving!)
If you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck, take a break or do something that fills your cup. Time to play, rest and digest are all important parts of the creative process. It can be very uncomfortable to not know the answer, but if you move through it one baby step at a time, you’ll find yourself in places you never knew existed. Even if you spent time learning about jobs you absolutely hate or don’t yet understand, you are on your way.