Surviving a career pivot
This is a topic that has come up in discussions recently, where the opening gambit of the person I’m talking with goes along the lines of “you have taken some career changes along your journey, how did you achieve that cause I want to do the same?”
So let’s talk about this, because there are some learnings along the way, and also some variations on the theme.
Step 0: Identify your Transferable’s
No matter where you are on your career journey, you have skills, capabilities and knowledge that is either directly or indirectly usable no matter what you choose to do next. It might be that you’re looking to apply your trade in a different way, change what you do within your realm, or try something completely new. Below is a summary of what you will likely play forward in each of the models I’ll describe.
- Discipline: this is the role you have, such as product marketing, sales, engineering.
- Domain: this is what you know, like security, health, insurance, a specific technology.
- Experience: this is the learnings you have accumulated along your journey.
Model 1: The Iteration
The simplest of the models, this is when you are growing within what you do now. Usually this is career growth (“more”) but sometimes it’s “less”. I won’t spend much time here as this is a topic to explore in career planning one day.
Model 2: The Domain Pivot
In the Domain Pivot model you are holding onto the role type, giving you the foundation of “how” to do the job, and you will learn and gain knowledge about the new domain you are entering. You can apply the discipline skills and capabilities you have, which is the value you bring to the role.
Model 3: The Discipline Pivot
In the Discipline Pivot model you are staying within the realm you know well, and choosing to learn a new role. For example, many technical sellers move into product marketing, product marketers often make good product managers, and people with a desire to help achieve outcomes often shift to customer success. You retain the depth of knowledge about the topic space, giving you a foundation to then apply in a different way.
Model 4: The Reset
The hardest shift, The Reset is where you choose to “start again” or make a significant shift. Maybe you’re ready for a second (or third or fourth) career, maybe you just need to be reenergized, whatever the reason, you will likely downshift in the career ladder, (re)train and learn new skills. You will always carry forward your experiences, many of which will allow you to rapidly become proficient in your new world.
Change can be hard, but it can also be fun. If you think through what you really want to do and reflect on the changes you want to make, these pivots are not just possible, they will give you a much broader awareness of many aspects of your career and ultimately make you are more valuable employee.
Have you made a pivot? How did it go?