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How to pivot your career in unprecedented times

By 12/04/2020April 16th, 2020I Need A New Job
how to pivot your career in unprecedented times

For today’s blog, I’m pulling from one of our readers’ questions. (Remember you have an opportunity to get more support with your career. You can post a question here, and each month I’ll choose one to answer.) 

This question is from Hillary who attended the Career Contessa webinar. (Hi, Hillary!)

Hello from Career Contessa’s webinar! First off, I want to sincerely thank you for your support and advice from the bottom of my heart. Your willingness to share career wisdom and to lend a hand during these unprecedented times is inspiring.  

What I need help with: Breaking into a new industry.

For context: I recently got laid off from my full-time marketing role in the restaurant industry. After much thinking through my WHY and HOW, I decided to explore the tech industry. I’m already taking steps on my own but am not entirely sure if I’m taking the most appropriate first steps that will set me up for success.

This is such a great question so thank you Hillary for asking it!

There are a lot of people right now looking to pivot given the economy and because some industries are getting hit harder than others (i.e. the restaurant industry, hospitality, events, etc.)

To ensure you’re taking the best next steps, look at your job search strategy (after you’ve identified your mission and have a focus area.)  

An effective job search strategy should give you a path to achieve your goal, but it should also leave you room to grow and improve. 

Here’s where to start:

Write your story

Before you go out and network and build connections in the new industry, there are a couple of other steps you can take to make the networking process more seamless. 

Start with writing your story. Your story should include:

  • Your why and mission
  • Your unique skill set, and
  • What you’re currently looking to do (not the job you’re looking to land – but something along the lines of “I’m looking to pivot to a new industry.” This is honest, and will help you tackle the transition step by step. 

(And keep in mind, your story will evolve as you make progress with your career pivot.)

To feel good about your story and how you’re communicating your value, spend some time breaking down what you did at your previous company.

You can start with the tasks, but always focus on the value you created and the impact you made.

For example, if one of your task was “Supported company sales and brand marketing efforts,” highlight the result of that support in terms of engagement, revenue or something else. Always look at your tasks in the context of how they impacted the business overall. 

Highlighting the impact and value you created for your previous employer makes it much easier for someone in a completely different industry to see what you’ll do for them – even if it’s in a different line of work. 

Identify your knowledge gaps 

If you’re going to make a big pivot, you probably have a lot of questions about the industry and what you need to stand out. 

Make a list of all the questions that come to mind. 

This gives you an opportunity to put all of the unknowns down on paper. It’s incredibly powerful because then your brain isn’t swimming with everything you’re trying to answer. 

You’ll fill in these knowledge gaps by making connections. See next steps. 

“Get on the phone”

This is something one of my old coaches taught me and it stuck with me. Getting on the phone is all about connecting and asking for what you want.

In this case asking for what you want means filling in the knowledge gaps you listed above first (not asking for a job). 

When you’re making a career transition, your network may be limited to your current industry. That’s ok.

Make a list of your current network – people in your immediate circle, and ask them: Do you know anyone in the tech  industry you admire that I can speak to? I’m looking to learn about _____ (i.e. share knowledge gap here). 

If your immediate network can’t help, there are several free communities to tap into where you can make a similar ask. 

For tech opportunities, check out Tech Ladies or Dreamers & Doers Jobs & Gigs. 

In Conclusion

Creating an effective job search strategy requires taking clear action steps, but also checking in with yourself: What’s working in this process, and what can I do better? 

Always ask yourself these questions weekly. They’ll allow you to make improvements as you go. 

Done is better than perfect. 

Now I’d love to hear from you. 

  • What’s the first step you’re going to take to make a transition?
  • What other steps do you recommend for the Work Bigger readers?

Share with us in the comments below.

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Walter Van Den Broeck says:

    Thanks Belma.

    This is useful and insightful. I will use these steps as I refine my mission and vision statements.

    By the way, I find a lot of definitions of mission and vision. Can you please clarify what really differentiates them?



    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Hi Walter – Mission is the impact you want to make in the world. It’s your values and interests and what anchors you during challenging times. It’s part of your vision and what you want to accomplish. Let me know if this helps!

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