Should you be considering a career pivot during a pandemic?

Should you be considering a career pivot during a pandemic?

For most, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about significant and unexpected changes to our lives, businesses and careers.  Our daily routines, our children’s lives, our jobs and our relationships have been flipped upside down.  Have we ever looked at so many graphs, charts, models and metrics unrelated to our business lives?

Workplaces and entire industries are changing.  Employees have been furloughed and a number are now being made redundant or having to rethink how their roles and careers will evolve in the emerging new world normality.

There is no doubt that this is a major re-set, and that many are faced with a significant challenge of working out how to live, work and survive this ‘new normal.’ For some, it has led to an enforced opportunity to reflect on what might have been. But be aware of backward thinking; in times of crisis, it is very easy to slip into a mindset of blame, regret or denial.

Making a career change in the midst of a global pandemic might therefore seem wild at first. Even in happier times, career change is never a perfectly linear process or without risk and challenge. It’s a necessary journey of exploration — and to do it right, you have to experiment, test and learn about a range of possibilities and options that could become a future reality.


The reasons for wishing to career pivot

When you don’t know what the future will bring, or when the path you thought you were on takes an unexpected turn, Rialto believes it makes sense to consider and explore a diverse portfolio of options rather than just sticking single-mindedly to the known.

Our discussions indicate that many people right now are considering taking a job in a different area, whether it’s because they are working in a declining industry; loss of personal drive or reaching a performance plateau; a role no longer makes them feel fulfilled; or a struggle with work-life balance is dictating that change is necessary.

The current reality, in fact, may make it easier on some levels to make a much needed pivot as the environment we find ourselves in means there is a need to change.

Whatever the motivation, individuals need to prepare to pivot and assess what actions are needed to successfully make the move. For some people, this next move is clear, for others less so which is why for some it is a good idea to seek the advice of an experienced career transition or outplacement specialist who has assisted others with similar moves.

Effective preparation needs to involve an assessment to identify any skills or experience gaps that will impede pivoting and deciding on the best intervention to address them.  Whatever the move, there must be clear purpose and intent behind it.

Working out how to pivot will involve thinking laterally and with some creativity. For instance, making a sideways move or looking for a secondment may be more beneficial and productive than more formal development. In some cases, the springboard for the pivot could be something outside of work like a hobby or voluntary work, which could be transformed into a new career or business opportunity.

Careers could span 70 years in the future so there is even greater scope for individuals to pivot multiple times during their career lifecycle

Working with clients over 28+ years, we have found that clients always benefit and gain more clarity when plotting a roadmap of where they are now, where they would like to be and what needs to happen to reach their goals.  Think about your personal risk appetite as a gauge to whether a career pivot makes sense right now for you or not. Often mapping out the best case and worse case scenarios of a given path successfully is a way to prioritise action you choose to take.  Using tools such as LinkedIn or the Rialto Accelerated Leadership Index (RALI) also allows individuals to benchmark themselves against others who have followed a similar journey or are in desired careers.

It is essential to go into pivot mode with eyes wide open and to research the role, company, sector or industry to which you aspire. A pivot in which the role or individual falls short of expectation will feel like a major career setback and a severe blow to anyone’s confidence.

But the positive effect of a career pivot can be immeasurable: it can re-invigorate; build new skills and capabilities; and provide exposure to entirely new experiences. It can also mean that you enjoy going to work and feel more rewarded for what you do.


Why pivoting is likely to increase

With the end of a job for life, work tenures becoming shorter and the shift towards a more portfolio style of working, career pivots are likely to become an even more regular aspect of the business landscape.

Surveys point to average tenure in a role as four- to five years and this figure can approximately halve for millennials. And, indeed, it has been suggested that careers could span 70 years in the future so there is even greater scope for individuals to pivot multiple times during their career lifecycle.

It is important to remember though that while some will fall into a new position in a non-linear way which then provides the opportunity to pivot into a new role, in general, such a move needs to be extremely well thought through and executed effectively.

So, for those who find themselves thinking about a career change, the pandemic may provide the opportunity to make the career pivot that has always been in the back of your mind but you’ve never managed to explore.

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