How to accomplish a productive pivot
One of the recurring questions I get when I am talking to working professionals is, “How do I navigate a career change?” Great Question! Let’s say you’ve been travelling a career path for a few years and you’ve come to a point where you aren’t having fun, aren’t fulfilled, aren’t learning and generally just don’t like going to work every day. Sometimes this coincides with a life event – marriage, divorce, children going to college – any number of things can trigger this uneasy feeling. It’s the “I can’t imagine doing this for the rest of my life” feeling. Ever been there?
Good News! We’re climbing out of the great recession and unemployment is almost back to acceptable – now is the time to make that change! But – how do you translate what you’ve done to what you want to do? Here are some tips:
- Take the focus off of your job title. Let’s say you have been a Sales Analyst and want to move into more of a marketing analysis role working with big data rather than sales quotas. Often times, companies have job titles that tie employees to a specific function. For instance: Sales and Compensation Analyst. Instead of branding yourself in a sales and compensation role, consider removing the functional part of your role and make it more generic. The title becomes Business Analyst – or simply Analyst. Then, when you are talking about your job on your resume, highlight the Analyst parts of your job and downplay (don’t eliminate) the functional parts.
- Think in terms of activities – not functions. When you are writing about your achievements and accomplishments you’ll want to focus on those that are most directly relevant to where you want to pivot in your career. For instance, if you have been very operationally centered and want to move toward a client facing role – focus on the parts of your job that let you solve customer problems or work outside of your department serving other areas of the company.
- Write your passion statement. Before you can pivot your career you have to decide where you want to go. You may not know how to get there yet, but you should make notes of the kind of role you want, the people you wish to work with and what your day might look like. It’s much easier to figure out how to navigate when you understand the end points. Your passion statement is a sentence at the beginning of your resume that talks about where you want to be. “Passionate about……” This gives the reader of your resume some idea of your target and a much better contextual understanding of your resume.
- Identify your value propositions. Your value propositions will be different depending on the company and the role. You need to think from the hiring manager’s point of view. Why should they want to talk to you? Why do they need you in their company and on their team? What do you have that they don’t already have in their current employees? Think in terms of what you have to offer, not how wonderful you are. Here is an example: “With over 5 years of experience analyzing why customers make buying decisions, I have developed a method for engaging prospects that has shown outstanding potential – I’d like to discuss it with you.” This statement is just provocative enough to make the reader go “hmmmmm…..”
- Write your story. Your story is a cliff note version of your career – with an emphasis on where you are headed. Take time to think thru your career path, write down the parts you want to highlight – those that are relevant to your pivot path – and end your story with your passion statement. This should be about 90 seconds long – not very much time, so you’ll have to be efficient. Try it out on a dozen of the smartest senior level professionals you know. Practice it until it becomes a part of you.
- Get aggressive. You will not get the attention of hiring managers by being passive about your pivot pursuit. You MUST reach out to those individuals who need to hear your story directly and with conviction. Also, you shouldn’t rely on recruiters when you are doing a pivot. Recruiters are paid to identify experts and specialists – professionals who have DONE what needs to be hired. As much as they may want to help you, they won’t be your best resource. You are the one who will sell your value and your desire to your future manager.
As we’ve weathered some tough times in recent years, it’s been hard for professionals to choose a new path in their career. BUT – the time is NOW! It’s never easy to switch direction – but it can be done. Good Luck!
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