What’s the easiest way to make a career pivot? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Over the course of my career, I’ve been an architect, professor, executive with a team of over 4,000 people, and a startup founder. For me, knowing when to make a career pivot is a simple equation. Do I feel excited to jump out of bed in the morning or not? If a higher percentage of days result in dissatisfaction and there’s a continual pattern, that’s a sign that it’s time to explore what else is out there.
These are my top tips for making a career pivot that lands you in a more fulfilling job:
1. Take a beat and diagnose the issues. It’s often much easier for us to identify what we’re running away from than to identify where we want to go—and that’s absolutely ok. First and foremost, identify if it’s the context or if it’s the tasks that are problematic. For example, do you not like the company itself, your manager, the industry, versus do you not like being a lawyer? Maybe you’re drained all the time—you’re introverted and you’re being asked to do extroverted activities or vice versa. Understand those triggers and your work style (here’s a quiz that might be helpful in figuring out what energizes you and what’s more challenging for you).
2. Think about what you want to run toward. What does an awesome day at work look like? When you have had complete control over your time, what activities did you gravitate towards? Did you make ceramics? Did you learn to code? What were those things and which ones would you be excited about connecting to your livelihood? Take steps to explore these options by setting up informational interviews or engaging in self-directed projects to make sure it’s actually a path you want to pursue.
3. Address any gaps between where you are and where you want to go. Usually, these gaps can be identified as knowledge (facts and information), skills (learned abilities), and experience (proof of your abilities). Most of these gaps can be filled in creative ways like reading books and relevant newsletters, taking a course, volunteering, or building a project for your portfolio. Don’t wait for a job offer from a company that’s willing to train you on everything you need to know, because that job offer won’t come. You need to show that you’ve proactively taken steps to address those gaps.
4. Tailor your resume and LinkedIn for the job you want. Now that you’ve started to fill some of the possible gaps, start to build your resume combining your new and existing skills to align with your chosen career path. Consider how you can recontextualize a past achievement in a way that overlaps with what a recruiter is looking for. Employers won’t assume that your skills are transferable—you have to repackage yourself! Look at job descriptions to identify some keywords and make sure they appear in the top half of your resume. My company Teal makes a free job tracker that identifies the keywords in a job description for you.
5. Create a plan. The process of managing a career shift is entirely up to you. Very rarely does some external force come about to make it happen. Set actionable, time-bound goals for your job search and all the steps leading up to it. Block out time every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Here is a helpful template for planning out your career shift. Inch by inch, you will build momentum for your career shift and start to see the outcomes you’re looking for.