What is a Career Pivot and How to Make it

Last year, it was revealed in a report by the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) that almost half of the UK workforce wants to change their job. But even though so many of us want a career change, a high number of us are held back by an uncertainty of what to switch to, or a fear of failure.

‘Career pivoting’ is an option which is seen by many as a viable way to keep their careers interesting, stick to what they know and to change jobs safely all at once. So what is career pivot, and how can you do it?

Career pivot

What is a career pivot?

A career pivot is the act of finding a different career, which is still reliant on your current skills, but helps you move into a new trajectory. Successfully orchestrating a career pivot can increase your range of skills, and improve your ability with current skills, while at the same time allowing you to progress in a different yet applicable professional direction.

Often the draw of a career pivot, compared to a career change, is that you don’t have to restart at the bottom of the ladder. A career pivot ensures you remain in the same level, such a manager or executive, and within the same pay grade too.

Keep an open mind about where you career pivot to

A career pivot is about using your existing experience to find a better job, but a successful pivot also involves being open to what careers might suit your skill base—beyond what you might be looking for. There are likely a great deal of jobs out there which you may not realise you’d be ideal for.

For example, a computer programmer who decides they’re stagnating in their current position, being faced with the same or similar challenges daily, might move into a lecturing role in computer science or as a FE sector IT technician. The role would offer new opportunities and tasks but be well within their skill set. In fact, AoC jobs, a further education jobs board, says that the further education industry should be one of the first ports of call for those seeking a career pivot. FE jobs include both lecturing and non-lecturing roles and highly value skilled workers from outside FE. Simply put, new leaders can “revitalise” further education.

Your pivot should be a calculated risk, not a gamble

People often say that they ‘fall into’ jobs, meaning a career pivot can be the solution to wanting to do something they really love instead. Choosing to make a career change, even of this variety, should be a well mediated decision, not based on impulse.

For instance, you need to make sure you have adequate funds to see you through the transitional period. Jenny Blake, author of ‘Pivot: The only move that matters is your next one’ recommends having at least 6 months worth of savings to see you through a career pivot. Your new job may not pay quite as much as your current one, meaning you might need to have savings to help you feel secure in your switch.

You also need to make sure that you understand as much as possible about the new role(s) you’re considering before you commit. The dean at LSBF was quoted in the Independent as saying, “ensure you are appropriately qualified to take on the new role, and to understand the sector well enough in order to make the most of potential opportunities.”

You need to throw yourself into a new career to make sure that it sticks and you can succeed. Regardless of your skills set, there will still be a lot to learn. The later in your career you pivot, the more you’ll need to catch up on.


Be prepared for CPD

Along with getting to know your new workplace, your career pivot will involve some continuing professional development (CPD). Career pivoting doesn’t just happen, and the best way make yourself the most desireable hire you can be is to invest in CPD before applying for new roles. Convince prospective employers that you should be hired over those with direct industry experience, try to get some relevant experience and qualifications which are applicable to the new job you are after. Depending on where you are pivoting to, these skills with vary. Using the FE sector example, if you’re looking to pivot into teaching, try volunteer to guest lecture a class or seminar at a local college

Corinne Mills, best-selling author and managing director at Personal Career Management, said “While some people want to radically reinvent their career instantly, it is more realistic to work towards a new career over time.” This could involve making changes in your current job, networking, gaining new qualifications, and/or keeping up to date with the latest industry news relating to your new dream job.

Websites like Lynda.com and Coursera offer excellent online cources which would be highly beneficial for professional development, while reading blogs and listening to podcasts which focus on your chosen sector is a great way to keep up to date with industry news. Not only is knowledge on applicable current affairs a great way to impress an interviewer, but, it won’t feel like a chore, provided you are genuinely interested in the career you want to pivot into.