Not all of us have been lucky enough to fall into the careers we love. Others have been lucky. I have had both experiences in my career.
Not fitting into our career can have some negative effects on our mental and physical health.
When we fit well into a career, there can also be some positive affects like:
Positive self-esteem and confidence
We feel energised to go to work
We engage positively with people
Deciding on what that career looks like might not be a simple path for some. It takes time to discover yourself and what fits well with you.
Sometimes the best, and easiest, pivot is moving into a new career within your current organisation or industry.
Moving into, let’s say, a business analysis role, on the one hand, is changing careers. It also doesn’t have to be an entire pivot into a different industry.
Here are my 7 aspects to keep in mind to help you find your ideal career.
1. Are there opportunities to pivot your career in your current organisation?
I tell my coaching clients wanting to pivot into a business analysis role that the easiest path is to look for opportunity within their current organisations. Start using the skills needed where you currently are.
Before I became a business analyst, I was working on projects to gain an understanding of the requirements of our team to implement a new reporting tool.
While you figure this out, maintain your ethical standards of where you are.
Being ethical and practical means doing a good job wherever you are. Keeping your excellent reputation intact means getting a positive reference from your boss and colleagues.
Even if the areas you are working in are very different, factors such as skills and connections, can transfer to your new career.
2. Find your Strengths
An important part of self-awareness and taking control of your career is knowing your strengths. When you understand your strengths and what to do with them, you can find a career that will suit you. It enables you to make better career choices while using your strengths more effectively by reflecting on your strengths and analysing how to employ them in your day-to-day life.
For example, I am by nature an introvert who has learnt to be an extrovert. But in this learnt behaviour, I have found that my strength is networking. A skill that I use effectively in my career to build connections that aid me in accomplishing goals, whether for me or my clients.
Every one of you has a unique strength that they can use at work. They are normally the things that come and feel natural to you. It can sometimes be hard to identify your strengths, but you may also not be aware of your strengths because they feel so natural.
When you collect information about how and when you succeed, you will identify your strengths and understand how they affect your work. Learning your strengths is not a quick one hour exercise, it takes time and research. Researching your strengths from different perspectives allows you to apply those strengths to different workplace scenarios.
Use these steps as a guide for identifying your strengths at work:
Listen to feedback.
Consider your passions.
What do you naturally find your mind wondering to?
What were you doing when you were most productive and enjoying it?
Ask your friends and family.
What do you find in Google search history? - great indicator of what interests you
Try an online personality test.
Try new experiences, and how that makes you feel.
3. Define your Values
When have you felt like you didn’t quite fit in at your place of employment? Feeling this way could mean that business values do not align with what you value.
I used to work for a software development company that spent more time running down the competition than selling their services. It went against one of my core values - “don’t talk about people behind their backs if you have nothing good to say”. It wasn’t long before I had left because I was unhappy.
Your core values are beliefs that change little over time, but they are a default compass that steers and guides you. However, not all values are good for you, or good values.
But why are values so important for finding the right career?
Experience fulfilment when we consistently honour our personal core values.
Finding your purpose so you can know what you want to do with your life.
Developing good habits that steer us away from childish and emotional reactions.
It helps guiding your behaviour, because then your actions and behaviour are more congruent with your core values.
Help you make better decisions by giving something to measure your decisions on.
Help choose a career because you are more self-aware of what interests you and matters the most to you.
4. Do your research
Do a side project so that you can get hands-on experience and results to apply to a new career and study competitors in new areas of interest. Discover if the skills used in that project excite you.
Before I pivoted my career to being a business analyst, I worked on a few projects in my team. Actually, I virtually camped outside my manager’s office until she let me work on them. It was during these projects that I discovered the skills of problem solving and solution design that excited me.
Some other ways to do research include:
Visit a career related website,e.g., for business analysis. Look at BATimes.com and IIBA.org.
Watch career and related skills videos.
Attend webinars related to your career.
Read interviews about specific careers.
Join related LinkedIn and Facebook groups.
Intern in a position.
Read career profiles on LinkedIn.
Read job descriptions on sites like indeed.com.
5. Muster up some Resilience
Careers are not a straight line. They hit rough patches; it doesn’t always go to plan, and change is inevitable.
Being resilient means expecting potential challenges and preparing for them. But challenges can also create an opportunity for you. Using this approach can reduce your risk, boost your mental strength, and position yourself for future opportunities.
Pivoting into a new career is going to require resilience too. It won’t always be a matter of just walking into a new job role, and it might take a while to get that opportunity. However, part of resilience is to learn to grow into the role and while you are growing you are learning, improving, tweaking and adapting.
Being purposeful in your career has many benefits. To begin with, it will motivate you to perform better in your job, which will lighten your load and bring you happiness. You should know that you, too, can develop a fulfilling career if you put in the effort.
Our mantra at Altitude Journeys is “Focused, Intentional, Thinking” - being purposeful in every action we take to be successful.
Being purposeful links back to your values, but here, purpose is about that thing that gives you meaning.
I am a business analyst and I work at various client sites as a consultant. But I have found that I find more meaning when I can work with clients where I can also mentor and help other business analysts find their career passion.
So, when accepting a contract, I always look for opportunities to fulfil my purpose over and above the project I am working on.
7.Spend 20% of your day learning and implementing in your current job
This works very well when you do a course to reinforce your learning. I am a big fan of courses that allow you to get hands-on experience by incorporating your lessons into your current job.
One of the best courses I did was when I did my business analysis training, which required me to use a work project and produce the course objectives and outputs as we worked through the course materials. Makes so much more sense when you apply your learning to something you are familiar with.
Even if you don’t get that opportunity, nothing stops you from applying what you learn to what you are doing at work. Get a mentor to help you apply those key learning and guide you through.
Bringing it all together
Give your career pivot time and attention. Keep at it and never give up learning.
Investing in yourself is one of the keys to embracing change. Therefore, continue to invest in yourself, whether that’s taking a course or developing your skills.
You can change your course, even though it might seem overwhelming. The main thing you need is a roadmap to get to your goals, along with clear short- and long-term objectives.
Control your own destiny or someone else will - Jack Welch.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog:
1. Be sure to read the blog's in this series of career pivoting