A career pivot is a purposeful change in one’s career direction. The meaning of a career pivot is repurposing your career and shifting the skills, experience, and knowledge you have developed thus far to another occupation.

Such a significant change in one’s life can be scary, and the journey to professional satisfaction and fulfillment can be full of obstacles and fears. However, once you equip yourself with the right pieces of information that our article contains, you’ll be able to tackle this shift like a pro.

Key Takeaways

  • You’ll know that you need a career pivot once you start feeling tired out of nowhere and begin questioning the meaning of your work.
  • To successfully pivot your career, you’ll need to assess your skills and passions and do a lot of research and upskilling.
  • Fear might be part of every sentence with a career pivot in it, as it’s one of the main obstacles people face, along with the lack of support and money worries.
  • Tackle a career pivot like a pro by accepting defeat after job rejection and preparing for interviews.

How to Know if There is a Need to Pivot Your Career

If you are not sure whether you need a career pivot, here are some signs that it might be time to make some changes in your professional life:

#1. You Feel Tired & Unfulfilled

Even if you love your job, there will be days when you will feel tired and unfulfilled. Likewise, feeling a bit of fatigue here and there after a hard day at work isn’t something that’s alarming. However, if this is something that happens on a regular basis, your body might be telling you it’s time for a career pivot.

The situation is particularly serious if it continues to happen even when you take good care of your body and rest well at night—the culprit for your fatigue in that situation would most likely be your job. The exhaustion you are feeling could lead to chronic stress, which can come with a host of physical symptoms, such as feeling bloated, experiencing shortness of breath, and having high blood pressure.

If you’ve started feeling dissatisfied with your work and are always feeling tired, it’s time to re-examine your choices. Otherwise, these feelings might extend to personal life and create a much bigger problem than a career pivot at 30, 40, or 50.

#2. You’re Curious About Other Options

If you always find yourself curious about other options and jobs that other people have, then you might be starting to question whether there’s something better for you.

Of course, Googling this or that career path every once in a while is just normal curiosity; however, if you find yourself constantly daydreaming about other roles—usually during work hours—it’s a telltale sign that you are ready to explore other options.

How to Know if There is a Need to Pivot Your Career

Deep down, you might be starting to realize that you are ready to reskill and try something new. If that’s the case, don’t stop dreaming! Who is to say that you can’t nail a teacher interview after working as a bartender?

Of course, you’ll have to be realistic with your goals, as it’s not possible to get some jobs without advanced degrees. In those situations, you’ll first have to acquire the necessary credentials and then apply for the job you desire.

#3. You Question the Meaning of Your Job

Are you always questioning the meaning of your work and the purpose behind it? If so, then your subconscious self might be trying to tell you that you are ready for a change of direction.

However, keep in mind that if you’ve been doing the same job for a long time, it’s natural to wonder whether you are making a real change in the world and contributing to society. A McKinsey report found that 70% of employees said that their work defines their sense of purpose, so it’s normal to question what you are doing from time to time.

But if you, like many other people, started your career by prioritizing money, then you might be ready to do something more meaningful. You might decide to become a teacher or a coach or simply stay in your corporate job but find fulfillment through acquiring a new skill. Ask yourself what you might do if money weren’t an issue and go from there.

How to Pivot Your Career in 8 Simple Steps

If you want to pivot your career with success, these are the eight steps you want to take:

#1. Assess Your Skills and Strengths

Assessing your skills and strengths is all about learning about yourself and reflecting on who you are. By doing so, you’ll be able to provide a solid answer to the famous ‘‘What is your greatest weakness?’’ interview question while also identifying your motivations and passion.

Most importantly, assessing your current skills and biggest strengths will help you understand which careers might be the right fit for you.

If you are not sure that you can be realistic, you can take an online assessment test or ask family and friends to help describe you. They might be able to provide insights into parts of your personality that you aren’t even aware of.

#2. Identify Your Passion

Once you assess your strengths, you’ll be able to use them to identify your passion. For example, if you realize that you are feeling much more motivated by your hobby than your day job, then you might start thinking about turning it into your occupation.

Doing something you feel passionate about will help you perform better at your job, as you will be showing up motivated. Likewise, it will make you happier in both a personal and professional sense, as you will feel like you are making a change in the world.

#3. Research & Explore Potential Options

You shouldn’t take any concrete action in terms of quitting your job before you research your potential options. Otherwise, you might find yourself out of work for quite some time, and answering interview questions about an employment gap is never fun or easy.

Research & Explore Potential Career Options

Once you have your strengths and passions on paper, you will be able to research job positions that match them. Remember—you are trying to hit the sweet spot between a job you will love and one that will bring money.

Unless you have hefty savings and plan to use your salary as pocket money only, it’s necessary to find a job with which you can support your lifestyle.

#4. Develop a Career Pivot Plan

Making a career pivot plan will help you identify the steps you need to take to reach your goal of finding a new job. You should have a solid plan in place, as that will result in a smoother career transition.

If you want a real-life, planned career pivot example, just think of Brad Pitt. He used to be a limo driver, a mascot for El Pollo Loco, and a furniture mover before deciding to try his luck with acting. But he didn’t venture into the career change unprepared—he made a plan, enrolled in acting classes, and found an agent within seven months.

Use his example and create a short-term and long-term plan. Usually, focusing on short-term goals will help you reach that big, long-term one before you know it.

#5. Upgrade Your Skills

When making a career pivot, especially a significant one (such as going from accounting into acting), it’s highly likely that you will have to upgrade your existing skills and work on acquiring new ones. Luckily, there are many different ways to upskill, as you can:

  • Take online courses
  • Attend professional events
  • Find a mentor
  • Attend workshops
  • Volunteer
  • Read books


If you want to upgrade a practical skill, such as cooking, you can always find someone who excels at it and watch what they do closely. Better yet, try to get hands-on experience, as nothing helps you become a master of a craft more than learning through trial and error.

#6. Network & Build Connections

Networking and building connections will help you find your dream job opportunity and pivot your career quickly. Relying on your current network is beneficial, but it’s just as important to find new contacts that have some sort of connection to the new career opportunity you are chasing.

To master the art of networking, it’s good to start local and small. You’ll have the best chance of meeting the right people by attending local networking events, business luncheons, and conventions. Likewise, you can search for connections online, as using social media for this purpose allows you to connect with individuals you wouldn’t otherwise meet in real life.

#7. Craft Your Personal Brand

Crafting your personal brand so that it reflects your new career path will help you make a career pivot at any age. Once you know who you want to reach, you need to show them your transferable skills. These skills can be applied to different roles and industries and can be added to your CV.

If you are active on social media, you can use these platforms as a means of creating and sharing valuable content that will help establish your credibility. Remember to be consistent and authentic, as that will help you build trust, loyalty, and recognition.

Thus, always deliver the same message, tone, and style across all personal brand elements, such as your name, color, logo, and images.

#8. Strategize Your Job Search

Strategizing your job search will help you save time and promptly find the best work environment for you. Luckily, there are many job-searching strategies that help simplify the process, such as:

  • Customize your application. It’s a good idea to personalize your cover letter for every role that you apply for and tailor it in a way that highlights your accomplishments and experience.
  • Participate in job fairs. Job fairs are held all year round, and they enable you to meet employers who are hiring. Prepare yourself ahead of time by researching which companies will be attending the fair and learning more about them.
  • Visit company websites. Shortlist a few companies you are interested in and visit their websites frequently. By doing so, you’ll spot new job openings as soon as they become active, and you’ll be among the first ones to apply.
  • Use a headhunter. There’s nothing wrong with using a headhunter who specializes in helping other people find jobs. Sometimes, headhunters will work across specific industries only, so it will be even easier for them to help you find your dream job.
  • Look offline. While social media and platforms such as LinkedIn are great tools in every job search, sometimes it’s best to utilize word-of-mouth recommendations. Likewise, it might be good to focus on small companies and family-owned businesses in your area and see whether they are hiring.

5 Challenges Associated With Career Pivots

Career pivots come with numerous challenges, and some of the most common ones are:

#1. Feeling Fear

A person who is thinking about a career switch can feel fear for so many different reasons. However, the fear of uncertainty, the fear of failure, and the fear of the unknown are the three main barriers that people face. While it’s normal to have these fears, you shouldn’t let them stop you from pursuing your dream career.

#2. Having Money Worries

The possibility of having money problems is one of the main reasons why people stick to a job they don’t like anymore. Changing your career doesn’t automatically mean that you will have to accept a pay cut. However, be ready for the possibility of lower compensation for a short time until you prove yourself as a valuable employee.

#3. Finding a New Network

Just because you are leaving your job and making a career change doesn’t mean you have to find a new network and forget about your current one. Quite the contrary—lean on the people you already know and take it from there.

Acquiring New Skills

#4. Acquiring New Skills

People are worried about having to leave all of their experiences behind and learn new skills. However, many soft skills can be applied to numerous career paths, and even industry-specific skills can be transferrable. Thus, you can make a career pivot and switch from accounting to a new job where you can use the skills you’ve already gained.

#5. Experiencing a Lack of Support

Lacking support from the ones closest to you can definitely bring the process of searching for a new job to a halt. This is particularly the case when a person isn’t receiving the support they need from their significant other, which is essential for a healthy relationship in which you can be who you are and go for a job that fulfills you.

4 Pro Tips on How to Pivot Your Career

Here are some expert tips that will help you pivot your career like a pro:

  • Be ready for potential disappointment. A career pivot can come with quite a few disappointments, as it’s possible it might take a while before you find a job you are happy with. Don’t get discouraged and give up if you get rejected a few times—it’s all part of the process.
  • Adjust your resume. It’s necessary to highlight relevant skills, experiences, and achievements before applying for a job. Thus, review your resume before applying, or create a new one if it doesn’t fit the new position to a T.
  • Prepare for the interview. If you do get an interview, it’s crucial to prepare yourself for it by researching the company and learning about its values. Likewise, make sure you dress appropriately for the occasion, as that first impression holds immense importance.
  • Continue your professional development. Your job doesn’t end once you get hired. Quite the contrary—you get to stay ahead of the curve in your field by embracing continuous professional development.

Final Thoughts

With technological advancements and the ability to work remotely, career pivots are becoming a relatively common occurrence. Making a significant shift in your career requires a lot of courage, as people who decide to take this step face many uncertainties and fears.

However, if you work on upgrading your skills, creating your personal brand, and networking with the right people, you stand every chance of making a successful career pivot, no matter your age.