Mid-career crisis: how to navigate a job pivot
December 15, 2021
Humans are creatures of habit.
Unfortunately for us, that means getting stuck in a rut in our working lives is all too common.
But let’s say you want to change the narrative, break the mould, and pursue a directional change in your career. How do you make the prospect of a mid-career job pivot a little less daunting?
In the past, it was the norm to enter a profession and stick with it until retirement. However, it seems that nowadays, less people are willing to follow this straightforward career trajectory.
According to Aviva’s How We Live Report, 60% of workers are considering some form of a career change, compared to 53% in July 2020.
Although a career change is more common nowadays, it’s no easy feat. It’s a big change, one that requires the right approach if you want it to pan out.
Rather than taking a blind leap of faith by handing in your notice and hastily applying to every opportunity that sounds vaguely attractive, the key to a successful career change is a clearly mapped-out game plan.
Let’s explore some of the best ways you can prepare yourself for a mid-career job pivot. We’ll try to arm you with the tools necessary to ensure a positive outcome.
Establish what you (don’t) want from your new career
Before you swiftly quit your job at the first opportunity, consider using your current position to your advantage.
You may already know you want to leave, but ask yourself: why?
Take time to reflect on the things you love and hate about your current role. What do you want to carry over into your new profession and what do you want to leave firmly behind?
Use your current job as a point of reference against which you can shape your new career. By identifying what’s important to you in a career as well as the root cause of your dissatisfaction in your current role, you can better prepare yourself for a career move, as you’ll be more confident in what you’re looking for.
After all, ‘career change’ is a pretty broad and abstract term. For some, a career change could constitute moving into an entirely new field or industry. But that’s not always the case. A career change does not always involve up sticks and moving into an entirely different sector.
You ultimately define what a career change means to you. Do you simply need a change in environment because the company or organisation no longer aligns with your personal values? Do you need to tweak your current role by going part-time or freelancing? Or do you ultimately need a complete overhaul by entering an entirely new industry?
Knowing where you stand by using your current job to gauge your interests and pain-points is crucial before you venture out and attempt a mid-career job pivot.
When you have a clearer idea of what you’re (not) looking for, you can conduct more focussed research on the career paths that interest you.
Identify your transferable skills – and showcase them
Once you’ve identified the type of position that you’re keen to start applying for, it’s time to tailor your CV based on the target role.
It would be a rookie error to simply list all of your experience and skills on a resume without any consideration for the particular role you’re aiming towards. The best approach is to masterfully curate your CV by making it directly relevant to the position you want.
Think about what soft skills you have that could be useful in the new role you want.
Are you an excellent communicator? A critical thinker and problem-solver? Are you persuasive and influential? Do you have experience in stakeholder management?
Identify these key transferable soft skills and showcase them on your resume.
In the same vein, any work experience you’ve obtained thus far isn’t necessarily null and void as soon as you enter a new sector that isn’t directly relevant. Think about key tasks and responsibilities you’ve had in past roles that could be carried over to your new job.
As you’re crafting a CV, make sure you have your particular career ambition in the back of your mind. This guarantees that all of your skills and experience link back to that particular target role.
Knowing your transferable soft skills and showcasing them ensures that you present yourself in the best light to a prospective employer, demonstrating how adaptable you’d be in a new working environment.
Network: put yourself on the map
Opportunity can arise when and where you least expect it.
So, take the initiative to network with any contacts you may have within the field you’re interested in.
Use your network to uncover as much information and insight as possible about the career you want to move into. There’s nothing to be lost and everything to be gained from engaging with your personal network when exploring the prospect of a mid-career job pivot.
It’s also a great idea to branch out of your own network by contacting people who inspire you directly, and asking them for any advice or insight into how they got where they are today.
For an added layer of support, it could be a good idea to get in touch with a recruiter. They’ll do a lot of the networking for you!
Using a recruiter adds extra weight to your application. Not only do they tap into their extensive client network, but their network usually trusts their judgement, so they can present you in the best possible light to prospective employers and ensure that crucial parts of your transferable experience don’t go unnoticed.
They can provide you with insights into the job market and help you cultivate your own personal brand accordingly.
Depending on what industry you’re interested in, we’d recommend opting for a recruitment agency with a more focussed specialism in niche fields, as they’re more likely to have an in-depth understanding of those particular job markets.
Here at Nicholson Glover, we may be slightly biased, but we think the support a recruiter can provide during a mid-career job pivot is unparalleled.
There’s a whole world of resources out there, at your disposal.
Make use of them!
There are many soft skills you may already possess from past employment. But there are also hard skills which are often far more job or industry specific. Some examples include coding, report writing, or database management. These skills can be gained through training and courses.
Whether it’s by taking a class at a local college or by signing up for a free online course, the best way to stay employable is by taking the initiative to upskill in your own time.
By building your skillset in a particular area, you instantly demonstrate to any prospective employer that you’re willing to learn and that you have a genuine interest in that particular field.
Alongside taking courses, you can also build up your industry knowledge the old-fashioned way. Start reading around your new role or sector and develop a deeper understanding of the career transition you’ll be making. Read up on the latest industry topics and trends and keep up to date with the companies you’re interested in (and their main competitors).
This way, by the time you get to interview, it’ll be clear to your potential employer that you’re not making a mid-career job pivot on a whim. It’s obvious that you’re invested in your new career path and have a clear sense of direction.
So, there you have it. As long as you have a sense of direction, confidence in your abilities and skills, and the drive to dedicate yourself to something new, anything is possible.
These are the key ingredients of a successful mid-career job pivot, but it’s down to you to put them into action. A new challenge awaits!