It’s never too late to pivot your career. Find out how.

You are not your job, especially if that job makes you dread Monday. You have a feeling you’re going nowhere, and it just depresses you. Even if you’re in your fifties and longing for retirement but can’t imagine working in the same career as you wait for that day to come, it’s not too late to shake things up and embark on a new adventure.

A career pivot is when you jump from one path to another. Maybe you’ve been working as a salesperson for a decade but then become a project manager. It could be a jump across industries or a move to a completely different type of business.

The thing to bear in mind is that a career pivot is intentional. It is not just throwing in the towel. It may feel scary or make you nervous, but it is you claiming control over the direction of your life.

The first thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Plenty of people in the past have accomplished a successful career pivot. That should give you hope. It still takes effort though.

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1.    Know what you want

When you have decided that you need to get out of your career you need to honestly assess the reason you want to move. It is easy to get carried away with fantasies of starting a new career as a carpenter or stockbroker without figuring out if you’re cut out for it.

Is it money, fulfillment, the chance to travel, or do you want to challenge yourself? You will, of course, have some idea about which career path you want to pursue, but by understanding why you want to change careers you can make sure that when you have accomplished a successful career pivot, you’re not in the same place in three or four years’ time.

Once you have an idea about why you’re moving, you can go on to the next step.

2.    Recognize your strengths and weaknesses

We all want to feel fulfilled by what we do. That often comes about when we use our expertise and passion in a way that adds value. Map out what your skills are. Are you a great people person? A writer? Are you great at putting together proposals and mapping out logistics? Don’t forget that passions are strengths too. We work harder and better when we do something we are passionate about.

At the same time, you must identify your weaknesses. What are the areas in which you know you’re lacking? If office politics was never your strong suit, make sure you keep that in mind when making a pivot. You might need to take courses or classes to overcome your weaknesses, which could be professional or technical as well as personal. It’s hard work, true, but it will be worth it.

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3.    Create a plan

Now we move onto the planning stage. This involves all the steps you’ll need to take to leave your current position and finally start your dream job. You will need to develop skills to overcome your weaknesses or complete qualifications that will allow you to work in a certain field. Put these on a timeline. Start with today.

Keep in mind how long your notice period is, how long you will need to apply and interview for your new job. Do you need to save for a while to make sure you can survive during the hunt? This plan will help guide you through the whole process.

4.    Build relationships

This does not mean just generating business contacts. A change in career is stressful and you need to have a group of family and friends who will help you through the tough days and help you celebrate the breakthroughs.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore business contacts. They will, in fact, be one of your most important resources. Industry events, job fairs, and networking evenings will be places to make new contacts. Don’t forget to look at old friends and acquaintances who will let you know about what working in a particular industry is like.

5.    Take Action

A career pivot is not an easy thing. It takes hard work, dedication, and discipline. You will have to apply yourself to get a new career and then you will have to work hard to make that switch work.

But it will be worth it in the end. So, identify why you want to pivot, recognize your strengths and weaknesses, make a plan, meet people and go for it!


  • Mark Danaher

    Career, Life and Leadership Coach, Virtual Speaker and Trainer

    Careers by Design LLC

    Mark Danaher is a career/life/leadership coach and certified career counselor who helps leaders elevate their careers and life to one they will love.  He helps his clients make the best of tough situations so they can be their best professionally and personally.   Mark uses coaching along with his extensive career development knowledge and expertise to offer his clients a uniquely holistic approach to making career and life pivots.  He helps his clients manage burnout, stress, and anxiety, integrate balance into their lives so they can make a meaningful change in their lives. He uses a holistic narrative career approach to help people tell their stories and learn from their careers and life.  Mark completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut in Economics and History and went on to earn his Masters at the University of Connecticut in Counseling Psychology.   Mark was the President of the National Career Development Association in 2014-2015 and continues to volunteer for the organization.   He is certified as a Certified Professional Coach, Certified Career Counselor, Holistic Narrative Career Professional, Retirement Options Coach, 2 Young to Retire Coach, Job, and Career Development Coach, Job and Career Transition Coach, and a Certified Career Service Provider.  Mark is a Master Trainer for the Facilitating Career Development Certificate and School Career Development Advisor certificate is actively coaching training, and teaching throughout the year.  He is now a Master Practioner of the Energy Leadership Index which is a great assessment to understand how you use your energy in your everyday life and under stress.  It gives you a great insight into how you can improve your everyday interactions and connections with colleagues, employees, family, and beyond.