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Archive for December, 2011

Is it time to pivot your career?

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

I have always been interested in small businesses and startups.  I even attempted to start a web development company back in the hayday of the web.  I was marginally successful with two large contracts and some piecemeal work.  Once that dried up I went back to doing what many people are doing right now; searching for work.

It used to be that you stayed with one company your whole life.  This meant a lot of things;
1) You were loyal to that company
2) You hoped to move up within that company
3) You kept and expanded the same skill set over the course of your career and possibly tried to add management into the mix.

Those days are over.  I still fondly remember how I felt at HP – I was sure I would work there for the rest of my life.  I had good friends, a routine, I was good at what I did, and they provided cheap food, a gym, softball leagues, and a great atmosphere.  Interestingly those things are mostly only found now at small companies.  Particularly the atmosphere.  I have digressed some here so I will get back on point.

Small companies, particularly technology companies, in order to survive, will often change what they do.  This is what is known in the industry as “pivoting.”  If the first idea is not successful, you pivot and go to the next one.  The definition I like best is “a change to business strategy and business model in response to or in anticipation of market conditions.”  Makes sense right?

Now I want you to take “business” and replace it with “career.”  If you are out of work, anticipate being out of work, or are unhappy with your career, it may be time to pivot.  Here are some examples of people I know:

Person A – He was a manager for a 3d modeling company.  He was an excellent graphic modeler and a good manager.  The company was on a trajectory he did not like.  He started to teach himself how to program and convinced upper management to put him in an entry level programming position.  It required a paycut, but he did it.  He then started taking classes at a community college and finally, after his company did massive layoffs, he did an internship with a rapid software development company.  He is now an employee there and doing well in something he enjoys.

Person B – He did maintenance and was eventually let go from his work.  He applied to a job he was not qualified for at a consulting company, but was accepted to an entry level position because of his personality where he is being trained.

Person C – He was a successful sales executive and was laid off. He could not find any sales jobs so he began reading and taking online courses that he found for free on statistics.  He managed to get an entry level position doing analyst work and has now worked himself up to a senior analyst.

Person D – He was a manager at a retail chain but was not moving up the ladder so he has begun to teach himself web design.

There is a common theme here: if it is time to make a change in career direction and you can drive yourself to aquire the skills necessary, then you absolutely can do it.

Good luck, and for those job hunting, don’t lose hope and don’t be afraid to do something outside of your comfort zone.