Have you been thinking about switching careers? You wouldn’t be the first: about half of the workforce is considering a job change, and 20% have already taken the leap in 2022, joining professional fields with growing demand, such as Tech. They call it the Great Reshuffle for a reason: even in the most unpredictable of times, workers have raised their standards and aren’t afraid to go for it, because pivoting careers might not be as difficult as you think.
What Is a Career Pivot?
A career pivot is a term that refers to switching from one career to another (similar or not!); it does not apply to people who are breaking into the job market for the very first time. If you’re a student, a graduate or a person who just hasn’t had a proper work experience yet, you wouldn’t be pivoting, you’d be starting!
However, if you’ve already gotten a few years of experience in your career, and are just now considering switching to something else entirely, a career pivot is what you’re thinking about. Despite this seemingly limited definition, career changes can lead you anywhere: you could be just changing course slightly towards a different area of the same industry or field, or you could be switching to a completely unrelated job! The more disparate the jobs, the more of a reckless move this seems: after all, why would you abandon an established career where you’ve invested years of your life, just to start all over again?
As you’ll see, career changes aren’t always as dramatic as they seem.
Reasons to Embrace Uncertainty and Pivot to New Careers
Gone are the days when you kept a job title for life. For the most part, at least. Granted, doctors usually stay doctors after so many years of medical school and with such a specialized set of skills and qualifications… but even doctors switch careers!
A career pivot can happen for many reasons, but during the Great Reshuffle, some clear trends and patterns have arised. A great number of jobs that are in demand today didn’t even exist a few years ago, and many of those who have recently switched to a career in Tech didn’t know their current path existed until very recently.
People can also pivot to a wholly different job when they feel unfulfilled in their current situation. Maybe your path isn’t what you thought it would be, or maybe you settled for a ‘safe’ career and now find your job to be unbearably dull. Maybe, you changed; and that’s great, too!
All of these are very valid reasons to opt for a career pivot, and there are many more. And, though some people decide to switch careers without knowing what to do instead (ah, if only one could sample jobs like ice cream flavors, tasting each one until you find your favorite!), you might know exactly where you want to end up: you felt a spark, a calling, that, without telling you how to get there, knows exactly what type of professional you want to become.
That ‘aha’ moment can’t and won’t be ignored: you know what to do!
Square One, Clean Slates, and Other Myths
No doubt about it: the worst fear that stops people from changing careers is the idea of having to start from scratch and having to play catch up, in an extremely competitive job market, with people ten years younger than you who already know more than you. It’s an unfathomably difficult position to be in, but it happens less than you might think.
For nearly all industries, technical skills can be picked up quickly at any age. But, according to studies, 85% of job success is attributed to the soft skills that are used in all careers. These highly flexible skills are very transferable across industries; as Sarah Doody explained in this Ironhack Podcast episode, every person with years of professional experience has transferable skills that can be reframed and used in many other careers. If you have years of experience in another discipline, you will often find that you advance quickly in your career, even if you have to start at a more junior level. The skills you acquired in your previous role will always come in handy.You won’t be starting from scratch!
Experienced professionals who consider switching to Tech are often convinced that they are too old to learn about new technologies, but there’s nothing further from the truth: tech has no age! As long as you have the attitude to push forward, your technical skills will grow along with you.
How to Pivot Into a Tech Career
Choose your career track
Figure out which path you want to pursue: investigate your options, ask industry experts, and try out as many different things as you can before settling on a choice. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there!
Consolidate your current skills
Do your homework: reconsider your experience and skill set, and figure out how to reframe it in order to get where you want. Figure out which vital skills you’re missing, in order to fill in the gaps and learn what you will need for your dream career.
You don’t need to get a whole new university degree for this: many accelerated paths of study, such as bootcamps, are designed for experienced professionals who are looking to acquire a strong background in a specific area.
Define your 'why'
You need to have a north star to work towards, something to focus on while you're figuring out the messy middle of career pivots. A clear objective that makes you jump out of bed every morning will help you maintain focus and motivation.
Additionally, work on an ‘elevator pitch’ to explain your professional journey in a few words; interviewers who ask about why you’ve decided to make a change will be impressed when they hear about the passion that drove you to do it!
Scout out the job market
Look into the current types of jobs on offer, and the companies hiring. Don’t be afraid to get specific! Find your dream job, and some reasonable backups, and learn from the job listing: what responsibilities would you be excited about? What skills can be your biggest asset?
Make a list of what you want and don't want from your future career; this will make it easier to find the right job for you.
Find your community
Everything is better with friends, especially in the tech world, where technical advances happen through worldwide collaboration and partnerships. Find and join local and area-specific Tech communities that bring you value… and don’t forget to network!
Set yourself targets
The ultimate target is to get a new job, but you can’t build a house from the rooftop. Start by setting the goals that will lead you there. And don’t be too hard on yourself; hunting for a new job while you're already working full time is tough!
It will help to set time constraints: aim to join a career development event once every two weeks, create a plan to learn the skills you need, and apply to three new jobs per week (but make them good ones!)
Ready To Pivot Into Tech?
Ready to take the plunge and pivot to an exciting, cutting-edge line of work? A career in tech is always a safe bet, because let's face it, technology isn't going anywhere! It's also a fantastic place to grow and challenge yourself, with constant disruption and an ever-changing landscape.
Start by getting a solid education: take a look at our bootcamps and launch your career in Tech!