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  • Writer's pictureTamara Harris

Professional Pivot

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

“To create your future you, you must believe in your present self.”

Summer is around the corner and the media has been filled with news stories on the impact of the "Great Resignation" as mentioned in a recent Bloomberg article. We are fresh off the heels of a year-and-a-half shift in how we fundamentally work. Employers are facing a burnt out workforce. Many are reevaluating their skills, quitting their jobs, and planning on seeking employment elsewhere.

For those who have extensive networks and stellar resumes, the transition to a new job can appear to happen seamlessly. However, the headlines minimize how challenging it can be for many others to initiate a professional pivot, especially in competitive job markets. Living daily with the knowledge that your current job isn't working for you can create feelings of distress and overwhelm you, leading to procrastination, making you feel even more overwhelmed, leading to more procrastination. This vicious cycle can often prevent you from taking the needed steps to move toward the professional outcomes you desire.

One of the tactics I like to use with my coaching clients when they become stuck during a professional transition is to encourage them not to lose their FOCUS: Faith, Optimism, Compass; Unflappability, and Self-Love.

  1. Faith - Regardless of whether you are making this pivot intentionally or due to circumstances beyond your control, remember that you are the consistent resource that you bring to any opportunity. Having faith in yourself and identifying what skills you bring to the table are the first steps of a professional pivot. Embrace your strengths and account for your weaknesses. Having faith beyond yourself can also be impactful. If you are part of a spiritual community or a social network, don’t be afraid to lean on them for support. Staying connected to your support systems can help you stay strong when your job search is not meeting your expectations.

  2. Optimism - Job hunting is a process where rejection and critical feedback are frequent outcomes. It’s hard to stay optimistic when faced with so much failure, but the resilience you build throughout the process, the ability to shrug-off these experiences and see your own self worth, will leave you better off in the long run. One potential positive of this labor market depending on the industry, is that you may have the problem of having to consider several opportunities at once. However, if your job search is taking much longer than expected and you are struggling to stay hopeful, it is ok to ask for help and get the support that you need. Hiring a coach or a therapist, or speaking with a trusted person in your network can help you envision the next steps that you need to take to get back on track.

  3. Compass - If you are struggling with resetting your internal compass, ask yourself several questions: “What is one thing that I can do to reach my career goals today? Do I need to tweak or rework my resume? Do I need to practice my interviewing skills? What resources do I have to sustain me during my job search?” Budget your time and money to get a better idea of what it will take for you to accomplish your pivot. Breaking these larger goals down into manageable steps can help you make it through the day-to-day of what may at times feel like a marathon.

  4. Unflappability - Unflappability is the ability to show calm in a crisis. Most experts would not advise leaving a job unless you had another job in hand. That’s great advice, but sometimes life doesn’t work that way. I’m sure you know at least a few people who’ve lost their job without warning. Even if you are usually the epitome of grace under pressure, unexpected challenges may occur during that time gap and create unexpected crises that can really throw you off your game. If that happens ask for help. Don’t keep your need a secret because the help you need can come from the most unexpected sources.

  5. Self-Love: A job search requires a lot of time and energy. We often do not see results quickly. suggests that the average job search takes three months or more depending on experience, demand, and luck. What are some of the things you can do to take care of yourself in the meantime? Staying sane is crucial, so creating boundaries around when you will read and respond to emails or work on your job search activities can be a powerful form of self-care. In addition, if resources are limited, identify some “low to no” expense activities you can do on your own or with a friend that will help you to relax and recharge for the next round of your job search.

One of my favorite memes on the internet is the “iceberg meme” This is the photo on many Instagram and Facebook posts that shows the tip of an iceberg above the water representing the success that everyone sees. The larger part of the iceberg lies below the water, representing the parts of the journey to success most don’t see: failure, setbacks, doubts, hard work, sacrifice, vision, risk taking, and action.

The professional pivot is an intensely personal and unique journey. In these times of greater empowerment in your job search process, you must keep your FOCUS. As your “future you” emerges from the oceans’ depths to sit on the surface of that iceberg, you will have learned so much about your capacity for courage, persistence, and resilience.

I wish you success on your transition journey!

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