Pivot or Pirouette?

Career changes can be difficult to say the least – some are planned some are not.

This month, we’re pleased to have Debra Savage, Gilman Associates provide a different take on how to gracefully handle careers changes, expected or not…

Learning when to Pivot and when to Pirouette

Career changes happen throughout a person’s life, no doubt, but they can evolve in completely different ways. I like to call these transitions a pivot or a pirouette.

When someone pivots they take a hard turn in their career. Compare it to a second baseman. It takes a lot of practice and when the ball comes at you, you need to be ready to catch it, touch second base, and throw it hard to first. Comparatively, you need to be ready when that job offer comes at you hard, perhaps even out of nowhere, and be prepared to act. It’s important to know where you want your career to go, similar to knowing where first base is, and be ready to make your move.

However, some career shifts come in the form of graceful pirouettes, similar to what a ballerina would do. Again, it takes practice, but the ballerina is in control of the movement and it is not quite so sudden and abrupt. It is beautiful and eloquent, yet still powerful. Likewise, in terms of a career change, you are more in control and you see it coming. You’ve researched the direction you want your career to go, you’ve done informational interviews, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and you know exactly where you want to end up. You will be in control of when you want to move to your next job opportunity.

I have pivoted and I have pirouetted. When I pirouetted I was looking for a new position but didn’t want to send out resumes or answer job postings, so I did informational interviews with people I had worked with and previously done business with. I learned my strengths and weaknesses, something that would later help me when I needed to pivot, and I carefully figured out the kind of job I wanted and what kind of company I wanted to work for. When I received the offer, it was not unexpected, but measured and timed.

Recently, however, I have had the chance to pivot in terms of my career. My most recent career shift was a hardball offer that came out of nowhere, but I was ready for it, thanks to the opportunities where I had been able to pirouette. I knew how to catch the ball, touch second base, and manage to throw it back to first. I knew what I wanted in a job and in a company. I knew my strengths and weaknesses and the questions that I needed to ask. I had the answers ready for the questions that came my way, as well. I was ready to move when that job offer came.

Whether you pivot or you pirouette, these career transitions will likely arise and both can be learning opportunities. I encourage you to act when you feel the time is right and know how to embrace your inner ballerina or ball player.

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Jackie Messersmith is President and CEO of Talent Management LLC. Talent Management provides consulting services to small to mid-size businesses to put a top performing company culture and talent strategy in place, and is the developer and distributor of Talent Snapshot®, an integrated, competency-based, “in the cloud” talent management solution. Jackie can be reached at 513-528-9700 or jackie@talentmanagementllc.com.