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Can I make a 90 degree turn in my career?

  • by Lindsay Guthrie
  • | Friday, May 29th, 2015 AM

One of the most common questions I receive as a career coach is “is it too late for me to change my career.”  Whether you are five years out of college or five years out of graduate school, it is always possible to make a turn in your path.

The hardest pivot is that of being a double switcher – meaning switching industries and functions.   For example, right now you are working in marketing at a financial services firm and you think you want to switch to an operations role in a manufacturing company.     If you can find an anchor point of some kind, you can often make the case that you are ready to make the change.  The anchor point is normally a skill or experience you have had that shows your ability to perform the job requirements in the new industry.

If the leap is just a bit too far- meaning you don’t have the skills or experience required – then the best next step is to put the role you want into a three year plan and define for yourself the skills, experiences, and education/training required to reach it.   Then, develop a plan that includes exactly the steps you will take over the next three years to land your role.  One step might be that you need to make an interim move. Taking the example above, you might make a switch into the operations group within your financial services firm while also joining several manufacturing company associations and networking groups. Those two steps would help you gain skills, contacts, and experiences that show your interest and trajectory to the recruiters that are hiring.

So, the short answer is that career pivots are turns are absolutely achievable, but you need to plan and position yourself to reach them.