Why You Need A Pivot Plan | Career Changes

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Finance & Money

Why You Need a Pivot Plan In Your Back Pocket

There is value in having a pivot plan, and being flexible with career changes

By Lesley Jane Seymour

Here are just a few startling headlines from 2023: 

Silicon Valley Bank collapses over the weekend of  March 10, 2023, and the staff loses 50% of the equity they were taking instead of salaries. Um, plus their jobs!

Google cuts 12,000 jobs in January 2023. 

Ochsner Health, one of the largest health systems in New Orleans, cuts 770 positions in May 2023.

Even in a great economy — when the US has a historically low 3.7 percent unemployment rate — you may be forced to pivot.

Your pivot may come to you.

And it may not be at a time of your choosing.

During my 40 years in corporate life, I learned that you must always expect the unexpected. You must always be prepared to pivot into something adjacent or new.

Learning How To Pivot
The first time I had to pivot was in the early ’80s, after I joined the staff of a new publication from the New York Daily News called the Daily News Tonight. It was helmed by glamorous, heavy-hitting journalist Clay Felker, and positioned to go head-to-head with the New York Post. I was thrilled with my job in the style department, where I pumped out daily content and took home a paycheck of $21k that allowed me to put food on my table (way up from my previous $14k salary at Women’s Wear Daily). One year later, we were surprised to learn that Daily News Tonight couldn’t sell enough ads, and dozens of the best journalists were let go at once, flooding the New York market. Even with the help of a friendly editor at The Washington Post who liked my writing, I couldn’t find a newspaper job. 

A friend of mine from WWD who had moved to magazines kept calling about a copywriter job at a fashion magazine. I kept saying no. Until I ran out of money. 

Then I pivoted out of newspapers into the job at Harper’s Bazaar magazine. 

The second time I was forced to pivot happened decades later. My company catered to mid-level magazine buyers, and I ran a high-end product for women 40+ called More. Because the advertising base for More was not food and cleaning products but chic beauty and fashion, the parent company was at a loss. Our product was on the chopping block for eight years because we never fit into the corporate advertising culture. In 2016, despite a strong subscriber base of 1.5 million, they folded the magazine and laid off all 50 staff. 

So, I pivoted again, away from corporate and into entrepreneurship, creating CoveyClub.com, a place where lifelong learners could come and work on their own pivots. (Like we say, “CoveyClub holds a space for you while you figure out what’s next.”)

Tips For Creating Your Pivot Plan
Now I tour the country speaking about why you should always have a pivot plan in your back pocket. Here are just a few of the tips I’ve learned over the years. You can find many more here.

  • Always be pursuing a new hobby, a new area of learning, or a side-gig that really excites you. Make sure that at least one of those is far enough along that it could possibly lead you into a new career.
  • Have a pivot plan section of your savings account. This should be a year’s salary. If you never have to pivot, use it to buy yourself a great vacation or gift in the future.
  • Maintain and nourish your contacts (live and virtual) in sectors outside your career expertise. Hang out with people in different professions. This is where a pivot job offer is likely to come from. It might be marrying your expertise in sector A with their needs in sector D. LinkedIn is perfect for this.
  • Stay on top of the tech changes around you. Even if you don’t need to use new technology in your current career, make sure you upskill your abilities in areas other sectors use the most. Not knowing the tech will be the biggest barrier to a quick pivot.

What tips and tricks do you have for a professional pivot? Share your ideas with us! 

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