Is it Time to Pivot in your Professional Career?

How to Pivot [Professionally]

According to Merriam-Webster, the action of pivoting is especially related to basketball – stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor.

When it comes to a professional pivot – the trick is to leverage your existing experience (keeping one foot in contact with the floor), while moving towards something that is new, and perhaps even daunting (stepping with the other foot).

Last year, I realized it was time to make a professional change. I recognized the need for a decision-making framework and guiding principles to help me transition. So, I did the only thing I knew – asked for advice from my network.

Here are some of the best questions these trusted advisors encouraged me to ask myself as I considered making a move, and before I accepted a position

  1. Who are 5 people I trust to help me make sound career decisions? Write their names down, and don’t make a move until you’ve vetted it with each of them. You’re not seeking their approval, but their unique perspectives.


  1. Am I running towards something – or away from something? It’s common to fail to see this one. Signs that you could be running away from something (as opposed to towards it) are jumping at the first offer you see; only interviewing with one company; fantasizing about the blow you’ll deliver when you put in your notice.


  1. How much money do I need to maintain my lifestyle? You’ll probably find that number is less than what you’re making now, and less than your ‘market value’. Knowing this frees you to consider opportunities within a broader pay range.


  1. What is it that I want most out of my work right now? It could be money, learning a new skill, flexibility, part-time hours. Be informed about what matters most to you, and intentional with the jobs you consider.


  1. Have I done my due diligence? Talk to people who work at the company you’re considering joining, and those who have left. Look at the company’s financial reports and recent press on them. Check out the profiles of their executives. Who are their competitors? Research them, too.


  1. Does it make me nervous to think about taking on this job? If you’re asking yourself – Can I really do this? – that’s a great indicator the role would challenge you. If you feel 100% confident you’re qualified, you run the risk of becoming bored in 6 months.


As you work through these questions, pay attention to red flags – for example, the things you hear from current or former employees that don’t sit right; learning about an expectation in an interview that doesn’t align with your priorities; having one or more of your 5 trusted advisors tell you they don’t think the role seems like a fit for you.

Pivoting is all about striking a balance between relying on your past experience, and branching into new challenges. Having a framework to help guide your decision ensures you’re giving equal weight to both and can help you avoid making a rash change.

If you’ve been contemplating making a move, take the first step and consider your answers to the questions above.


Beth Strobel is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is a guest blogger for ithrive31. She began her career in communications and training at a large aerospace and defense company. In 2010 she pivoted to a career in information risk and compliance software sales. She resides in Kansas City with her husband, daughter, and pet Vizsla. 

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