Navigating a career pivot – 5 ideas

bend in the path ahead

I’ve been hearing from lots of folks lately who are navigating career transitions, so I thought I would share five ideas for engaging transition along with a process for continuing the “orienteering” process as you move forward. 

I’ll post one idea each week to parallel the five weeks of Career Camp, which is kicking off this week (not too late to join us BTW – if you are interested Contact Career Linguist).

  1. Be Where You are (with curiosity)

Whether you are moving from Academia to “beyond” or just leaving a job that is familiar for one that is less so, you are moving from a system that you know quite well into one that is less familiar. Increasingly true of today’s world of work is that knowledge about opportunities are distributed, which simply means that this will be a research project. The first order of business will be to learn everything that you can!

LinkedIn is an invaluable resource – think of it as the world’s largest repository of information about work.  Start with any ideas that come to you – anything that has always interested you, something you know that you are passionate about or are just the slightest bit curious and might want to learn a little more about.

Free associate. And then free associate on your associations. Build out by identifying people and organizations and jobs (ideally actual job ads for positions that are actually open). Be a linguist for yourself by immersing yourself in the language of jobs that speak to you (i.e. in ads, or by looking at how people describe their work on LinkedIn). Pay attention to how the organizations you are drawn to talk about the work that they do (on their website, in the press, etc.). Note down key words and phrases, knowledge skills and abilities that seem to be valued, ways of describing expertise, values and cherished ideals that are held up, all of this information is of use to you in your process of discernment and in the job search, and eventually on the job itself.

Some more sources of information and inspiration: I feature stories of linguists in my Career Paths of Linguists and ideas for places to work on my 50 Linguist-Friendly Organizations list (these are places that have hired linguists in the past). I am also amassing a Worlds of Work (WoW) series – these hopefully will eventually be a “grab and go” for a linguist wanting to plug into particular fields. I have done 4 so far (the non-profit world, applied research, applied storytelling  and user experience).


see step #2 – Pick one

….and here’s to what’s next!