By Kim Caldwell
Face a transition with confidence as you focus on your competencies.
“Pivoting isn’t Plan B. It’s part of the process.”
Jeff Goins, American writer, author of The Art of Work
Context determines competency. Of all the advice I received in my last job transition, this is the bit I have passed on the most. When Bill said it I wrote it down, underlined it, drew a box around it and put a star next to it. Context determines competency: the same skills that brought success in one situation may not in the next. Your screwdriver is lovely but irrelevant to the nail.
If you’re feeling the tug (or the shove) to move on, make your transition a pivot. When we physically pivot, we plant one foot while using the other to turn around that point. It isn’t a leap or a stumble, but a strategic move that keeps you grounded as you face a new direction. Making a career pivot is turning on your strengths (competencies) to face what’s next (context).
COVID-19 has ushered in a context of chaos in the job market. It feels impossible to predict when the economic impact will settle and what the world will look like when it does. So with context in flux, now is the time to focus on your competencies. That means breaking down your skills, workstyle and values.
Skills: What do you literally do best? Think of this in terms of valuable actions: writing, planning, engaging, teaching, iterating, innovating. Cataloging all these verbs will set you up to tailor your description of those actions to future roles. For help, try looking at job descriptions for examples, asking members of your network for their perceptions, and/or using assessments like Clifton Strengths.
Workstyle: Describe your approach to work. Do you work best with lots of latitude or with serious boundaries? Do you play well with others all the time, or just some of the time? Thinking through your workstyle will help you evaluate and communicate your fit in a new role and/or a new company. Remember some of your best and worst moments in previous jobs, paying attention to common elements present for the good and absent from the bad.
Values: Your values are your most deeply held truths about how the world should work. They determine who you connect with, what motivates you, and what makes you uncomfortable. Examples of values are kindness, learning, integrity, achievement, inclusion, and so many more. A values mismatch can sink any relationship, especially the one with your workplace. When making your list, don’t just go with the ones you like, but the words you can back up with examples from real life.
The point of this isn’t to create more stress, so approach it not as an assignment, but a fun and empowering activity. Like Highlights Magazine for Career Fulfillment. Happy pivoting!
Kim Caldwell is a native Austinite with a passion for connecting people. For the last 15 years she has partnered with mission-driven people and organizations across the country to plan their bold steps forward. She has earned a master’s degree in public service, a B.S. in Public Relations and a B+ in adulting.
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