Here's how to switch up your career without quitting your job

·3 min read

One of the hardest things about pivoting into a new career field is competing with other job candidates who have more experience than you because they’ve been in the field longer. Hiring managers may look at your resume, not see any relevant experience, and understandably look you over.

That’s why I encourage workers to consider the power of pivoting in place. When you pivot in place, you look for opportunities within your company to move into a different line of business or learn a new skill set without actually quitting.

Here's how.

A team of young people in a modern office is discussing their project. The group consists of two men and two women, one of the is pointing at some papers while the others pay attention.
(Photo: Getty Creative)

Be honest about your desire to change fields or departments

Start with your manager and be open and candid about your interest in possibly transferring to a different department or shadowing a colleague to get a feel for another role. If they resist the idea or shut you down, take your request to your human resources department, especially if they have an employee development leader on staff. 

The smartest business leaders know how important professional development is to retaining employees. It’s simply poor management to expect a worker to be forever happy in a singular role without advancement or opportunities for new challenges.

Get insights from peers at your company before you make the switch

If you work for a large company with many different types of roles, you’ve got an excellent opportunity to poke your head into other people’s cubicles (or Zoom rooms) and ask them about their field. Don’t take this for granted. 

Finding other professionals in the fields that my career coaching clients are looking to switch to is often the biggest challenge for them. When you already share an employer and can easily search internal employee databases to find names and email addresses, you’ve got a big leg up. Invite them out for a coffee or see if you can join them at their next team meeting to get a better sense of what they do.

Ask to regularly shadow other colleagues

Group Of Businesswomen Collaborating In Creative Meeting Around Table In Modern Office
(Photo: Getty Creative)

One of my previous direct reports raised a hand and asked to shadow a colleague in a different department because she was curious about the field. We agreed she could work out a schedule with that colleague to piggyback on a few of her routine meetings and have 1-on-1 conversations about her career. It was an informal arrangement that made it possible for her to still complete her daily tasks but also dip a toe into new waters.

Tell your colleagues you’re looking to pivot

Don’t make it a secret with your colleagues that you are looking for a change or are interested in a different field. They can help be your eyes and ears at the company when new openings pop up and potentially vouch for you if someone questions your lack of experience.

Let your employer pay for your training

It’s become standard at many companies to offer tuition reimbursement for employees. Take full advantage of those perks while you can. You may be able to enroll in a course or degree program to put you on a new career path and not have to foot the entire bill yourself. Keep in mind, however, companies often include special clauses in these programs that require workers to stay for at least a year after accepting tuition funds.

Young female engineer measuring voltage on a  conductor board in her workshop
(Photo: Getty Creative)

Leave your peers with a good impression

It’s not always possible to pivot in place, especially because your current employer simply may not have any openings for someone in the department you’re aiming for. Don’t let that stop you from getting to know those colleagues, however. If you eventually decide to quit the company to get a role in that field elsewhere, they can offer you advice or even referrals that may help you land a job.

Mandi Woodruff is an inclusive wealth-building and career expert, cohost of the Brown Ambition Podcast and founder of the MandiMoney Makers community.

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