Ruth Shogoe asks: is career pivoting the new normal?


Ruth is a former HR executive and current group executive corporate & public sector at Maskew Miller Learning.

I often think of the perception of “career pivoting” as a solution to the evolving labour market demands, by applying aspects that work while purposefully entering a new and related direction.

In this context, the term “pivot” can be referred to as a notable transition or reinvention of an employee’s career path, either by moving to a different field, role, or even industry. As industries develop a more interconnected approach, there is a demand for employees who can bridge the gap across multiple disciplines.

There is no doubt that there is a solid presence in specific fields to maintain a “niche” approach, which often brings about a unique competitive advantage. The future of work is more likely to involve a combination of both niche and complementary multi-skills.
Cross-functional skills in related fields can bring about an additional advantage through agility, collaborative efforts, resilience, and flexibility in a changing labour market. Modern job expectations seek out transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and adaptability.

Changing careers

The rise of career pivots has become a visible trend in recent years. Employees are increasingly open to exploring new career paths and pursuing significant shifts in their professional journeys.

Despite the return to office for most organisations, Simplilearn’s 2023 consumer survey indicates that professionals continue to upskill themselves with a rise in self-study and online certifications. This has resulted in fast-tracked development and career growth in the professional world.

This positive impact has also sparked an increased interest in most professionals confidently seeking to pivot their careers. According to Simplilearn, at least 41% of respondents in 2023 have indicated a desire to pivot their careers and 95% are confident to pivot after upskilling.

As a human resource business partner for many years, I’ve always strived to understand the business strategy first. It has always been my goal to align the human resource agenda with business goals in driving positive outcomes. Some of the key initiatives I always took upon myself to effectively partner were to research the market, industry dynamics, competitors, as well as the business operations.

I found that it would often be easier to consult, collaborate and support business stakeholders internally as well as externally in this manner. As much as the HR role is highly operational, it becomes seamless to offer strategic solutions in the HR value chain when you better understand who your stakeholders are, what they do, and how they do things according to what they need.
I truly believe that my academic commercial background also positioned a firm foundation for me to be able to understand the business as well as partner and solve differently, versus the norm.

A solution mindset for future work

All the learning that one adopts is useful for a future time and can always resurface when necessary. I also recall wise words by Preggie Pillay, where he expressed that, “I would rather hire someone who specialised in nine industries, than someone who has been exposed to one industry for nine years.”

This got me thinking about how the world was quickly changing, as he was simply saying that if one seeks new and iterate skills that can solve differently in a role, then consider someone who has had a bit more exposure in various industries.

However, this does not diminish the fact that one can equally grow by being in the same role at the same company or industry by deepening their expertise. In the same breath, the one human-factor advantage that will outlast all the industrial revolutions to come is, of course, the soft skills element.

A solution mindset is what it will take to adopt a mindset of the future of work as well as being lifelong learners. There will always be room for enhancing soft skills even where technology is concerned: clients get a sense of comfort in knowing that a real human being is ensuring efficiency behind the scenes.
Your skills and talents can help you career pivot, therefore it is important to recognise and leverage them in order to move to your next position.


Related articles

Good leaders are great performers

Successful leaders have mastered the art of compelling leadership storytelling, writes Nelia Joubert-Hartman, change marketing director at the Actuate Group.