Repurposing Your Industry Knowledge or Skills
When you want to make a career pivot you will either be repurposing your industry knowledge or job skills.
We make career pivots rather than career changes because for those of us in the 2nd half of life, we have financial obligations…mortgage, putting kids through college, retirement, savings…
Note: This post was originally published in April of 2017 and was updated in February of 2020.
Components of a Career Pivot
I recently did a podcast that I would encourage you to listen to on the components of a Career Pivot. You can listen to the podcast called The Components of Making a Career Pivot [Podcast] and read the show notes here.
I want to cover two good but different examples of clients who have made career pivots.
When we make a career pivot we will be repurposing either our existing skills set OR our industry knowledge. I often refer to this as a half-step career change. In all of my many career pivots, I have had one foot in the old world, one foot in the new world, and there was always a relationship that took me across.
You have to bring something to the table for the new employer to want to take the risk on you gaining either new skills or industry knowledge.
I interviewed Elizabeth Rabaey last month on the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Please take a moment to listen to the podcast called A New Career Change, Years in the Making with Elizabeth Rabaey [Podcast]. Elizabeth actually has made two pivots that have gotten her to a much better place in both career and life.
Elizabeth spent much of her 20+ year career in the world of environmental engineering. She is not an engineer but a very detailed oriented individual who can communicate with leaders, customers, and engineers. You might say she could translate messages between very different constituents.
Elizabeth discovered she was a closet creative. You might want to read my post called Are You a Closet Creative?. To make a long story short she transitioned within the company she worked for 20+ years into a marketing and business development role.
She had the industry knowledge and was allowed to learn new skills. There is much more to the story. To learn more, listen to the podcast A New Career Change, Years in the Making with Elizabeth Rabaey [Podcast].
She has since made a 2nd pivot to an international mining equipment manufacturer in a full-time marketing role, where she coordinates trade shows, writes social media content and much more. This is a long way from working on air and water permits. She was hired because she had enough marketing experience AND had a working knowledge of mining equipment.
It was all about having industry knowledge.
Mike Martin has transitioned from industrial sales – to driving trains for the Houston Metro line – to being a drone pilot instructor. Yes, you read that correctly, a drone pilot instructor.
You are probably thinking, “What skills would carry over from selling industrial equipment to driving trains or being a drone pilot instructor?” Not many – but Mike has been a pilot since he was a teenager. Mike had also graduated from an alternative teaching program but never used it. By the way, Mike is well into the 2nd half of life.
I interviewed Mike on the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Please take a moment to listen to Mike’s story on the podcast called A Career Change, From Sales to Propellers with Mike Martin.
I previously wrote about Mike’s pivot to driving trains in the post Childhood Dream of Driving Trains Comes True – Case Study.
What Mike did was repurpose his pilot and training skills which he had acquired over a very long time, but never really used in his career.
Listen to the podcast interview to get the full story – I will almost guarantee you that you will be inspired.
Hit with a Double Whammy
This last example is someone who was hit with the double whammy; his industry was in decline and his profession was shifting. Russ Eanes was the CEO of MennoMedia, which is the publishing arm of the Mennonite Church. Like all of the major religious denominations in the United States, the Mennonite Church has been losing members and revenue. The publishing industry has gone through a major disruption.
In January of 2018, Russ decided he had gotten too good at downsizing his organization. He downsized himself out of his job and took a year-long sabbatical. During that time he walked the entire length of the Camino Santiago trail in Portugal and Spain.
Russ discussed his journey on the Repurpose Your Career Podcast episode Russ Eanes Turns the Walk of a Lifetime into a Writing and Consulting Career #143. Russ had to admit that he had to get lost before he could find a new direction.
This lead Russ in the direction of repurposing his publishing skills to help others self-publish their books. His first step was to write and self-publish his own book based on his experiences hiking the Camino Santiago trail. His book The Walk of a Lifetime: 500 Miles on the Camino de Santiago was published in August of 2019 using his own imprint ‘The Walker Press’.
Russ wrote and self-published his own book and formed a publishing company. He recently was interviewed on a local Virginia NPR station.
Russ appeared with me on the RetirementRevised Podcast in the episode Late-career burnout: How to adjust your mindset about work.
He has picked up several editing gigs and is building a pipeline of possible clients.
What Do You Want to Repurpose?
Are you going to be like Elizabeth in repurposing her industry knowledge that allowed her to pivot into marketing?
Are you going to be like Mike in repurposing his training and pilot skills to become a drone pilot instructor?
Lastly, are you in a declining industry and need to repurpose your skills like Russ Eanes before it is too late?
If you are interested in pursuing a similar path to Elizabeth, Mike, or Russ please check out the Career Pivot Community.